Qualities and skills that consulting recruiters look for in graduates
When hiring for management consultant positions, graduate recruiters look for specific skills. It's a popular career, and they have a lot of options, so they narrow it down by looking for students who already have the skills that successful consultants have. These are the candidates who are most likely to fit in quickly, make an impact, and ultimately provide the best service to clients. That means you must demonstrate management consulting skills in your application. That's not as difficult as it sounds: if you look at our list, you'll notice that you already have many of them - and we've included easy-to-follow tips from recruiters at major consulting firms on how to demonstrate your consulting skills in applications and interviews.
What qualities distinguish a good consultant? The top 12 abilities and characteristicsWe analyzed graduate consulting jobs on targetjobs.co.uk for trends in what firms are looking for, and we spoke with recruiters at key consulting firms about the skills they require.
1. TenacityAccording to our research, this was the most requested management consultant skill (or rather quality) by recruiters. This is not surprising: you may be compensated appropriately, but consultants are expected to go above and beyond to deliver for clients, which requires determination and drive. In your application, show that you can persevere when things get tough by describing long-term projects you've worked on or challenges you've overcome. Mention any challenges you faced and how you overcame them.
2. Outstanding communication abilitiesConsultants must be able to communicate clearly and effectively with a diverse range of people. 'Whether you're discussing insights with your team, presenting to a client, or writing a formal report, your credibility as a consultant depends on clear communication,' say the recruitment experts at FTI Consulting. 'It is not enough to have the technical expertise to solve complex problems; you must also be able to translate your work into clear, simple insights that non-specialists can quickly understand.' 'Interviews, group exercises, and case studies are used to assess written and oral communication skills throughout the recruitment process.' Learn how to improve your communication abilities.
3. Commercial consciousnessCommercial awareness is the understanding of how economic factors affect businesses and the industries in which they operate. Consultants require this skill in order to develop solutions that take economic issues into account. Investigate the company, its specializations, recent projects, and competitors. Combine this with staying current on what is going on in the wider economy and political world, as these events will have an impact on consultancy clients. You can use your commercial awareness when participating in case study interviews with consulting firms or when answering typical consulting interview questions like 'What do you know about us?' ' and 'What is the most significant challenge that our firm (or our clients) will face in the next three years?'
4. Organizational abilitiesAccording to our research, this is yet another top skill mentioned in graduate consultant job postings. Consulting is a fast-paced industry, so you must be able to effectively manage your own and others' time. Demonstrate your organizational abilities by providing examples of times when you juggled work, study, and extracurricular activities. Prepare to discuss this in greater depth in an interview and practice your responses ahead of time. What methods did you employ to manage your time? What worked for you, and why?
5. Critical thinking abilitiesThe ability to evaluate information objectively and see connections between ideas are referred to as critical thinking. Consultants deal with a lot of data, so being able to spot trends is essential.
'NERA's clients value our ability to apply and communicate cutting-edge approaches in a clear and convincing manner, as well as our commitment to delivering unbiased findings and our reputation for quality and independence,' says Emma Cairns, senior manager, human capital, NERA Economic Consulting.'We need critical and independent thinkers who can effectively analyze data and draw conclusions based on evidence, even if the results are unexpected.' During the interview, you can demonstrate this by breaking down the information based on the data available and drawing logical conclusions based on the facts.'
6. Analytical abilitiesAnalytical skills are closely related to critical thinking: essentially, analytical skills are the ability to identify and make sense of patterns and trends in information. Data isn't always quantitative, and you don't have to be studying a STEM subject to develop analytical skills; you're likely to have acquired them through the independent study required for any degree. Your analytical skills are most likely to be assessed through a case study interview or a situational judgement test, in which you must make decisions based on the information provided - and the best way to approach both of these recruitment exercises is to practice them. However, if you are asked during an interview, "How many tennis balls can you fit in a Mini Cooper?" ' or 'What would you advise a client to do in X situation?' 'Be sure to explain your reasoning when you respond.
7. Listening and persuasion skillsConsultants must be able to carefully listen to clients in order to determine what they require, and then instil confidence in clients that the solutions they propose are the best ones. Working with others to get things done is also part of the job, so getting people on board is essential.
'Retail strategy consulting is about delivering evidence-led insights to clients,' says Javelin Group recruiters.'During an interview, candidates should demonstrate their ability to listen carefully to information and opinions and critically assess their validity.' Candidates must also have the confidence to offer their own insights to the team and persuade them of their logic in a constructive manner. Case study interviews, particularly those involving group work, provide an opportunity for candidates to demonstrate a persuasive, logical approach, taking other people's arguments and any new information into consideration throughout. These skills are also referred to as influencing; learn how to influence and inspire confidence in others.