Monday, June 1, 2009

BCG Decision Round Interview

This past Friday I woke up at 4AM for my decision (2nd) round interview with BCG at the Dallas office. It had only been a couple of weeks since my last interview, so the entire process was still pretty fresh in my mind. I stumbled out of bed, turned off my 5 alarms - 1 on the radio and 4 set at 3 minute intervals on my cell phone - and started to prepare. Surprisingly, I managed to sleep well given the stress/excitement of the impending interview. I credit my mental fatigue from interview prep for the undisturbed sleep.

By 5:20 AM, I was sitting down at my terminal in the airport with a cup of coffee in one hand, my 4-year old Ipod in the other, and my padfolio, purchased specifically for the BCG interviews, beside me. My flight wouldn't be boarding for another 40 minutes, and as with past experiences, this idle time was the worst because it allowed my mind to run wild with nerve-racking thoughts, such as "what if I run into a wall and then fall apart like my last practice case interview?" I'm amazed at the random stuff that I thought about during this period. I did my best to distract myself with the music and reassure myself that I had prepared as much as possible. Before I knew it, my flight was touching down at the airport in Dallas.

I arrived with over an hour to spare before my interviews. As with my last trip, I spent about 20 minutes listening to music in the airport before catching a taxi to head over to the BCG office. Although the taxi driver wasn't very talkative, he was playing some great reggae music that helped me clear my mind a bit. I surveyed the buildings, the landscape, and the city, knowing full well that I might eventually call Dallas home if everything went well.

I started to calm down quite a bit when I walked into the reception area in the BCG office. I picked up my interview packet, which contained a reimbursement form, the bio cards for my two interviewers, and a small informational booklet, and sat down. I immediately began reading through the bio cards looking for some common ground between myself and the interviewers; anything that I could confidently fall back on during our conversation. The more I knew about the interviewers, the more comfortable I would be during the interview. At this point, I smiled. My background was very similar to one of the interviewers, who had attended UT at Austin for engineering and Kellogg for business grad school. The other interviewer had listed rugby, a sport I played for a few years in college, as his first interest. As far as interviewers go, I knew I had been dealt a great hand.


FIRST INTERVIEW

A few minutes after 9, the first interviewer, a Principal at BCG, came out, introduced himself to me, and then ushered me to the conference room where the interviews would be held. We jumped right into the fit portion with a few questions about my professional experience. He was holding my resume and glancing at it from time to time. One of the questions was about how my background had prepared me for a role in consulting. Fortunately, this is a question that I had reflected on for some time before and after deciding to pursue management consulting post-MBA, so I was able to walk through a list of items and relate them all back to consulting. I noticed that my voice was wavering a bit in the beginning of the interview, but it became steady after a few questions. I was feeling pretty good about the interview when we started the case.

I can't really go into details about the case, but there are a few things that I think should be OK to mention. First, the interviewer had worked on the case a few years back. It sounded like a pretty complex problem, but given our time constraints, he asked me to only look at one aspect of it. We discussed the issues surrounding the problem, looked at the prepared data, and had a nice back-and-forth about how to approach the situation. At the end, we went through a few minutes of "public math", which I was able to work through without a problem. The case was over sooner than I expected, but I wasn't keeping track of time. At the end, I thought I had given a solid B+ performance, and I was relieved that I had made it over the first hurdle. Before he left to send in the next interviewer, we spoke a bit about BCG, his responsibilities as a Principal, and rugby.


SECOND INTERVIEW

The second interviewer, also a Principal at BCG, walked into the room and introduced himself. We started with a bit of small talk, and I quickly realized that my throat was incredibly dry. I went through a small coughing fit, prompting us to pause for a moment while we walked over to a "dining area" where I was able to get a drink of water. This room had yet another impressive view of downtown Dallas. When we returned, he started the fit portion. There weren't any surprises here. Some of the questions were similar to the ones I had just discussed with the last interviewer. I think that it was during the fit portions that I really found my stride, and I was able to carry that confidence into the cases.

The case problem format was very similar to the first one. It involved a problem that he had worked on in an industry that I was very familiar with. I noticed that the cases were a bit more fluid this time around. I could tell that the interviewers had a very deep understanding of the problem at hand and were comfortable discussing all of the different aspects. Again, we focused on one aspect of the problem due to the time constraints. I constructed a good framework for the case, and unlike some of my practice cases, I found myself returning to it often. I quickly identified the major issues and was able to present some suggestions on how to address them. I was incredibly pleased every time the interviewer said that they had made the same suggestion to their client. It was like getting a burst of energy during a long run each time. As we approached the end of the case, I started thinking to myself "OMG. I think I nailed it". He asked for a summary of my recommendations at the end, and I happily provided him with a list of items.

During the final portion of the interview, when I was asking him some questions about BCG, his time at Kellogg, and a few other topics, I had to restrain myself from laughing a couple of times out of joy/relief. I could not believe how well the two interviews had gone, and I felt like this giant ball of stress had been lifted off of my shoulders.


CONCLUSION

Before I left the office, I was able to meet with one of the BCG Texas reps that had walked me through a practice case for this round. We only had a brief moment to talk, since he had to head to a meeting, so I thanked him for his help and then took off.

As I was heading to the airport, I sent out the following tweet from the taxi: "Someone call the police, because I just murdered that interview. It could not have gone better. "

About 10 minutes later, I got a call from one of the interviewers to let me know that they had discussed my performance and were pleased to inform me that they would be extending an offer.

15 comments:

  1. Wow, congrats from a fellow incoming student! How nice that you'll be sitting pretty at the Keg while everyone else is stressing over recruiting this fall.

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  2. Congrats dude - well deserved.

    And this is a great resource for people wanting to do consulting.

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  3. I second DG, thanks for the write up and know I'll be reading and rereading if I ever get a call from Booz... congrats again. :)

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  4. Man, well done, all the best! They say that MBA grads have pretty tough times now, seems not, eh? Plnning to enter Top 20 MBA Bschools, do you tink it is still a good idea? Thanks,

    Rid

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  6. Congrats. Great that everything worked out well :)
    Did you also get to sense/hear from the principals in general about how this downturn is affecting or going to affect hiring the next year?

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  7. @Rid - I can't say what the outlook is for MBAs right now, since I haven't started grad school yet. You should check out www.shahidhussain.com. He is a current student, and he recently wrote something up about the job situation being pretty rough. Regardless, I think an MBA is still a great investment down the line...or else I wouldn't be going for one :)

    @The.Grey.One - We didn't discuss hiring for next year, but one of them did mention that the downturn had affected their recruiting levels, particularly for 2009 summer interns. I don't know if the number he quoted me was for nationwide interns, but it was pretty low.

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  8. Thanks for a feedback dude. I am being optmistic as well, say enter bschool by 2010, graduate at 2011 or 2012, I am more than sure the sitution gonna improve. Even if it won't, we are all aggressive enough to be in the group of people who finally succeeded with getting a job :)

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  9. Hi! Great reading. I am on the same, lucky boat :D. How long did you have to wait for the formal offer to come in writing? I got the congratulatory call yesterday and am waiting to see my offer! Please let me know. Did they FedEx/USPS? How long after the call? Thanks!

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  10. Hi Orlando,

    It was great to read your post.
    If I may ask was this an interview for a full time job or internship?

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  11. It was for an internship, but from what I understand, the process tends to be pretty similar regardless of if it is for one or the other.

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  12. Hey Orlando! Once you got in as an intern, did you have to go through similar ordeal (... lol) for the consultant position OR was it simply an internal promotion? Congrats BTW on making it as a consultant at BCG!

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  13. Nope. The internship was an evaluation period for both of us. At the end, the office decides whether or not to give you a full-time offer based on your performance. I got lucky, and I had a great experience, so I felt comfortable accepting it fairly quickly.

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