How To Craft the Perfect Message For Each Fit Interview

Knowing how to craft the perfect message for each fit interview is essential to your success. The culture at different consulting firms varies significantly, and it’s important to keep this in mind when crafting your messages. Most candidates will qualify for the technical aspects necessary to do the job, such as education and intelligence, but firms want more from candidates. They are looking for someone who is compatible with their culture, too. 

 

It’s difficult to assess culture fit through resumes or related paperwork, so the fit interview is one of the best opportunities for you to stand out from the crowd early on. It’s your chance to make a great first impression. Therefore, the more you understand a firm’s culture, the more you can adapt your messages to incorporate key aspects of that culture. 


 
How To Craft the Perfect Message: Best Practice Approach

The first step to crafting a strong message is to complete detailed research on the company and office you will be interviewing with. As you research, highlight the different aspects of the culture that stand out to you. Take into consideration what keywords aspects the company is emphasizing. What is the firm most focused on? You’ll notice there are several differences among the different consulting firms globally. For this reason, you should schedule a time to chat with the people from different positions at the office you’re interviewing. 

 

After completing detailed research and speaking with current employees, set aside some time to make a list of the characteristics and experiences you have that align with the firm. Craft your answers based on your research, the input you received from current employees, and the list you’ve created. Well-crafted messages that align with the company culture will make you more memorable to interviewers. You can position yourself based on your general observations about the firm. 

 

What You Need To Know About Top-Tier Firms

Below you will find general information about the top firms and sample answers to the same question: Tell me about a time when you solved a challenging problem. We have provided sample answers based on the culture of each firm. Please note that these answers are short versions of real-life answers, as you are expected to spend a couple of minutes answering each question. 


 
McKinsey

McKinsey is the oldest top-tier consulting firm and usually the first mover in most areas. As such, the firm desires consultants who are experienced in overcoming challenges and taking on new initiatives. They want to see that you are innovative, determined, and committed. While interviewing with McKinsey, try to give examples of times you were assertive. Show them you are committed to achieving your goals regardless of the challenges presented to you. 

 

Context: In my previous internship, the client’s vice president changed the final SteerCo date and asked us to finish the analyses within the next three weeks. 

 

Problem: This would have increased the pressure on our team significantly because we initially only had five weeks, and it was already a short-staffed project.

 

Action: I proactively pushed the directors to have a meeting and explained that we could deliver the results in three weeks as well, but it would deteriorate the quality of our work. Thus, I asked them if they were willing to compromise on any particular project deliverable so we could focus our efforts on the most important ones.

 

Outcome: In the end, I convinced the directors, who then got the vice president to agree to give up on the second-priority deliverables. Instead, we focused solely on the key module of the project and finished the analysis within three weeks. 

 

Learnings: In that case, I learned that, even as a junior consultant, I could make my concerns heard and drive change by involving the right people in the organization in a timely manner. 

 

Note on McKinsey: McKinsey usually asks candidates to give more detailed answers than other companies. Thus, in McKinsey’s Personal Experience Interview (PEI), try to be more granular in your response. You can check out our Get the Offer course for a detailed guide for McKinsey’s PEI assessment. 

 

BCG

Unlike McKinsey, BCG emerged in Boston as a firm relying more on academic and technical concepts. This led to a more collaborative culture within the firm and between both BCG and its client teams. While McKinsey carries a more top-down approach, BCG often involves mid-level management in its projects. Given the culture at BCG, it is important to highlight your competence with a humble and friendly approach. Try to provide examples that tie in teamwork and times that you were supportive of your colleagues.

 

Context: In my previous internship, the client’s vice president changed the final SteerCo date and asked us to finish the analyses within the next three weeks. 

 

Problem: This would have increased the pressure on our team significantly because we initially only had five weeks, and it was already a short-staffed project. 

 

Action: I asked my manager to approach her counterpart from the client to create a joint task force with members from the client’s analyst team. The goal was to have them work with us to accelerate the preparation process. 

 

Outcome: In the end, we managed to deliver the results within the remaining three weeks.

 

Learnings: This experience showed me that a consulting project could be done much more effectively once there is a joint effort in place with the client. 

 

Bain

Bain is particularly strong in the private equity and luxury industries. These industries are known for their exclusive cultures, and Bain itself is no different. The firm looks for candidates that will be a good fit for their social atmosphere. Therefore, it is important to create an impression of a personally competent and socially qualified consultant.

 

Context: In my previous internship, the client’s vice president changed the final SteerCo date and asked us to finish the analyses within the next three weeks. 

 

Problem: This would have increased the pressure on our team significantly because we initially only had five weeks, and it was already a short-staffed project. 

 

Action: It was devastating because we were already on a tight schedule. I proposed we get some support from the expert team to outsource some of our analysis. 

 

Outcome: In the end, we managed to deliver the project within the given timeline. We had to cancel our office-wide weekly tennis games, but it was worth it. 

 

Learnings: What I learned from this is there is always someone who knows about the topic you are working on in your organization. Actively seeking out their support can significantly increase efficiency.


Crafting Your Message: How to Practice

Our Get the Offer course will help you build a baseline perspective for interviews. The course is based on the most frequently asked questions and sample answers. You can also use our template to populate your answers and customize them for each company you are interviewing with. Additionally, ask your Prepmatter coach or case partner to practice different fit interview questions with you. And finally, if possible, ask your connections from the companies you are interviewing with to tell you more about the office culture. This knowledge will help you curate your answers accordingly, as discussed earlier in this article.

 

Remember, the fit interview is your first opportunity to stand out from a crowd of candidates. Take the time to carefully craft messages that show you could easily integrate into the firm’s culture by providing examples that tie back to the key aspects of that culture.