This ultimate guide to fit interviews gives you all the information you need to understand how a fit interview works, common questions, best practices, and how to practice.
The Fit Interview: Why It’s Essential
Interviews typically follow a similar structure. Fit interviews are first so interviewers can ask questions about candidates’ backgrounds and gain a better understanding of whether they will be a good fit. Case interviews follow and provide an opportunity to evaluate candidates’ abilities to solve business problems in a structured way. Finally, candidates get the chance to have their questions addressed by interviewers. This may also be a part of the fit interview.
The fit interview is crucial to getting a consulting offer for a few reasons. The fit interview serves as your first impression and can help you stand out as you move into the case interview. Keep in mind that most candidates are above a certain level of capabilities in terms of problem-solving. If they are not, that will be made clear in the case interview. Therefore, the fit interview helps to determine if candidates are the right fit for a company - not only in terms of culture but in terms of strategy. If a candidate has strong problem-solving abilities but lacks vision, worldview, and strong communication skills, it is unlikely they will succeed as a consultant. While a case interview shows that a candidate can do the job, a fit interview shows they are the right person to do the job.
The Ultimate Guide To Fit Interviews: Everything You Need To Know To Prepare
Consulting interviews last around an hour, with the first part after the welcome being a 15-minute fit interview. This is followed by a 30-minute-long case and a 5-minute-long question-and-answer period. In that 15-minute fit interview, candidates are asked to introduce themselves by going through their resumes and answering several questions. The number of questions varies depending on the interviewer, but it’s typically 3-5 questions. The common areas of interest and related questions are below.
The fundamentals: why you and why this firm
- Tell me about yourself. (Or, can you walk me through your resume?)
- Why should we hire you?
- Why consulting?
- Why do you want to join this firm?
- Why would you like to move to this country/office?
- What would your manager say are your biggest strengths and weaknesses?
- What are the key skills needed in consulting?
- Can you tell me about something that is not on your CV?
Digging into your experience
- Tell me about a time when you worked with a team.
- Tell me about a time when you led a team.
- Tell me about a time when you had a conflict with a manager/direct report/client.
- Tell me about a time when you had to communicate an unpopular decision.
- Tell me about a time when you influenced a group.
- Tell me about a time when you changed someone’s mind.
- Tell me about a time when you overcame a challenge (e.g., time constraint, data limitations).
- Tell me about a time when you made a mistake.
- Tell me about a time when you showed adaptability and flexibility.
- Tell me about a time when you pushed the boundaries to do something differently.
- What are the biggest challenges you would face as a consultant here?
- Why have you been working in Country X? (if not obvious from your background)
- Elaborate on your proficiency in X language. (if relevant to the role/office)
- Are you interviewing with other firms?
- Tell me about a time when you were under a lot of pressure.
- Tell me what you envision as a typical day in consulting.
The Fit Interview: Best Practice Approach
To get a passing grade on the fit interview, you need to show that you are a good consultant and fit for the company. There are three main criteria to assess this - effectiveness and impact, communication and presence, and problem-solving and insight. Effectiveness and impact are the most relevant criteria for fit interviews and should therefore receive the most attention.
In order to excel in your fit interview, you need to highlight the following characteristics in each of the criteria mentioned above.
Effectiveness and Impact
You can show your effectiveness and impact as a consultant through examples of independence, team contribution, substance, learning, and achievement. Here are examples of how to highlight each of these in your interview.
- Independence: Give examples of when you solved a problem on your own.
- Team contribution: Show that your team is better off not only because of your performance but your contribution to the team for their development.
- Substance: Describe how content-rich your deliverables were rather than being just stylish.
- Learning: Prepare to give examples of times when you didn’t hesitate to get out of your comfort zone and pushed yourself to learn new skills or expertise.
- Achievement: Tell stories of achieving a certain goal given the situation, challenge, and impact.
Communication and Presence
You want to show the interviewer that you possess strong communication skills and present well. Focus on the following aspects to accomplish this.
- Presence: Position yourself as a confident and credible figure that can be trusted in front of a client.
- Precision: While explaining something, make your conclusions direct and clear.
- Active listening: Actively listen to the interviewer and ask ive questions to understand the reason behind the questions.
- Relationship management: Prepare to show you can build long-lasting relationships and trust in your business environment.
Problem Solving and Insight
Finally, an interviewer wants to see you are a successful problem-solver - one who can gain a deep understanding of a client and that client’s needs. The key areas below will help demonstrate these skills and abilities.
- Structure: You have a structured approach to the problem to address it holistically and develop an actionable solution.
- Judgment: You weigh the importance of different aspects in the case and allocate your effort respectively.
- Rigor: You perform accurate analyses that can be relied on.
- Creativity: You think outside the box and deliver more than just what is required from you.
- Synthesis: You combine the information collected during the interview and build a consistent solution with all elements discussed with the interviewer.
To show you are a good fit for the company and office you are interviewing for, do detailed research on the company, office, and the people you are interviewing with. This extra effort will help you understand what kind of industries and functions they are hiring consultants for. You need to understand the firm's culture and craft your messages based on the characteristics of your office’s culture. This knowledge will help you stand out among other candidates and feel more prepared.
The Fit Interview: How To Practice
Our Get the Offer course provides access to exclusive fit interview content, including:
- A detailed explanation of fit interview evaluation criteria
- Tips to ace all 24 fit interview questions
- Template to draft your answers
- 26 live fit interview examples
In addition to the course, check out our other blog posts, such as Crafting Your Messages in Fit Interview Depending on the Firm.
Finally, draft your high-level answers for all questions and practice with your Prepmatter coach or partners until you feel comfortable. Your confidence and preparedness will show.
Remember, the fit interview is your first impression and is critical to getting a consulting offer. Your understanding of the process and your preparation for key questions will help you excel and stand out from other candidates.