Advice > Consulting

Kearney Case Interview Guide (process, questions, prep)

By Max Serrano on April 20, 2023 How we wrote this article
Kearney case interview

Kearney interviews are tough compared to regular interviews at other large companies. The questions are difficult and the interview format is specific to Kearney.

But the good news is that with the right preparation it can actually become relatively straightforward to succeed at a Kearney interview.  We've put together this ultimate guide to maximise your chances of success.

Here's an overview of what we'll cover.

  1. About Kearney
  2. Kearney interview process overview
  3. Kearney case interviews
  4. Kearney behavioural questions
  5. Kearney case presentations
  6. How to prepare for Kearney case interviews
Practise case interviews 1-to-1 with Kearney ex-interviewers

1. About Kearney

Today, Kearney is among the world's most prestigious consulting firms. It brought in $1.3bn in revenue in 2022 and has around 4,200 employees globally, across 40 different countries. Kearney also ranked #7 in the top consulting firms to work for in the 2022 Vault Consulting 50.

The company used to be called "AT Kearney" but dropped the initials as part of a major rebranding in January 2020.

Right, let's take a look at the Kearney interview process.

2. Kearney interview process overview

Below we outline the typical interview process if you're applying to join Kearney's "general consulting" path as a Business Analyst or Associate.

Kearney also has an Analytics team and a Technology & Engineering team. If you're applying for one of these, this guide will still be relevant for you but be prepared to face some additional technical interviews.

Kearney has three main steps in its application process:

  1. Resume and cover letter screening
  2. Two first-round interviews
  3. Between two and four final-round interviews

These steps outline the typical process. However, the exact process can vary based on location and role. It can be really helpful to ask your HR contact if they can provide more details on your specific interview track. 

2.1 Resume and cover letter screening

First, Kearney's recruiters will look at your resume / application and assess if your experience matches the open position. This is the most competitive step in the process—we’ve found that 90% of candidates don’t make it past this stage.

You can use this free resume guide and this free cover letter guide to help tailor your application to the position you’re targeting. 

And if you’re looking for expert feedback, you can also get input from our team of ex-MBB recruiters, who will cover what achievements to focus on (or ignore), how to fine tune your bullet points, and more.

2.2 First-round interviews

If your application is approved, you'll face two first-round interviews of ~ 1hour duration.

Typically, each will be a case interview, but with the first 15mins dedicated to behavioural or fit questions. Your interviewers will be managers and associate consultants at Kearney.

If you're applying on-campus at a target school, then you may have your interviews in-person. Otherwise, the first round is usually done over the phone or through a video call.

2.3 Final-round interviews

If you get past the two first-round interviews, you'll face at least two more case interviews in the final round.

These case interviews may start with 15 mins of behavioural questions, as before. However, this time the interviewers will be more senior members of the firm - i.e principals and partners.

If you're an undergraduate, you may be invited to an Assessment Centre for the final round interviews you will likely face a group case presentation also.

If you're an MBA or experienced hire, you'll usually interview at a Kearney office, and in addition you'll have to give a written case presentation.

Both experienced and graduate candidates may also have a behavioural interview with a partner as a final test to make sure you're the right fit for the firm.

In the following few sections, we'll explain how you can prepare for all your interviews and give yourself a great chance of landing a job as a Kearney consultant.

Let's get started!

3. Kearney case interviews

Case interviews at Kearney are candidate-led, which is the same style used in a BCG or Bain case interview. This is different than firms like McKinsey that use interviewer-led cases. 

For a candidate-led case interview, there are 7 types of questions you need to prepare for:

  • Situation
  • Framework development
  • Framework exploration
  • Quant question – Data provided
  • Quant question – No data provided
  • Creativity question
  • Recommendation

In addition to the question types mentioned above, you should also expect to see market sizing questions during your AT Kearney interviews.

You can learn more about case interviews and how to prepare in our free case interview guide.

Another great way to prepare is by practicing with realistic sample cases. There are a few free AT Kearney practice cases available online, and you can find them at the links below:

You can also get a sense of what candidate-led case interviews are like, using the video below. As we mentioned, case interviews at Kearney tend to be candidate-led and therefore use a format similar to BCG and Bain interviews.

 

4. Kearney behavioural questions

As we outlined above, Kearney tends to ask behavioral questions at the beginning of your case interviews, and these tend to be "fit" questions. However, you may also face a purely behavioral interview, and here you're likely to face a more situational or "PEI" type of question. Let's take a look at both types:

  1. Fit questions. These are generic questions such as “Why consulting?” or “Why Kearney?”.
  2. Personal Experience Interview (PEI) questions. These are questions such as “Tell me about a time when you led a team through a difficult situation.” Or “Tell me about a time where you had to manage a team conflict”

Here are the top 5 fit and PEI questions you should prepare for at AT Kearney.

Top 5 fit questions:

Top 5 PEI questions. Tell me about a time when ...

  • You led a team through a difficult situation
  • You worked in a team and had to manage a conflict
  • You had a disagreement with a colleague / boss
  • You had to change someone's / a group's mind
  • You overcame a really difficult challenge

Don't fall into the trap of under-preparing for both these types of behavioural questions. While they may seem easier than the case interviews, they are extremely important to get right.

You’ll need to prepare several ”stories” or “examples” from your personal and professional experience to demonstrate that you have the traits that Kearney is looking for.

To learn more, check out our guide to consulting fit / PEI questions.

5. Kearney case presentations

In addition to case interviews and behavioural interviews, which are both common for consulting firms, Kearney also uses case presentations. If you're an undergraduate, you will probably do this as part of a group, while if you're an MBA or experienced candidate you may have to do an individual, written presentation.

Take a look below at whichever applies to you.

5.1 Kearney written case presentations

The typical format is:

  • ~ 1-hour to review materials and prepare a PPT presentation
  • ~ 10-minute presentation in front of interviewers
  • Q&A with interviewers at the end

It's worth mentioning that this does vary, so if you're already in contact with a recruiter from Kearney, you may want to ask them for more precise details. 

With that said, for this type of interview you'll usually be provided with some materials containing data and background information for the case. You may also be provided with questions that your presentation should specifically address. 

During your prep time, you will need to conduct an analysis, collect supporting arguments, and prepare a PowerPoint to deliver your findings. You should also prepare to be challenged by your interviewers with follow-up questions. 

You can learn more about preparing for this type of interview in our written case interview guide. That guide is written with BCG and Bain in mind, and there are some differences for an Kearney case presentation. However, the tips and preparation plan in sections 2 and 3 would still be a great resource for your preparation.

5.2 Kearney group case presentations

As mentioned in section 2, group case interviews are sometimes used in the Kearney interview process, usually for undergraduates during their Assessment Centre day. Here is the key information you need to be aware of for this type of interview:

  • Candidates get divided into groups of 4 to 6
  • Each group is given information about a case (i.e. a client facing a problem)
  • You are given 10-15mins to review the materials by yourself or with another person in your group
  • You are then asked to discuss a few questions about the case for 20mins with the rest of your group in front of your interviewers
  • The interviewers will ask a few questions to the group for 15 to 20mins

This type of case mainly tests your ability to work with others. Interviewers won't intervene during the group discussion. They will just observe the group dynamics and mark each participant based on how they are contributing to the discussion.

Here are the top 3 things you should aim to do in your group interview:

  • Speak with a purpose. At the beginning of a group discussion, a lot of candidates will want to speak their mind as they know participating is important. But participating is not enough. The QUALITY of your input is crucial. Sometimes, it's better to let two or three people get the discussion started. And to then make a very thoughtful point based on how they started the discussion. Focus on the quality of your input, not the quantity.
  • Involve everyone. Another tip that's easy to apply is to keep an eye on who's participating in the conversation and who's not. If you identify a member of the group who's struggling to make themselves heard, you should not hesitate to help them be heard by saying something like: "We haven't heard everyone's opinion on this yet. John, Rebecca what do you think?"
  • Summarise. Finally, at the end of the 20 minutes group discussion it's a good idea to summarise the different points people have made. This will position you as the person bringing everyone together and making sure all candidates are on the same page. It is something some partners in consulting like doing with clients in real life and will therefore reflect positively on you.

And the top 3 things you should really avoid doing:

  • Looking very nervous. Group interviews is the time to put your poker face on. Everyone is stressed in a group interview. But you need to try your best to come across as confident. A good way to do this is to focus on basic body language: look at people in the eye, sit confidently, don't cross your arms, try not to fiddle with your hands, etc.
  • Interrupting others. Consultants need to be client-friendly, and interrupting someone in a discussion is not client-friendly at all. You should listen carefully to what others are saying. Try to have a genuine interest in what they think. Before making your point, summarise their point to show that you understand what they mean.
  • Dominating the conversation. Finally, some candidates are so eager to participate in the conversation that they end up completely dominating the rest of the group without realising it. A good tip to avoid this is to keep an eye on how much time you talk. If you are in a 5-person group you should aim to speak 20% (1/5th) of the time and really no more than 25%.

Your performance in regular and group case interviews will play a big role in the firm's decision to give you an offer. If you'd like to learn more how to approach group interviews, check-out our separate detailed guide to group case interviews.

6. How to prepare for your Kearney case interviews

6.1 Learn the case interview essentials

The best starting point for your case interview prep is our case interview prep guide. It'll take you through all the different types of questions you may be asked in your case interview, show you how to draw from different frameworks to structure your answer, and give you example cases to practise with.

6.2 Become really confident at maths

You don't have to have a perfect GPA or GMAT score to succeed at case interview maths. However, during your Kearney interviews, you will be expected to quickly perform accurate mental maths.

In order to do this, it’s essential to know the formulas for common metrics, like return on investment or breakeven point. And it’s also helpful to know a few maths shortcuts to help you solve problems more quickly. To learn more about these topics, check out our free guide to case interview maths

In our experience, the most successful applicants start their interview preparation by practising maths skills, so make sure you prioritise this step.

6.3 Research the company

Kearney interviewers want to hire candidates who are deeply motivated to work for their firm. Read up on Kearney's values and culture, and present yourself accordingly.

Also, you'll want to make sure you're up to date in the latest developments in the area of the company you're applying to join.  The Kearney insights page is a good 

In addition, try to do some networking ahead of your interviews so that you can show you've made the effort to reach out to current staff.

6.4 Do mock interviews

How you solve each case is important, but your interviewers will also be evaluating how you COMMUNICATE your answers. It's important to speak in a structured way that makes it easy to clearly understand your points.

The best way to hone your communication skills is to practise interviewing out loud, and you can do that in three main ways:

  1. Interview yourself (out loud)
  2. Practise interviewing with friends or family
  3. Practise interviewing with ex-interviewers

To help you with this process, here is a broad list of consulting interview questions you can practise with. Practising by yourself is a great way to get started, and can help you get more comfortable with the flow of a case interview. However, this type of practice won’t prepare you for realistic interview conditions.

After getting some practice on your own, you should find someone who can do a mock interview with you, like a friend or family member.

We’d also recommend that you practise 1-1 with ex-interviewers from Kearney. This is the best way to replicate the conditions of a real case interview, and to get feedback from someone who understands the process extremely well. Meet our MBB ex-interviewers who’d love to work with you.

 

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