These are the same types of practice questions used by the 7,700+ candidates whom we’ve helped to get offers from consulting companies.
And here’s one of the first things you’ll want to know:
Consulting firms ask four broad categories of interview questions, and you’ll need to be ready to answer questions from each of them.
Let's jump right into the following:
- Fit questions
- Behavioural (PEI) questions
- Market sizing questions
- Case interview questions
- How to prepare for consulting interviews
Fit questions are used to evaluate whether a candidate will thrive within a specific consulting firm. Interviewers know that the candidates who are most likely to be their top performers will be the people who love the company’s culture, people, and projects. You can learn more about fit questions, and how to answer them, in our case interview guide.
Below are several typical questions used to test a candidate’s company “fit.” It's worth mentioning that these are REAL interview questions that were originally reported by candidates on Glassdoor.com. We've just rephrased the questions in some places for better readability.
Example fit questions
Behavioural questions, which are sometimes also called Personal Experience Interview (PEI) questions, are used to assess candidates on three primary skills: leadership, entrepreneurial drive, and personal impact. You can learn more about these questions, and how to answer them, in our PEI interview guide.
Below are several typical behavioural / PEI questions. Again, these are real interview questions that were originally reported by candidates on Glassdoor.com. We've just rephrased the questions in some places for better readability.
Example behavioural (PEI) questions
- Tell me about a situation when you had to change someone’s opinion
- Tell me about a situation in which you disagreed with someone
- Tell me about a time you had to resolve a conflict in a team setting
- Tell me about a challenging situation with a tight deadline
- Give me an example of how you handled a crisis
- Name the biggest obstacle you’ve had in your career, and how you overcame it
- Tell me about a time when you influenced without authority
- Tell me about a project that you have led
Market sizing questions are used to assess a candidate’s maths skills, and their ability to logically solve problems without any provided data. Market sizing questions are often asked at the beginning of consulting case interviews (more on those later).
Below are several typical market sizing questions. To learn more about market sizing questions, and to see the original sources and solutions for each of the below questions, visit our market sizing questions guide.
Example market sizing questions
- How many t-shirts are purchased in New York City in a given year?
- Provide an estimate for the number of dentists currently working in the UK
- What is the yearly market size for smartphones in the USA?
- Estimate the market size for televisions in Poland
- Calculate the market size for weddings in the UK
- Calculate the market size for medical consumables in GP practices
- Estimate how many women in the USA play golf
- What is the size of the sandwich market in India?
A case interview simulates the conditions of a real consulting project, so that your interviewer can evaluate how you would perform on the job. Case interviews usually start with a broad question or statement that provides context on the business, then the case will evolve with a series of additional questions or considerations.
Below are paraphrased versions of the opening questions for several case interviews. Each of the cases below are from McKinsey, BCG, and other leading firms. Click the corresponding link to see the full case. And for a larger list of example case interviews, check out our case interview examples article.
Example case interview questions
- Should the Diconsa network be used to provide financial services? (See the full McKinsey case)
- Should SuperSoda launch a new sports drink product? And how? (See the full McKinsey case)
- How should Foods Inc. approach its distribution strategy for cereal? (See the full BCG case)
- How should GenCo increase revenues? (See the full BCG case)
- Should your friend open a coffee shop in Cambridge? (See the full Bain case)
- Why have FashionCo’s revenues declined over the past 5 years? And what should they do about it? (See the full Bain case)
- How should Duraflex change its strategy for their work boot products? (See the full Deloitte case)
Why Are WumbleWorld’s theme park profits declining? And how should they turn the situation around? (See the full Oliver Wyman case)
Most people won’t be ready to flawlessly solve any of the above consulting interview questions without preparing first.
To make the most of your practise time and to maximise your chances of landing a consulting offer, we’d recommend you take the following preparation steps:
Learn a consistent method
Having a framework will help you structure your answers logically and minimise your potential for mistakes. For each category of questions above, we have a separate free guide that will help you develop a consistent approach for answering questions successfully.
Here’s a quick list of those resources:
- For fit questions, study the fit / PEI section of our case interview guide.
- For behavioural / PEI questions, you can dig deeper with our McKinsey PEI guide.
- For market sizing questions, check out our in-depth market sizing guide.
- For case interview questions, review our guide on case interview frameworks.
Practise on your own
Once you’ve learned a repeatable approach for a given category of questions, we recommend answering lots of questions until it starts to come naturally. The question list above provides an excellent starting point.
And once you’ve used all the questions above, here’s where you can find even more:
- For fit questions, you can find a few under “other” in our case interview guide.
- For PEI questions, you can find several more examples in our McKinsey PEI guide.
- For market sizing questions, look in our separate market sizing questions guide.
- For case interview questions, check out our case interview examples article.
We also recommend interviewing yourself out loud, by asking yourself questions and responding to them. This may sound strange, but it will dramatically improve the way you communicate your answers during interviews.
Practise with others
Of course, it's impossible to replicate a consulting interview situation on your own. Practising with friends can really help, or you could sign up to our peer-to-peer platform where you can practise with other candidates.
However, you’ll realise that feedback from friends or peers can only take you so far. When you reach that point, it becomes extremely useful to do mock interviews with experienced consulting ex-interviewers.
If you already know somebody that fits that description, that’s great! But for most of us, it’s tough to make those connections, and it’s even harder to practise multiple hours with those people unless you know them incredibly well!
Here's the good news. We've already made the connections for you. We’ve created a coaching service where you can practise 1-on-1 with ex-interviewers from McKinsey, BCG, Bain, and other leading consulting firms. Here’s where you can see our list of coaches.
If you would like to fast-track your case interview preparation and maximise your chances of getting an offer at McKinsey, BCG, or Bain, come and train with us. More than 80% of the candidates training with our programmes end up getting an offer at their target firm. We know this because we give half of their money back to people who don't.