The Consulting internship interview process is a challenging, exciting, and daunting experience. Tony Morash (UNC Kenan-Flagler, ’16) can attest to this. After going through the process last year Morash landed a summer internship at Deloitte, where he’ll head after graduation. Additionally, Morash, is the President of the UNC Kenan-Flagler Management Consulting Club, and took the time to answer some questions around the management consulting internship recruiting process.
MBASchooled: Through your conversations with company representatives as an officer for the MCC, what appear to be some of the top traits companies are looking for in candidates for Consulting roles?
Tony: I see the big four as client readiness, personality, business acumen, and diligence. UNC Kenan-Flagler prides itself on bringing students in that will tackle any problem and are great to work with, so we help students emphasize our strengths in business acumen and executive presence during recruiting. There are definitely a few wildcards at the same time. We did a lot of analysis on the Class of 2016 interns, and background (industry, undergrad degree, etc.), for example, showed absolutely no correlation to success.
MBASchooled: What tips do you have for approaching interviews?
Tony: I’ll give you three. The first is that you can never be too prepared, particularly for behavioral interviews. We give and get a lot of advice telling us that too much preparation makes us robotic, but I think we just use that as an excuse because we all think we can just come up with a serviceable behavioral answer on the spot. I couldn’t disagree more, and I think you need to work extremely hard to develop thoughtful, powerful stories that explain what you bring to the table. Prepare until you are never surprised by a question that you get – that might be a good benchmark!
Second, spend some time developing good questions for your interviewer. Go back to your notes from networking calls and company presentations to generate something unique to say. This may be your only opportunity to interact with a partner, for example, so leave them remembering that you had done your homework and were well-prepared.
Finally, and I’m not sure how popular this will be, you have to be yourself in interviews. To an extent, we’re all playing the interview game, and these are such stressful situations that we forget that it’s like dating – it’s equally important that you like them as it is that they like you. As a result, the perfect firm for you beyond the interview is going to like the real you, so don’t put on airs, and give it your best.
MBASchooled: What was a high and low point of your interview process?
Tony: There were so many! Interview season was such a whirlwind of emotions, and I was lucky to have a great support network keeping me positive. The absolute low was just after a final round for one of the big consulting firms. I flew up to DC the morning, went straight to the interview, and ran right back to the airport. In the middle of my second case, I made a pretty glaring error, and I knew it the second I had made it. I tried to finish strong but knew there was probably no recovering. I left the office and sat in silence in the cab, then on the plane, then on the ride home thinking about how I screwed up – just hours of stewing about a dumb mistake and a missed opportunity. That was a big lesson learned for me about letting your mistakes go – we make them every day, and you’re going to make them during interviews. You have to learn, laugh, and move on.
I think my biggest high was the first call I got to come back for a final round. Obviously I was elated to have another opportunity with that firm, but even more than that, it was such validation of the hours of casing and interview prep I had done. I had sapped so much energy and time from my classmates, and it all hadn’t been in vain. What a great feeling!
MBASchooled: Was there anything that you changed in your interviewing approach during the interview process?
Tony: Perhaps the best advice I can offer is something I learned during the interview process, and that is that you can take equal ownership for the outcome of your interview as your interviewer. I remember undergraduate interviews in which I was just happy to have AN answer to each question. Not so here; you have to go into the interview with an agenda of what you want the interviewer to hear about you, and every question asked (even “Why consulting?”) is an opportunity to tell the interviewer something about you.
This was the biggest change I made in the middle of my interviews. I developed 2-3 killer stories I knew I HAD to tell, even if I had to be creative about how to work them in. I was much more proactive about telling the stories that I wanted to tell, and I was strategic about directing conversations to my strengths or to answer what I thought might be doubts about my resume. Taking equal ownership for the interview gives you a great sense of confidence stepping in the door as well.