Monday, September 15, 2008

BCG CV and Case Interview Workshop | 13th September 2008

The following Alums from BCG came down to ISB to share some gyan on Resume writing and how to approach Case Interviews.

Varun Gupta, Consultant, ISB Co2007
Yashraj Erande, Consultant, ISB Co2006
Akshit Shah, Sr. Associate, ISB Co2007
Shiva Agarwal, Sr. Associate, ISB Co2008
Jitesh Shah, Sr. Associate, ISB Co2008

The workshop started with some fundamentals about Resume writing. The gist of the workshop was “Get the story right”; the CV should bring out a story about the candidate. The recruiter wants to understand the personality so we should think about the points/themes that we want to highlight in the CV. The CV should highlight the special attributes of the candidate. Therefore if the strengths are some specific expertise then a function or skill based resume is suitable. If the aspirant has undergone rapid growth in his career then a chronological resume makes more sense.

There are three main sections in the CV. All the bullet point in each section should be interlinked to the bullet points in the other sections. The CV should highlight the following themes/points:

- Analytical
- Problem solving horsepower/ fire in the belly (different from analytics)
- Communication
- Leadership
- Client management
- Business/commercial Knowledge
- People Skills
- Creativity

This is merely a representative list of attributes. Therefore, please think about your special set of attributes and represent them in the CV. E.g. “ability to take end-to-end responsibility / reliability” is not mentioned in this list but could be the key strength of an individual.

Fundamentally, a CV should be a portfolio of some of the above points. Think about each and every point that is written in the CV. Try to make an excel sheet out of the above written points and map your achievements along-with. The Alums also stressed on the fact that everybody has to be honest while writing the CV.

In an interview the first few minutes are critical to make an impact on the interviewer, this could even be a make or break phase. If there is a theme in the CV, it helps in giving consistent answers in the Personal Interview. Working hard at writing your CV helps you build a mental image of yourself which ensures the consistency in PI answers. Each statement should ideally begin with a strong action verb. Weak words make for uninteresting resumes. Replace “Statement of facts” with actions and results. Don’t write points in paragraphs, break them in bullet points (and sub bullet points) and don’t have more than two indentations. Yash was of the view that different roles require different CVs. Consulting CV and GM CV could be similar but Marketing and IT CVs have to be different.

Case Interview

There are two main types of case interviews: Brain Teasers and Business Problems.
Brain Teasers: How many pencils are sold annually in India. Brain teasers and such questions are usually not asked by BCG in ISB campus.

Business Problem Case: usually snippets from a case done by BCG earlier. “A pharma company has a product which is superior to its competitors. Its sales are declining, what can you do?”

Why are case interviews given?
The case interviews are conducted to judge how much does a candidate like a consulting job? It exposes the candidates to case situations and the kind of work consultants do.

Firms generally do not expect an extensive business background. Most companies try to give cases just to judge general knowledge and knowledge about the prior industry. Candidates are not expected to know about all the jargons pertaining to an industry. Thus, it does not make sense to get a deep insight into each and every industry.

What do Companies Look for?
- Creativity
- Poise
- Analytics

How do I prepare?
- Prepare mentally
o View the interview as an opportunity, not a hurdle.
o Remember, most questions have no right answer
- Practice
o With friends, batch-mates, alum
o Look at the web for firm provided practice questions
o Read consulting case books (give precedence to ISB case books over US school case books)
- Read, read, read and think
o Pink papers
o Have a general awareness of happenings around the world
o Run through the papers on the interview day

Yash highlighted that applicants should think very hard about the company, job profile and role before applying to any company. A candidate should also evaluate the company and actively seek out information from alums, friends and ex-colleagues about the different roles and profiles offered by companies.

Akshit laid out the approach for taking the case interview. However, he was of the opinion that candidates should not make it a mechanical process. Interviewer is looking for creative approach. Typical steps to solving a case are:
- Understanding the problem
o Interviewer will give a problem statement
o Ask questions to gain a detailed understanding of the problem
o Identify the issue
- Problem definition
o Define the problem, say it aloud
o Get the buy-in of the interviewer on the problem definition
o Lay down your approach to solving the problem
o Occasionally, cases may end at this point
- Problem solving
o Solve the problem based on the laid out structure
o Deep dive into areas where issues persist
o Get creative in identifying potential solutions
o Lead the interviewer through your thoughts
- Synthesis and conclusion
o Synthesize your discussion into conclusions
o Conduct a sanity check to ensure solution is practical.

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