The ANALyst

Leverage, optimise, synergise

The Academic Doldrums

Most consulting firms have a bad habit of recruiting graduates almost a year before they actually start work. This period has been ingeniously coined ‘the milk round’. Why is this bad? Well mainly because those who have job offers don’t really know what to do with the rest of their time in college. And those who don’t, are usually so worried about landing a job that they don’t concentrate in class anyway. In my opinion, it is the most useless period in one’s academic life. Furthermore, in consulting, you largely ignore whatever you learnt in college, so why on earth waste another eight months filling your tiny cranium with more garbage? Instead, if you really wanted to spend your last few days of freedom studying – you’d be far better off reading something useful like Powerpoint or Excel for Dummies. Or, if you are like me, you would just take the time off and go travelling to exotic lands.

But, that was not to be. Like everyone else, I stuck around for the next few months to get my seal of approval. In hindsight, it does teach you a very important skill – the ability to work hard on extremely pointless ventures. Another core consulting skill. So the next time you spend 80 hours a week, six weeks in a row coming up with recommendations for your client and your recommendation gets dumped, you won’t really feel so bad. After all you were taught all about it in college.

March 31, 2009 Posted by | Education | 1 Comment


It all began about seven hundred moons ago, when college seniors scramble to get through as many applications as possible with the hope of striking it lucky at one of the banking or consulting firms. About a thousand applications per position! Sounds tough right – is not. Here’s a secret, 950 of those 1000 applications are from people with C grades throughout college. So, realistically you are fighting – yes it’s a battle – with just about 50 other people.

At this point, I should clarify that I had decided to ignore banking for the moment and concentrate on consulting. The reason – I didn’t want to suffer myocardial infarction (sophisticated way of saying heart attack) at the age of 29.

The first step to any application for either consulting or banking is…well….the online application form. What can be so hard about that? It’s a monster!!! The five + hours you spend just answering the questions in one application form teaches you more about yourself than the past 20 odd years have. In my case, it was a pretty humbling experience as I realised I hadn’t done much at all. The worst question, however, sounds something like this, “Why do you want a career in consulting?” Huh??? Why on earth would you ask such a daft question??? For the money and the prestige (and of course the airpoints) you retards. Why else would one want to play with powerpoint and excel 70 hours a week, knowing fully well, that apart from making some fat bastard partner richer by a few million, the job makes no tangible positive difference to anyone’s life!

Having filled up the application forms for all the consulting companies known to mankind, from the strategy houses to the IT charlatans, there was nothing left to do except wait. Either for a phone call or the dreaded email. It didn’t turn out too bad as two strat houses, a couple of full service firms and one IT sweatshop decided to ‘take my application further’. They must have fallen for the crap I had spewed on the application form. One fairly famous consulting company specialising in M&As rejected me within an hour of applying. Wow, they must have totally hated me! Or, more realistically, it’s quite possible that the application was screened by a senior from my college who knows what I am really like.

The actual interview process is fairly generic across consulting firms. The firms like to call themselves “different” but really how many different types of horse manure have you ever seen. The process comprises of (in some form or the other) behavioural interviews, case studies and a psychometric test. The first and the most pointless phase is usually the psychometric test. Why they have this bit, I have no idea! And I don’t think they do either. I have never actually seen these get evaluated. Even if they are, if the other parts of the interview are good, the test results are largely ignored. Bottomline, never sweat too much on this bit. Next comes a behavioural interview and a case study with a junior level employee of the firm, usually an Analyst, Associate or a Senior Consultant, depending on the firm. This is the toughest part of the process and the part where you have to impress. Behavioural questions basically ask you to describe how you saved the world by fetching the AIDS vaccine from the moon against all odds. You get the point. Most people falter here for two reasons; a) they are usually dumbstruck and overwhelmed i.e. shit scared or b) they actually try to convince the interviewers that they went to the moon to fetch the AIDS vaccine. The interviewers aren’t dumb – they have ‘been there, done that’. Basically, all they want to see is whether you are a cool dude or not and if they can chill out with you (usually on an airplane).

If, and this is a big big if, the guys above think you fit the bill, you are sent to the partner interview. This is the last and final stage of the long and ardous process. It’s a bit like reaching nirvana really. If you get this far, it means you are ‘good shit’ and the job offer really is yours to lose. Expectations at the partner interview are not much. You are just expected to listen and nod and answer the occasional question asked by the partner. Please, please, please do not say anything stupid and ruin you chances. Ocassionally, the partner can be young and hot (of both sexes), please resist the urge to ask them out in the interview. It’s a definite no – no. Oh and for any females reading this blog, do not wear anything too revealing in a partner interview – that’s another rejection criteria.

The partner interview, assuming you haven’t royally fucked up, is followed by a phone call from the partner with the words, “We are pleased to offer you………we believe you will be a tremendous asset to the firm”. To be interpreted as, “we have found another perfect grunt, keen to impress, shut up and suck it up for the next couple of years.” Anyway, as a college senior I didn’t know that. I was just elated at having entered the hallowed grounds of management consulting. I felt like one in a thousand!!!

March 28, 2009 Posted by | Interviewing | Leave a comment

One more blog…

For the past one year, I have been more than just amused, reading anecdotes of our most noble profession from the likes of Consultant Ninja, Getting Drunk in First Class, Corporate Whore and many more. Most of what they speak is hilarious, silly, unimaginable, impossible, enviable and most importantly…absolutely true! When I started reading their musings, I was just entering professional life and innocently believed that their blogs would cover every possible scenario. It can’t be further from the truth. And thus, the need to start yet another story – my story – where more tales about the greatest profession on earth are bared under the veil of anonymity. Happy reading!

March 27, 2009 Posted by | Consulting | Leave a comment