Attempting to Enter Consulting – No First-Round Interviews Despite Referrals?

I'd like to reach out to this forum for some advice, as I am currently in a tough position as I look to enter consulting.

For a few months, I have been trying to enter the management consulting industry. I went to a target public school (top 15 undergraduate business school) and started my career with an oil & gas supermajor, supporting functions such as supply chain, procurement, and operations. I have been in this industry for ~3 years since completing my undergraduate degree. I am trying to leverage my supply chain experience & energy industry background to enter the consulting industry, targeting roles focused on strategy, procurement, and human capital (at the Senior Associate & Consultant level). I've been eyeing firms such as Deloitte, KPMG, Accenture, PwC, West Monroe Partners, etc. All of these firms actively recruited at my university. On paper, I think I am a strong candidate.

However, here's the problem: even despite being referred for every role for which I have applied, I have received ~no~ invitations for first-round interviews, which has been upsetting. I wanted to see if anyone has been in a similar position, and if they have any advice. Should I be applying for entry-level positions to boost my chances? Is my resume weak (or not consulting-focused)? Should I consider going to grad school (i.e., MBA) and then attempt to enter consulting after I graduate? Thanks in advance for your guidance!

Comments (9)

Dec 7, 2018 - 9:41am

Hi jogro778, the silence is deafening, sorry about that.... Any of the threads below helpful?

  • Why I think you should take a corporate strategy gig over consulting (including MBB) at the entry-level make exec (which what most consultants end up doing anyway), not those who want to go into HF / PE. If ... than consulting. Background: Graduated from a mid-level ivy, had offers at Mck and BCG (did not get an ... mainly communicating with middle management at their client sites, I was able to give pitches to SVPs and ...
  • Better Entry-Level Opportunity: Financial Operations or Valuation Analyst? interviewing and bad luck. I had several good prospects which fell through due to underdeveloped interviewing ... a small Valuation Consultancy and another from a large Financial Operations company supporting the ... Investment Banks. Neither position is 100% ideal, considering I wanted an entry level IBD Analyst position. ...
  • Entry Level Question: Assistant Property Manager Position as way to Break Into Real Estate? the senior property managers at the firm, which I was assured was a great way to gain entry level ... Management Company in NYC. After a brief phone conversation that started as an informational interview, I was ... that Property Management is much more 'bricks and mortar' and operations type work while ...
  • Experienced Scientist- Entry Level Consulting agents. Question is what is expected entry-level title if I were to apply for consulting positions. ... help. experienced scientist entry level consulting ... Moreover what would be expected range for salary. I have one interview scheduled next week for consultant ...
  • GM Corporate Finance Entry Level you visibility and access to senior management. After my superday I was notified that I did not score ... high enough on their technical portion of the interview for them to give me a sport in TRACK but ... I performed very well on the other interviews and they wanted to offer me a general position within Finance at ...
  • Entry Level Full-time Consulting/IB/AM Resume- please review! chances of getting an interview with the Big 3 management consulting firms, an investment bank, or in ... Asset Management? I'll be graduating in December and plan to do some major recruiting/networking ... soon- I just want to have realistic expectations before I jump in head first. Thanks for the help! ...
  • Switching jobs after short time at entry level (consulting to IB) going from IB to consulting and back, how do I convince the banks that I really do want to be in IB? ... I graduated last May, which means I've been in my current job for about 5 months. Suffice to ... say I hate it. I'm at a boutique consulting firm in a pretty small town (not super small but ...
  • More suggestions...

If those topics were completely useless, don't blame me, blame my programmers...

Dec 9, 2018 - 11:34am

Have you been explicitly dinged from these positions, or have you just not heard back? The HR functions at the Big4 offices I have interviewed for in the past have been quite unorganized, so if you haven't heard back, I would recommend you kindly nudge someone at HR. Don't ask your referral to ping HR, but do it yourself.

Assuming Senior Associate and Consultant levels are equivalent to level 2 and 3 consultants, that may potentially be too high of a position. I would stick to applying to the Senior Associate position, but this was also something you could have confirmed with your referral contacts and HR before applying. Also, when you say strategy roles, are you applying to Monitor Deloitte and Strategy& or Deloitte S&O and PwC Strategy? The former two are harder to get into, fyi.

MBA is a decision you have to make based on your career goals and financials, but if you want to break into a Big4 consulting practice, you can certainly do so without the MBA. MBB may be a different story.

Gimme the loot

  • 1
Dec 10, 2018 - 10:11pm

Regarding the roles at KPMG, Accenture, etc. that I have applied to, I have been dinged from a few positions, but not all of them. I am still optimistic- I think I am going to take a brief break and begin applying for more roles after the holiday season. I've been working with a few recruiters that I have emailed for specific feedback – I am hoping that will help. At Deloitte, I am looking primarily at Human Capital – I am looking to leverage my experience in being part of a global department transformation. At PwC, I have applied for procurement and supply chain consulting-related roles, not Strategy. I think these divisions maximize my chances of "getting in" – since they are not quite as selective as some of the ones that you listed.

I agree that I shouldn't need to get an MBA to enter consulting. Ideally, I would like to work for a few years at a mid or large size consulting firm, get an MBA from a top 10 program, and then consider MBB. I appreciate your input and assistance on this topic! Thank you again.

Dec 11, 2018 - 11:06am

There is some differentiation between the NAM and EMEA recruiting cycles (and I'm not too familiar with NAM, unfortunately -- and it sounds like you're from this region but please correct me if I'm wrong), but in EMEA these firms tend to do online tests and Hirevue / 'simulated job experiences' before first round interviews. Not positive if NAM runs the same process, but if you have been coming across these, perhaps you have been having trouble getting through this particular stage of screening? IMO this is the toughest part of screening because you're not speaking to / seeing another human being on the other side, however, if this is the problem it can absolutely be remedied.

Dec 11, 2018 - 10:42pm

I am based in Chicago, and I am looking at roles in the U.S. One of the struggles with large companies is that the recruiting process can be very automated until you get through to the interview stage(s) - there are tons of applicants and "getting through" is very selective. I'm confident I can do a good job once I get through to a final round interview.

Dec 12, 2018 - 7:52am

Unfortunately it's like that everywhere. You could also aim for a smaller firm and get some field experience, which you may be able to leverage into a place at an MBB/ Big 4 - especially if you're a top performer.

In terms of this round, I would stay optimistic - the consulting recruitment cycle starts later than banking and a bulk of smaller firms do recruit following the New Year.

Dec 11, 2018 - 1:53pm

Yeah it can happen that a referral doesn't help. Imagine a firm that has 1000 applicants. Without referral, you are 1 in 1000 and with you may be 1 in 200. But if they intend to offer Round 1 interviews to 100 people, there may be 100 people either with similar qualification but better referral or same referral but better qualifications.

Anyway, if you're into supply chain work, there is a firm called Implement Consulting ( who do supply chain consulting. Interesting firm, check them out.

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