Consultancy is one of the quickest growing professions in this country, with increased demand from fields like security, engineering, marketing, finance, science, law, management, and accountancy. With the increased demand for professional consultants, there has been a proportional increase in competition among graduates. Our interviewee today is a consultant- a financial consultant to be precise. She will tell us how she managed to navigate the cut-throat recruitment process in order to secure a consultancy role in a top tier organization.
Here is everything that you need to know about the recruitment process in a typical consultancy firm:
Q: It’s good to have you here today, so let’s start with what might seem like a basic question. What exactly is consultancy? And how did you end up choosing this career path?
A: When I started my undergraduate degree several years ago, I was under the notion that consultancy services were directed at the wealthiest members of the country. This is still a misconception that is alive today, as many Australians do not know that consultants touch all walks of life.
As a financial consultant, you are required to have a finance degree, such as business, finance, economics, or commerce. I went with a Bachelor in Business, with emphasis on economics and finance.
I knew that my degree would allow me to enter the rewarding career of financial consultancy, however, some experience was needed.
As I studied towards my qualifications, I interned at a few financial firms to gain practical experience. During my last year at university I got into a work experience program with a respected firm, and that’s where I got the opportunity to advance my skills, join a community, and network with the right people.
Q: Thanks for that helpful explanation. Now, during a recent interview, Nikki Harrison (KPMG national head of recruitment) described a change in how professional service firms go about their recruitment process.
Is this something that you experienced when going through the selection process?
A: Definitely. A few years ago, the recruitment process focused heavily on verbal, logical reasoning, and numerical skills. This is no longer the case.
It seems that many firms have shifted to a more targeted recruitment approach. It’s no longer about your scores..even though these are important. Instead, firms want to know how you will respond to an evolving business world, and ever-shifting financial practices.
Financial firms are looking closely at work experience, decision-making, problem-solving, and strategic thinking. They want the best of the best; candidates that have the ability to grow with the firm and leave their imprint on it.
The recruitment process has therefore shifted to accommodate new types of assessment.
Here’s the process that I went through once I applied:
STAGE 1. Abilities Assessment: Once you have submitted your application, you will need to complete an online abilities assessment. This assessment is broken down into 3 categories, mainly numerical, verbal, and logical reasoning. The assessments are short and straightforward, and will judge your ability to make a decision on the basis of the questions.
Depending on the firm you are applying to, you might also be asked to take gamification based psychometric testing.
STAGE 2. Video Interview: After I was done with my online assessments, I took part in a short video interview. The interview was casual, and nothing you should worry about. I was asked a few questions about myself, my interests, and my reasons for applying to the firm. Just think of the video interview as a ‘get to know each other’ type of event.
You should also use this opportunity to get answers to any of your burning questions. If you are well informed and prepared for the interview ahead of you, then you will increase the chances of a great outcome.
STAGE 3. Panel Interview: The final stage of the selection process includes a panel interview at the firm’s offices. This interview will involve several members of the group that you hope to join, including managers and directors.
During my panel interview I fielded a lot of questions about my background, my schooling, my work experience, and my extra-curricular activities. You should therefore utilize your time at university to the fullest.
At this point the interviewers are trying to see if you will be the right fit for the consultancy position, so you need to advocate for your strengths and express how you will contribute to the firm. You can also use this time to ask questions about the position or program you wish to enter into.
I think my work experience was what impressed the interviewers the most, as I demonstrated the ability to come to quick and well thought out decisions.
Q: Wow, the recruitment process has definitely evolved since I graduated. Based on your own recruitment process, what qualities do you think firms are looking for in their candidates?
A: The impression that I got from my interviewers is that they were looking for a flexible candidate. Putting aside your academic achievements, interviewers are looking to employ someone that can adapt and grow.
More specifically, they are looking for team players, innovators, and risk takers. You should be passionate, determined, ambitious, efficient, responsible, and professional in your work.
Moreover, you should have the desire to learn and improve, so that your skills and potential can grow.
Q: Great; that was an excellent summary of the behavior profile that graduates should cultivate. There’s one question that I’ve been wanting to ask. How big of a role does networking play in the recruitment process?
A: I can’t emphasize the importance of networking in this field. With thousands of graduates seeking consultancy jobs, you need to stand out from the competition. By networking with individuals and communities, you can learn more about the recruitment process and even score yourself an interview.
You should also look at joining professional bodies, such as the Financial Planning Association in my case. Becoming a certified professional in your field and interacting with other professionals, will definitely help you when searching for a job.
Q: Excellent. Thank you for your time, and your insightful description of the recruitment process for consultancy firms. I’m sure graduates everywhere are thanking you too.
A: You’re welcome!