Patience a key virtue for consulting industry recruits

25 November 2019 4 min. read

Landing a job in the consulting industry is no mean feat, with candidates often facing a myriad of hoops to jump through before learning their fate with a firm. According to analysis by in collaboration with career site Glassdoor, the assessment process can take longer than any other industry, with an average interview process in the industry taking around 55 days.

Consulting firms maintain high entry requirements for potential candidates – the majority of jobs require at least a college or university degree, as well as a specific set of skills and competencies. Although there has been a small increase in the number of consulting jobs, management consultancy is an increasingly popular career choice, and, for that reason, competition remains high for certain job openings. As a result, if a candidate manages to stand out in the crowded field of the initial selection process, an online assessment process often follows, before actual interviews take place, the most important step in the whole process.

This makes the consulting industry’s entry process one of the longest and most challenging in the UK. According to data from Glassdoor, when applying for a job, UK workers job spend on average 27 days in an interview process. However, analysis in collaboration with the employment site has found that those wanting to get into consulting however spend much longer, with an average of 55 days required to land a job at the likes of McKinsey & Company, the Big Four, Accenture or Boston Consulting Group.

Average interview duration per industry

With an average of 55 days, recruiting in consulting takes around a week more than travel & tourism (49 days) and investment banking (45 days). According to Glassdoor’s data, the hospitality industry has the shortest – and easiest – interview process. The Big Four rank among the consulting firms with the highest average duration, with Deloitte topping the list with an average of 65 days, followed by EY (53 days), PwC (51 days) and KPMG (50 days).

Commenting on the findings, Jo Cresswell, Corporate Communications Manager at Glassdoor UK said, “Given consulting firms are in high demand, it’s clear that they can ask for a lot in the interview process without putting off potential job seekers.”

Have patience

There are a number of reasons why the application and interview process in consulting is this long. First, as mentioned before, recruitment for the consulting industry has so many rounds of discussions. Firms often have several assessment and interview rounds. On top of this, Partners also often want to get a look at new hires to know who the recruits are they will soon work with, adding another step to the hiring cycle.

Second, consulting is notorious for its challenging recruitment processes. It goes without saying that interview difficulty correlates with interview duration, and consulting firms famously like to put candidates through their paces during recruitment drives. On top of regular hiring procedures, consultancies often use case interviews to examine a candidate’s critical thinking skills. In some cases, innovative new assessments such as virtually reality tests have even been added to this process.

Finally, consulting firms have to contend with a huge amount of interest when they announce they are hiring. Thanks to the steep learning curve the diverse world of consulting work offers, the industry proves exceedingly popular among graduates and school leavers looking to gain practical experience alike. As a result of this popularity, recruiters have to dig through huge stacks of CVs in the early stages of hiring, slowing the process significantly. 

Ultimately, while this all makes landing a role in consulting a rather arduous process, it is a good thing for both parties. The length and difficulty of the consulting interview process means both firms and applicants have the time and information needed to ensure they are the best possible fit for one another – even if that does require a large amount of patience on both sides.