5 Consulting Recruiting Trends to Know for 2022

Consulting recruiting trends are constantly changing, and 2022 is no different. If you’re getting your information from 10-year-old YouTube videos or amateur blogs, you’ll be caught off guard by the changes that are taking place in the consulting recruiting process. No matter which position or firm you’re targeting, pay attention to these 5 consulting recruiting trends to set yourself up for success as you pursue a consulting role this year!

Consulting Recruiting

Consulting Recruiting Trends for 2022

  1. Firms are Hiring Beyond Traditional Recruiting Hotbeds

The days of McKinsey hiring exclusively from HBS and Wharton are long gone. And this was before 2022 brought us the tightest global labor market in decades, as well as record demand for management consulting services. So, who are firms hiring this year? Expect to see an increase in candidates receiving offers from the following groups:

    • Undergraduate and MBA students from non-target programs
    • Specialty Masters’ students
    • PhDs, JDs, and MDs
    • Experienced professionals

Now, that’s not to say that being at HBS hurts your chances. It’s just that you don’t need to be at a top-tier MBA program to break into consulting. Case in point? Only 19% of McKinsey’s intake last year were candidates coming directly from an MBA program. In addition, the firm hired analysts from over 370 universities.

  1. Consulting Recruiting Will Start EARLY

If you’re a student, pay attention. In a war for talent, it’s the early bird who gets the worm. Consulting firms will continue to move recruiting timelines up in 2022, so you need to start preparing for interviews as soon as possible. Based on last year, and what we’re hearing from sources, here’s when we expect 2022 consulting application deadlines to hit:

    • Feb/Mar: Application deadlines for PhD/JD/MD bridge programs
    • July: First application deadline for undergraduate juniors & seniors applying for internship and full-time roles; PhD/JD/MD candidates applying for full-time roles
    • August: First application deadline for MBAs applying for full-time roles
    • November: First application deadline for MBAs applying for internship roles

Note: non-U.S. deadlines are typically a few weeks later than U.S. deadlines, but that still means deadlines will move up from where they have traditionally been.

Diversity recruiting often takes place even earlier, so if you want to leverage a diversity pathway into your firm of choice, make sure you connect early with the specific affinity group who will be sponsoring your application. Learn more about which firms offer affinity groups in our firm directory.

  1. Prepare for Extra Interview Hurdles

Nontraditional interview methods are becoming more commonplace across the industry as we head into the 2022 cycle. Here is what you should be prepared for in this year’s consulting recruiting cycle:

    • Digital assessments
      • GMAT-style timed tests
      • Include verbal reasoning, quant problem-solving components
      • Utilized most often at MBB as pre-interview screen
      • Used at McKinsey, BCG, Bain, Deloitte, Capital One and others
    • Chatbot case interview
      • Multiple choice questions
      • Ends with 1-2min video recording of candidate’s final recommendation
      • Most common at BCG as part of Round 1
    • Virtual case interview
      • Case interview conducted virtually by human interviewer
      • Less exhibit-heavy
      • Requires over-communication and over-structuring
      • Most Q1/Q2 2022 interviews will be virtual
    • Presentation case interview
      • You have 1-48 hours to build a ~5 slide deck from ~50 pages of data
      • You present live to multiple interviewers
      • Utilized across firms; almost always part of final round at ZS Associates
    • Group case interview
      • Case prompt structured and solved by 4-6 candidates
      • Common in final rounds

We break down each of these evaluation methods in more detail through the dedicated articles you can access through the above hyperlinks.

  1. Firms are Differentiating by Offering Value Beyond Base Compensation

In our 2022 Consulting Salary Report, you’ll see that beyond base salary increases, firms are increasing variable comp (i.e., performance bonus caps, profit sharing) and introducing expanded benefits (i.e., unlimited PTO). Many firms are choosing to expand one or the other of these perks. Pay attention to which your target firms are doing – it will tell you a lot about the culture and what each firm perceives its market position to be.

  1. 2022 Will Be Another Record Year for M&A Activity

Last year was a record year for M&A activity in the industry, and we expect more of the same in 2022. The merger activity is following two broad themes:

    • Large firms are acquiring boutique strategy houses in lieu of building their own strategy practices from the ground up (ex: AlixPartners acquiring Galt & Co.)
    • Traditional strategy firms are acquiring specialist players across sectors like sustainability, supply chain, cloud services and more so that they can sell more downstream work (ex: McKinsey acquiring Material Economics)

What does this mean for your consulting recruiting hopes? First, there are strategy roles available outside of firms named McKinsey, Bain and BCG! Second, there are non-strategy-focused roles at brand-name strategy firms that will allow you to do the specific sector or function-focused work you want while still adding the network and branding that come from being at a top firm.

Consulting Recruiting Conclusions

The management consulting industry is strong, and 2022 promises to be a year of robust hiring across firms and across levels. Yet, there are more candidates than ever before looking to break into the industry, meaning that the consulting recruiting process is as competitive as we’ve seen it. Work with the expert team at Management Consulted to stand out from the crowd through resume edits or case coaching.

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