We were asked this question today by someone applying to the case coaching program. I think the candidate asked the question assuming we would brush it off with a generic answer. Let me tell you that we take this very seriously. I am going to dedicate an entire post to this. Sure, it is assumed a training program should not tell you about candidates they did not place. However, let’s be honest, any intelligent person knows a program like us cannot be 100% successful. Trying to create such an impression is misleading. So, we are going to discuss that question directly.
Not placing a candidate gives us sleepless nights up to this day. We are not kidding on this point! Firmsconsulting was founded in August of 2010. In that time we have successfully placed 97 candidates at BCG, Bain, McKinsey, Booz, Monitor, Roland Berger and Deloitte, as well as a few at other smaller firms; but a very small minority.
We have failed to place 3 candidates; a person from the Middle East at Booz, a French student at the Imperial College (UK) in BCG and a South African engineer at McKinsey. Every single day we think about why these candidates failed to get in. So, why did we fail with these three and what have we changed?
Before we explain the general reasons it is important to know these candidates just applied to one firm, against our better judgement. NOW they are applying to other firms so we hope to successfully conclude this story in a few weeks.
- One possible answer is that we accepted them in the early days of the program when we had no screening. Therefore, we simply took in everyone without first assessing their ability to succeed. Since December 2010 we introduce a tough screening process. Before admission into our training programme, candidates have to now send in written answers to some basic questions and they had to pass a telephone interview. After we introduced this process, we have had close to a 100% placement rate. But, the screening step was not the only reason we increased our placement rate.
- We are more than happy to refer you to a competitor. I know! This sounds weird. Let’s be honest, we have a high placement rate, only train the most committed, and most importantly, want to keep it that way. If we think you are not up to our standards or not serious, we will simply refer you to a competitor. As mentioned many times, we are only focused on helping committed people get into the top firms. If at any time, we sense your hesitancy, then we will refer you to a competitor! In fact, for one candidate in Australia, we only took him on if he agreed to stop targeting mediocre firms and raise his sights. If he refused, we would not work with him. So we are really committed to your future.
- We also stopped selling time! I know this sounds strange, but before, before the screening, candidates would write in and say they only needed to buy 3 hours of training and we would offer it to them. Since December 2010, we have stopped this practice. Our goal is not to increase revenue; our aim is to increase placements and frankly, buying 2 or 3 or 4 hours does not work. The candidate almost never knows what is needed. We have stopped this practice and started selling blocked times of least 8 hours because that is how much time is required to properly prepare for interviews. Most candidates need about 12 hours. However, in some case, where candidates want more training, we refuse since we believe they are more than ready.
- We are much tougher on candidates than before! If you want someone who will simply work with you when you want them to, then we are not the firm for you. We know the work required to be placed at a top firm and will “pester” you to prepare. If you miss lessons or are unprepared, then we will give you a really hard time about it (in a polite, but tough way, of course:-)).
- We stopped the candidate from leading the training. Previously, before the screening, if a candidate was delayed or busy at work, we would wait for him to get back to us. Now, it is different. If a candidate has started the program, and is delaying by more than 2 days, then expect an email or phone call from us. We know the amount of repetitive work required and will push you to carry out this. We no longer let the candidate set the pace.
- We have stopped tolerating excuses.8 candidates have created lots of delays for us. They are either on vacation, busy, travelling or tired. In these cases, even though we have run about 3 hours of sessions, we have provided a FULL refund and stopped working with them. We cannot help candidates succeed unless they want to help themselves. We have, of course, lost a couple thousand dollars on these 8 people, but it comes down to the following:
- Given their attitude, we know they will fail. So why take their money?
- Why would we teach them our trade secrets when they have no interest?
- A few hours spent with them is draining and wasted, when we could spend it with another, more talented candidate.
- We check everything. We mentioned our screening of resumes and cover letters above. But you may not realize how intense that is. We check LinkedIn, Facebook, Google, and a host of other sources. If it is in the public domain, then we assume it is fair game. We are very thorough and make sure you have what it takes to go all the way.
- We DO NOT screen for case skills. Weird right? Not really. We can teach you everything you need to know to pass the case interview. That is what we do. We, however, look for ethics and an alignment between the person we speak to on the phone, and the résumé and cover letter, There needs to be a perfect fit. In summary, we test for sincerity and honesty.
- We are brutally honest! We know everyone wants to hear they have a shot at BBM. We will NOT play this game. We are incredibly tough and honest in our feedback. If we think you have no chance, then we will tell you so. This saves you time, lots of money and makes sure all your expectations are met.
Finally, we do try to help the candidates who were not placed. We remain in touch with them, help them with new strategies, check cover letters and offer new strategies. In summary, we do not rest all they achieve their aims. However, the lesson is simple. If you let in the right people, you get the right results!
I think that sums it up quiet well. We only want the most committed people because of the enormous investment we make in their future. We are absolutely committed to providing detailed guidance on dressing, speaking, etiquettes, and communication, fit and case preparation. We have found that unless candidates are on the same page, they fail.
Are you on the same page?