Published: Mar 28, 2016
As I mentioned last week, I've been digging out some consulting interview questions by practice area, from the data in our annual consulting survey. (Last week's post featured 47 questions for would-be tech consultants.)
This week, I thought I'd bring you some of the questions that folks who work as economic consultants have faced (or ask), so if that's your field, read on.
Once again, this isn't an exhaustive listing of every question you're likely to face—for example, behavioral questions are less well-represented here than they would be in a real-life setting, for the simple reason that most consultants who indicated that the behavioral element was important didn't disclose examples of the questions. However, more examples of those types of questions can be found elsewhere, including among the aforementioned tech consulting questions, and in this post on general consulting questions from a couple of years back.
Finally, before we get to the economic consulting questions proper, keep in mind that, if you're looking for some help on how to tackle case questions, we've got you covered there as well, with a full breakdown in the Vault Guide to the Case Interview.
Case Studies & Economic Issues
1. "What factors can you think of that would determine the price of soda pop?"
2. "We might ask you to evaluate damages from a cartel, and ask you a series of questions designed to give you the opportunity to demonstrate your thought process and help you grasp the economic issues."
3. "According to some experts, marijuana legalization will cause financial hardship for many inner city families due to lost drug revenue. Do you think this is true, and how would you approach the issue?"
4. "From the perspective of the consumer, do you think a merger can be beneficial, harmful, or both? Why?"
5. "Questions related to a hypothetical case involving market manipulation or monopolization. For example: How would you conceptually think about damages in this case? If you were to calculate them, what kind of data would you ideally need for this? If you did not have that precise data but instead had some other data, could you still estimate damages somehow? How? What assumptions would you have to make? Do you think that the companies manipulated the market? What kind of information would you have to see to confirm or change your assessment?"
6. "Discuss the economics of claims in cases involving valuation."
7. "Discuss the effect of a corrective disclosure on a stock price."
8. "What are some things we may want to account for when quantifying the impact that the company's action had on its stock price?"
9. "If Company A wanted to by Company B, what are some things you might want to look at in terms of if this acquisition will maintain competition in the market?"
Questions related to work experience and technique
1. "Tell me about a time you had to clean a messy dataset -- what was your thought process in deciding how to interpret missing values, or when to exclude certain values?"
2. "You are conducting analysis on whether two companies are colluding and price-fixing. What types of data would you gather? What types of analysis?"
3. "Tell me about your thesis, an economic project that you undertook, or some economics concept in a way such that I would not need to know anything about economics to understand what you did."
4. "Walk me through a time you performed a quantitative analysis. Explain your model, the results, and the implications as if I had no prior understanding of the analysis."
5. "What projects/experiences have you undertaken involving analysis, communicating results, working in teams, facing challenges, solving problems, data, leadership, etc.?"
1. "Why do you want to do Economic Consulting?"
2. "Why are you interested in this firm?"
3. "We hire PhDs who come and defend their thesis to the experts and senior management. Some topics have included Pharmacy and Drug development, International Economic outlooks, and how different statistical models influence productivity measures."
4. "Talk about a time when you disagreed with someone in a position of authority. How did you voice that opinion? How was the situation resolved?"
5. "What qualities do you look for in a team member?"
The Best Economic Consulting Firms
47 Questions the Top Tech Consulting Firms Ask
26 Interview Questions the Top 10 Consulting Firms Ask
Being prepared for an interview in the consulting industry means more than just brushing up on your pat answers to a couple of behavioral questions, and arriving armed with multiple copies of your resume. Fortunately, we've got you covered: each year, as part of the annual Vault Consulting Survey, we ask consultants—many of whom are recruiters—to give us examples of the kinds of questions an interviewee at their firm is likely to face.
The key to any good interview is preparation—and there's no better preparation than knowing the kinds of questions that you're likely to face. With that in mind, I took a look through the thousands of responses from our 2013 consulting survey and selected some of the most representative questions that successful candidates had to navigate.
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