How To Answer: 'Why Consulting As a Career?' Questions

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 10 November 2022

Published 30 November 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

When you have a job interview coming up, it's important to be as prepared as possible for the most common questions. These include those surrounding your motivations and the reasons that you want to get into the industry. In a lucrative field like consultancy, it's important that an interviewer knows you're seeking the role for the right reasons rather than simply the compensation package. In this article, we examine why interviewers ask about your motivations and how best to answer these questions.

Why do interviewers ask 'why consulting as a career choice' questions?

When an employer asks why consulting as a career is important to you, they are trying to learn the following information about your past and your character:

How consultancy relates to your prior work

Entering the world of consultancy is typically done by people who were in related fields prior to a career change. For example, a management consultancy firm might want to find out about the experience you have in the world of management. Your role in their company is to offer cohesive and thorough advice to their clients and drive growth and company development for your company's clients in the long term. This is difficult to ensure if you lack relevant experience and you don't have any practical successes to draw on, so this makes inexperienced applicants a riskier hire by far.

Related: How To Find Consultant Jobs (With Salaries and Skills)

Your motivations for entering consultancy

An employer wants to know not only your reason for entering the world of consultancy but also where you think consultancy can take you in the long run and what your overall career plan is. Interviewers want to know about your long run aspirations as it gives them a better idea of what to expect in regards to your tenure. For example, employees that move on quickly are more of a hassle to a hiring company, who then retread the process in only a few years' time.

Additionally, your personal motivations for choosing consultancy can be indicative of your character. In a role that is so reliant on helping and advising others in their development, applying for a role in consultancy with the sole target of self-fulfilment and enrichment demonstrates a lack of focus on the client.

Related: How Do I Answer: "Why Do You Want This Job?"

What you enjoy about consultancy

Whether the aspects you enjoy stem from past experiences or people that have told you about consulting, employers always look to find out what you enjoy about working in their industry. Firstly, your answer could demonstrate whether you are appropriate for the firm. Some companies have very specific sets of morals and ethical codes, and finding that a candidate is incompatible in the earliest stages of the interviews saves time in the long run. Your passions and interests also decide the jobs that you are likely to take on in a company.

For example, if you have a passion for environmental responsibility and your company has a client whose interests align with yours, then this may determine whether you work with them. Interview questions can be for the benefit of both the interviewer and the interviewee, and learning about motivations and passions is one of the most common causes of this.

Related: 10 Types of Consulting for a Fulfilling Career

Answer 'why choose consulting as a career choice?'

As with any interview topic, you can answer 'why consulting as a career?' questions in several stages, with the answer being built throughout your response. The stages of a successful answer are as follows:

1. Start simply

As with any interview answers, you could look to start as simply as possible. Ideally, using a single sentence, you set the tone for any further discussion by laying out a basic premise of the response to come. Saying something similar to 'I want to get into consultancy as I want to guide the next generation of managers to success' is ideal, as it clearly outlines your intentions and offers a foundation to build on.

2. Add further details and explain why

Whilst your initial statement of intent can leave a good impression, adding more fleshes out your answer and allows the interviewer to get a better understanding of who you are, how you work and what drives you in the world of consultancy. Ideally, this section includes three points, all of which support your initial sentence and explain in brief how or why you intend to achieve that goal. By adding the reasons to your previous sentence, you have a more cohesive and thorough description of your motivations and why a company might invest their time in you.

Example: 'I want to get into consultancy as I want to guide the next generation of managers to success. This is because, in my youth, I was helped by a consultancy firm, and it was ideal for my development. By offering strong business connections and knowledge, I can help to offer a guiding hand to nurture young talent. I want to give back to the consulting world as I benefited from it personally.'

Related: What is it like to work in consulting? (Career guide)

3. Provide examples

Your experiences at previous workplaces hold examples of presentation, mentoring and consulting, which you can discuss in a job interview. By bringing up positive examples, you can present the interviewer with proof of you completing consultancy-related work in the past and thriving when given these opportunities.

Example: 'In my time at my previous company, I had the opportunity to work closely with one of our affiliates on a marketing campaign. Acting in a consultant role to improve the impact of their marketing material was highly rewarding and helped me to see the potential to make an impact that consulting has'.

4. Avoid the personal benefits

Consultancy comes with a significant compensation package, even for a newcomer to the industry. In addition to the benefits, it's easy to enter a career path by the perks of the role alone. It's important that you don't state personal gain as one of the key reasons for applying for the job. This is because any discussion of personal wealth can shift the conversation from one about the profession to one more interested in the money the profession holds.

Although these are valid reasons for getting into a profession, they can imply to an interviewer that you don't care about the wider industry and would rather focus on your own personal gains.

5. Conclude

All interview questions have a conclusion. The alternative is to risk leaving empty air at the end of your answer, which may lead to an awkward silence as the interviewer may not notice that you've finished your response. By using a concluding sentence that echoes the sentiment of your opening sentence, such as 'Ultimately, I would like to get into consultancy as I like to help those with potential to fully develop', you can round off your answer in a neat manner that clearly concludes your point and leaves a lasting impression for the interviewer.

Further tips for an effective answer

In addition to crafting an answer that draws in your interviewer, adding more features to your demeanour and behaviour can give you a better chance of providing a satisfactory answer that results in your employment. Here are some tips to consider:

Respond confidently

Confidence is the key to a successful job interview. By exuding confidence and retaining open body language, you invite the interviewer into the conversation. Furthermore, by acting confidently, you can indicate to your interviewer that you are as prepared as possible. Stumbling over answers and appearing closed off in interviews gives the impression that you haven't adequately prepared, which is a poor impression to bring to a workplace.

Related: 14 ways to project body language confidence (with example)

Ask questions

After giving your answer, ask your interviewer a question. Of course, it's not recommended to do this in every single interview, but by asking your interviewer for some more information about themselves, you can make them feel more involved in the conversation. Asking questions also makes it clear that you have an interest in the position and the wider industry.

Related: 10 questions to ask in a consulting interview

Thank your interviewer

At the end of your interview, thank your interviewer for their time. Many positions require all-day interviewing, and saying thank you to an interviewer for their time demonstrates that you acknowledge the difficulties they have throughout the hiring process and simply viewing the applicant's side. This also presents a level of knowledge of the hiring process, which is vital in the world of consulting.

Related: Saying Thank You For This Opportunity: a Comprehensive Guide

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