College Recruiting for Strategic Consultants
Piers is a Director at Rosetta – a well-respected strategic consultancy that has evolved into one of the country’s premier interactive agencies. The consulting practice attracts talent from places like McKinsey, Monitor and Nielsen, and offers business strategy, segmentation and patented analytic services. Piers is a rising star there – promoted four times in his three years with the agency. He’s a prominent player in their college recruitment program.
JS: What schools does Rosetta recruit from?
PP: We focus pretty exclusively on schools like UPenn, Princeton, Cornell, NYU, Columbia, Michigan, and Carnegie Mellon, though we don’t turn away folks from other places. Our best candidates are typically high GPAs from top-tier schools.
JS: How does the interview process work?
PP: We have a resume submission process, then we’ll conduct on-campus interviews with the 15 or so winning resumes. Interviews consist of 30-minute meetings with two Rosetta consultants. We whittle a dozen candidates down to about four, and then ask those candidates to come to one of our Rosetta offices for a face-to-face interview.
JS: What types of projects are strategists responsible for at Rosetta?
PP: There are four core types of engagements:
- Business, marketing and sales strategy
- Segmentation, customer profiling and consumer insights
- Marketing performance analytics
- Change management, for example, helping an organization become more consumer-focused, or building a better acquisition funnel
JS: What are the skills that you look for in a strategy consultant?
PP: We’re looking for marketing interest, strong quantitative analysis skills, people that stand out from the crowd in terms of being leaders. I’m most interested in candidates that have done quantitative analysis, insights and implications work, e.g. not just analyzing data but thinking about it at a higher level.
JS: How do you assess these skills during an interview?
PP: Marketing interest can be demonstrated by coursework or internships. For example, someone who interned with AMEX or Digitas could be a really good fit for us. In the behavioral part of the interview, we ask why they’re interested in marketing and Rosetta.
We check out transcripts from quantitative classes or SAT scores to get a read on analytical acumen. In every interview we ask problem-solving questions. For example, we may give them a market sizing exercise to see how they make assumptions, do basic math, etc. You know, there’s the classic one about How many ping pong balls fit into a 747?
We might ask the candidate to step us through a mini case study. We also have formal case studies, like product positioning against target consumers, where we’re asking them to get into the mindset of brand planners and business managers.
We’ll share generic or blinded data from a test campaign versus BAU and ask things like: What are your conclusions? How long until you recognize ROI? Then they’ll summarize their thoughts in a 2-minute brief.
JS: How do people respond to this interview format?
PP: Well, it’s a great selector tool. It weeds out the folks who can think on their feet and perform under elevated stress levels. Some have clearly prepared. If they’ve got analytical skills, a case study isn’t going to destroy them. Performance is not totally dependent on academic orientation. There have been English majors that have rocked and business school grads that have fumbled.
JS: How do you evaluate whether someone’s a cultural fit for Rosetta?
PP: That’s more of a gut thing. I think about my interaction with the candidate: Was it awkward or easy? Were they respectful or arrogant? There’s no real question on cultural fit.
JS: What were you doing before you joined Rosetta?
PP: I took an ROTC scholarship in 1998 and trained through college. Then I went on active duty when I graduated in 2002.
JS: Why did you decide to join the military and what did you gain from the experience?
PP: I wanted to serve my country, and wanted to challenge myself in the toughest leadership environment I could think of. I was lucky to have a pretty privileged childhood, and before I went from prep school to college to a safe white-collar job, I wanted to see if I could hack it somewhere where none of that background really mattered.
Deployment is a longer story. To completely over-simplify, it was the best and worst of times, but I’m glad I had the opportunity.
Military service gave me a level of confidence in my ability to handle difficult situations, and to make decisions in stressful conditions. It required me to lead groups of various sizes. It taught leadership, confidence in decision-making and critical thinking skills. You’re presented with moral and ethical dilemmas when you’re in combat zone. It gives you unique perspective. For example, I’m never quiet if I see something wrong. The skills gained have helped me be more successful in life.