LEK is a strategy consulting firm founded in London in 1983 by three Bain partners. They have a particular focus on due diligence services and acquisition strategies for private equity firms. They are also known for a regional staffing model that results in a higher amount of travel for their consultants.
The firm employs 1600 people across 21 offices and has a notable alumni list. UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson had a job at LEK for only 1 week before he quit and moved into journalism. Kevin Mayer was the CEO of TikTok for 3 months in 2020 after tenures at Walt Disney and LEK.
Every year LEK receive thousands of applications for their job vacancies and are known to have a rigorous recruitment process with multiple case interviews.
2) What LEK are looking for
LEK look for four personality traits in the candidates they interview:
Analytical ability – The work of LEK consultants require deep qualitative and quantitative analysis. LEK are looking for candidates that are natural analysers and look for themes or trends in research and data. This is at the core of the majority of LEK projects.
Demonstrated leadership – LEK consultants at all levels will need to lead both themselves and others throughout their work. This is expected from day one and so LEK are looking for candidates that have demonstrated leadership in areas such as sport, group projects or other interests.
Collaborative approach – Knowledge exists within project teams and the wider firm and so to produce high quality work in a short space of time consultants need to be especially collaborative. Working together and across teams is the fastest way to the right solution for the client.
Intellectual curiosity – Many strategy consulting firms talk about being curious. The focus on curiosity is due to the need for consultants to enjoy understanding new topics and concepts. Each project is different and often the knowledge base of the team is zero at the start of the project. By the end of the project, the team needs to have a deep understanding of the problem and possible solutions.
3) LEK application process
There are four stages to the LEK application process:
The interview process at LEK begins with a resume and cover letter submission online. Their typical recruitment cycle is in the Autumn each year but they do sometimes hire off-cycle, especially at smaller network firms. They are looking for candidates that reflect their 4 traits in their applications along with strong academic records and relevant experience.
LEK have two online assessments for candidates to take before being invited to interview. The first is a numerical reasoning assessment and the second is a verbal reasoning test. The numerical reasoning test is a standard format of data sets accompanied by corresponding questions. The verbal reasoning is two questions on previous achievements and interests.
LEK have adopted the ‘super day’ style interviews whereby both the 1st round and 2nd round interviews will be conducted on the same day (2 in the morning, 2 in the afternoon).
There are two first round interviews and both are 30 minutes long with a couple of fit questions at the beginning followed by a case question.
The second round interviews are with senior consultants and include two 60-minute case interview questions and one written case interview.
4) Types of interview
LEK have a three interview formats and questions across their network: experience / fit, case questions and a written case interview.
Case interview (question)
The case interview’s that LEK use are all based on real life client examples. The interviewer’s are encouraged to use their own client engagements for their case interview questions because they know them well and will be able to provide data and context easily. This format is the most common interview format used by LEK because it is the closest resemblance to the work required on the job and allows the interviewer to answer the question ‘Can this person do the work of a LEK consultant?’
They assess candidates over a number of different attributes during a case interview:
Approach and structure
Analytical and creative thinking
Application of data
Scoring well across all these attributes will result in being progressed to the next stage or ultimately, a job offer.
For further information on how to demonstrate these skills see our full case interview guide here.
The experience questions are asked prior to beginning the case interview and LEK will use questions such as:
Why are you interested in LEK?
Why are you interested in consulting?
What experience are you most proud of?
What experience do you wish you could do over, and how would you do it differently?
What is a difficult decision you have made in the last year?
What is an example of a time when you showed initiative and leadership?
What aspects of your internship did you like less?
What do you most like to do in your free time?
What attributes would you bring to a case team?
Describe a role where you changed the direction of a team. How did you do it?
The key with these questions is to develop a structure that can be applied to all of them. By structuring your answer, you will show that even when discussing non-business related topics you apply a considered approach to your answer. We cover an approach in our case interview coaching sessions.
Case interview (structured / written)
The LEK structured case interview is similar to the written cases provided at BCG and Bain. The candidate is given an information pack of 15-20 pages and 10 minutes to read the pack with three high level questions they want to be answered. The interviewer will leave the room in the 10 minutes reading time.
As with the case interview there is not a correct answer and the important part of your answer is the consideration of trade offs for making decisions and comparing the possible strategic decisions the business in question can take. The interviewer will test your thinking and recommendations to see how robust your conclusions are and the steps you took to get there.
5) Case interview
The consulting case interview is the cornerstone of every strategy consulting firm’s interview process due to the ability to replicate the problems and challenges of the work they do.
To score well in a LEK case interview, you must meet the criteria laid out above and you can do this following a structured approach to case interviews. The structure of a LEK case interview is as follows:
1. Situation and problem
2. Hypothesis validation
3. Framework development
4. Root cause analysis
5. Mathematical calculation (sometimes)
6. Creativity test (sometimes)
At the start of the case, the interviewer will outline the context and the problem to be explored.
An example might be:
“A high street retailer wants to cut costs by 30% in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, how would you approach this?”
You would then be expected to put forward an initial hypothesis on what the answer might be and explain your intention to prove or disprove it.
From there you will be expected to develop a framework to conduct your analysis and test it with the interviewer.
If your framework is MECE and you explore it correctly then you will find the root cause of the issue for the client (in this case where costs can be reduced) and begin calculations if relevant.
The creativity test is when the interviewer asks you for an alternative to your findings or recommendation e.g. “Okay, the client says they do not want to shut stores, how else can they reduce cost?” They may ask this more than once and it tests the candidates ability to think of alternatives, even if their answer is appropriate.
Finally you will be asked to provide a recommendation whereby you need to synthesise your findings and give a clear and concise proposal.
For more information on how to approach and solve case interviews, read our full guidance here.
6) Additional tips
Case interviews are pressurised situations where your anxiety levels are heightened and you don’t have the safety net of notes or the internet to fall back on.
For in-person interviews it is common that one of the questions will have a mathematical element or be a market sizing question included. These require long maths calculations without a calculator. If you haven’t practised long addition, multiplication, division or subtraction recently then it is a good idea to do so. Being quick at maths shows your competent quantitative skills and reduces unnecessary pressure during the interview, increasing your overall performance.
We have published guidance and practice questions dedicated to case interview maths here.
As with the maths, practicing case interviews is the best way to improve your performance. Through practice you will begin to develop a robust approach that satisfies the structure and framework components of the case and you will recognise how to navigate the case successfully.
If you are applying to LEK then you are probably applying to other strategy consulting firms too, this practice will be relevant to all of the firms you apply to as they all use case interviews in their application process.
We have published guidance and practice questions appropriate for LEK cases here.
Apply structure to everything
The key requirement of a candidate in a case interview is the application of structure, specifically with a MECE approach. As mentioned above, you can even apply structure to the FIT questions and it is recommended you do so.
An example answer to the question ‘walk me through your CV’ would be to segment your experience into; 1) Experience relevant to consulting 2) Experience not relevant to consulting and then briefly cover the experience you have in each bucket. This shows you understand what consulting is and what is relevant and also a key skill of a consultant – structured thinking.
If you can demonstrate robust structured thinking in your interview, you will score highly.
If you’re upcoming interview involves technical questions then please see some of our other online resources here: