Roland Berger is a European strategy consulting firm with German heritage. A BCG partner (Roland Berger) founded the firm when he left BCG to work as an individual consultant focusing on marketing strategy. The firm quickly became increasingly involved in business strategy and grew at a rapid pace into the strategy consulting firm it is today.
The firm currently employs 2400 employees across 52 offices in 35 countries and generates c.$700m in revenue. The breadth of services has expanded beyond the original sales and marketing strategy into operations, restructuring, transformation and most recently, digital. Roland Berger are also well known for doing a large amount of due diligence work for private equity firms.
Every year Roland Berger receive thousands of applications for their job vacancies and are known to have a rigorous recruitment process with multiple case interviews.
2. What Roland Berger are looking for
Roland Berger look for four personality traits in the candidates they interview along with a preference to candidates that have lived and worked abroad, they are the only firm that openly states this preference. The other four traits that they look for are:
Maturity of thinking – Roland Berger expect their new joiners at all levels to hit the ground running and interact with senior colleagues and clients. A Mature approach to discussion, debate and thinking enables productive discussions and improves the quality of work. This is also suggests a preference to candidates that have prior work experience.
Team player – Consulting project teams are small and often resourced based on who is available. This means strong team players that can quickly integrate and work together are vital to Roland Berger and they want to see this in prior experience or other interests.
Broad interests – Well-rounded individuals that have explored different hobbies, industries and academic disciplines are well suited to life as a strategy consultant. The work is varied and requires consultants to be curious the project topic. Broad interests are also beneficial when building client and working relationships as conversations away from work become easier.
Deep & committed perspectives – All consultants on a project team will have outstanding academic records and what Roland Berger is looking for is candidates that can form unique perspectives based on strong research and communicate their view with conviction.
3. Roland Berger application process
There are four stages to the Roland Berger application process:
The interview process at Roland Berger 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.
Roland Berger 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. Both tests are similar to a GMAT style assessment and less tailored to consulting as other firms have done. You can expect core maths questions including equations and formulae as well as data interpretation questions.
Roland Berger 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).
The interviews at Roland Berger are separated into fit and case interviews. The first round of interviews has one fit interview and one case interview with junior consultants.
The second round interviews have one fit interview and one case interview with a senior consultant lasting roughly one hour each.
4. Types of interview
Roland Berger have a three interview formats across their network: experience / fit, case questions and a written case interview.
Case interview (question)
The case interview’s that Roland Berger 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 Roland Berger 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 Roland Berger 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 Roland Berger will use questions such as:
Why are you interested in Roland Berger?
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 Roland Berger 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 Roland Berger 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 Roland Berger case interview is as follows:
Situation and problem
Root cause analysis
Mathematical calculation (sometimes)
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 Roland Berger 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 Roland Berger 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: