Becoming a management consultant is a priority career choice for many top graduates. A consultancy career provides a wide spectrum of corporate management experience, in-depth understanding of various industries, essential project and team management skills and complex problem-solving experience - all of which are essential to become a corporate leader. Candidates are required to be highly intelligent and analytical, and be able to handle stressful and long working days. 'Among all qualities, I think possessing leadership, problem-solving and communications skills are absolutely critical to our consultants,' says Glenn Leibowitz, senior external communications specialist at McKinsey's Greater China office. McKinsey is a leading management consulting firm that advises large corporations and governments on corporate strategy, and organisational or technology issues. To find the right people to help its clients solve difficult and diverse corporate problems, the firm adopts a tough screening and selection process. 'The interviewing process can include three to four interviews or even six to seven rounds,' Mr Leibowitz says. During the interviews, candidates have to demonstrate their problem-solving approaches and skills in case studies. 'These are all real cases; obviously, we disguise the corporations' identities. Most of all, we would like to see how they approach a problem and how they think and communicate; it is not about getting the right answers,' Mr Leibowitz says. At the same time, McKinsey evaluates candidates' leadership and presentation skills, which are all significant when they work with clients. The firm hires PhD graduates, law graduates and top MBA graduates. It also hires professionals from the information technology, banking or telecoms industries as their specialised knowledge is valuable. Though the business climate is not encouraging, the firm is still looking for quality people. 'Especially with the rapidly growing China market, we are always appointing new hires to serve our clients across the region,' Mr Leibowitz says. The firm provides its consultants with a structured career path. The junior entry level is as business analyst, targeted at university graduates without an MBA. Young professionals will gain two to three years' research and advisory experience, and then move on to either obtain a second degree or continue their career with another organisation. Postgraduates start as associates. Following this path, associates are then promoted to engagement manager, associate principal, principal and director. 'It is a very vigorous process. If someone does not get promoted when they should, they will be asked to leave,' Mr Leibowitz says. Talented consultants have the chance to work their way up to partner level within the firm, or they can advance their career in their specialised industries. 'It is usual for senior consultants to go into industry and become leaders of the organisation. After all, we provide our consultants with wide exposure, a unique work experience, plus excellent training.'