When you’re considering applying for a role at a new firm, chances are that you’re doing your research. Getting insight directly from the company’s employees isn’t always feasible but it’s the best first step in making your next career move an easier decision. Every consulting firm looks for different qualities in candidates, so to shed light on what makes a great Propeller consultant, we interviewed our (former) Director of People Strategy, Allison Torpey, who leads our recruiting process.
You’ve conducted quite a few interviews with Propeller candidates over the past 3 years. What do you think is unique about the Propeller interview process?
Propeller practices a thorough interview process, in which each candidate interviews at least four times and each interview is conducted by a different Propeller consultant or someone from the leadership team. This allows us to get a deep understanding of who our candidates are and where their capabilities lie. We’re selective in our hiring process and only about 1 percent of all applicants ultimately join the firm.
What are the qualities that you look for in an exceptional consultant candidate?
I like to look for three things in all candidates I interview:
Competence: Can the person do the work; are they smart?
Warmth: Is the person easy to relate to; can they build strong relationships; will people like them?
Ability to deal with ambiguity and the grit to "figure it out": Most of the problems that are put in front of us are not well-defined. To be successful at Propeller, consultants need to be eager and able to step into a new situation easily and roll up their sleeves to figure out the problem.
What made you decide to start a career in consulting? What do you enjoy about it?
I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up. I enjoy too many things and I get bored easily. Consulting has been a phenomenal way for me to try new things and stretch myself in new ways - as fast as I am comfortable growing.
Propeller has been the perfect match for me because I thrive in small and growing organizations and love the challenge of helping a company take shape in its formative years. Additionally, the culture Jeff and Amy have fostered is one of transparency, authenticity, trust, and empowerment. This is the type of environment in which I thrive and sought out as I was looking for a new professional home.
You just recently started working as the Director of People Strategy. What are you most excited about?
I define success in this role as always having the right person lined up and ready to go for any new project that comes our way. I will do this by finding amazing people, keeping amazing people, and making people more amazing.
The social experiment on which Propeller was founded (“commit to people”) is what makes Propeller unique. It’s why people join, it’s why people stay, and it’s why clients rehire us. Our success as a firm is built on the strength of this core principle. The Director of People Strategy role is the manifestation of our belief in the importance of committing to our people, and I’m extremely excited to play a part in helping Propeller grow in its own unique way.
What are the biggest benefits and the biggest challenges of working as a consultant?
Benefits: The exposure to a wide variety of projects, companies, and industries. It’s also great to have the flexibility and freedom to try new things to build one’s toolkit.
Challenges: Always having to say goodbye – to do our job well, we have to build strong relationships at the client site. While transitioning between projects, companies, and industries definitely has its benefits, it’s always hard to leave people who have become good friends.
How can you tell if someone is a good fit with our culture?
I look for people who are smart (but not arrogant), passionate, curious, driven, tenacious, and gritty. Strong candidates demonstrate these qualities both at the workplace and in their personal lives.
What do you like to do outside of work?
Run! I didn’t play any sports growing up and I’ve always been kind of a bookworm. Running has been a really fun way for me to challenge myself in a completely new way, to see how fast and how far I can go. Running has taught me patience and has reinforced my already gritty personality.
What is your personal mantra?
“I can and I will.” I use this mantra in everything that I do — whether I’m working, running, or taking on any other challenging endeavor.
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