Career News, Updates & Insights

How to approach interviewing at CRA

It’s strange how one connection or one conversation could be the only reason you have ever heard of economic consulting, even as you’re on the job hunt. The data-driven nature of our work typically isn’t sexy enough to be featured in news headlines, so one’s first exposure to the industry often comes unexpected.
Assuming you’re like a lot of us working here, when you do learn of it, you’re excited!!! “Finally, I’ve found the job that’s right for me… one where I can apply my quantitative background and love for problem-solving to real-world scenarios” is what’s running through your mind. And you rush to your computer to draft a cover letter that verbosely crams that sentiment into four paragraphs.
But wait! Before you copy and paste a majority of your investment banking/strategy consulting/investment management cover letters onto (no more than) one page, telling us you have good grades and can do math, understand that the nature of our work is very different from that in many finance and consulting spaces.
I’m not supremely knowledgeable of the ins and outs of the CRA recruiting process. Despite my limited wisdom, I know for a fact that any good application needs to answer the following two questions—1) Why do you want to do economic consulting specifically? 2) And what about your experience proves that you can do economic consulting well?
Number 1—It shouldn’t be hard to explain why you’re applying. Explain your understanding of the work we do, what skills we cultivate, and what our typical project work involves. And of course, explain why you like those things. Importantly, make sure it’s clear that you know the difference between economic consulting and finance/consulting jobs. Failing to do so is hard to hide.
Number 2—Craft a story behind your work/academic experiences that shows you’re meant for the job. Don’t just talk about an econometrics class you took or project you did—explain how the models you used are relevant to our work, or what else about the experience (working with a certain professor, cleaning messy data, etc.) was particularly translatable to the work we do. Don’t just mention that you were a camp counselor, an RA, or a special education teacher—explain how those experiences inform your understanding of working with people of different ages, backgrounds, and styles of thinking. Figure out a way to connect the dots between an item on your resume and that item’s significance to the job.
Good luck!