Got interview to BCG General Associate position, how to best prepare?

grieze's picture
Rank: Senior Gorilla | 888

Hey guys, as the title says above I just received an email from BCG for a first round interview completely out of the blue.

A little background: I applied for the position online like 2-3 months back, forgot about it, and within the time period already accepted an offer at a boutique IB where I start in 5 days, I also have work experience (role that i recently left) working as an IB intern for 6-7 months working on deals in EM which from my understanding is that MBB has been aggressively trying to dominate in (which i also think is a possible reason as to why I may have gotten selected in the first place at all). I'm also from a non-target school, graduated May 2018.

The interview for BCG is in 3 weeks.

My question is how do I best prepare for the interview with such a short window of time. My understanding is that people spend MONTHS prepping for these interviews (as they should, just like I spent months prepping for IB interviews myself to show I can do the job) My long term plans are to go into PE and I'm leaning in staying in Banking and doing the whole IB --> MBA-->PE path but I figured why not take the interview because it's not everyday where BC fucking G selects a non target kid for a consultant interview and also because consulting always seemed like an interesting career.

I've begun looking at case studies and I've had some experience in consulting-like thinking when working on deals since my director showed me to view businesses operationally and strategically which I used for my investment theses, however I feel vastly unprepared for this interview since I wasn't even expecting it to happen.

Any tips for case interviewing would be much appreciated.

Thank you all in advance. I hope I'm not sounding like too much of a dip shit when luck just throws an opportunity at me out of nowhere.

Comments (31)

Jan 3, 2019

Not trynna burst your bubble, but BCG practically invites at least 10% of applicants from my cohort (from a non target as well) to the interviews, which makes for over a hundred students. Not so selective imo, and selection of final candidates are poor. Reputation is also falling recently due to poor exit opps and talent acquisition. Would advise on staying at boutique IB if you're looking at PE.

Also, wouldn't call it BC fucking G when it's literally Tier 2 or 1.5 at best :D Let us know when you get interviews from Bain or McKinsey

Source: Kid from a non-target who got all MBB offers, Personal contacts

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Jan 4, 2019

Also, wouldn't call it BC fucking G when it's literally Tier 2 or 1.5 at best

You do realize that one of the "Bs" in "MBB" stands for BCG, right? Like, the acronym that describes the top 3 best companies in the consulting industry? If anything, McKinsey is taking the heat right now, what with all the problems with the MENA region. You're clearly misinformed.

But that's okay, we respect your right to be wrong.

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Jan 5, 2019

Wouldn't call it top 3 and everyone knows there's a divide for a fact

@BCG peeps - seems like yall have loads of time to post on this forum... Not enough deal flow?

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Most Helpful
Jan 3, 2019

^not tryna burst your bubble, but this doesn't sound like someone who got "all MBB offers"

@OP congrats on the interview. I'm starting at BCG in a few weeks. A lot of material floating around on the internet, but the three things that helped me the most (in order):
1. Case Interview Secrets and (to a lesser extent) Case in Point
2. Bschool casebooks
3. Case prep materials on the BCG website. Recruiting also should have emailed you an interview brochure with some sample cases.

Good luck, PM me with any other questions!

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Jan 3, 2019

Sorry that you're salty considering that you only got an offer from BCG. I did in fact get offers from BCG and rejected to head to another MBB instead.

BCG pretty much a joke in my entire school now since they took in a guy who's notorious for lying on his resume, really makes me wonder how he got in when he didn't even get offers from other companies...

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Jan 3, 2019

@OP, ignore this guy. For whatever reason he has an axe to grind with BCG. There aren't any non-targets with a 10% interview rate.

My personal advice:

  1. Behavioral is ~50% of the interview even if it only takes up 25% of the time. Don't underestimate it. 30sec-1minute pitch that explains your journey to consulting. Have 5-6 stories that you can shape to questions they ask. 2 for leadership, 2 for communication/conflict, 2 for achievement. If they touch upon multiple domains, even better. I don't personally think memorizing a top 50 list of questions is helpful except for oddball ones like dealing with failure.
  2. BCG appreciates when you include terminology and structures specific to the case. For example, instead of "customers," in a healthcare case that might be providers, patients, hospitals, etc. I was pushed to be more specific multiple times in a couple cases.
  3. Practice formulating and communicating opening structure on its own. It will set up the rest of the case. I'd recommend you reference material such as Look Over My Shoulder for communication specifics. If you don't have enough time, reference Case Interview Secrets for 4 simple frameworks you can (and should) adapt to the case.
  4. Remember to be hypothesis driven, especially since it's interviewee led. Click up a level after you reach an insight, integrating it into your understanding of the objective and how it relates to your hypothesis.
  5. Treat the interview like a professional dialogue, as if you were tackling the case with him (without asking for answers). If you're truly stuck, ask for direction while offering a potential approach.
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Jan 5, 2019

I have the feeling BCG is better off without you.

Jan 3, 2019

Thanks man I'll check those out. I already started using BCGs interactive case library and it was helpful. Overall seems like it's fair to say that you should go into an interview with a positive mindset and have fun solving the case, no?

Jan 4, 2019

Also make sure to check the online cases from McK and Bain.

Jan 4, 2019

Definitely. It sounds trite, but if you don't enjoy the solving the case you probably won't enjoy the job either.

Jan 3, 2019

First off, congrats on the interview!

Given you received an offer for a boutique IB role where fit would have been highly stressed, I'm sure you know how to conduct yourself with the proper polish for behavioral questions. As such, my advice would be to sharpen your case interview skills as rapidly as possible. You might have the best idea of what vehicle(s) to use (partner case, self case, website, etc), so I thought I'd provide a framework of exactly what to cover.

Case interviews generally follow this chronology:
1. Background info and clarification (to locate any unmentioned constraints/goals)
2. Initial hypothesis generation and explanation of rationale
3. Breakdown of individual branches and analysis of subsequently requested data
4. Conclusion, risk assessment, and follow up steps.

Presentation wise, because you're still fairly new to the case interview, it's important you verbally go through the cases out loud so you can get used to it. Simply reading cases can sound smooth in your head very quickly, and you might be deceived into thinking you're picking up on it faster than you are. In reality, many people get distracted by the sound of their own voice as they try to think while speaking. Not to mention the vast majority of people are not nearly as polished sounding as they'd like to be.

Analysis wise, I personally found it helpful to break down different skills to work on: chart analysis, mental math, structuring, brainstorming, etc. Work your way up until you sound presentable on all the categories, then zero in on one or two skills (firms want consultants who don't make mistakes on anything, and who can "spike" in at least one category).

Lastly (make sure you have the above bases covered), it may be useful to read some basic industry summaries. This will make your structures even more customized. For example: while retail's key revenue streams are based on product margins and brand power, the insurance industry relies on default rates and interest rates. Very different from the overused Revenue = product * quantity

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Jan 3, 2019

Thanks for the advice and will definitely work on the 4 components of case interviews. I found my structuring to be my weakest point since I'm so used to jumping from point to point when I was studying an industry/business model for a company that I was constructing and building an investment theses. I'm very used to going through multiple things at once vs a very linear one by one consultant mindset where you work each factor one by one. Chart reading and analysis have been my strong traits given I come from IB and we have to look at numbers and make sense of them and see what story is being told.

As for speaking out loud yes I definitely see what you're saying since I found that reading and thinking out loud has definitely helped me out in getting to any possible solutions for a business.

Jan 3, 2019

If that is your weakness, it is actually relatively easy to work on (compared to other areas).
Rather than go through a whole case, just focus on writing down structures. You can do it from casebook (just read the prompt only), or even from business articles in the WSJ (how would you approach solving a problem company X is facing).
Just targeting that area repeatedly, as opposed to the full case, will help a lot.
Once you get to the point of coming up with a creative, comprehensive approach to solving the problem, work to get the structure down in <2min.

Jan 3, 2019

Interviewed for the same role about a year ago. PM me if you have any specific questions.


Jan 7, 2019

Currently about 4 months into my MBB career, interviews happened for me more than a year ago but I'll chime in on a couple points:
1. Be very, very structured in your commincation (Victor Cheng discusses this a good bit in his materials).
2. Inject some personal experience into the case. If it's an airline case, for example, chances are you've ridden on an airplane and understand a thing or two about it. Make sure to add in these anecdotes where appropriate to show you are thinking about and enjoying the case, it helps contextualize things.
3. Drive the case. This is very important, when you reach the end of an analysis, ask yourself, 'so what?' and then put it into your answer and immediately move on to your next area of interest without being prodded.
4. Keep things action oriented in your recommendation. Also, recommendation should sound like "I recommend the company reduce prices on XYZ product, because of Reason 1, Reason 2, and Reason 3. The risks associated with this are likely to be ABC. The next steps for the company should be 123 (and aimed at implementing action, further research needed, and mitigating risk).
5. On your framework, make it clear to the interviewer why each branch is there and what type of data you are looking for there and how it might impact your answer. This is important to show you aren't just using canned frameworks.

Best of luck my man.

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Jan 8, 2019

Congratulations on getting the interview! I also went through MBB & other consulting recruiting, and I think @BeautifullyConfused and @BigHoss23 above got it just right.

I'd like to add that it's really important to explain your thought process throughout the interview. Being able to say "I'd like to look at XYZ data because it will help be find out [something]. Do we have data on this?" or "it looks like revenue decreased from 2013 to 2014, which is especially interesting [reason: for example, given that idk number of customers has reached an all time high]" is very different from "can I get XYZ data?" or "the income decreased". The former shows that your success is replicable, as you have a clear business acumen you are following, rather than just guessing and getting lucky with your answers.

Also, it's a good idea to keep a "case notebook" where you write down what you did well/what you could improve on from each case you go through. This helps you quickly review areas to improve, instead of having to go through your notes for each case, and is a nice refresher for the day before the interview.

Good luck, and feel free to message me for any specific questions/advice. I know how stressful this time can be.

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Jan 8, 2019

Similar situation as OP. Where can I find case interviews? I know MBB website have a few, but they aren't really suitable for studying. I've heard people say they've studied 20 cases before the interview... does anyone have a resource?

Jan 8, 2019