How could I get an MBB offer from a top 5 MBA b-school?

DanRalsh's picture
Rank: Senior Chimp | 23

I plan on going to a top 5 MBA school to get an MBB offer. I'm amazed by the large number of students who get offers from MBB, especially at Kellogg. Is it really easier getting a job there as a top 5 MBA than in undergrad? How could I guarantee myself a position at MBB?

Comments (23)

May 6, 2014

Yes, I would say it is dramatically easier at the MBA level, assuming of course that you're attending one of those top programs. Each of the top 5 (really even top 7) are significant feeders into MBB, and will have formal recruiting events, coaching, and student orgs focused on landing those jobs. I wouldn't worry too much about it until you're there, but you will be spending significant time doing case prep, informal interviews with alums, networking events with each of the consultancies, etc. MBB will always need to hire lots of freshly minted MBAs because turnover is steady, and engagements continue to grow.

May 6, 2014

Are you already into a top 5 MBA? If not, you can worry about this after you get in...

May 6, 2014

Good plan. Yes, it's easier from a top MBA program. Those programs have already skimmed the top candidates based on stellar undergrad and work experience. You can't guarantee an MBB position; it's still incredibly competitive. Even at Kellogg, only half of those vying for MBB offers get one.

May 7, 2014
brj:

Good plan. Yes, it's easier from a top MBA program. Those programs have already skimmed the top candidates based on stellar undergrad and work experience. You can't guarantee an MBB position; it's still incredibly competitive. Even at Kellogg, only half of those vying for MBB offers get one.

Do you have data to back those estimates? Genuinely curious.

Of students thay apply to all 3 (MBB) from m7, only half get one offer?

May 7, 2014

There's quite a bit of variation among M7 schools, much of which has to do with the aspirations of the student body. Sticking with Kellogg for a moment, their employment report shows 38% of students land in consulting full-time. From my experience recruiting at another M7, I know there are two other phenomena at play here. For some aspiring consultants, it simply doesn't work out... at any firm. For others, they end up with a choice between a boutique consultancy and say, a top tech firm (eg Google). They would have taken MBB over Google, but end up in industry instead. I think guessing each of these effects describes another 6% of candidates is reasonable. That leaves 50% of the 465 students as MBB aspirants, of which 118 were successful. 118/233~50%.

http://www.kellogg.northwestern.edu/career_employe...

Important to note that it's not an all-or-nothing proposition. The money is the same (or more) and almost all consultancies.

May 7, 2014

Funny. I see 50% as an incredibly successful number, especially when you consider limiting factors. Some people just aren't all that personal and fail at the networking process (and/or behavioral interviews). Others never really get a grasp of case interviews. Depending on the firm, I believe GMAT is a limiting factor for some as well.

It's pretty similar to b-school interviews. The facts say that only ~50% of people that interview get in, but the number is a lot higher when you discount people that don't prepare, can barely speak, or do stupid shit like forget to wear a tie (I can actually reference multiple people that did this).

May 7, 2014
BGP2587:

Funny. I see 50% as an incredibly successful number, especially when you consider limiting factors. Some people just aren't all that personal and fail at the networking process (and/or behavioral interviews).

Completely agreed, especially compared to the undergrad process. To put this into perspective, the number is frequently below 10% (or even 5%) for undergrad target schools.

So the 50% number is an outrageously high number.

May 7, 2014
BGP2587:

It's pretty similar to b-school interviews. The facts say that only ~50% of people that interview get in, but the number is a lot higher when you discount people that don't prepare, can barely speak, or do stupid shit like forget to wear a tie (I can actually reference multiple people that did this).

Multiple people at Kellogg forgot to wear ties to interviews?

Why didn't I hear about this stuff when I was there? I would have enjoyed making fun of them.

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May 7, 2014

Sorry - multiple people didn't wear ties to b-school interviews (not specifically at Kellogg). Equally funny though.

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May 7, 2014

50% is the number at Kellogg, which is a consultant assembly line (for better or worse). Other M7's are undoubtedly lower. Also, half of MBB aspirants at M7 schools are not the trolls you describe. Anecdotally, I'd peg that number around 10%. Easily 25% of those who didn't get MBB could have on a better day. The difference between success and disappointment is much smaller than the range of most candidates' interview performance.

Also, I didn't wear a tie to one of my MBB final rounds. The invite said "It's Friday. Please feel free to wear business casual." I was the only one who went suit-no-tie. That's where I'm spending the summer. First-round, on-campus, or without that email would make going tieless a very different story...

May 7, 2014

My bad, I didn't mean to imply that if you go to an M7 and can speak like a normal human that you'll get a job at MBB. Definitely did not mean to imply that half of top school applicants are that. I just meant that 50% is already a very high number for three of the most elite/desirable firms on earth, and it's actually even (marginally) higher if you discount those that aren't cut out for the recruiting process for one reason or another. Kellogg is absolutely a factory, although I'd argue that many of the other M7 probably have similar numbers (likely less overall placement, but with less interest).

Either way, it's semantics - you have a very good shot at most M7+Tuck, but are certainly not "guaranteed" anything.

As for the tie thing, that's pretty interesting. I think I would have done what you did, since they specifically directed you to do so (although I would have felt very weird). That actually seems like a "test" in its own right - if a client tells me to "feel free not to wear a tie", typically I don't want to wear a tie. Listening to cues is a pretty important part of consulting (at least in my experience).

May 13, 2014

I'd question BGP's math a bit:

1) I doubt its truly 50% once you exclude sponsored people. During admit weekend at Kellogg, I met quite a few people who work at McKinsey and are returning to McKinsey.

2) Going in the other direction, there are a lot of people who are interested in consulting, but don't want to do MBB.

3) There are a lot of people who have consulting as their back-up and don't put full prep into case studies/learning about industries. People who are interviewing for Banking usually throw in their app for MBB, just to see what happens.

But regardless, a ton of people get into MBB from the M7...figure could be anywhere from 33-67% of interviewers, depending on how you define it though.

May 13, 2014
OpsDude:

2) Going in the other direction, there are a lot of people who are interested in consulting, but don't want to do MBB.

I don't buy that there are "a lot of people" who fall into 2). I've met some MBAs that want to specialize in one industry form the beginning, but there are very few of these people. Once you get past that, I can't see a compelling reason why you'd join a different big firm over MBB. Yes, you might get offered a bigger singing bonus with some firms, but that doesn't make too much of a difference in the long run. Some may want to do more operational work, but MBB offer that now.

May 13, 2014
OpsDude:

I'd question BGP's math a bit:

1) I doubt its truly 50% once you exclude sponsored people. During admit weekend at Kellogg, I met quite a few people who work at McKinsey and are returning to McKinsey.

2) Going in the other direction, there are a lot of people who are interested in consulting, but don't want to do MBB.

3) There are a lot of people who have consulting as their back-up and don't put full prep into case studies/learning about industries. People who are interviewing for Banking usually throw in their app for MBB, just to see what happens.

But regardless, a ton of people get into MBB from the M7...figure could be anywhere from 33-67% of interviewers, depending on how you define it though.

1. You're right. My numbers don't account for sponsored students. However, many MBB sponsors (~75%) I'm friends with have no intention of going back. Most are looking at (in order) entrepreneurship, PE, or industry.
2. I honestly can't think of anyone I recruited with for whom this is true. I'm sure there are some, but it's certainly not "a lot of people."
3. This is true. While I wouldn't call it a backup, I do know people who took a total flyer applying to MBB (esp. M) just to "see if they could." Of the few who got interviews despite not having networked much, most went down in flames. Cases are a somewhat arbitrary form of evaluation that involve some natural talent and quite a bit of honing learned skills. I do know a few nuts who went balls out for BB and MBB only (no MM banks or consultancies) and ended up with decisions like GS vs. McK.

Again, you're right that the range is pretty broad, but I think most of the factors we've listed would skew the number down. All of my assumptions were meant to feed an optimistic model. The main takeaway is even at M7 schools, there is no guarantee of an MBB offer. Top-10 consulting though is a pretty sure bet.

Either way, it's semantics - you have a very good shot at most M7+Tuck, but are certainly not "guaranteed" anything.

@"BGP2587". Not wearing a tie was a bit weird, honestly, but I didn't spend much time analyzing it. I don't think it was a test, but just decided I'd be more comfortable that way. My interviewers were in jeans and jacket/sweater (no jean jackets though).

May 13, 2014
brj:
OpsDude:

I'd question BGP's math a bit:

1) I doubt its truly 50% once you exclude sponsored people. During admit weekend at Kellogg, I met quite a few people who work at McKinsey and are returning to McKinsey.

2) Going in the other direction, there are a lot of people who are interested in consulting, but don't want to do MBB.

3) There are a lot of people who have consulting as their back-up and don't put full prep into case studies/learning about industries. People who are interviewing for Banking usually throw in their app for MBB, just to see what happens.

But regardless, a ton of people get into MBB from the M7...figure could be anywhere from 33-67% of interviewers, depending on how you define it though.

1. You're right. My numbers don't account for sponsored students. However, many MBB sponsors (~75%) I'm friends with have no intention of going back. Most are looking at (in order) entrepreneurship, PE, or industry.

2. I honestly can't think of anyone I recruited with for whom this is true. I'm sure there are some, but it's certainly not "a lot of people."

3. This is true. While I wouldn't call it a backup, I do know people who took a total flyer applying to MBB (esp. M) just to "see if they could." Of the few who got interviews despite not having networked much, most went down in flames. Cases are a somewhat arbitrary form of evaluation that involve some natural talent and quite a bit of honing learned skills. I do know a few nuts who went balls out for BB and MBB only (no MM banks or consultancies) and ended up with decisions like GS vs. McK.

Again, you're right that the range is pretty broad, but I think most of the factors we've listed would skew the number down. All of my assumptions were meant to feed an optimistic model. The main takeaway is even at M7 schools, there is no guarantee of an MBB offer. Top-10 consulting though is a pretty sure bet.

Either way, it's semantics - you have a very good shot at most M7+Tuck, but are certainly not "guaranteed" anything.

@BGP2587. Not wearing a tie was a bit weird, honestly, but I didn't spend much time analyzing it. I don't think it was a test, but just decided I'd be more comfortable that way. My interviewers were in jeans and jacket/sweater (no jean jackets though).

That's good to hear that pretty much everyone gets top 10. If I don't get MBB it's not the end of the world, but not getting Top-10 makes business school a bad proposition from an opportunity cost perspective. Would you say getting Deloitte or PwC strategy is fairly easy? I have high GMAT, but my work experience is non-front office global project management at an investment bank...got a bit nervous for consulting recruiting since pretty much everyone I met on admit weekend was a superstar.

May 13, 2014

Not everyone ends up in any consulting gig (or top 10 firms, whatever that means). Tbh consulting recruiting is over saturated in most schools, and a good number bows out at some point (it can start pretty early like not even getting invited to events, and you start looking at other options). If you are international, it can be pretty shaky. Never safe to assume you are guaranteed a banking or consulting job coming out and thus can pay back $180K of debt, since these are generally the most desired job for a vast majority of the students and lot of them has the same plan for paying back.

May 14, 2014

@OpsDude I'm not sure where I ever did any math. I simply said that 50% (reported by someone that works at MBB), if true, is a very good number, especially when considering that a certain (small?) percentage of applicants aren't great fits for whatever reason.

I also disagree that a decent portion of people interested in consulting at top business schools don't want MBB. Sure, there will be some unique people that are specifically interested in healthcare (and thus look at boutiques like ZS Associates, Trinity Partners, etc.), or energy, or whatever. I think very few people would prefer Deloitte/Accenture/other non-boutique over MBB, unless they were very concerned about short term finances and getting their second year paid for. Especially because the lifestyle at Deloitte is really no better than at McKinsey.

May 14, 2014
BGP2587:

@OpsDude I'm not sure where I ever did any math. I simply said that 50% (reported by someone that works at MBB), if true, is a very good number, especially when considering that a certain (small?) percentage of applicants aren't great fits for whatever reason.

I also disagree that a decent portion of people interested in consulting at top business schools don't want MBB. Sure, there will be some unique people that are specifically interested in healthcare (and thus look at boutiques like ZS Associates, Trinity Partners, etc.), or energy, or whatever. I think very few people would prefer Deloitte/Accenture/other non-boutique over MBB, unless they were very concerned about short term finances and getting their second year paid for. Especially because the lifestyle at Deloitte is really no better than at McKinsey.

sorry i quoted the wrong person in my initial reply

May 14, 2014

Want to chime in that the numbers might be harder than you think. I'm at an M7 and well less than 50% of the applicants to any of MBB get an offer. For the one firm where I know precise numbers, it was

Also want to echo that basically everyone prefers MBB over other consulting firms. The one exception are firms specializing in non-profit or development consulting, if you count those as the same industry.

May 15, 2014

@Laocoon i see from your other post that you come from a 2nd tier consulting background pre-MBA. I am also in the same boat as you. How's the MBB recruiting for guys who come from non-MBB consulting background, like us?

May 18, 2014

You've got a significant leg up, I s'pose, and you know how the game is played, but I think there'd be some disbelief that you wanted to go back to consulting (well, at least at my school--may be different elsewhere). Happy to discuss more over PM.

May 27, 2014
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May 29, 2014
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I previously worked for McKinsey in London and have started a blog about consulting and how to get into it at www.theconsultingcoach.com