How much do consulting companies scrutinize transcripts in the interview selection process?

I've heard anywhere from "nobody takes the time to look at them having hundreds of resumes to screen" to "they really make sure you aced all your classes and challenged yourself."

So what's the truth?

Comments (8)

 
Mar 13, 2015 - 11:05am

Just make sure your GPA is as high as possible, if literally every semester is interspersed with "Gardening 101" and "How to taste wines" it will raise eyebrows, but no one cares whether you took Calculus III or Honors Mathematics for example

 
Mar 13, 2015 - 11:49am

Rodgers:

I've heard anywhere from "nobody takes the time to look at them having hundreds of resumes to screen" to "they really make sure you aced all your classes and challenged yourself."

So what's the truth?

You can comfortably bet that large consulting firms don't have time to examine transcripts. Smaller firms (hiring from a smaller school basis) mostly don't bother either; however since these small firms often don't have a dedicated recruiting staff they often pass on these responsibilities to consulting staff who might be a little more savvy/caring about these things.

Even if the time was there - the knowledge isn't; it's simply impossible to aggregate difficulties across a selection of schools and courses. You might get some credit for taking up a harder major - but having been a part of this process - I can tell you with high certainty that at MBB, school rank/cumulative gpa/test scores easily trump major/ECs/everything else.

This is true in hiring practices across almost all jobs, except the technical/quant heavy ones, which may rely on your pre-requisite knowledge. So relax - take some gpa inflators and spend your extra time spicing up your resume under a different dimension.

And on the contrary to the previous comment - do take those classes; wouldn't raise any eyebrows at all and would make for interesting conversation.

 
Mar 13, 2015 - 1:00pm

To clarify a bit I didn't mean to suggest not to take those classes, but merely to illustrate the difference in courses it would take for firms to take notice of the difficulty of your classes; if you took four out of five classes every semester in the department of underwater basket weaving, it will start to become noticeable and might make you look worse in their eyes (although to be honest, they'd probably still invite someone with a 4.0 in those classes over a 3.6 engineering major or something, ceteris paribus)

 
Mar 13, 2015 - 1:39pm

To echo what others have said, at my MBB there was absolutely zero time to look at a transcript. We rarely even looked at cover letters. I was a BA/Associate/Associate Consultant and so I was only involved in the first round. It's possible they look at transcript in the second round but I highly doubt it, as at that point it's about your interview results.

What matters a lot more is the major (only for undergrad obviously, at places like Wharton MBA where you have a "major," no one actually cares what you're majoring in). Usually MBBs have people who went to your school review your resume and they know what are the tough and easier majors. The raw GPA matters the most by far, and at my school you generally had to have a ~3.7+ to get an interview. But a 3.6 in engineering will likely get an interview while a 3.6 in English or Political Science probably won't (at least at my undergrad that I reviewed resumes for).

To the point others above me made about extracurriculars, that's another reason that alums review your resume. They know which ECs are "real" ECs and which are resume padding. Resume padding isn't bad, but if you don't have the GPA to back it up then it won't help you get an interview

 
Mar 13, 2015 - 2:17pm

I would just add that once you get to the interviews you should have a good explanation for any bad grade (or in general anything on your transcript) prepared. I have been asked about specific grades multiple times and several friends have tried the same at MBB. Mostly happens with more senior people in my experience, which makes it even more important to prepare for. You don't want to stumble in an interview with a partner because you don't have a good explanation for a C in a course you took when you were a freshman.

Should add that this is for Europe but I doubt that it is different in the US.

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