NE M7 to MBB: What I wish I knew, observations, and ask me anything

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babster - Certified Professional
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I attend a northeastern M7 school and just finished first year recruiting, having landed 2 MBB offers and 1 2nd tier offer (ATK, LEK, Parthenon) in an east coast city. I haven't posted much before, but have consistently found WSO very helpful, so I wanted to give my perspective on the recruiting process at an M7 school, explain some of the mistakes I see people make and answer any questions. The most important thing I can say is don't assume going to a top tier MBA program will get you a consulting job. You have to work for it.

Some general observations about the process

1. M7 does not equal MBB, and does not even equal 2nd tier firm
I was amazed by the number of people who walked into recruiting assuming they would get an offer. In reality, only about 40% of people who seriously recruited for consulting got 1st year offers, and my understanding is that this number is fairly consistent across the M7. Interviewing is a bloodbath, no other way to put it. Lots of people do NOT get offers. I saw lots of people who didn't adequately prep for interviews and they ended up without offers. That said, the people I saw who really treated the recruiting process seriously generally got offers.

2. You (generally) don't have to network to get an interview, but you need to network to get an offer
The percentage of applicants who get interviews is between roughly 65-80% depending on the firm. The vast majority of people who attend one or two events, email a consultant, etc got interviews. Of course, people with weaker resumes had to network more aggressively, so if you are on the fence, keep that in mind. That said, everyone I saw who got offers in my city were very well networked with the firm and had built solid relationships with multiple consultants. Don't skip networking with 2nd tier firms either, I didn't get a 2nd tier interview that I really should have gotten due to insufficient networking. While this would be speculation, my guess is that networking is used as a pretty easy tiebreaker in interviews. Also, it gives you something to talk about during your fit interviews.

3. You don't get a ton of exposure to firms on campus, so you do need to be proactive
I had always assumed that firms would hold lots of events to get to know consultants, after all, we're a top supplier of consultants to each firm. This is not the case at all. Only 1 firm did a city-specific dinner, and one other firm did a brief, city-specific reception (probably all of an hour long). Other than that, we just had a coffee chat and a company info session. Each firm did a case prep session, but don't count on these for networking as there will be 100+ students and 2-3 consultants from whichever random city they decided to fly people in from.. Don't just rely on these events, reach out to consultants with similar professional backgrounds, practice areas you are interested in, etc. It's not a bad idea to reach out before recruiting starts either, though make sure you are ready to ask and answer good questions.

4. If you have an unusual background, find out which firms have historically hired your background
I have a very non-traditional background, and 2 of my 3 offers said I was the first offer with my background that they could recall. The third firm had hired a bunch of people with my background and showed the strongest interest in me throughout the process. This applies to people with any non-traditional background, be it teaching, military, startups, nonprofit, etc. Every firm will be willing to talk to you, but certain firms have a preference for certain backgrounds.

5. Case prep quality is better than case prep quantity
Doing lots of cases with your buddies is great, but quality case practice is really critical. By quality cases, I mean doing cases with 2nd years who got MBB offers, sponsored students, career services, consultants, etc. Basically, practice cases with anyone who knows what they are doing. Do some cases with people you don't know well, it gets the adrenaline going. Practice unusual cases, specifically address weaknesses (quant, structuring, etc), practice a couple cases wearing a suit (you're going to be wearing one for your real interview) and practice stress testing each other during practice cases. By stress test, I mean not paying attention to the interviewee, being a dick, playing on your phone, refusing to answer questions, etc. Virtually all of these things will come up in your interview. Lastly, start your case prep early, so you are not cramming at the last minute. The level you need to perform at is VERY high.

6. 2 things I noticed with McKinsey:
i. Lots of people didn't get interviews, far more than Bain/BCG or any of the 2nd tier firms.
ii. I noticed lots of people chatting up McKinsey consultants at our events who I never saw at any other consulting recruiting event or consulting club event.
I'd say a decent number of students were recruiting for only McKinsey (in terms of consulting firms at least) and my rough estimate is that McKinsey probably gets 20-30% more applications that Bain or BCG. I was surprised how many people didn't get interviews with McKinsey.

7. Fit is everything
I can't stress enough how important fit is. With my favorite firm, I was more enthusiastic in the interview, and the most pumped to get the offer. All 3 major firms basically do the same work, figure out which firm has the people you like. That will make networking easy and make your interview experience smoother. And speaking of fit, practice your fit interviews! The questions are predictable, so you have no excuse for not practicing and it is an easy way to get dinged in an interview.

Anyway, I've yapped enough at this point. Happy to answer any questions about recruiting, interviewing, etc, though I can't give away my school as I will need to keep this anonymous.

Comments (54)

Feb 26, 2016

Great info thanks for posting. This goes to show that even with an m7 mba it is far more difficult to switch to consulting than what most people write on this forum. Something to seriously consider before getting into a lot debt.

Without IB/MBB post-mba, bschool tuition is in my opinion much harder to justify. Since most corp-dev positions have lower compensation, and 7-8 years of industry experience will put you ahead of most mba's.

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Feb 26, 2016

I can't agree with number 7 more. Especially as you get outside of MBB, the differences in personality, practice area strength, and case team dynamics are meaningfully different among the firms. I was pretty targeted in my recruiting, as I have a background that lined up really closely with a practice area where those relative strengths and weaknesses show through, and I was sensitive to those differentiators-- but even so, I was surprised how many people shotgunned their resumes out to 10 firms outside MBB that are really only similar because they do "consulting."

Just out of curiosity, now that you've gone through the process, did your classmates generally end up where you thought they would? And in the "hierarchy" of firms, from your experience at school, where can you start to tell a meaningful difference in the quality of candidates?

I just finished consulting recruiting at a school in that tier outside M7 but above 15 (you know, where every school can point to some ranking and say they're top 10, but recruiting-wise, they're more or less indistinguishable). For us, I thought MBB generally did a pretty good job of scooping up the best talent, although it looks like McK took way more than Bain or BCG, and the quality may have suffered for it. There are just a handful of students that have taken offers from what usually gets called "tier 2" around here, in the "smaller shop with one or two tier 1 practices that suffers from a smaller alumni network" vein, i.e. financial services at OW, life sciences at LEK, supply chain for industrials at ATK, etc., and (big disclaimer) as far as I can tell within this school, those people are indistinguishable from the MBB group. Not that many of them though.

With some exceptions, there really started to be a noticeable drop in talent (talent as in some combination of pure mental horsepower, meaningful experience, and personable nature) when you got to the other huge practices, like Deloitte, PwC, Accenture. I have a lot of friends in this group, and MBB is not the only path to a successful career...but these were people where when they said "yeah, I struck out on MBB," my thought was "I mean, yeah, that's not surprising."

Thoughts?

    • 1
Feb 26, 2016
dmw86:

I can't agree with number 7 more. Especially as you get outside of MBB, the differences in personality, practice area strength, and case team dynamics are meaningfully different among the firms. I was pretty targeted in my recruiting, as I have a background that lined up really closely with a practice area where those relative strengths and weaknesses show through, and I was sensitive to those differentiators-- but even so, I was surprised how many people shotgunned their resumes out to 10 firms outside MBB that really only similar because they do "consulting."

Just out of curiosity, now that you've gone through the process, did your classmates generally end up where you thought they would? And in the "hierarchy" of firms, from your experience at school, where can you start to tell a meaningful difference in the quality of candidates?

I just finished consulting recruiting at a school in that tier outside M7 but above 15 (you know, where every school can point to some ranking and say they're top 10, but recruiting-wise, they're more or less indistinguishable). For us, I thought MBB generally did a pretty good job of scooping up the best talent, although it looks like McK took way more than Bain or BCG, and the quality may have suffered for it. There are just a handful of students that have taken offers from what usually gets called "tier 2" around here, in the "smaller shop with one or two tier 1 practices that suffers from a smaller alumni network" vein, i.e. financial services at OW, life sciences at LEK, supply chain for industrials at ATK, etc., and (big disclaimer) as far as I can tell within this school, those people are indistinguishable from the MBB group. Not that many of them though.

With some exceptions, there really started to be a noticeable drop in talent (talent as in some combination of pure mental horsepower, meaningful experience, and personable nature) when you got to the other huge practices, like Deloitte, PwC, Accenture. I have a lot of friends in this group, and MBB is not the only path to a successful career...but these were people where when they said "yeah, I struck out on MBB," my thought was "I mean, yeah, that's not surprising."

Thoughts?

Yeah, completely agree outside MBB and Deloitte on the fit issue. ATK, LEK, Parthenon, Strategy& and OW all have different strengths and weaknesses, but also very different company cultures. If you are interviewing with them definitely have a good idea of the company culture.

Do people end up where they thought they would? Well, somewhat. In terms of people who get offers, most people get more than 1 consulting offer and typically choose based on fit. So in that case, I think they went to a firm they already really liked. I certainly know a few people who got McK and wanted Bain for example, or vice versa. That said, there are very clear cultural differences between firms so I think if candidates pick the wrong offer they'll end up not liking their firm. Also goes back to #4 in my first post. Firms to have preferences for certain profiles and I definitely noticed that trend held up VERY well.

As for MBB (and specifically McK) scooping up the best talent, I would say there is some truth to that, but to a great degree it comes down to preparation and even some luck. And I wouldn't say McK dominated in hiring, I think BCG gave out about as many offers, and many people with 2 offers will take Bain or BCG over McK for cultural reasons. I would very roughly agree with your take on talent, though I think you see people who landed 2nd tier offers (or particularly Deloitte, Accenture, etc) rerecruit next year.

Feb 26, 2016
babster:

Do people end up where they thought they would? Well, somewhat. In terms of people who get offers, most people get more than 1 consulting offer and typically choose based on fit. So in that case, I think they went to a firm they already really liked.

No argument here-- I agree that there was quite a bit of self-selection, and it seemed to make sense (i.e. it was rational self-selection). I guess I was more curious as to if people ended up where YOU thought they would. Through classes and casing and hanging out, I got to know a lot of the people here who were serious about consulting, and I developed my own opinions about them. Didn't always match their own.

There were quite a few people who blew in here and were like "yeah, I'm MBB or bust," and they had no business thinking that would be the case for them, and then when they struck out, they were the only people surprised. Our career office even tried to manage expectations by sitting us down during orientation and saying "hey look at all the people in this room...X of you (a small minority) are getting offers for MBB, so please have a backup plan." It sort of worked.

Feb 26, 2016
dmw86:

There were quite a few people who blew in here and were like "yeah, I'm MBB or bust," and they had no business thinking that would be the case for them, and then when they struck out, they were the only people surprised. Our career office even tried to manage expectations by sitting us down during orientation and saying "hey look at all the people in this room...X of you (a small minority) are getting offers for MBB, so please have a backup plan." It sort of worked.

Oh yeah, we had lots of the same people here. Amazed at the number of people who didn't prep enough, only applied to MBB and were shocked when they didn't get an offer. I was surprised by a few people who got offers at MBB, but they may have successfully crammed last minute and gotten lucky-certainly not a strategy to rely on.

And yeah, we got the same speech from career services and it was probably about as successful as at your school.

Feb 26, 2016

Hey OP, thanks for doing this. Do you think that coming from a tier two consulting (PwC, Accenture, Capegemini) pre-MBA background makes it more difficult for someone to get into one of the MBB at the MBA level? Also, pardon the ignorance, but when you say networking, what do you really mean; what does it entail? Sorry, I'm only used to networking for IB at the undergraduate level.

Feb 26, 2016
keyboardb:

Also, pardon the ignorance, but when you say networking, what do you really mean; what does it entail? Sorry, I'm only used to networking for IB at the undergraduate level.

Basically it means building relationships with current consultants so that there is someone in the room advocating for you. Meet people at the info session, coffee chat, cold call on your own, etc. Be an interesting person to speak with who asks good questions and always follow up via email. These people don't have to be your best friends, just know you well enough to confirm with others that you are interested and a normal person. It's not too difficult, and if it seems really daunting my advice would just be to practice. Practice talking about yourself, asking questions, etc. I had some really awkward coffee chats and interactions at firstbut got better after practice.

Feb 26, 2016

Thanks for doing this and great insights into the recruiting process.

1) What is your background in terms of academics and work experience?
2) How many students did you see who did non-MBB consulting before bschool try to recruit for MBB? Were they successful?

Feb 26, 2016
Manks:

Thanks for doing this and great insights into the recruiting process.

1) What is your background in terms of academics and work experience?2) How many students did you see who did non-MBB consulting before bschool try to recruit for MBB? Were they successful?

  1. Attended a top-tier liberal arts school, and got a non-quantitative degree. I'm unfortunately unable to tell you my professional background since there are very few people with my specific background at M7 schools. I will just leave it as nontraditional for b-school, but certainly not unheard of.
  2. Decent number of folks trading up, though of course a lot of the Deloitte, Accenture and ATK people were sponsored and returning (my understanding is them recruiting for MBB is a huge no-no). Plenty of those with 2nd tier/boutique consulting experience did well, plenty didn't. No real correlation one way or another. Honestly, based on professional background it's really all over the map as to who gets offers and who doesn't.
Feb 26, 2016

1) Understandable.

2) Checks out to what I've heard in the past that pre-MBA consulting exp doesn't necessarily give you a better shot at MBB.

Feb 26, 2016

As someone who also did consulting recruiting at an M7, I would agree with all of this and note that all incoming B school students should take this advice to heart when evaluating incoming options.

@keyboardb and @keyboardb: I'll definitely let the OP provide her / his opinion, but IMHO it's too hard to tell. I know people with Tier 2 consulting experience who converted at multiple of MBB, and also knew folks with Tier 2 experience who failed to convert on their other Tier 2 options (most of these people were folks who did something like corp strat after their first consulting stint).

FWIW, I had decision rounds with 2/3 of MBB but failed to convert - ended up securing multiple Tier 2 offers.

Feb 26, 2016

Hey, thanks for the response. Yea, I was kind of thinking that. I know that it's still tough recruiting at the MBA level despite what a lot of people say on WSO. My housemate during my summer internship was a Booth student from a top-15 undergrad school with name brand boutique consulting firm experience (Brattle, Cambridge, NERA). He was unable to get any MBB offers which has really made me think twice about B-school.

Feb 26, 2016

Of course, no problem.

I definitely think consulting is doable assuming you're personable and put your nose to the grindstone during recruiting, but it's far from a sure thing. That being said, MBB is still competitive. Out of folks recruiting for consulting (I'll define this as folks who submitted applications to MBB), probably 15 - 20% ended up with offers from MBB. Another ~20% ended up with second tier offers, roughly totaling the OP's 40% estimate as well.

There's lots of great advice on WSO but expectations over career options do get overblown, largely due to the outliers being the most vocal (outliers being either college freshmen or KKR associates haha).

Feb 26, 2016

@ConsultingQuant so are you going to take the tier 2 offer fully expecting to re-recruit for MBB in the fall? Or if the summer goes well would you consider staying put?

Feb 26, 2016

@dmw86" I will re-recruit in the Fall. However, I definitely won't be alone as we also get a fair number of Tier 2 folks, corporate folks, and some burnt-out bankers recruiting in the Fall for consulting. Even though I like the Tier 2 firm (both people / type of work), MBB is hard to pass up from a branding perspective and will also give me significantly more geographic flexibility than the Tier 2 (important to me for personal reasons).

Just from a numbers perspective, McK takes about the same number of people FT as they did for internships, and Bain takes ~2/3 of the # of folks from their intern class FT. BCG tends to be the most selective on the re-recruit based on what second years have said, but the recruiter said they sometimes provide an early interview fast-track option if you were close in year 1.

Feb 26, 2016

Makes sense. That's in line with my school-- it seems like an understood fact that everyone who recruited for MBB and didn't get it will try again in the fall, regardless of what their "backup plan" was (tier 2, industry RLDP, etc.).

I keep trying to find unicorns like me-- I was interested in one of the aforementioned tier 2 strong practice areas before I came to school, so that's where I focused my recruiting time, and that's where I got an offer for the summer. I think I'm the only guy at my school who didn't think of it as a backup (which might be part of why I got it). I'll be interested to see how many of the other summer interns plan to re-recruit.

Feb 26, 2016

Good for you, congrats! Glad for you that you're all wrapped up. I know a few folks in your situation, but a lot less at my current school than friends at other b schools. I know some folks at Yale SOM and they tend to be a bit more discerning when making their choices, and actually had specific preferences among the non-MBB firms.

I also preferred working at one of the smaller firms to the Accenture's, Strategy&'s, etc., so I definitely understand how you differentiate outside of MBB.

Feb 26, 2016

Thanks for the response. Good luck with re-recruiting next year.

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Feb 26, 2016

Just asking out of curiosity...I didn't pursue Consulting when I got to B-school nor did I attend any functions and my school has a reputation as a MBB feeder though it isn't M7. For some reason (Resume match to a particular practice area? Status as URM with high GMAT? Filling a shortage of acceptances? Some combo?) I had a couple of firms cold email me during first term looking to arrange interviews, including 1 from MBB. I was curious as to how common this practice was across schools/firms, as it might offer people an angle knowing that these firms can be proactive in their search, or help them with tailoring their stories. Or was my case just unusual?

Feb 26, 2016

At my M7, the firms make it a habit to reach out to folks with decent resumes who haven't been recruiting for consulting as well. From what I've heard anecdotally, it's for the following reasons: 1) Helps pump up recruiting stats (i.e. selectivity) by getting more applications, 2) need to maintain the brand by being selective (highly related to 1), and 3) they may actually find a diamond in the rough who has ruled out consulting without really understanding what the job entails.

Just my $.02.

Feb 26, 2016

Thanks for the response; that explanation makes perfect sense.

Feb 26, 2016
TheGrind:

Just asking out of curiosity...I didn't pursue Consulting when I got to B-school nor did I attend any functions and my school has a reputation as a MBB feeder though it isn't M7. For some reason (Resume match to a particular practice area? Status as URM with high GMAT? Filling a shortage of acceptances? Some combo?) I had a couple of firms cold email me during first term looking to arrange interviews, including 1 from MBB. I was curious as to how common this practice was across schools/firms, as it might offer people an angle knowing that these firms can be proactive in their search, or help them with tailoring their stories. Or was my case just unusual?

Somewhat typical for what I saw, particularly with URM and military people. Outside of URM, McKinsey seemed the most aggressive by far in terms of reaching out to people who weren't doing consulting recruiting.

Feb 26, 2016

[/quote]

Somewhat typical for what I saw, particularly with URM and military people. Outside of URM, McKinsey seemed the most aggressive by far in terms of reaching out to people who weren't doing consulting recruiting.

[/quote]

Yup, that was the one of MBB that reached out.

Feb 26, 2016

Same thing happened to me, even though I never shown even a remote interest in consulting, I was invited to "private" events, office visits and selected for first round interviews for both summer and FT (I had not applied) which I found strange since consulting was super in demand (75% of my class applied for McK and many didn't get interviews obviously so it's not like they didn't have anyone to interview). The McK HR was so annoying that I ended up taking a call with a partner so I obviously asked why the interest. I got a semi-bullshit response that they are making sure that the best candidates consider consulting or something like that. McK and BCG both were very proactive in trying recruit me, but never heard anything from Bain so I assumed it was because they are trying to built their PE practice. Many of my classmates coming from PE had similar experiences.

Mar 1, 2016

I also had McKinsey reach out to me (high GMAT) with a phone conversation. I went through IB recruiting.

Feb 29, 2016

How many weeks/how many cases would you say is ideal for the case prep portion of the interview

Feb 29, 2016
alreadyrich:

How many weeks/how many cases would you say is ideal for the case prep portion of the interview

I did about 40, though some people do a lot more. I'd also recommend starting early, probably a month to month and a half in advance of your interview at minimum. Generally practice until you are ready, and the person who should be gauging whether you are ready will ideally be a current consultant or 2nd year. Don't just go by another first year telling you that you're ready. Quantity of cases is important, but case practice quality is just as, if not more, important.

Another thing to be aware of, virtually all of the b-school casebooks (at least among the top 14 schools) really overdo profitability cases and don't have enough M&A cases at all. They are OK on mkt entry. About a week out I had to cram M&A cases, and lo and behold Bain 1st round ended up being 2 M&As. Just something to be aware of.

Mar 1, 2016

Thanks a bunch Babster. Im at INSEAD and your thoughts align with what I see over here. I am about 5 weeks away from interviews so I am about to start prep. My goal is somewhere between 30-50 practice cases. Good tip on spreading case type practice and good luck with your internship

Mar 1, 2016

How would you recommend to network with people at MBB?

Basically, could you provide a framework of HOW to network when you're already at a top MBA school?
Specifically, how would you network with:
1. Partners (They're so busy)
2. Get them to be interested in you (I imagine they're tough to impress)

Mar 1, 2016
BORNNEO:

How would you recommend to network with people at MBB?

Basically, could you provide a framework of HOW to network when you're already at a top MBA school?Specifically, how would you network with:1. Partners (They're so busy)2. Get them to be interested in you (I imagine they're tough to impress)

  1. I never talked to a partner until 2nd round interviews. Basically, I focused networking on Consultants and Engagement Managers/Project Leaders. No need to really go above that level. Other folks can feel free to chime in if they thought they needed to speak with principals or partners, but I didn't find it necessary. In my experience partners weren't very involved in recruiting.
  2. Actually, the firms already are very interested in you. If they are on your campus, its because your school is a major source of talent and they want to get to know you and see if you are a good fit. It's not about impressing them, more about making a good impression (i.e. can you pass the airport test, are you normal, seem fun, etc).

If you're at school: Reach out to alums in target offices, speak with 2nd years in target offices as they are a good source for contacts. Figure out who is the recruiting contact for your target office at your school. Have phone conversations or if you are their city on a Friday see if you can swing by for coffee. Networking isn't nearly as intense as what I saw my banker buddies do, but you still need to make a couple of quality contacts. I found that I would speak with 4 to 5 people in each office I was targeting and really hit it off with 2 people.

Above all, follow up. I had a boss who once told me "you piss next to someone, send them a thank you note." While that is probably a bit overdone, definitely email people the next day thanking them for their time and telling them you really liked the firm, enjoyed chatting etc.

If you are still unsure I'd suggest talking to career services or a trusted 2nd year adviser.

Mar 1, 2016

Thanks for the great insight!

Mar 2, 2016

I was amazed by the number of people who walked into recruiting assuming they would get an offer. In reality, only about 40% of people who seriously recruited for consulting got 1st year offers, and my understanding is that this number is fairly consistent across the M7

and

That said, the people I saw who really treated the recruiting process seriously generally got offers.

Could you please clarify these statements? Did only 40% of the people who were serious about recruiting get offers or was this percentage (tier 1 and tier 2 included) closer to 80 - 90%? In other words, approximately what percentage of people who - seriously - attended the networking events and - seriously - prepared for case studies did get offers?

Mar 3, 2016

Sure, and my apologies-my language should have been clearer. My general take is that if 100 people are recruiting "seriously" (by which I mean attending info sessions, coffee chats etc) for consulting, probably only about 50-60% are going to adequately case (i.e. truly take the process seriously) and prepare for interviews. People say they'll start in December, then they have finals, then travel to some exotic location, then come back to campus and start interviewing almost as soon as they return. The interviews come up quickly and lots of people end up doing last minute cramming, which is typically not very successful. Of course there is always the story of the guy who did 5 practice cases and got an offer but this is definitely the exception and not the norm.

For those who do case adequately, by which I mean consistently practicing cases, incorporating feedback, doing cases with 2nd years, consultants and sponsored students, and properly addressing weaknesses, probably very roughly 70% of people got offers. Those that didn't fell into the following categories: 1. Lacked the skills to succeed in a case interview (rare, but existed-particularly for mental math); 2. Didn't adequately spread their risk (only applied MBB, big mistake!) and got unlucky during the interview process. 3. Weird people or had other fit issues with consulting overall. 4. Applied to a city where recruiting was extremely competitive that year. Typically means SF in particular but certain cities can be bad certain years depending on how many people want to go there and firm hiring at the city. Atlanta was particular brutal this year for example.

Make sense? Hope that is helpful.

    • 1
Mar 4, 2016
babster:

Applied to a city where recruiting was extremely competitive that year. Typically means SF in particular but certain cities can be bad certain years depending on how many people want to go there and firm hiring at the city. Atlanta was particular brutal this year for example.

Make sense? Hope that is helpful.

Where does NYC recruiting rank these days in terms of competitiveness? What about Boston? I am headed to school this fall and am curious to hear your thoughts.

Thanks for all the info, very helpful post overall!

Mar 4, 2016

With the caveat that my observations are limited to one school: NY is very competitive but definitely doable. While there are tons of people going for NY all 3 firms have large offices and significant hiring needs. Additionally all the tier 2 firms and Deloitte have large offices so there are a large number of positions being hired for. Also, McKinsey has a Stamford office and both McKinsey and BCG have new jersey offices which are worth a look. People even live in NY and commute to the philly offices from what I saw, so if you keep an open mind you should have a good shot. You'll only be at the office 1 day a week anyway, so may as well look at your options.

Boston was a bit different, my understanding is McKinsey is a small office and was very hard to get into. Bain and BCG weren't too difficult, though keep in mind that in Boston most consultants are alums of hbs, sloan, and tuck, so if you are not attending those schools you may have a more uphill climb.

Mar 5, 2016

@babster Perhaps in a different post, but you can address the differences you noticed between M/B/B in terms of recruiting/culture?

Thanks,

Mar 7, 2016
snakeoil:

@babster Perhaps in a different post, but you can address the differences you noticed between M/B/B in terms of recruiting/culture?

Thanks,

Probably best addressed at length in a different post. My general take goes back to point 4 in my OP, that each firm has profiles that they like and that this is reflected both in their culture and recruiting practices.

Fit with each firm is of course key and is best found by interacting with consultants. Just my observations of course.

Mar 7, 2016
babster:

snakeoil:@babster Perhaps in a different post, but you can address the differences you noticed between M/B/B in terms of recruiting/culture?Thanks,

Probably best addressed at length in a different post. My general take goes back to point 4 in my OP, that each firm has profiles that they like and that this is reflected both in their culture and recruiting practices.

Fit with each firm is of course key and is best found by interacting with consultants. Just my observations of course.

This rings true. It's almost like mobile phones these days. You can buy a number of phones that all run Android but the experience will be different on an LG vs a Samsung vs a Nexus phone. Find the one that suits you best.

As an McK person who was on the other side of the table from folks like @babster, I can say that the "why are you different from Bain/BCG" questions were kind of awkward. I gave very personal, unfiltered answers to questions from recruits, and I was just unable to compare with other firms, as I and most of my colleagues have never worked elsewhere. It is a difficult thing to credibly comment on, so I chose not to do it.

    • 1
Mar 5, 2016

I'm at a regional target (25-30 ranked program) but received an internship offer from a tier 1 and just want to back up absolutely everything that the OP has said, it all lines up perfectly with my recruiting experience (albeit I was an engineering instead of a non-traditional background).

Mar 5, 2016

Great answers so far. Do you mind if I ask you whether your European (or other non-US) classmates got any offers? I'm an European and hope to move permanently to US after M7 MBA - should I expect having a hard time getting an MBB offer?

Mar 6, 2016
Jack334:

Great answers so far. Do you mind if I ask you whether your European (or other non-US) classmates got any offers? I'm an European and hope to move permanently to US after M7 MBA - should I expect having a hard time getting an MBB offer?

I found non-US folks did just fine. I will mention that folks from LATAM seemed to get pushed toward their home countries (particular with Brazil) and that you may get some encouragement to do a European office if you speak an in demand language. Visa issues didn't seem to play a part in hiring, though I say that with no inside knowledge of course.

I'd recommend speaking with career services about city selection as well. While it is generally not worth trying to game the city selection system, for a non-American who is flexible it may be worth figuring out which cities are friendlier.

Mar 6, 2016

Thank you for such a comprehensive post. I think point 7 is truly important. If its not your fit, less possible you will get the offer

Watch your thoughts, they become words;
watch your words, they become actions;
watch your actions, they become habits;
watch your habits, they become character;
watch your character, for it becomes your destiny

Mar 8, 2016
russianmiamibeach:

In case prep about quality , agree 100%.Also sharp your math skills, single math mistake lead to 90% rejects. For math preps try this https:// appsto.re/us/tvLSab.i

For others reading, this is generally not true. Particularly if you self-identify the error and fix it.

Obviously no errors is better than having errors, but the reality is that we do shit-all maths in our heads on the job so it would be pretty stupid to ding someone on that basis if they crushed the rest of the case.

More interested in structured thinking, drawing out insight, understanding implications than doing long division in your head.

Mar 8, 2016
Bismarck:

russianmiamibeach:In case prep about quality , agree 100%.Also sharp your math skills, single math mistake lead to 90% rejects. For math preps try this https:// appsto.re/us/tvLSab.i

For others reading, this is generally not true. Particularly if you self-identify the error and fix it.

Obviously no errors is better than having errors, but the reality is that we do shit-all maths in our heads on the job so it would be pretty stupid to ding someone on that basis if they crushed the rest of the case.

More interested in structured thinking, drawing out insight, understanding implications than doing long division in your head.

+1

I would add:
-- practice walking through how you set up your maths verbally using paper. the interviewer cannot give you the benefit of the doubt on minor maths errors if they don't know for certain that you've structured and approached the problem correctly
-- always always always think about the implication of what you just calculated. do not just solve the numbers bit, then sit there and look at the interviewer. what does the number mean to the question you're solving? have an opinion.

Mar 9, 2016
karl_pilkington:

Bismarck: russianmiamibeach:In case prep about quality , agree 100%.Also sharp your math skills, single math mistake lead to 90% rejects. For math preps try this https:// appsto.re/us/tvLSab.iFor others reading, this is generally not true. Particularly if you self-identify the error and fix it.Obviously no errors is better than having errors, but the reality is that we do shit-all maths in our heads on the job so it would be pretty stupid to ding someone on that basis if they crushed the rest of the case.More interested in structured thinking, drawing out insight, understanding implications than doing long division in your head.

+1

I would add:-- practice walking through how you set up your maths verbally using paper. the interviewer cannot give you the benefit of the doubt on minor maths errors if they don't know for certain that you've structured and approached the problem correctly-- always always always think about the implication of what you just calculated. do not just solve the numbers bit, then sit there and look at the interviewer. what does the number mean to the question you're solving? have an opinion.

Agree completely with Karl and Bismarck. Small math errors will happen and I still got an MBB offer after making a math error in a 2nd round interview. The key is to be able to identify it quickly-either on your own or via gentle prodding from your interviewer (if they are questioning your math chances are the math is wrong)- and you will be able to identify it and correct it much fast if you have properly structured your math. I always used a separate sheet of paper and charted everything out in big print for my math problems, but I also have godawful handwriting.

And Karl is completely correct about taking the math results and driving insights from that-if you can do it without prompting, so much the better. Case interviews are not just a math problem, they are a test of logical structured thinking, analyzing and driving insights on the fly, quantitative analysis, brainstorming under pressure, and presentation skills. I'm sure Karl can add a couple other things (and Karl, feel free to add to this since you've got a lot more experience than I do).

I'd lastly note that every firm does their cases slightly differently, and understanding the subtle differences between firms can help you get an offer once you've master case interview skills.

Mar 9, 2016
babster:

karl_pilkington: Bismarck: russianmiamibeach:In case prep about quality , agree 100%.Also sharp your math skills, single math mistake lead to 90% rejects. For math preps try this https:// appsto.re/us/tvLSab.iFor others reading, this is generally not true. Particularly if you self-identify the error and fix it.Obviously no errors is better than having errors, but the reality is that we do shit-all maths in our heads on the job so it would be pretty stupid to ding someone on that basis if they crushed the rest of the case.More interested in structured thinking, drawing out insight, understanding implications than doing long division in your head.+1I would add:-- practice walking through how you set up your maths verbally using paper. the interviewer cannot give you the benefit of the doubt on minor maths errors if they don't know for certain that you've structured and approached the problem correctly-- always always always think about the implication of what you just calculated. do not just solve the numbers bit, then sit there and look at the interviewer. what does the number mean to the question you're solving? have an opinion.

Agree completely with Karl and Bismarck. Small math errors will happen and I still got an MBB offer after making a math error in a 2nd round interview. The key is to be able to identify it quickly-either on your own or via gentle prodding from your interviewer (if they are questioning your math chances are the math is wrong)- and you will be able to identify it and correct it much fast if you have properly structured your math. I always used a separate sheet of paper and charted everything out in big print for my math problems, but I also have godawful handwriting.

And Karl is completely correct about taking the math results and driving insights from that-if you can do it without prompting, so much the better. Case interviews are not just a math problem, they are a test of logical structured thinking, analyzing and driving insights on the fly, quantitative analysis, brainstorming under pressure, and presentation skills. I'm sure Karl can add a couple other things (and Karl, feel free to add to this since you've got a lot more experience than I do).

I'd lastly note that every firm does their cases slightly differently, and understanding the subtle differences between firms can help you get an offer once you've master case interview skills.

To pile on further, I think of answering quant questions in the following way:
1) What's the insight I am trying to get to? (What does my retail client need to do to grow revenue X%?)
2) What is the data or metric I need to answer it? (ok, let's look at "same store sales growth")
3) How do I calculate the metric?
4) How do I feel about the answer? (If I see I need to grow same store sales by 175% next year to hit my target and the overall market I'm in is flat, I think "oh shit", that's not gonna happen)
5) What are the implications of this answer? (Well shit, if growing same store sales is too steep a hill to climb, perhaps we should think about either opening new stores? New distribution channels? Acquisition?)

Mar 10, 2016

Great observations everyone. I had a very similar experience at a Top 10 for internships.

Mar 11, 2016

OP,

Thanks for doing this. You touched on recruiting for specific offices- What is recruiting for offices in Washington DC like? More or less competitive on average?

Mar 11, 2016
CX1988:

OP,

Thanks for doing this. You touched on recruiting for specific offices- What is recruiting for offices in Washington DC like? More or less competitive on average?

Bain and BCG aren't too bad, even though Bain is a tiny office from what I've heard (my understanding is BCG is a huge office in DC). McKinsey on the other hand is a whole different story...getting even an interview there was legendarily difficult. Someone who knows McK from the inside may be able to comment, but McK DC seemed to be very popular and I know of only 2 people who even got an interview let alone an offer.

Should also note, DC seemed to be tougher for non-Americans and people with a security clearance seemed to get a big leg up (both McK interviewees had security clearances). My understanding is that significant portfolios for all three firms include defense contractors, and you will usually have to be a US citizen to get staffed. Again, someone who has direct knowledge can probably comment better.

In short, not too bad. Didn't see a ton of people going for DC (outside McK), though it does seem to be dominated by certain schools namely Wharton, Darden and Fuqua.

Mar 11, 2016
babster:

CX1988:OP,Thanks for doing this. You touched on recruiting for specific offices- What is recruiting for offices in Washington DC like? More or less competitive on average?

Bain and BCG aren't too bad, even though Bain is a tiny office from what I've heard (my understanding is BCG is a huge office in DC). McKinsey on the other hand is a whole different story...getting even an interview there was legendarily difficult. Someone who knows McK from the inside may be able to comment, but McK DC seemed to be very popular and I know of only 2 people who even got an interview let alone an offer.

Should also note, DC seemed to be tougher for non-Americans and people with a security clearance seemed to get a big leg up (both McK interviewees had security clearances). My understanding is that significant portfolios for all three firms include defense contractors, and you will usually have to be a US citizen to get staffed. Again, someone who has direct knowledge can probably comment better.

In short, not too bad. Didn't see a ton of people going for DC (outside McK), though it does seem to be dominated by certain schools namely Wharton, Darden and Fuqua.

Thanks for the great info-- I do have a clearance so good to know that it's a slight leg up.

Mar 11, 2016

How often did applicants get interviews at their 2nd (or 3rd) choice locations? As an outsider, I get the impression that you only have a chance at the location you list 1st, so I'm curious if there's any logic/theory to what locations are placed 2nd/3rd.

Mar 12, 2016
Mar 12, 2016