Applying to other offices (countries) after a rejection

Anonymous A

Dear all,

I am wondering whether it is appropriate/possible to apply to the offices in other countries of the company (MBB and 2nd tier) that rejected you?

Let's imagine that we are talking about an insignificant amount of time in between applications (3-6 months) and that the rejection feedback was only concerning the case performance. If case is the only problem then it should be doable to improve within half a year. Do companies keep track of the profiles + rejection reasons as a worldwide database?


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Dolf replied on 09/14/2016

Let me expand this question a little bit to "what to do when you're rejected" from one or all firms you apply to.

First of all, I hate to break it to you, but in many cases it is not "just" the case study part of the interview. The case is the easiest to give you feedback about, rather than saying it was no match because of lack in personal fit or some other point.

It may also be interesting to some of you that there is a thing called "reject re-apply". It can happen that all interviewers really liked the candidate and that she seemed really smart and capable, but there were some things about the case that just weren't good enough (e.g., bad business judgment), or the candidate seems a bit too young/naive but shows great potential otherwise. "Reject re-apply" basically means -- we won't hire you right now, but we think you have a lot of potential and if you build more experience over the course of ~1 year, happy to take your application again. It is rare and I am not sure if all firms do it, but some do. That in general is a positive sign, even if it may feel bad at the moment.

So, what if you are rejected without given the explicit outright opportunity to re-apply? First of all, I would try to look at more / other firms. The big firms often have smaller subsidiaries / side activities where it may make sense to apply to (e.g., BCG has BCG Digital Ventures). Smaller shops/firms often are another alternative.

Regarding international applications (your original question): As far as I know, most do not share applicant information (not even sure if they are legally allowed to do that). However, you should show some rationale why you are applying in that specific market or country. I know that if that connection is more difficult to make or even for practical purposes, they may ask you to apply (or do the interviews) in your home market. So, to make it credible, you should at least have some story why you now apply in the different market (e.g., your significant other moved there or something). The situation gets even more complex when you require a visa to relocate, in which case your home country's office may be involved some way or another anyways.

After a certain period, you can also just apply again by yourself in your home market. I would wait for roughly 1.5-2 years before doing so, and know several successful candidates who have done just taht! Important for you would be to show some kind of professional growth in the meantime, which explains why you should be looked at or judged differently now.

To sum it up - why not give it a try :) But be prepared in case they find out and call you out on it. Good luck in any case!!

Dolf replied on 09/16/2016

Hi Abhay, hi Ben,

Thanks for your follow-up questions. Frankly, there is so much uncertainty about this process -- not only can it be different across firms and regions, but it can also considerably differ within firms. For example hiring targets can change or they can be over-/underachieved, HR staff changes, etc. Nothing you have any control over. Here a few rules of thumb:

  • Internships and full-time are mostly treated differently, so if you applied for an internship before, definitely try full time position.
  • To re-apply for the same type (e.g., full time) - wait for some time as mentioned before. 1.5-2 years is what I would recommend, in some cases 1 year can be ok. Rationale is, you don't start another job immediately after being rejected, and at least need a bit of time to show improvements.
  • In my experience, there is no hard evidence whether it makes a difference where in the process you got rejected (pre-interview or during the interview). I know people who got rejected pre-interview and then got invited the next time, and other people who got rejected in the interview and then passed when applying again. But again it's rare.
  • Regarding how to reapply - there really is no silver bullet, that's part of the reason why consulting firms can charge the rates they do since everybody who got in is thoroughly vetted. Calling HR typically doesn't make a lot of sense, they get these calls all the time and you waste their time and risk sounding desperate. I would do it like Ben suggests and mention in the cover letter that you applied before, how you improved since and thus want to try again. But you also don't even have to do that at all.
  • Last point - a lot of candidates just want the job a little too much which can easily come across as desperate. As crazy as it sounds, some candidates I personally know (including -- but not only -- me :) start to pass interviews after failing a lot of them before and after they stopped worrying so much. A certain "I don't care anymore" attitude can somehow be appealing - similar to dating. You run after this person forever, and once you stop, (s)he starts showing interest. Unfortunately, it somehow doesn't work as a deliberate strategy... :D

To conclude - after 1.5-2 years, just apply again. Give it your best, but not more. And if it doesn't work out... Let it go and find something BETTER. Found this crazy super successful startup. Get an amazing career at a large multinational and actually make consultants work for you. Work remotely from the beach and pity consultants who need to get up every Monday in the wee hours to catch a flight with other sad businessmen. Not doing consulting is not the end of the world -- I am super happy to not do it anymore and have full and 100% control of my own life. So I can "waste" it here with you ;)

All the best!

replied on 09/14/2016
Experienced consultant, now running own consulting business

Hi there!

This will differ from firm to firm. Some firms are more integrated than others.

So in general, I believe there is a more than good chance that they do not keep track of this internationally.

So go for it! I mean in the end, what's the worst that can happen?


Guennael replied on 09/19/2016
Ex-MBB, BCG/Bain/Experienced Hire specialist

Background is pretty much irrelevant, MBB just want the smartest / best candidates. If you don't have a business background, they'll train you. If you do go for a graduate degree as a way to improve your profile though, make sure that is a target school, you get outstanding grades and have some leadership positions in student associations. If you don't, the extra degree will not help at all for consulting (it hopefully would for other industries).

Josephine replied on 09/17/2016

Wow... Thanks...Mr Dolf... You killed it here.. But in my own case, as a microbiologist (BSc) from an Unknown/Unreputed University at Nigeria who has immensely failed at application level (Rejected resumes) at Mckinsey, Bain and BCG....The Big 3s in Nigeria...I have not given up yet, What can I do within 1-2 years to develop myself... I am planning on going for "Masters in business analytics"...Does that really sound plausible to be used in covering up my non-business background?....Have applied for the online course at Kogods Business School.... Please, I need your generous advice/guide....

Abhay Sinha replied on 09/16/2016

Thank a lot Dolf, I appreciate the response. It really helped :)

Ben replied on 09/15/2016

I'm curious about the best way to go about this too. I interviewed with Bain in 2013, before I was sure I wanted to do consulting, and didn't do too hot. I also interviewed with AT Kearney this last december, and did very well... barely missed the cut. My resume is markedly better now than it was for either (particularly compared to Bain in 2013). I want another shot at both firms, but besides mentioning the improvements in the cover letter I'm not sure what to do. Reaching out to recruiters and noting that I'm confident about my improvement and ready for a second shot hasn't really gotten much response.

What have people done that has worked when trying to get that second shot?

Abhay Sinha replied on 09/15/2016

Hi Dolf,

I have one question on re-application. In Dec- Jan I was joining the business school and obviously did not have a lot of credentials to make it through MBB. But still I thought of applying for summer internships and went ahead with my application. I was obviously rejected.

But now, when I have got GPA on my resume and I can say that my resume has considerably improved, I wish to apply for the full time roles at MBB. But I heard that if you are rejected once you need to wait for some specific time before reapplying. None of my rejection emails notified me of any waiting time, infact they encouraged me to apply for full time positions except BCG. Does that waiting time thing really exists?