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Are candidates 'competitors' for the position(s)?

Anonymous A asked on Sep 25, 2018 - 2 answers

Hello, I have heard different things from different sources (consultants, this website, firm websites for different countries, etc.). Curious in generally, although specific info about Germany would be helpful.

Are candidates 'competitors' for the generalist analyst/associate positions, similar to in a normal job interview when there is x# of positions available, and your chance of getting the job depends on how many other people are being interviewed? Or is it more 'we need to hire new generalist associates, we bring in 16 people to start the interview process, and maybe 0 of them get an offer but maybe 10 of them do'?

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Alessandro
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replied on Sep 25, 2018
Bain & Company | University of Cambridge | CV/Resume writing | 770 GMAT
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Hey there,

The answer, as often is the case, is "it depends". In general, it is different to "typical just postings" in a couple ways:

  • In some cases, recruiting happens year round, and there isn't a specific number of associates/BAs they are looking to hire. This is sometimes even the case in fall recruiting - for example, I heard that McKinsey's London office has no "intake target" for fall recruiting but will simply hire all candidates who were "good enough". In this situation you are really just competing against yourself.
  • In some cases, of course, there may be a limited number of positions. However, since consulting firms are always looking for best talent, if they genuinely thought you were good enough for the job, it is unlikely that they will reject you simply because there is no space right now. They may offer you a position in another office (or to go through another set of interviews for this office), or propose a delayed start-date. I think this might be especially the case in Germany, where there are many offices so it seems reasonable that if there are no spaces in Frankfurt, you might be offered a space in the Munich office.
  • The example you gave about potentially no one getting an offer is also true - consultancies don't just say "we will hire the top 10 candidates we interview". Rather, firms have well defined standards they are looking for in their applicants. If no candidate meets the mark, then the firm will hire no candidates. However, if more than 10 do and there are only 10 spaces, they may try to find an alternate solution (e.g. the points I mentioned in point 2).

Hope that clears some things up!

Alessandro

Elias
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replied on Sep 25, 2018
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Totally agree with Alessandro.

The only exception I know of was in 2008/09, after Lehman collapsed and the consulting market was hit pretty hard (at least in Germany). It's the only time I remember large consultancies massively cutting their hiring or not hiring at all.

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