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Ken

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11

Bain rejection - could not understand why

Hi everyone,

I've just had my answer for the first round at Bain (as experienced consultant for Senior Associate position). I didn't get any detail (it was the headhunter who gave me the answer). He only told me they had doubts on structure, recommendations and communication. This is quite strange, as I thought that I aced the cases (and I didn't get a proper fit part), at least better than for BCG (for which I got a positive answer). I also am an interviewer in my company, so I kind of know what is expected for a case interview ... and I really thought it went great ! I am still waiting for a more detailed feedback if they ever intend to give one. But do you have an explanation for such a response? I heard that this could happen at Bain for quotas limitations (by school, etc.), could that be it ? I am seriously thinking about postponing my McKinsey interviews because of that very brief but bad feedback.

Thank you

Hi everyone,

I've just had my answer for the first round at Bain (as experienced consultant for Senior Associate position). I didn't get any detail (it was the headhunter who gave me the answer). He only told me they had doubts on structure, recommendations and communication. This is quite strange, as I thought that I aced the cases (and I didn't get a proper fit part), at least better than for BCG (for which I got a positive answer). I also am an interviewer in my company, so I kind of know what is expected for a case interview ... and I really thought it went great ! I am still waiting for a more detailed feedback if they ever intend to give one. But do you have an explanation for such a response? I heard that this could happen at Bain for quotas limitations (by school, etc.), could that be it ? I am seriously thinking about postponing my McKinsey interviews because of that very brief but bad feedback.

Thank you

(edited)

11 answers

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Book a coaching with Ken

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I usually avoid the self-promoting "hire a coach" answer but for your case, that might be the best way for you to make sure you don't lose out on an opportunity to secure an offer at McKinsey or BCG! I have worked with quite a few experienced consultants (e.g., Oliver Wyman, LEK, Strategy&, etc.), helping them prepare for their McK interviews where they have been pleasantly surprised with how working (successfully) as a consultant doesn't always ensure you are fully prepared to solve cases as well as their misunderstanding on what exactly McKinsey is looking for through the interviews (the WHY is super important).

My personal perspective on case interviews is that it's difficult to "ace" a case as there is always more that can be discussed and refined, just like a client project. The fact that you didn't feel as much of a challenge to me sounds like your interviewer didn't engage with you enough to ensure you really showed your strengths. For example, as a McKinsey interviewer, if I felt a interviewee had strong structuring, I would push them around e.g., the interdpendencies of their structuring which would allow me to have a solid data point to argue your case for why your structuring was exceptional relative to other candidates.

I would be surprised if Bain SEA would turn down a strong and experience consultant target at first round for the reason of quotas. At the very least, they would progress you to final round as they won't just let talent walk out of the front door like that. In terms of feedback, the fact that you have applied through a headhunter removes the hassle of coordinating and communicating with the Bain recruiter but the flip side is that you are further removed from the communication. I wouldn't expect too much unless you really connected with one of your interviewers who out of their own good will is willing to make the effort and invest time in having the 'awkward' conversation with you. If not, the recruiter has only taken down exactly what was discussed by your interviewers when making the decision.

Happy to discuss further if helpful.

I usually avoid the self-promoting "hire a coach" answer but for your case, that might be the best way for you to make sure you don't lose out on an opportunity to secure an offer at McKinsey or BCG! I have worked with quite a few experienced consultants (e.g., Oliver Wyman, LEK, Strategy&, etc.), helping them prepare for their McK interviews where they have been pleasantly surprised with how working (successfully) as a consultant doesn't always ensure you are fully prepared to solve cases as well as their misunderstanding on what exactly McKinsey is looking for through the interviews (the WHY is super important).

My personal perspective on case interviews is that it's difficult to "ace" a case as there is always more that can be discussed and refined, just like a client project. The fact that you didn't feel as much of a challenge to me sounds like your interviewer didn't engage with you enough to ensure you really showed your strengths. For example, as a McKinsey interviewer, if I felt a interviewee had strong structuring, I would push them around e.g., the interdpendencies of their structuring which would allow me to have a solid data point to argue your case for why your structuring was exceptional relative to other candidates.

I would be surprised if Bain SEA would turn down a strong and experience consultant target at first round for the reason of quotas. At the very least, they would progress you to final round as they won't just let talent walk out of the front door like that. In terms of feedback, the fact that you have applied through a headhunter removes the hassle of coordinating and communicating with the Bain recruiter but the flip side is that you are further removed from the communication. I wouldn't expect too much unless you really connected with one of your interviewers who out of their own good will is willing to make the effort and invest time in having the 'awkward' conversation with you. If not, the recruiter has only taken down exactly what was discussed by your interviewers when making the decision.

Happy to discuss further if helpful.

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Hi there,

My experience is that candidates sometimes have a feeling the interview went great when it didn’t and the other way around. Unfortunately companies often neglect to provide in-depth feedback, to avoid any possible risk of being liable for discrimination or similar.

The only real way you have to assess your performance is to get someone that is experienced in MBB interviews (not necessarily a coach) and ask for a detailed feedback on your performance.

If you need more help please feel free to PM me.

Best,
Francesco

Hi there,

My experience is that candidates sometimes have a feeling the interview went great when it didn’t and the other way around. Unfortunately companies often neglect to provide in-depth feedback, to avoid any possible risk of being liable for discrimination or similar.

The only real way you have to assess your performance is to get someone that is experienced in MBB interviews (not necessarily a coach) and ask for a detailed feedback on your performance.

If you need more help please feel free to PM me.

Best,
Francesco

Hi, I agree that a candidate can have the wrong impression. But wouldn't that be for all interviews? Because the other two firms never mentioned such negative feedbacks. Neither did the coach (experienced one, from BCG), or the headhunters coaches. So I am quite surprised to have a broad remark on my structure, recommendations and communication, so basically everything went wrong ! I am surprised that BCG or my caoches haven't seen theses issues ... — Anonymous A on Feb 03, 2021 (edited)

Hi there, there are a couple of options; most likely (i) the headhunter didn’t get the right feedback / generalized it (ii) Bain wanted to avoid to disclose details, maybe just to avoid the effort to provide the real feedback (structure, recommendation and communication is very broad and generic). Independently on the reason, there are for sure some improvements. Unfortunately I agree that with that feedback it is impossible to understand which they are — Francesco on Feb 03, 2021

It could also just be behavioral - coming across over confident can be a massive turnoff when interviewing candidates — Anonymous B on Feb 03, 2021 (edited)

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Hi there,

Sorry to hear about your experience!

This is really a strange situation and it's hard to say what were the real reasons of the rejection. We can only speculate about it.

As an ex-Mckinsey and part of recruiting team, I can only add that sometimes our mind plays tricks on us and we remember things not the way they really happened! Don't get me wrong, it doesn't mean this is 100% your case.

I agree that it would make sense to take some sessions with a professional coach - to understand what could possibly have gone wrong and how to prevent it in the future.

Hope it helps! Hit me up if you have any further questions.

Cheers, GB

Hi there,

Sorry to hear about your experience!

This is really a strange situation and it's hard to say what were the real reasons of the rejection. We can only speculate about it.

As an ex-Mckinsey and part of recruiting team, I can only add that sometimes our mind plays tricks on us and we remember things not the way they really happened! Don't get me wrong, it doesn't mean this is 100% your case.

I agree that it would make sense to take some sessions with a professional coach - to understand what could possibly have gone wrong and how to prevent it in the future.

Hope it helps! Hit me up if you have any further questions.

Cheers, GB

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Sorry to hear. There could have many things that happened in the background which you have no control or visibilty of. Most of these companies are pathetic in providing specific feedback. So just leave it and move on. Rejection is part of the process. Every rejection gets your closer to success and to the place where you are meant to be.

Dont let this sway you off course and stick to your plan. Keep practicising and focus on giving your best. Focus on making a positive impact and things will fall into place. Dont feel pressured to prove yourself every 30 sec in the interview...this is when people make mistakes or come across as too eager/desperate/arrogant.

Happy to chat more so feel free to send a direct message.

Sorry to hear. There could have many things that happened in the background which you have no control or visibilty of. Most of these companies are pathetic in providing specific feedback. So just leave it and move on. Rejection is part of the process. Every rejection gets your closer to success and to the place where you are meant to be.

Dont let this sway you off course and stick to your plan. Keep practicising and focus on giving your best. Focus on making a positive impact and things will fall into place. Dont feel pressured to prove yourself every 30 sec in the interview...this is when people make mistakes or come across as too eager/desperate/arrogant.

Happy to chat more so feel free to send a direct message.

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Hi there,

I couldn't agree more with Ken - you need to hire a coach.

"I really thought it went great". I can't tell you how many coachees I have that think they're phenomenal casers when they aren't (when I first get them, of course). I also have plenty who think they're terrible when they're excellent.

You are not a good judge of your own abilities (sorry, neither am I of my own).

Most companies don't give detailed feedback on interviews. The fact that they said structure, recommendations AND communication means there was a real problem with your casing.

Sorry, but you need an expert opinion from someone who has a vested interest in your success. Only a coach (not a headhunter or another PrepLounger) can give you this.

Hi there,

I couldn't agree more with Ken - you need to hire a coach.

"I really thought it went great". I can't tell you how many coachees I have that think they're phenomenal casers when they aren't (when I first get them, of course). I also have plenty who think they're terrible when they're excellent.

You are not a good judge of your own abilities (sorry, neither am I of my own).

Most companies don't give detailed feedback on interviews. The fact that they said structure, recommendations AND communication means there was a real problem with your casing.

Sorry, but you need an expert opinion from someone who has a vested interest in your success. Only a coach (not a headhunter or another PrepLounger) can give you this.

Hi, I already had a few sessions with coaches. All of them told me I had solid case cracking skills. For BCG, I also was told the same thing ! This is actually why I am surprised ... thank you for your response Ian! — Anonymous A on Feb 02, 2021

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Hey there,

I 100% agree with Ian and Ken. You need an ex-interviewer (ideally a former Bain interviewer) to benchmark, grade, and evaluate your performance. That could give you an approximation and an as-close-as possible perspective on your case.

However, even then the interviewer has no actual insight into your actual performance during the past interview.

Before you do a McKinsey interview I'd recommend the same - do at least one session w a former McK interviewer to evaluate your performance in the context of the McKinsey assessment criteria.

Cheers,

Florian

Hey there,

I 100% agree with Ian and Ken. You need an ex-interviewer (ideally a former Bain interviewer) to benchmark, grade, and evaluate your performance. That could give you an approximation and an as-close-as possible perspective on your case.

However, even then the interviewer has no actual insight into your actual performance during the past interview.

Before you do a McKinsey interview I'd recommend the same - do at least one session w a former McK interviewer to evaluate your performance in the context of the McKinsey assessment criteria.

Cheers,

Florian

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Hi A,

sorry to hear about that. It is super frustrating to get a feedback you cannot really make sense of and then from someone you didn't even interview with. However a couple of reactions to what you write

  • I seriously doubt that a quota limitation would be a reason for a firm as big as Bain to not hire you when they already interview you (they could have just not done the interview)
  • There is a good chance that the headhunter wasn't perfectly briefed on what made the rejection or that he/she simply didn't want to give the full picture because of time reasons
  • There is a good chance, that the feedback was kept high-level/ superficial on purpose to avoid legal difficulties (it is much less offensive to say someone was not a fit technically than arguing they were not a fit personally)

Going forward, I would advise to double up your preparation efforts and would try to get a feedback directly from someone you interviewed with. And never underestimate the personal part of the interview process, which is a little different for MBB firms. It is very good that you have your foot in the door with both BCG and McK already - now try to ace both the fit and the case part.

Hope this helps,

Jonas

Hi A,

sorry to hear about that. It is super frustrating to get a feedback you cannot really make sense of and then from someone you didn't even interview with. However a couple of reactions to what you write

  • I seriously doubt that a quota limitation would be a reason for a firm as big as Bain to not hire you when they already interview you (they could have just not done the interview)
  • There is a good chance that the headhunter wasn't perfectly briefed on what made the rejection or that he/she simply didn't want to give the full picture because of time reasons
  • There is a good chance, that the feedback was kept high-level/ superficial on purpose to avoid legal difficulties (it is much less offensive to say someone was not a fit technically than arguing they were not a fit personally)

Going forward, I would advise to double up your preparation efforts and would try to get a feedback directly from someone you interviewed with. And never underestimate the personal part of the interview process, which is a little different for MBB firms. It is very good that you have your foot in the door with both BCG and McK already - now try to ace both the fit and the case part.

Hope this helps,

Jonas

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Hi, I'm sorry to hear it. Unfortunately, the feedback is often generic to make it more fluent, without sharing the specific valuation criteria. Happy to set up a quick call to discuss next steps for your prep plan. I've supported tens of experienced hires in achieving McK offers

Best,
Antonello

Hi, I'm sorry to hear it. Unfortunately, the feedback is often generic to make it more fluent, without sharing the specific valuation criteria. Happy to set up a quick call to discuss next steps for your prep plan. I've supported tens of experienced hires in achieving McK offers

Best,
Antonello

I think my rhetoric will be different to the ones above me because I honestly do think you can be self-critical enough to evaluate your interview experience, esp. if you have done it on both sides before, hired a coach etc. Of course, there are other factors that you might not be perceptive to as you are busy solving the case (i.e. interviewer´s impression of every step you make during the interview)

What might have happened, and this is my experience with big companies, is that you could have made some tiny mistakes which in your eyes, as you´re already an experienced consultant, are normal, and definitly they WOULD NOT define your general solving capabilities, BUT as it is a big company, they have to make a decision after seeing many candidates and those tiny details do play a big part...

I think my rhetoric will be different to the ones above me because I honestly do think you can be self-critical enough to evaluate your interview experience, esp. if you have done it on both sides before, hired a coach etc. Of course, there are other factors that you might not be perceptive to as you are busy solving the case (i.e. interviewer´s impression of every step you make during the interview)

What might have happened, and this is my experience with big companies, is that you could have made some tiny mistakes which in your eyes, as you´re already an experienced consultant, are normal, and definitly they WOULD NOT define your general solving capabilities, BUT as it is a big company, they have to make a decision after seeing many candidates and those tiny details do play a big part...

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Hello!

Unfortunately, you won´t any more detailed feedback, not even if you ask for it.

Sorry to hear about what happened, there are many other things that are considered in the decision, some even external to you.

This said, don´t give up! It means you are almost there.

Hope it helps!

Cheers,

Clara

Hello!

Unfortunately, you won´t any more detailed feedback, not even if you ask for it.

Sorry to hear about what happened, there are many other things that are considered in the decision, some even external to you.

This said, don´t give up! It means you are almost there.

Hope it helps!

Cheers,

Clara

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Hi,

Unfortunately, a case interview is a very subjective process. Both on the candidate side and the interviewer side. Moreover, different interviewers would assess your performance differently.

Bain indeed may have the hiring limitations, but I don't believe that they would not pass brilliant candidates. The bar might be higher indeed, but that's, unfortunately, the rules of the game

Best

Hi,

Unfortunately, a case interview is a very subjective process. Both on the candidate side and the interviewer side. Moreover, different interviewers would assess your performance differently.

Bain indeed may have the hiring limitations, but I don't believe that they would not pass brilliant candidates. The bar might be higher indeed, but that's, unfortunately, the rules of the game

Best

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