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Benefits of Referral

analytical test application process CV screening interview process management consulting MBB referrals
New answer on May 14, 2024
10 Answers
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Anonymous A asked on Dec 04, 2018

Besides the obvious benefit of having a current employee refer you in the firm's internal referal system/increasing your chances of getting your CV seen, what are the other benefits of referrals when applying to MBB and 2nd tier firms? I read on one post with a referral from McKinsey you skip the CV-screening. Is this true? Anyone know about BCG, Bain, Roland Berger, Accenture, Deloitte, ATK, OW, etc.?

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Content Creator
replied on May 14, 2024
Ex-Roland Berger|Project Manager and Recruiter|7+ years of consulting experience in USA and Europe

Hi there,

A referral is just a door opener such that the recruiting team will look through your application more thoroughly. Depending on the seniority, tenure and advocacy of the person referring you, you have a better chance of getting a first round interview. The more senior the person referring you is, the better. The longer the tenure of that person with the firm is, the better.

The reason is that such voices carry more weight than referrals coming from super junior or brand new people. They typically know the HR folks better and have been involved in recruiting activities for a while so it is usually assumed that they have a good grasp of what types of candidates with which sets of qualifications the firm needs. These are considerable advantages when it comes to the internal navigation of the recruiting process. However, any referral is ultimately better than no referral. 

Ideally, you get a referral from someone from the same office (or same country) you are applying to. But again, a referral from someone within the same firm but different office or country organization is still better than no referral.

A direct rejection after the CV screening stage can still happen - even with a referral. In that case the recruiting team usually provides some feedback to the person having given the referral. So you should follow up with them to better understand the rationale in case that happens. On the flipside, you can still get an interview invite when you just apply online without a referral - the probability is just lower - particularly when your CV is not “stellar” on a standalone basis.

And as always, factors such as economic conditions and headcount/budget planning of the individual firm also matter significantly in these decisions - but they are not within your control.


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Content Creator
replied on Nov 10, 2023
ex Jr. Partner McKinsey |Senior Interviewer| Real Feedback & Free Homework between sessions|Harvard Coach|10+ Experience

Importance of referrals really differs my geography, but in general you can see the following advantages:

Expedited Process:

  • In some cases, a strong referral can fast-track your application, bypassing certain stages of the traditional recruitment process. This could include skipping initial CV screenings.

Increased Visibility:

  • Your application is likely to be prioritized and reviewed promptly, ensuring that you're not lost in a large pool of applicants. Referrals can draw attention to your profile.

Insider Insights:

  • A referral provides you with valuable insights into the company culture, expectations, and nuances of the application process. This knowledge can be instrumental in tailoring your approach.

Enhanced Credibility:

  • Having an internal recommendation can boost your credibility. Recruiters might view your application more positively when it comes with an endorsement from a trusted employee.

Networking Opportunities:

  • Referrals often open doors to networking opportunities within the company. You may have the chance to connect with current employees, further enhancing your understanding of the firm.

Warm regards,


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Content Creator
replied on Dec 30, 2023
Ex-McKinsey Associate Partner | +15 years in consulting | +200 McKinsey 1st & 2nd round interviews

A referrals helps to:

  1. Accelerate the review time of your CV
  2. Navigate internal process with other contact apart from your recruiter

A referral doesn't help to increase your chances to get an offer

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Anonymous updated the answer on Dec 04, 2018

Hi Anonymous,

I don't believe that there are clear "you skip step x" things for most firms. Already for the reason that the organisation has to protect itself against nepotism, favouritism and for compliance reasons. In some firms, you may be invited without a more thorough screening, but that's where the skipping ends.

But, as you rightly said, it helps to give your application an extra bit of attention that can make all the difference. The organisation implicitly trusts people working for it, so a referral will give you a bit of a head start in the interview process. Depending on the level of the referrer (Partner vs. Analyst), that can be more or not so much.

In any organisation that I have seen, there are some key players or power brokers whose judgement or recommendation is highly respected by their colleagues. "If X recommended the guy, I can almost trust that blindly. Her recommendations are always spot on." If your recommendation comes from such a person, especially in smaller companies/offices it may even take your application from a default "NO" to a neutral or even default "YES"

So to sum up: It definitely can't hurt, but there's also no "If this... , then that..."




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Anonymous replied on Dec 24, 2022

A referral is really only a way to increase your chances of getting an interview at MBB. However, once you get to the casing, it is all in your hands.

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Anonymous replied on May 01, 2020

It could potentially be true if the person referring you is senior enough in the firm, and there is nothing glaring wrong about the CV, then the HR/interviewing team would probably willinng to go direct to the interviewing stage. It happened in BCG, but usually it is a Partner who refers in this situation.



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Content Creator
replied on Feb 28, 2021
#1 MBB Coach(Placed 750+ in MBBs & 1250+ in Tier2)| The Only 360 coach(Ex-McKinsey + Certified Coach + Active recruiter)

Hi there,

A referral can be a great instrument that helps you secure an interview invite.

However, it is not a 100% guarantee that you eventually get an offer because some points and effort must be given from your side as well.

The question is: How much do you really want to get the job? Of course, it is better to provide yourself with a referral for the targeted firm. Otherwise, you can not even get invited.

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Anonymous replied on Apr 28, 2020


I will try to explain how it works. Generally, in hat way you may get your “partner referral” which normally brings you to the pole position for the interview. You may compare it to “skipping the line for business class” at the airport.

By referrals I've helped many candidates to get their positions. I would like to explain you the mechanics how referrals usually work:

My mentee sends me the documents (CV and cover letter) for a specific company.

I have a very wide network of friends, former colleagues and ex-mentees on high
positions in consulting (partners, principals and managers) across the world. I chat
with them individually praising your competences and skills. Afterwards, I ask them to
follow your documents on their behalf directly to their HR ladies while putting a word
for you.

Feel free to ask any further questions


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replied on Dec 05, 2018
ex-Manager - Natural and challenging teacher - Taylor case solving, no framework


Since you asked for ATK as well, I'll answer you on this point.

What you won't get

- bypass of any step of the process

- easier interview judgement

What you'll get

- increase your chance to get throught CV screening, especially if your academics are not in the 100% targeted

- higher attention to your progression during process : you will probably received more feedback and more attention will generally be put to help you succeed by providing any other guidance

- faster feedback

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updated an answer on Dec 04, 2018
McKinsey / Accenture Alum / Got all BIG3 offers / Harvard Business School


There are certain criteria for the referral:

  1. The consultant makes you a reference in the system and uploads your resume. Usually, he has to indicate why he thinks you are a good candidate
  2. You skip some steps in the recruiting process (CV screening at McK, Test at Bain)
  3. The consultant gets a referral bonus ($) if you get a job offer

The conversion to reference will be higher among consultant / manager level people who are still interested in the referral bonus. The basic idea is to ask these people for a mock interview.

Here are some tips on how you can do that:

1) Leverage your own network - find friends or friends of friends who can practice cases with you or make you a reference.

2) Attend company events. Consulting companies do a lot of events both for graduates and experienced hires. Find the social network groups related to consulting or websites, subscribe to newsletters and stay tuned. Also, check if they have events in your University since you are a PHD.

While some of the events will be open to everyone, others will require a resume and a cover letter, so make sure to prep.

3) Talk to people on the events and send Thank You notes. After each event, there is a Q&A session where you can talk to consultants 1 on 1 or in a group. Ask for contact info or send a thank you note after the event ("I just wanted to thank you for visiting our University... It was especially interesting to hear about... Would be happy to keep in touch and apply in the nearest future.). Alternatively, you may use linkedin for that. If you are an experienced hire I strongly suggest to ask for a 1 on 1 meeting in a thank you note.

4) 1 on 1 meetings. All people like giving an advice. So don't hesitate to ask consultants for a career advice. Tell your story and ask how consulting fits into it

5) Mock interview Depending on where you are in your prep process you may ask a consultant for a mock interview. Consultants are very much opened to help even if it is a cold call e-mail. The main problem is a lack of time on their side. So don't be afraid to remind about yourself if the consultant has already committed but finds it hard to find the time

6) Talking to partners If you are an experienced hire I suggest to talk directly to the partners in your industry or the partner responsible for experienced hires (in consulting partners also have additional roles). Get an intro from the HR or from your friends working there. Partners care a lot about experienced hires with relevant industry expertise. Chances to get referral are much lower though. They also will not be interested in giving mock interviews.

7) If you are an MBA graduate Just talk to your section mates and ask for a reference or a mock interview - they will be happy to help. Make sure you attend all the consulting events.

Good luck!


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Dennis gave the best answer


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Ex-Roland Berger|Project Manager and Recruiter|7+ years of consulting experience in USA and Europe
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