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Best time to apply as analyst or associate

Applications recruiting
Recent activity on Jan 20, 2018
3 Answers
11.4 k Views
Anonymous A asked on Jan 18, 2018


so I see online that many firms leave applications open all year. I’ve also spoken to a recruiter from BCG who confirmed that applications are welcome at all times.

Is there a best time to apply? I know that firms have Assoicate campaigns and this is the suggested time but is there much difference ?

Lets consider person Joe Blogg.

Joe is in his final year of studies. Joe has the option to apply for the associate or analyst campaign in Feb/March, however Joe could also stall and apply in June after he is more prepared and performs better in interviews. let’s assume his case prep would increase from 30-60.

Joe has come to you as a consultant to find out what he should do to maximise his recruitment chances.

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replied on Jan 18, 2018
McKinsey / Accenture Alum / Got all BIG3 offers / Harvard Business School


First of all, the answer very much depends on a particular office. For example, McKinsey New York is particularly hard to get is you apply randomly and you'd better do it within your university recruitment cycle. McKinsey Austin, on the contrary, will be accepting applications the full year.

Secondly, your application does not mean heaving an interview immediately and you'll have plenty of time:

  1. It will take them some time to review your application
  2. If it is not a post-MBA role, you'll be invited to write a PST test first. And for this, you'd better be prepared.
  3. After PST you'll have up to a month to schedule your first interview. Particular dates depend on your role, university, recruitment cycle, etc. So you should check the timeline before making any decisions.
  4. Even if you've scheduled an interview and you don't feel ready - you can reschedule the interview (If it is not an internship with a dedicated interview period, etc.) There is absolutely no penalty for rescheduling. Your Interviewers are EMs or Partners who will not even know and even if they knew - they don't really care.

Finally, you can't imagine how many people have failed just because they didn't take enough prep. So if you don't feel ready - don't go to the interview.


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Tom on Jan 18, 2018

Hi there, what weighting would you say the PST has on an applicants progression? Also how true would this answer be for the Melbourne office? Would you say it would be okay to apply through the year? Thanks

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updated an answer on Jan 20, 2018
#1 Coach for Sessions (4.500+) | 1.500+ 5-Star Reviews | Proven Success (➡ | Ex BCG | 10Y+ Coaching

Hi Anonymous,

I agree with Vlad that the answer depends a lot by the office. I will refer to Europe/US in the following; the calendar should be moved accordingly in other geographies to take into account the equivalent of Summer/Winter breaks.

  • For new graduates, usual starting dates in Europe/US are September and January. Statistically, many interviews take place in September-November (January intake) and January-March (September intake). The best period to apply as a new graduate is the first month of the period when interviews take place, since the process just reopened and you will have less competition. Thus, that would be September for the January intake, and January for the September intake. Having said that, you should check for the specific deadlines of the programme you are interested in, as they may vary by country. The best period may also depend on on-campus recruiting, which for undergrads is usually in September-October and MBA in January-February.
  • If you are not applying as a new graduate, there may be a different timeline. For summer internships you can apply as early as September/October for the year after (here as well, the earlier, the better for competition). For experienced hire positions you can apply through the whole year, as the demand for that will depend on specific projects (ideally, still avoiding July and August for the summer break). In some countries, bonuses may have an influence on the period when to apply as an experienced hire, as more people than usual may leave after receiving them (usually in March); thus the firm may have a lack of experienced consultants right after that and increase intakes.

As additional point, if you are applying through a referral in that office (strongly recommended), it would be very useful to ask to the internal contact what’s the current situation in terms of recruiting – sometimes even if in the “correct” window recruiting stalls due to lack of projects.

In short, following also what Vlad and Andrea mentioned:

  • Try to stick to the standard application window (first months in the window are preferred)
  • Be sure you have sufficient preparation before going to the interview (which, as Vlad mentioned, may be a pretty different moment compared to when you actually applied)
  • If you have contacts inside the firm for that office, ask them what it is the current status for recruiting, in order to avoid to apply in periods of low need

Hope this helps,



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replied on Jan 18, 2018
Former BCG interviewer

For BCG NAR while the answer the recruiter gave you is technically correct, I think the answer depends on the following factors (and partially differs from what the other expert wrote):

1) Is candidate still in school?

2) Is candidate's school one of the target/core ones (e.g. does BCG has a lot of presence on campus with events, mocks, etc)?

In the case of Joe Blogg, answer to first question is positive, let's assume answer to second question is also positive. If that's the case my recommendation to Joe Blogg is to apply within the application window and prepare as hard as he can. This because during that window is when the 80-100% of his class will be recruited and he has the highest chances to get selected. During the rest of the year only 0-20% of the class will be recruited. If recruiting season went extremely well only ad hoc position for best people out there (think top 0.5%) will be available. Also not applying during regular window will raise questions on real interest to firm, ability to respect deadlines (preparation), etc.

If Joe Blogg instead was not from a target school or if he isn't in school anymore, then I think when he/she applies doesn't affect his chances much.

Hope it helps,


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Vlad gave the best answer


McKinsey / Accenture Alum / Got all BIG3 offers / Harvard Business School
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