Best time to apply as analyst or associate

Application Applications entry level MBB recruiting
Recent activity on Jan 20, 2018
5 Answers
15.8 k Views
Anonymous B 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.

Overview of answers

  • Upvotes
  • Date ascending
  • Date descending
Best answer
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.


Was this answer helpful?
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

replied on Oct 07, 2017
Project leader BCG, Bain and A.T. Kearney / 200+ real interviews


As a general rule, the recruiting process of MBB follows the calendar of universities (which varies depending on their locations): the main group of new full time hires starts working in September. These hires, will be mainly interviewed in the February -> June period, and should start applying from January (or even a couple of months before that).

Nevertheless it is not uncommon to have a smaller group of new entry level hires starting in January as well. As a matter of fact, consulting firms are happy to receive CVs for entry level positions throughout the year to fulfill any missing capacity. For Europe, you should avoid sending your CV during the period June-September which tends to be slow because of Summer holidays.

Regarding quality of projects, they can start anytime. In terms of volume though, September and January are very busy periods with a lot of new projects kicking off.

Was this answer helpful?
Content Creator
replied on Oct 08, 2017
#1 Coach for Sessions (4.000+) | 1.500+ 5-Star Reviews | Proven Success (➡ | Ex BCG | 10Y+ Coaching

Hi Anonymous,

as mentioned by Jacopo, that depends on the region and position you are applying for. 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.

In terms of intakes: the largest is usually the one in September, however you usually have more competition for that as well. Intakes may also be unpredictable, as they may depend on how many projects are starting. Thus, if you are ready to apply in September/October to start in January, it doesn’t make much sense to wait the September intake.

In terms of projects: as mentioned by Jacopo the busiest months are September and January; quality would be more difficult to define, as it would depend on your specific preferences.


Was this answer helpful?
replied on Jan 18, 2018
Former BCG Principal and decision round 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,


Was this answer helpful?
Vlad gave the best answer


McKinsey / Accenture Alum / Got all BIG3 offers / Harvard Business School
Q&A Upvotes
186 Reviews
How likely are you to recommend us to a friend or fellow student?
0 = Not likely
10 = Very likely