Can you remind me what happens if I can get a referral from someone working for an MBB?

Bain BCG MBB McKinsey
New answer on Aug 21, 2020
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Anonymous A asked on Oct 21, 2018

More specifically, what steps can I skip for the MBB?

Is my cover letter still useful in this case?

thank you

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Content Creator
replied on Oct 22, 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 referral bonus ($) if you get a job offer

As you can see simply mentioning a person in your CL does not change the process at all.

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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Anonymous B replied on Oct 21, 2018

Depends on the firm.

The main advantage of getting a referral is that you have better chances actually landing an interview with an MBB, which is already difficult.

For McK with the referral I avoided the cover letter, but for BCG I had to write it anyway (however as I had been referred I feel that the cover letter was given much less importance).

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Anonymous on Oct 24, 2018

Were you able to skip any steps in the recruitment process with BCG? I’ve only read about getting to skip the test/etc. with the other MBB.

replied on Oct 22, 2018
Ex-MBB, Experienced Hire; I will teach you not only the how, but also the why of case interviews

I'm with the others, the cover letter will probably not be useful... doesn't mean you shouldn't do it however.

Please remember also, there are different types of recommendations. If your MBB contact knows you well or has worked with you, the recommendations will be given more weight; if your MBB contact is a Partner or senior AP/Principal, same thing. If the contact is an associate who talked to you 5 minutes once 2 years ago... the recommendation is near worthless.

Good luck w/ the application

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Anonymous replied on Oct 21, 2018

This really depends. A Partner/senior referral means you will be guaranteed an interview, and that a cover letter probably won't be very useful (but may be reviewed anyways). At Bain, Cover Letter forms part of the overall "score" for the screen, so it's not just used by HR. However, if you are guaranteed an interview anyways, it doesn't matter.

However, a referral from a junior does not necessarily guarantee anything. It will likely just be used as an additional data point in the application - e.g. if you are borderline, a strong referral may get you an interview. This might be different at some firms/offices.

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Akhil Nemani on Oct 26, 2018

Hi, thanks for the answer. I had a query based on your answer. You state that referrals from partners guarantee an interview. The thing is, I'd hardly know anyone at the partner level. How can I reach out and network with partners for future leverage? Thanks in advance. :-)

replied on Oct 21, 2018
Collected McKinsey & BCG offers/ Ex-McKinsey consultant/Harvard/WBS/MSU

Hi A,

You get an invitation for a test after a referral for all MBBs.
Cover Letter is not useful in this case.

Cover Letter is used when HRs have douts after reviwing your CV.

Kind regards,

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Anonymous replied on Aug 21, 2020

Hi A,

If you have referral, probably you don't need cover letter for application, but still you should have it (just in case).

If there is a Partner or Manager referral, then it makes sense.


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