Crucial to explain "Why Middle East?" in cover letter for MBB Middle East if I don't come from the region?

Anonymous A asked on Jul 16, 2019 - 6 answers

unfortunately I tried my luck for all MBB offices in Middle East (after being rejected from Europe/US) and got rejected by all of them. Now, just out of interest, I wonder whether it is due to my cover letter, as I didn't explain "Why Middle East?".

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Jamie replied on Jul 16, 2019
Former Tier 2, now MBB

Hi there,

If you are applying to a region and it is not clear in your CV why and you dont have any referrals that becomes extremely tough to get noticed unless you have a very strong CV (MBA from top school, relevant experience, etc.)

I would never recommend applying to a firm without a referral actually.

My 2cents

updated his answer on Jul 16, 2019
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To add to Jamie's answer

1. Recruiting is typically global in the sense that you cannot apply to a different office if you are rejected by one office in less than 2 years - the idea is that McKinsey across the globe has the same calibre of candidates. People that apply to the Middle East do so as part of the initial application not as an afterthought

2. You have to prove 'strong ties' to the region you are applying - this can be either a country you are from, where you studied or where you have a strong base (e.g., family). The idea is not to have people applying to offices just because there is a perception that it is 'easier' to get in there vs their home office

3. Networking - it always helps to meet people from the office, build connections and establish thos relationships before applying. That way they know you are serious and committed to working with them


replied on Oct 01, 2019
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Hey A,

First of all it is hard to judge for me, why you have been rejected in EU/US, because more information on your CV is required (higher education - university, grades, extra curriculum chievements, etc.), job experience (full time and internships).

Secondly, if you have applied to MBB Middle East right after applying to MBB in EU/US (within less then 12-24 months), you have been rejected automatically. After you register yourself in the HR System of the company your data is stored for quite a long period of time. If you've got rejected, your profile is frozen for the next 12-24 months. In this way each consulting company expects you to further develop your profile in the meantime (continue/finish your education, do additional trainings, get more relevant experience).

Third, of course having some ties or interest in the region is important, but it's not a K.O. criterium, since Middle East offices pretty often hire their candidates from targeted business schools in Europe or US. I doubt that you was rejected due to lack of "Why ME?"-explanation.

My recommendation for you is the following:

  1. Improve your profile through completing your colleague education/getting additional qualifications
  2. Or/And get relevant practical experience in consulting (other tier1 or tier2), industry or startup
  3. Try again after 18-24 months to get into MBB after the above is fulfilled.

I hope it helps.



Regarding the second point you made: is this also the case for Roland Berger? I am asking because, in the application portal, if one wants to apply for two different regions, he/she has to apply separately. — Anonymous A on Oct 01, 2019

This logic applies to the most tier1 consulting companies, incl. RB. If you have been rejected by any RB office in the last 12-18 months, you should better follow my recommendation. Let me know if you need any help with the referral, CV check or preparation process. Best of luck! Cheers, André — Andre on Oct 01, 2019

updated his answer on Jul 16, 2019
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As others have very well explained, there is very little chance for you to get an interview invite if you are applying to a foreign office that you do not have any ties with (former or current). Not explaining your reasons for picking that office certainly can be one of the reasons why you got rejected.

That being said, it could be due to many other factors. So even if you had explained "why Middle East" in your cover letter, an interview invite was not warranted.


replied on Jul 17, 2019
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It's not due to the cover letter:

  • You put the target countries in your application anyway
  • Nobody is really reading your cover letter

So I would look at the other reasons why you were rejected.


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replied on Jul 17, 2019
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Hi Anonymous,

it is really difficult to provide an answer without additional information (eg your background/CV, how did you structure the cover, whether you applied via referrals or not).

In general a good cover letter should have an explanation of why you are applying in a specific region if you are not from there, although it is unlikely that this was the only reason for the rejection.