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Declined McK, mention to BCG?

BCG McKinsey
Edited on Sep 05, 2021
5 Answers
3.8 k Views
Anonymous A asked on Dec 01, 2017

Recently got declined at McKinsey at final rounds. Now considering BCG and have a few questions:

1- if I get asked if I’m looking elsewhere, should I mention anything about McKinsey? I’m guessing I can just say ‘no’.

2- are the interviews that much different than McKinsey’s, apart from being candidate led?

3- any other tips to make the switch?

Thank you all


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updated an answer on Dec 01, 2017
Project leader BCG, Bain and A.T. Kearney / 200+ real interviews


1- if I get asked if I’m looking elsewhere, should I mention anything about McKinsey? I’m guessing I can just say ‘no’.

I would consider three options here:

  1. Be honest: you can tell that you got to McK final rounds but did not land an offer (and prepare a good answer to explain what went wrong if asked). The fact that you got to final round shows that you have potential and that you were capable of getting to the last step of the process at a MBB where competition is extremely high. At the same time, there were also things that were not good enough or maybe competition was just better. In a nutshell, being honest allows to show that you have potential as a candidate and that you understood the negative feedback gathered from McK and are able to improve on your weaknesses (which demonstrates maturity and commitment to start a career in consulting). If you choose honesty, it will be very important to explain why you are applying to BCG (it never has to feel that BCG is your second choice so be ready to explain very well your excitment about the opportunity)
  2. Sugarcoat reality: you can tell that you have applied to McK as well, that you have successfully gone through 2 rounds of interviews and that you are going to have your final round very soon. This option would show that you have potential as a candidate as well, but you would just be telling half of the truth
  3. Say no, I am not looking anywhere: this could be an option too. You could add that you are starting with BCG which is your favourite firm (be ready to give reasons why)

I would personally use the ‘honest’ path as it shows maturity and commitment (plus, it is very competitive to get into MBB: getting a rejection is somethig that could happen).

2- are the interviews that much different than McKinsey’s, apart from being candidate led?

Candidate-led and interviewer-led cases are relatively similar (in both cases we want to see structure, problem solving and clear communication). In the former case you will have to lead the agenda of the resolution by developing the right structure, by asking the right questions, by identifying the key facts,…everything blends together contemporaneously: you build the house you live in, so your upfront structure has to be spot on.

The interviewer led case appears to move in sections. The interviewer has a specific set of questions that they want you to address. Even if you start with your own perfect structure, the interviewer may disregard it as he takes you through a predetermined set of questions.

The key differences between the two types of case are:

  • Structure: in candidate-led cases, it is your responsibility to develop it and use it to lead and solve the case. You have be able to deal with the information you receive, but also to lead the resolution as a real consultant would
  • Analyses: in interviewer-led you are expected to dive deeply into topic that you would no time to cover if you were leading the case
  • Math: interviewer-led cases tend to use more complex data. This implies that you will spend less time on identifying the right data but more time crunching numbers
  • Autonomy: you will have to show a greater level of autonomy, confidence, and capacity to spot the right question in candidate-led cases. In this type of case the interviewer acts like he is your client and he is relatively passive while you walk him through your approach. Based on my personal experience this is different from interviewer-led cases where it feels more an interaction with your manager (rather than the client) who has already a direction he wants to take

3- any other tips to make the switch? Thank you all

My recommendation is to practice as many candidate-led cases as possible with mock interview partners. In particular (and as I stated above), you should pay particular attention to practe on 3 areas:

  1. Structuring the approach
  2. Leading the resolution
  3. Drawing conclusions

A final thought, why not considering also the other great firms out there (e.g. Bain, A.T. Kearney,etc…)…

I hope this helps,



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Content Creator
updated an answer on Sep 05, 2021
Former BCG | Case author for efellows book | Experience in 6 consultancies (Stern Stewart, Capgemini, KPMG, VW Con., Hor


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replied on Dec 01, 2017

Could you share with us please your experience on things to avoid to be declined at McK ?

Many thanks,

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Oleksandr (Alex)
replied on Dec 01, 2017
Very experienced ex-McKinsey consultant with cross-country expertise

1. You can say that you consider McKinsey as alternative. I would not go to specific details.

2. More data (I guess the one from McK is more high-level than that of BCG). However, the difference is affordable, nothing is radical. Sometimes I've heard about group interviews in BCG for the 1st round though (depends on a location).

3. Be ready this time! :)

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Content Creator
replied on Oct 31, 2020
McKinsey | Awarded professor at Master in Management @ IE | MBA at MIT |+180 students coached | Integrated FIT Guide aut


I would be honest abou it if they ask you. Furthermore, as it has been outlined, its very similar, but :

  • Cases you can expect are more "free riding" - less organized than the ones your found in the 1st round or most prep pages
  • Stronger emphasis in the FIT part, as outlined before by other coaches.

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Jacopo gave the best answer


Project leader BCG, Bain and A.T. Kearney / 200+ real interviews
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