Difference in Interviews

Bain & Company BCG
New answer on Jul 04, 2022
6 Answers
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Anonymous A asked on Jun 25, 2022

hey guys, i've been preparing for McK interviews for the past few weeks and had my first round a few days back, and now im interested in preparing for BCG and Bain.

How is the preparation for them different than McK? other than the cases being candidate-led? is the Fit part different? 

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Francesco
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replied on Jun 26, 2022
#1 Coach for Sessions (4.000+) | 1.400+ 5-Star Reviews | Proven Success (➡ InterviewOffers.com) | Ex BCG | 9Y+ Coaching

Hi there,

There are 4 main differences you will find between McKinsey and BCG/Bain interviews.

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1) Fit

  • McKinsey includes the PEI (Personal Experience Interview) as part of the fit part. They will usually ask for one story out of three possible dimensions (Inclusive Leadership, Personal Impact, and Entrepreneurial Drive) in each interview.
  • BCG and Bain may or may not ask for similar stories on those dimensions. Consequently, there is more variety in the questions they may ask.
  • At McKinsey they usually go deeper into the dimension with follow-up questions. At BCG and Bain, they won’t usually ask as many follow-up questions even in case they ask for a similar question.
  • In a few countries, Bain is occasionally doing rounds with case-only, without fit.

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2) Interview style (interviewer vs candidate led)

  • McKinsey usually follows an interviewer-led approach. This means that after presenting the answer to a question, the interviewer will ask you the following question planned, irrespectively of where you want to move the analysis.
  • BCG and Bain usually follow a candidate-led approach. This means you have to propose a plan of action and the interviewer will leave to you to follow that approach, only occasionally directing you (meaning you have to lead the case).
  • The interviewer-led approach is easier to follow for most candidates, meaning that if you know how to manage an interviewee-led case you should not have issues with it. 
  • The opposite is not true - if you only know how to navigate interviewer-led cases you may have issues driving a case in a candidate-led case. So if you are interviewing with BCG and Bain you have to learn how to lead the case.

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3) Initial Structure

  • Given the format is interviewer-led and you may not have an option to go deeper in your structure later on, at McKinsey your structure should have several levels and expand all the possible drivers to answer the question.
  • In a candidate-led case you could theoretically expand the drivers later. However, if you know how to do it properly you can structure with multiple levels also in candidate-led cases. The method that I teach is based on that and allows you to define the full roadmap at the beginning without any possible downside.

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4) Conclusion

  • McKinsey cases often don’t have conclusions. 
  • If you prepare for BCG and Bain, you should expect to structure a conclusion at the end.

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BONUS: Case content

  • The interviews at McKinsey tend to be more standardized. They almost always include a structuring question, a math/graph question and a creativity/brainstorming question. 
  • BCG and Bain have a flow that could be quite different. For example, at Bain in some countries they will just ask a market sizing question as the whole interview question. And that’s it. Just a single estimation.

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If you are interested in the exact questions, I have a DB with 1500+ MBB questions for 60+ offices, you can check on my profile if I include them for the office you are interviewing with.

Best,

Francesco

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Moritz
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replied on Jun 26, 2022
Unearth your spike & get the offer |ex-McKinsey | 120+ coachings & interviews @ McKinsey | ESADE MBA | Transition Expert

Hi there,

You're saying “other than being candidate-led” as if it was a small detail - it's really not. Make sure you understand exactly how this breaks down exactly into things you have to adapt: 

  • Context & Objective: All MBB cases have an objective but in case of interviewee-led cases, this needs to be much more of a north star because no one will guide you down a path with questions. Everything needs to be crystal clear at this point and you're likely going to ask more questions at this point.
  • Analysis: You're not answering somewhat self-contained questions but instead need to have a plan for the entire analysis of the problem. I am referring to the initial structure, which is fundamentally different in terms of its purpose and how it's best done compared to McK-style.
  • Prioritization: You need to drive the conversation to the things that really matter in your view and you cannot afford to take a back seat here waiting for queues from the interviewer.
  • Drive: If you know that you have x minutes (verify with interviewer), it's your responsibility to arrive on time with a recommendation of some sort. This drive needs to be visible at every stage by saying things like “I suggest to approximate these figures because we only have a couple of minutes left and I'd rather have have a rough final answer that we can build on instead of no final answer”

There's more to this but you get the point!

Most candidate think of different interview styles as a detail whereas in reality it's really drastically different - make sure you internalized all those differences and really shift your mindset!

Best of luck!

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Ashwin
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replied on Jun 26, 2022
Ex Manager Bain and company | INSEAD

They are not that different from each other, you can expect similar complexity of cases and fit questions. 

McKinsey is well known for using interviewer-led cases, their cases as I know are developed by a central team and interviewers are given a script to test candidate skills.  BCG and Bain cases are developed typically by the interviewer and because of this they are comfortable letting the interviewee chose the analysis branch and go deep into that branch. 

Having said that I know a lot of candidates who were given more of a candidate led case in Mckinsey interview based on the problem the interviewer was working on. 

There is no clear cut formula and it depends a lot on the interviewer 

 

Thanks

Ashwin 

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Ian
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replied on Jun 26, 2022
MBB | 100% personal interview success rate (8/8) and 95% candidate success rate | Personalized interview prep
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Lucie
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replied on Jul 04, 2022
10+yrs recruiting & top BCG trainer and coach & BCG Project leader & experienced hire & ICF coach

Hi there, 

the main difference are:

Business case when McK is interviewer led and BCG & Bain candidate led. The cases are VERY similar, hence to prepare for the business case, there will be not much difference for you (my candidates entered BCG as well as McKinsey)

Personal interview:  again all firms want to hear stories that demonstrate you have the capabilities needed to excel in consulting (problem solving, think out of the box, ability to deal with ambiguity, resourcefulness, flexibility, people skill, leadership, ability to influence… ). The questions are variation of approx 10 of the main questions. You should prepare your stories and time it. I know McKinsey gives less time for that. Still for preparation 90% is the same work regardless of MBB

You can leverage blog here, there are articles explaining process for each consulting https://www.preplounge.com/en/articles.

Good luck,

Lucie

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Clara
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replied on Jun 27, 2022
McKinsey | Awarded professor at Master in Management @ IE | MBA at MIT |+180 students coached | Integrated FIT Guide aut

Hello!

+1 Francesco on this one. 

however, I may add, don´t obsess about it, since once you are ready for one, you are ready for all -and vice-versa-. 

Cheers, 

Clara

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Francesco gave the best answer

Francesco

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