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First round BCG interview. Are they expecting perfection? Was mine just Just bad luck?

Anonymous A asked on Apr 26, 2019

I didn't pass the first round. I did the first case so so (I did 2 mistakes and didn't finish it but I demonstated how to solve it), the second well (at least the interviewer said so). The two cases had difficult graphs and rare case situations like no profits). I felt they judged me extremely harsh and they didn't give me the chance to prove it in the second round. I have been hearing from other people who performed exactly the same way, BCGers treated them VERY DIFFERENTLY (they personally called on the phone the candidate, forgave severe mistakes during interview and gave feedbacks etc). Why Is it that random? Thanks!

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Ian
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replied on Apr 27, 2019
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It may feel random, but there's no denying the process effectively ensures that only people of the top calibre and cultural fit enter these firms. Yes, who you get and how they treat you is random, but that is stylistic and in no way indicative of how they rate you.

There's three reasons the perceived unfaireness/randomness of interviewers doens't translate into true unfairness of your results:

1) There is a standardized, incredibly previse and clear rubric that each interviewer fills out - this quantifies your abilities across key areas and there is very little room for interpretation in this.

2) Some tough interviewers are actually lenient and some nice interviewers are actually tough. I've known people that are sweet as sugar and have every candidate walking out thinking they aced the case. I know others that have the opposite effect. How a perosn treats you isn't the indication of how well you did - it's how they treat you in comparison to how they treated others. Think Simon Cowell: a "jerk" but knows talent when he sees it.

3) This leads to my third point - the interviewer you were given interviewed lots of other candidates that day. If they were "easy" they didn't give everyone passing marks, and if they were "hard", they didn't block everybody. Each interviewer, regardless of their style, still ranks you in comparison to your fellow interviewees - there's no unfairness in relativity.

I'm sorry, but you did not do as well as you think you did. It sounds like your performance is the equivalent to passing a class but by no means equivalent to you graduating Magna or Summa Cum Laude, which is what you need to be.

You can get there, if you work hard and have the right mindset - but "bad luck" is not the right mindset.

Francesco replied on Apr 27, 2019
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Hi Anonymous,

it is difficult to compare your own performance to someone else just from their feedback. As Vlad said, your own view of your performance is subjective and the other interviewees had a subjective assessment of their performance as well.

In general, there could be several elements why, although your peers also made mistakes, their results were different:

  • Mistakes may have been on minimal topics
  • They connected more with the interviewers
  • They performed better in the fit part (often difficult to personally assess, as it is not as easy as in a case to understand if you did a mistake) thus had a better overall performance

I would recommend to ask for feedback to the interviewers, they are the only ones who can potentially help you to understand the possible improvements.

Hope this helps,

Francesco

Serhat replied on Apr 26, 2019
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Are they expecting perfection? Maybe not, but they are expecting exceptional performance compared to many other people. Considering this is the expectation, and you did 2 mistakes and did not finish the case, they might not be 100% satisfied. Also, as they are not sharing solutions, maybe there are some other missing aspects which you do not know. This might be a potential reason. Of course, you can always have a second chance next year and many people are succeeding at their second even third try.

Cheers
Serhat

Vlad replied on Apr 26, 2019
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Hi,

For very simple reasons:

  1. Every evaluation of you as a candidate is subjective and depends on the particular interviewer
  2. Your perception of you interview is subjective - maybe you performed much worse
  3. The evaluation of your friends of their performance is... subjective as well

So please stop contemplating about not having a chance. You had a chance and unfortunately, the performance was weak. Please concentrate on preparation.

Best!

Guennael
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replied on Apr 26, 2019
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Sorry about your experience. Is BCG (MBB, really) expecting "perfection"? Basically, yes, almost: remember this is a competition, where literally dozens of bright and highly qualified candidates compete for one single position. You must not be good or "perfect", you must be better than all the others.

At the same time, this is still a people business so just being good/great/perfect may not be sufficient if your interviewer "likes" someone else better. Based on your feedback, I suspect the 1st interviewer just had enough doubts about your performance that your second case wasn't enough to override the concerns. It happens very often. Actually - unless you really do outstandingly well with a more senior interviewer, any so-so performance will be enough to sink you.

Finally, you ask why things appear random: Again, remember your interviewers are people, and people behave differently. There is a process to take randomness out of the equation, but it doesn't always work. You can't control that - what you can control however, is your performance on both the case and the fit - and this time, it just wasn't sufficient. Sorry.

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