From Tier 2 to Top Tier Consulting Firm

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New answer on Aug 26, 2020
18 Answers
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Anonymous A asked on Sep 14, 2016

Hellooo, do you have experience with shifting from consulting firms such as Strategy&, ATK, Roland Berger, Oliver Wyman towards MBB? Are your chances better or even worse? When is the best timeframe to take this step? Thanks!

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Anne
Expert
replied on Sep 06, 2017
Former BCG in Paris, Official BCG coach for more than 150 experienced / post-MBA candidates

Hello,

I have known several people who joined a BCG Paris after having work for a few years in other consulting firms (either top 20 or boutique/specialized)
Evaluation criteria during cases interviews will remain roughly the same. Of course they will expect more maturity. They also keep track of previous interviews so they will expect to see significant progress on the weakness they have seen in your first interviews. HR are usually willing to help and explain what went wrong, so be sure to understand that thoroughly. Call back the HR if needed.

However, to make MBBs interested in your profile again in a few years, I would advise you to get experience on the sectors where MBBs have needs.
In BCG Paris, there are a lot of financial services / IT / digital cases. Bain Paris works a lot on M&A…
So, if you acquire experience on insurance or digital in banking while working at your top 20 consulting firm, BCG will be more interested in your future application, than if you work for the public sector for instance.

Also, when recruiting « lateral hires », MBBs tend to divide by 2 the experience you have. So if you work for 2 years in another consulting firm, you will be hired in the same position as someone who worked for 1 year in the MBB. Considering this, I think that 2 or 3 years may be a good time to re-apply, especially if you got promoted in your firm to prove your progress.

Hope this help!

Anne

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Andrea
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Feb 15, 2018
Former BCG Principal and decision round interviewer

I would suggest to short-circuit and make more personal what suggested in other answer. I would encourage to first reach out to the MBB people you interfaced with (both recruiting and consulting staff) during the process last year. Tell them that after a year you are still excited about the opportunity to join MBB and if it's ok for you to apply and how you should do it.

This approach will ensure that no one on recruiting side is blindsided by the fact that you are talking to people/reaching out without talking to natural contacts you built last year.

One add, in terms of expectations, after only one year no additional tenure will likely be recognized (vs what you agreed a year ago) from role you covered at another tier two consultancy.

hope it helps

andrea

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Francesco
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Content Creator
replied on Feb 15, 2018
#1 Expert for Coaching Sessions (3.600+) | 1.300+ Reviews with 100% Recommendation Rate | Ex BCG | 8+ Years of Coaching

Hi Anonymous,

you should have a waiting period with both McK and Bain to respect. Usually, this is either 1 (good performance) or 2 years (standard). There are also rare cases of 6-month periods. Thus, as a first thing I would verify how much time you have to wait before reapplying for these two companies (ideally via an internal contact that could talk to HR, if available).

For BCG things should be different as, if I understood correctly, you rejected an offer abroad. In that case, I would try to find an internal contact, and have him/her to ask HR whether you could reapply now for the local offices. Chances are they would be happy to accommodate an interview. In case you are not able to find a referral, you can try to reach out HR directly or ask for help via an expert.

In terms of the process it should be equivalent to the previous you had, with the following add-ons for your cover letter and behavioural questions during the interview:

  • You should show how you worked on the areas which led to rejection one year ago for Bain/McK
  • You should emphasize why you did not accept BCG and are now willing to move there
  • Underline general grow/improvements in the traditional key areas (leadership, drive, impact, team work) in the last year

Thus to sum up I would recommend to:

  • Verify the waiting period with McK and Bain
  • Find an internal contact for all the firms. If you are unable to do so, contact HR or consider booking an expert to help you with that
  • Prepare stories on your improvement on both cover letter and fir questions

Best,

Francesco

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Originally answered question:

Switching from a Tier 2 to MBB

Anonymous replied on Oct 20, 2017

I assume that you are talking about working for a Tier 2 post University (either Undergrad or MBA) and not an internship. In that case, it’s not necessarily a negative but that depends on what your other offers you are weighing the Tier 2 opportunity against. An industry brand name (e.g., Google, Microsoft, IBM) could likely be much more impressive when later when applying to MBB.

If you decide to go to a Tier 2, you will need at least 2, but really 3+ years to be seriously considered for an experienced hire position. The exception would be if you become very specialized quickly at the Tier 2 in an area that the Tier 1 is expanding its expert / experienced hiring.

To answer your underlying question about the selection process, it varies for University Hires and Experienced Hires. Since I'm assuming you are asking about Experienced Hires, the screening process depends on the Office / Practice needs. For instance, offices usually have 2-3 verticals (e.g., High Tech) / horizontals (e.g., Marketing & Sales) that they specialize in (usually dictated by geography) and tend to hire experienced hires that fit that profile based on prior experience. Practices obviously hire backgrounds fit for their practice. However, they can be based in any office or likely multiple offices. The experience that makes you attractive as an Experienced Hire can be gained from a Tier 2 consulting firm or a more traditional company. However, recognize that there is some chance that if you go to a Tier 2, you may only be a generalist for a couple of years and therefore have a hard time making your case to MBB.

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Anonymous replied on Sep 14, 2016

Excellent question.

This is really not an easy move, and will be difficult at best. But I have seen it happen among some of my colleagues that went from goetzpartners, arguably a tier-2 firm, to MBB. I think chances are better than for lateral hires from the industry just due to the fact that you already posess the consulting skill-set.

I believe chances are best when you have deep, demonstratable expertise in a very specific field where the Tier 2 firm is on par with MBB - let's say Berger in Germany for automotive.

And you will most likely not manage to get a promotion along with it, but rather move horizontally. While a move from MBB to tier 2 or to another firm in the same tier is often sweetened with a move up in the hierarchy.

Hope that helps,

Elias

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Originally answered question:

Switching companies

Jacopo
Expert
updated an answer on Nov 30, 2017
Project leader BCG, Bain and A.T. Kearney / 200+ real interviews

Hi,

I agree with what Francesco wrote.

Transitions within consulting firms are quite common and occur in many directions. I know many people who have successfully switched from tier2 to MBB, from tier2 to tier2, and from MBB to tier2. I personally belong to both the last and first categories: I started at Bain, then switched to A.T. Kearney and very recently got an offer from another MBB (which I eventually declined because I decided not be a consultant anymore).

Regarding competition (based on my experience), I had found it easier to get invited to an actual interview as an experienced hire vs. when I was applying to an entry level position: that is probably because after some years in consulting you have proved that you can do the job and, starting from the Senior Consultant/Senior Associate grade, you probably have also developed a specific expertise on a specifi industry/function. Nevertheless, expectations (as Francesco correctly pointed out) were much higher: I was expected to go deeper on the tested skills (especially on structuring the approach, leading independently the case, and communication) and at the same time to show a higher degree of maturity.

A last point: starting from the Senior Consultant/Senior Associate level it is very unlikely that you will have to take the test part.

Cheers,

Jacopo

(edited)

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Suheb
Premium
replied on Nov 06, 2017

Hi,

Short Answer: YES

Roland Berger in Europe is Tier 1 firm. It has a really good prestige and I personally know people who have made transition from RB to BCG. So it's quite possible.

Cheers!

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Vlad
Expert
Content Creator
updated an answer on Sep 18, 2017
McKinsey / Accenture Alum / Got all BIG3 offers / Harvard Business School

Hi,

From the interviewer perspective, it is totally fine, since you aim at boosting your career and skills.

From the HR perspective - it depends on the company and the country you are applying in. I know the examples when one year in Tier2 company was enough to apply for McKinsey and Bain, while BCG was looking for more experience.

To be on a safe side I would try to apply using a reference. Thus you will significantly increase your chances to be invited for a test/interview and the consultant who made a reference will earn some money. Of course, it should be someone you know, not just a random person from Linkedin.

Typically if someone makes a reference he has to point out why you are a good fit for the company and something exceptional about you. So make sure that he provides that information

Best,

Vlad

(edited)

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Ray on Sep 18, 2017

Thanks, Vlad. Really appreciate this

(edited)

Oleksandr (Alex)
Expert
replied on Feb 15, 2018
Very experienced ex-McKinsey consultant with cross-country expertise

Hi there,

I would think about applying through your connections within the target company. Let's say you want to get to McKinsey. You definitely need to get some friends out there. This is going to be the shortest way.

But be aware, that MBB usually works on much higher scale of the project and directly deals with top-tier executives. Which is usually not your case. Thus, have a clear answer on why they shall get you onboard.

Cheers,

Alex

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Originally answered question:

Switching companies

Anonymous G replied on Nov 30, 2017

HI,

Yes, it's possible to swtich. Many have done it within MBB and from Tier 2 to MBB.

Recruiting process differes from company to company and office to office, as you will be treated as an expierenced hire. However, the structure remains the same- case+fit.

Cheers!

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Originally answered question:

Switching from a Tier 2 to MBB

Earth
Expert
replied on Oct 21, 2017
Former McKinsey & Google manager w/ experience interviewing 100+ candidates ✅ Provides detailed & actionable feedback ✅

Hi L,

If you want to join MBB but only have consulting tier 2 offers, one strategy is to join other industry tier 1 companies, in whatever field you're interested in, so that you bring the best of that industry in your resume for an MBB application a couple of years down the road.

Good luck!

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Guennael
Expert
replied on Sep 21, 2016
Ex-MBB, Experienced Hire; I will teach you not only the how, but also the why of case interviews

Elias is exactly right - few more data points on this:

1. A classmate of mine spent 2 years at Infosys (tier-2), but started from ground 0 at Strategy& (bottom of tier 1 perhaps?); a year later, he still thought it was definitely worth it - and he is now about to make partner there!

2. While interviewing at BCG (as an industry hire), I was competing against a consultant from Strategy& who wanted to move up the chain; I got in, he didn't

3. My very first BCG partner was an ATK senior principal who came to BCG as a junior principal; years later, he was extremely happy with that move

4. While at BCG, one of my colleague had done 2 or 3 years at a boutique firm earlier, and he was outstanding at BCG, promoted early & all; now a principal

Bottom line: You can switch/move up, but it is no slam dunk and that might mean losing a couple of years of tenure; if you do manage the feat however, odds are you'll be really good and have a successful career in that second company if you are a cultural fit

Good luck,

Guennael -

ex-BCG Dallas

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Anonymous replied on Aug 26, 2020

Dear A,

Generally, I would say that you have chances, because you have already have some experience in consulting. And to increase your chances I would recommend you to work on networking and to apply with referrals.

If you need any help, feel free to reach out.

Best,
André

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Anonymous A replied on Sep 15, 2016

You confirmed exactly the assessment of some colleagues. Thank you very much Elias!

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Anne gave the best answer

Anne

Former BCG in Paris, Official BCG coach for more than 150 experienced / post-MBA candidates
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