Getting an interview at MBB with low GPA , and a reason you don't want to talk about

CV screening GPA MBB personal story
New answer on Apr 26, 2021
2 Answers
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Anonymous A asked on Apr 25, 2021

I'm not getting selected for any meet/greet events, and I think my GPA is the problem. I'd like to interview for a position at MBB about 1 year from now, but am afraid my chances are not high if I'm not getting through these already.

I'm based in europe, where undergrad+grad is the standard. I have a graduate degree in engineering, at one of the top engineering schools in europe. My GPA there is good (4.0, I think I was in the top 10% of my cohort but it's not something they track), and I have a list of extracurriculars and an award as well. Currently I'm doing an Engineering Management traineeship at Mars Inc, where I'll become the manager of my own team starting september for my 3rd year. And also there I have some cool extracurriculars. In summary the last ~4 years have been pretty good.

However, they ask for GPA averages starting from highschool even for recruitment events. And my GPA for highschool is average, the undergrad one is low (2.3). I do have a double mayor and some extra curricular events, but it's not good.
My problem is the reason why. It's very personal.. I had a few traumatic life events as a teenager. After that I spent some years depressed and honestly struggeling. I did the minimum to pass what I wanted to pass but was pretty much 'out' otherwise. I had another thing happen right before the graduate program started (it's been a fun ride..) and finally got therapy after that, which has helped a lot and my CV shows it for sure.

I feel like there is no way I'll get to the interview stage without the explanation of what happened, if they don't already toss me out based on the numbers. I also don't know how to mention this and sound like a winner instead of a victim (I'm a woman, and it's sexual assault related). I'd prefer to not mention anything at all, but am not sure if there is a way around it. Even if everything else on my CV is stellar enough to get the interview, I feel like I'd still be asked about the undergrad degree and what happened there.

Is there any advice or experience for something like this?

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Francesco
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replied on Apr 26, 2021
#1 Expert for Coaching Sessions (3.600+) | 1.300+ Reviews with 100% Recommendation Rate | Ex BCG | 8+ Years of Coaching

Hi there,

I am really sorry for what happened. It’s admirable though to see how you have managed to grow after that. It seems you have been through very difficult times and it’s great that you managed to overcome them and succeed despite what happened.

In terms of your question: it is totally doable for you to overcome the GPA issue. The easier way to do so is to get a partner referral. I personally helped candidates with very low GPA who got invitations for MBB thanks to referrals so it is for sure feasible.

You can find more on referrals at the link below:

https://www.preplounge.com/en/consulting-forum/hey-everyonehope-all-is-well-3176

If they ask during the interview: I would talk about personal health issues due to an episode that led you to a long recovery during your teen years. I am pretty sure they won’t go deeper and won’t have any impact on the next part of the interview.

Hope this helps. Again, congratulations on your recent path, I wish you all the best.

Francesco

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Anonymous A on May 27, 2021
Hi Francesco, Thank you so much for the answer. I'm the same person from the original post and today I was contacted by a McKinsey recruiter on LinkedIn. I have a phonecall with her tomorrow morning about a job offering they have that they think my profile fits perfectly. Do you have any advice on what to do? Will they ask for my grades still, and what do I say if she does? I'm happy to have been approached like this, but also freaking out haha
Ian
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replied on Apr 26, 2021
BCG | 100% personal interview success rate (8/8) and 95% candidate success rate | Personalized interview prep

Hi there,

Sorry to hear about all of this, but I promise this isn't the end-all-be-all for you.

Let's control what is controlable. It's fantastic that you have a good GPA for your more recent education (this matters more). So, make sure to put this on your resume, but leave out the lower GPA from your undergrad.

More importantly, you should absolutely start networking as as soon as and as much as possible! This is exactly what you're trying to get at when you ask how can you get around a negative on paper mark against you.

How do you do this? Follow these tips:

a) Reach out to people in your network

b) Reach out to people once removed from your network

c) Reach out to people with a similar backgorund to you (i.e. same alma mater, same historically underrepresented demographic i.e. gender, orientation, ethnicity, etc., same career switch, etc.)

d) Tailor a message to them specifically both showing interest in them and their journey and demonstrating that you have done your research and could be a valuable hire

e) Play "tag" across calls you get so that you can work your way towards the company/office/role you want

f) Never directly ask for a referral, but "hint" at needing one (this is nuanced and important...happy to talk through wording)

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Anonymous A on May 27, 2021
Hi Francesco, Thank you so much for the answer. I'm the same person from the original post and today I was contacted by a McKinsey recruiter on LinkedIn. I have a phonecall with her tomorrow morning about a job offering they have that they think my profile fits perfectly. Do you have any advice on what to do? Will they ask for my grades still, and what do I say if she does? I'm happy to have been approached like this, but also freaking out haha
Francesco gave the best answer

Francesco

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