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How can I position myself the best for Bain?

Anonymous A asked on Sep 20, 2017

Hi all,

The recruiting cycle is close to starting here. Can someone explain what Bain finds most important when interviewing with them compared to the other firms? Is it being structured, or fit, or creativity or something else? I really want to get their offer so I want to do some extra prep next to the regular case preparation I'm doing.

Many thanks and best wishes

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Francesco replied on Sep 23, 2017
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Hi Anonymous,

I would say the most important specific elements for a Bain interview are the following:

  • Fit part
    • You will almost always receive the question “Why Bain?”; you will need a strong answer that shows you have done your research. A good way to show that is to use numbers or specific names in your answers that can refer to the company only – this will make clear you have indeed done due diligence on the firm (eg. I know you grew [PERCENTAGE NUMBER]% last year in our region – that’s impressive and it definitely shows that besides being a market leader you are offering great opportunities to grow for someone joining the firm. I also appreciate the [SPECIFIC NAME] programme you just launched to sustain Entrepreneurship in colleges in our country).
    • While McK and BCG have specific questions to cover some topics in the fit part (usually for McK: (i) Leadership, (ii) Personal Impact, (iii) Entrepreneurial Drive; for BCG: (i) Leadership, (ii) Flexibility, (iii) Teamwork, (iv) Tenacity), at Bain the interview doesn’t necessarily have to cover such specific elements. Having said that, most of the time you will still receive questions on topics similar to the ones mentioned for BCG and McK.
  • Case
    • You will follow an interviewee-led approach, which means you will have to lead the case and continue your analysis, without the interviewer directing you in certain directions. This is similar to what happens in BCG and different from McK, where the interview is interviewer-led.
    • Base on my experience, cases in the final round are more creative than BCG and McK. During my final at Bain I got almost exclusively market sizing questions, thus based on a more creative approach and less on traditional business cases (an example was How long did it take to build the Great Wall of China?); that may be peculiar of the Italian process though.

Hope this helps,

Francesco

Hi Francesco, how would you answer to the question about the Great Wall of China? Thanks! — Anonymous on Oct 02, 2017

Giuseppe
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replied on Sep 21, 2017
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Hi!

I succesfully passed the 4 roud interviews with Bain some time ago.

From my experience the most important thing during Bain case cracking is:

  • Structured approch:
    • Assestment questions
    • Educated notes
    • Take your time (few mins) to structure your approch
    • Explain your approach to the interviewer and share with him/her your roadmap to crack the case
    • Go live with your case
    • Closing the case if you wanna impress them go extra mile:
      • Here is where your creativity or curiosity (always relevant with the case) should come up

For more info do fell free to contact me in private.

Anonymous updated his answer on Sep 24, 2017

Hi,

I got an offer from Bain by considering the following specialties of Bain (besides the usual requirements for top tier consultancies):

1) Bain is the challenger in the McK/BCG world - position yourself accordingly

Bain is still smaller and in most markets considered as the challenger. This requires to 'get more out of less' and to be more in an exploration rather exploitation mode. Generally speaking this will leave room for creativity and innovation also from Associates/Consultants (while e.g. McK most topics would be already explored). Thus, focus on your strong drive to push new topics and your creativity and first principles thinking that you will leverage for the upcoming cases.

2) Bain is willing to fostering their offering around 'Digital' - tweak your story accordingly

In my understanding, Bain is pushing the Digital portfolio quite strongly. Tweaking your story on what you did around that topic (maybe e.g. work on organizational culture during your university?) might help to emphasize your ability to push the company forward on that frontier - however, more a plus than a requirement.

3) Bain is looking for strong personalities - reflect before your interview on yourself

Bain is a creative companies, very much focusing on strong personalities who are well reflected and are sure about their "Why" (e.g. what is the deep drive behind choosing a certain type of internship in your CV). Ask yourself "Why" multiple times for each of the steps of your CV beforehand, in order to provide a certain depth within the interview.

(edited)

Good points in general. One note though about #1. In multiple developed markets (e.g. London, NYC, SF etc.) Bain is a lot more popular and slightly bigger than BCG and on par with McKinsey. I wouldn't position them as a challenger there. In other markets this is true though (as for BCG in other markets as well), so be careful to do your due diligence about their actual position, rather than going off a global headcount as a way of assessing their positioning. — Anonymous on Sep 25, 2017

Maikol
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replied on Oct 01, 2017
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The other answers you received are pretty comprehensive.

I want to add that Bain & Company wants to hire people with strong leadership and personality.

Therefore, try to show that you led other people and that you are continuously investing in your leadership skills.
As a subset of leadership skills, it is super important that you provide clear communication in a concise and structured way.
And in doing so, I suggest that you should focus on your voice (calm and energic) and on your stance (still, with few gestures, and with powerful hands movements that reinforce what you say).

On the case, you have to keep in mind the big picture, so never lose track of the original question, of the situation and complication(s) that are bringing to the question at hand.
As said by other experts, keep in mind that having a strong personality could be shown by providing creative recommendations.

Good look!

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