How easy / common is it to switch between MBB firms?

MBB switch
New answer on Nov 30, 2023
9 Answers
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Anonymous A asked on Nov 22, 2017

I just had a BCG Final Round Interview and it was a narrow miss (case studies and personal fit good, communication should have been more professional, apparently). Considering I'm about to complete another degree with a compulsory consulting internship from a top business school, I was told by the BCG Principal giving feedback that I should apply again in 6 months - I guess this means that I could also apply for McK a second time then as well.

I haven't so far applied to Bain just because it is quite a bit smaller in Germany (where I'm keen to be working) with fewer projects to select from, so it's something of a 2nd choice (though at a very high level). I'm going to apply to Bain now anyway, but in case I get an offer, I'm just curious whether and when it would be possible to switch from Bain to BCG / McK later if they continued to appear more attractive and how difficult that would be.

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replied on Nov 22, 2017
McKinsey / Accenture Alum / Got all BIG3 offers / Harvard Business School


Several points:

  1. 6 months freeze in BCG does not mean a similar freeze in McKinsey. In McKinsey, you can reapply in 1-2 years if you manage to demonstrate some career traction and growth
  2. If you get a Bain offer, you can ask the other company where you've applied to expedite the interview process. But in your particular case, you are out of options, since you failed the interviews with the other two companies
  3. There are some examples of people switching between the MBB companies but it usually happened when they already got some experience. McKinsey will not hire someone who just started his career in Bain. Again, the cases of switching the company within MBB are quite rare so I would not bet on this


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replied on Nov 29, 2017
Ex-Bain & Company Case Team Leader * Placed 40+ MBB candidates as Partner in Europe's leading top-tier Consulting recruiting firm

MBB switching is rare at junior levels because it makes little sense. If you are doing well with a given company you will not want to risk your future career success by jumping to another firm. If you are doing poorly, you are unlikely to do better at another one of the MBBs (moving to 2nd or 3rd tier is different) and your target would probably be able to discover this in advance of any interview.

At more senior levels Partners and Directors are regularly poached for their business, but that's obviously a different story.

On Bain Germany, it's true they're not as large in Germany, but with something like 1,000 Consultants and a real investment in top Director leadership from Bain corporate it is hardly a minnow player where breadth of experience and options are going to be an issue.

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Content Creator
replied on Oct 27, 2023
#1 McKinsey Coach by rating & recommendation rate

Actually, this happens quite often. 

I've even coached candidates who did this sort of transitions. 

The most common reason I've seen it happen was at more senior roles (e.g., project leader) because that person realised they didn't have a strong enough platform in their current form to push them towards Partner level or they just weren't interested in the sort of work their firm did in that region. 

In short, if you want to transition, you can always do it. It's just a bit more delicate and you need to do in silence depending on the geography. Germany is big enough, so here I would just start networking with people from ‘the other’ firm and then find a way of getting an interview (e.g., through referral). The best way in would be to have a Partner referr you and ‘poach’ you in the new firm. 



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Content Creator
replied on Oct 27, 2023
Ex-BCG Principal | 8+ years consulting experience in SEA | BCG top interviewer & top performer


In my experience and observation, it is not common to switch between MBB firms, although it is definitely possible

  • In terms of exit opportunities and prestige, the differences between MBB firms in many geographies are often negligible (i.e. MBB is regarded in the same top tier/premier firms)
  • People who decide to switch often do so for 2 main reasons
    • Personal reasons
      • I.e. their significant other has moved to another country and they want to move as well, but the local office of their firm has no ‘space’ for them
    • Professional reasons (career related)
      • Past a certain point, you realize that you really want to work in a certain area OR you have expertise but the opportunities in your current firm are not significant
      • Therefore people make the switch because they feel they have a longer career trajectory in a different firm (e.g. move to Bain for PE)
  • Still, many have little to no reason to switch because the costs of doing so can be quite high
    • You are giving up years of network and reputation
    • You have to build up again your network and reputation against many factors / unknown environment

Hope this helps to clarify!

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Anonymous updated the answer on Sep 26, 2020

Hi A,

Actually, the waiting periods for BCG and McK may differ depending on the office and the firm itself. For McK, it is usually 1-2 years. Besides, you better show that you've gained professional experience and somehow improved your background at that time.

As for your second question, you are unlikely to switch being a junior consultant. You have to perform really well, so later you get the chance to switch to the targeted firm.




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replied on Nov 30, 2023
#1 EY-Parthenon Coach | Bain | Roland Berger | RB Former Head Recruiter | Market Sizing Expert

I would probably give it a year. You should be promoted otherwise it will feel like you are trying to move because things are not going well. Moreover, you would have to start from ground level again.

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Content Creator
replied on Oct 31, 2020
McKinsey | Awarded professor at Master in Management @ IE | MBA at MIT |+180 students coached | Integrated FIT Guide aut

Hello! I would say it´s uncommon, but doable. But why would you focus on this now? :)

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replied on Oct 29, 2020
Bain | passed >15 MBB interviews as a candidate

It's at least not unheard of. However, it's more typical at a bit more senior tenures (e.g. Consultant or Manager/Project Leader).

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Content Creator
replied on Oct 28, 2020
Ex-Mckinsey|Certified Career Coach |Placed 500+ candidates at MBB & other consultancies

Hi A,

Freeze periods may vary depending on region/particular office. You should contact HR from McK to find out when you can reapply there.

In fact, switching between MBB is more likely and makes more sense on a higher level. You'll have to get a few years of experience and do your work outstanding to receive an opportunity of switching.

Do you need any further help?


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Vlad gave the best answer


McKinsey / Accenture Alum / Got all BIG3 offers / Harvard Business School
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