How is Bain different from BCG and McKinsey?

Bain Bain & Company BCG corporate culture McKinsey office culture Why Bain working culture
Recent activity on Nov 07, 2018
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Anonymous A asked on Nov 06, 2018

Based on some conversations I had with several MBB consultants, I know of Bain as a more family-like environment compared to BCG and McKinsey. Would someone elaborate further what this means with some specific examples? Thanks.


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Content Creator
replied on Nov 07, 2018
#1 Coach for Sessions (4.000+) | 1.400+ 5-Star Reviews | Proven Success (➡ | Ex BCG | 9Y+ Coaching

Hi Anonymous,

generally speaking, the difference between Bain and McK and BCG is country-dependent. In many countries, Bain is still the smallest in the MBB group, thus also the one where, with a smaller office, there is also a more entrepreneurial/family-like environment. However, this is not the case in every country (in Italy, for example, Bain entered through the joint venture with another firm, making the company quite similar to McK and BCG in size from the beginning). As a consequence, I agree with Guennael that country differences could be more relevant than differences between firms.

Referring to the question "Why Bain?", to properly prepare such question, it is crucial to understand why companies ask it.

Of course, every consulting company knows that 90% of the interviewees are doing multiple application in consulting, and also that you may prefer another MBB company. Thus why such question?

The key reason is that they want to see if you are able to do due diligence in advance on your target/prospect. If you are going to an interview and have not studied the company you are going to interview with, chances are you are going to do the exact same thing with the client. And a consulting company definitely doesn’t want this to happen.

Thus the question translates in how you can show you have done due diligence on the company. A general structure to identify elements that distinguish a company is the following:

  • Company potential: how much the company grew in the last year, which is a good guarantee for your future career as well
  • Sectors of interest: specific focus of the company in areas interesting for you
  • People you met and culture: specific people of the company you discussed with, and the things they shared on the company
  • Your growth opportunities: specific programs of the company you heard about to enhance your growth
  • Size/reputation of the firm: smaller companies usually offer a more entrepreneurial culture, with higher growth potential internally. Bigger companies have more resources and support staff, and more prestige in terms of exit.

Whatever topic you choose, you can apply a simple rule of thumb: if you can substitute the name Bain with another one, and have the answer still making sense, it means your answer is not specific enough. To be specific, you should talk about growth rates/specific people you talked to/specific research paper you read on the company.

This means you will have to spend some time preparing this question. But it also means you will have higher chances to stand out - very few candidates invest time in such due diligence.

Hope this helps,


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updated an answer on Nov 06, 2018
Ex-MBB, Experienced Hire; I will teach you not only the how, but also the why of case interviews

That's a tough question. In general, I always view BCG & Bain as extremely similar - and all 3 are more similar than they are different anyway.

Historically, Bain was an off shoot of BCG (and remains much smaller) and has veered earlier than the others into Private Equity. Beyond this, any office to office difference would trump company wide differences I feel

Remember, this is a people business - you can choose based on the company culture and comparative strengths, but the people you work with will be the ones you remember and will largely decide if you like it or not.


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Anonymous replied on Nov 07, 2018

Hi there,

As others have said, the family environment will depend by firm. The London office for example is huge, so I wouldn't say it has a "small office family feel". I do find however that many people at Bain become very close friends and keep in touch after leaving, or start companies together.

Another way you could say Bain is different is it's strength in Private Equity Consulting. While it's not an overall focus of the firm, they are the market leader by a significant margin and are very proud of their expertise.

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Content Creator
replied on Nov 06, 2018
McKinsey / Accenture Alum / Got all BIG3 offers / Harvard Business School


In reality, it's not, but that's what they are trying to sell. So you can always sell them back what they are trying to sell you. Family-like environment comes from the idea that they are not traveling across the offices and the offices remain relatively small.

Here are some other ideas that you can use to structure your thoughts about the company:

  • You can start with general facts about the local office. Something like “Sidney office is the fastest growing McKinsey office worldwide.”
  • If you have an interest in a particular industry or client this may also be a great reason. For example, BCG can be the only consulting firm working with airlines in your region.
  • You may address the different Global opportunities and office initiatives. E.g. international staffing can be a good opportunity to learn about business in a particular country
  • Try to combine professional and Non-business rational. If you have friends working in that company, don’t forget to mention them and what you’ve learned from their experience.
  • You may use your other personal experiences like working with this BCG, it's deliverables or as it's client
  • You can provide your personal experience of working with McKinsey Alums
  • McKinsey women / LGBT / etc. initiatives

Good luck!

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Francesco gave the best answer


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