How much lead time is expected from application to interviews?

application process
New answer on Sep 20, 2021
9 Answers
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Anonymous A asked on Sep 16, 2021

I am planning to apply for experienced hire positions at MBB and I am a re-applicant who has done 70+ cases. I would like to know what would be the expected lead time from application to first round interview, as I am evaluating when should I apply to the firms. 

Is it recommended to apply only when you are “fully prepared” (i.e. can be interviewed right away)? Or, normally speaking, there will be at least several weeks of prep time between application and first round interview? 

Also, I'd like to know what is the typical duration of the whole process (from application to final round) for MBB?

Thank you so much for your advice!

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Ian
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Sep 16, 2021
BCG | 100% personal interview success rate (8/8) and 95% candidate success rate | Personalized interview prep

Hi there,

I generally advise my candidates to apply when they are 80% ready. The lead time can be as short as 2 weeks, so one must feel “about ready” when they apply.

Based on your context, you should probably be applying now-ish.

My big concern for you is that you have done 70+ cases. This is really in the territory of too many! There is severe risk of overcasing/burnout. I'm also concerned that you've taken a quantity over quality approach and may have learned some bad habits on the way.

I cannot recommend a professional review enough (be it via a case coach, a company-assigned buddy, and/or a friend at one of the firms).

Good luck!

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Hagen
Expert
replied on Sep 17, 2021
Bain & Company Project Leader | 200+ interviews conducted | 5+ years of coaching and mentoring

Hi there,

This is indeed an interesting question which is probably relevant for quite a lot of users, so I'm happy to give you my perspective on that:

  • While I agree with what other coaches said about the expectable time until you first hear back from the companies (up to 2 weeks), I would advise you to apply whenever you feel ready and roughly indicate in your cover letter when you would like to have your interviews for the simple reason: You are not a graduate anymore and have a full-time job. Thus, companies know that you have other commitments besides waiting to be interviewed with consulting companies, and take it into account.
  • Please also bear in mind that McKinsey has changed the recruiting process slightly in the way that there's about one fixated date per month for the second round interviews. Thus, I would advise you to ask about the next possible dates for the second round interviews and plan backwards for when you want to have your first round interviews. Some coachees of mine got really nervous from having to wait and prepare about a month for the second round interviews after their first round interviews.
  • The expectable duration of the whole recruiting process really depends on how fast you want it to be (up to a certain limit). Some coachees of mine went through it in 2.5-3 weeks from application to final round and offer. Here, I would advise you to schedule as you feel like it, it seems to be a really personal decision.
  • Even if I do not agree with what other coaches said about being “over-prepared” given your no. of case studies practiced, I would advise you to mostly focus on working on those last weak spots in your preparation and keep up your level of readiness.

In case you want a more detailed discussion on how to best prepare as an experienced hire with significant preparation with case studies, please feel free to contact me directly.

I hope this helps,

Hagen

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Antonello
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Sep 16, 2021
McKinsey | MBA professor for consulting interviews

Hi!

It's hard to give a precise answer as there is great variability in response times.

I think after 70+ cases you can apply and then you might consider working with a coach to speed up your preparation before the interview.

Hope this helps.

Best,

Anto

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Cristian
CoachingPlus Expert
replied on Sep 16, 2021
McKinsey / Oxford grad / ex Firm mock interviewer & internal training faculty / top 25% best consultants in the Firm

The short answer is that it doesn't matter :) 

Most consulting firms struggle to find the right people. Many offices don't even fill the ‘quota’ they've been allocated. So they really really want to hire you, as long as you have the right skills and ace the interview. Which means that the whole recruitment process can be adjusted based on your needs and your preferred timeline to ensure the right level of preparation. If you don't feel ready, ask the HR/recruiter to postpone the interviews. For them it doesn't matter whether you start in one week or in six months and they would always much rather you actually get in than get rejected (because then everybody is losing). In fact, asking to have your interview postponed shows that you are confident and have clarity on your level of preparation. 

The exception here are generally the bigger offices which do the recruitment in batches / cycles, so you can't really get your interview rescheduled when you want to. Even so, my advice here would be to ask to be rescheduled for the next cycle than rush through and get rejected.

For me the whole process took two months and a half. Application to PST 5 weeks. PST to first interview 4 weeks. First to second interview 1-2 weeks. 

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Francesco
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replied on Sep 17, 2021
#1 Expert for Coaching Sessions (3.600+) | 1.300+ Reviews with 100% Recommendation Rate | Ex BCG | 8+ Years of Coaching

Hi there,

The exact answers depend on the company, office and exact position. But in general, answering your questions:

I would like to know what would be the expected lead time from application to first round interview

  • I would expect a range between 1 week to 2 months between the application and the following step (most likely 1 to 4 weeks). The office may also have standard windows for recruiting – then you will interview in that period.
  • Keep in mind that McKinsey normally uses the Imbellus as a step before interviews, so you will also have to do that once you pass the screening.

Is it recommended to apply only when you are “fully prepared” 

  • I would recommend to start to prepare in advance and not do so last-minute after you applied (although given you have done 70 cases I would expect you have already a good level).

I'd like to know what is the typical duration of the whole process

  • The typical duration of the process between rounds also varies. I would expect 1 to 4 weeks between the first and final round but could also be shorter or longer (in my case I completed the process with BCG in 4 days).

Best,

Francesco

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Calvin
Expert
replied on Sep 17, 2021
Experienced interviewer | Roland Berger Project Manager| Cambridge University | Super intuitive approach

It can really vary quite a lot. I have seen cases where it's only 1-2 weeks in times the firm is hiring aggressively (especially if they reached out to you first). It can also take a month or more if there are no urgent hiring needs.

My suggestion for applicants is to be “almost ready” for a real interview by the time they submit an application.

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Udayan
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Sep 16, 2021
Top rated MBB coach with many offers /Ex McKinsey EM in New York /6 years McKinsey recruiting experience/Real cases

There are many factors that impact this lead time

  • If you are applying as part of a regular hiring cycle (e.g., MBA students) then there are fixed dates for when interviews happen. These cycles are short and range from 4-6 weeks from application to interview. There is limited to no flexibility on timelines here.
  • If you are applying for off-cycle positions the cycle length depends on the demand for the role (how quickly they need to fill it) and the availability of people to interview. I have seem these cycles be as short as 2 weeks to as long as 3 months However there is flexibility to change the timelines a little bit to accommodate your schedule.
  • If you are applying for specialist roles, it is typically quicker as they need people immediately to fill demand from clients on urgent projects. However there is flexibility to change the timelines a little bit to accommodate your schedule.

In general I would say before applying you can be somewhat prepared (5 cases, reading up on PEI and knowing enough about the role) and then you can aggressively ramp up once you have an interview scheduled. However it all depends on how much preparation you need and how much time you have to dedicate to it.

Best,

Udayan

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Agrim
CoachingPlus Expert
replied on Sep 16, 2021
#1 CoachingPlus Expert | 100% no-nonsense | BCG Dubai PL | 2021 Real MBB+ Cases | Case/PEI/Fit/CV | 6+ years Consulting

There is much variability in the answer to your question, my friend.

The typical timeframe I have seen at MBB for my coachees and friends ranges from 2 months to 8-9 months. The median I have seen is around 4 months. It depends on the cycle, the flux of applications, and luck.

Ideally, start applying when you are 95% ready (both case AND fit). Always assume the 2 month timeline but if it is longer, then your only challenge will be to keep the momentum going and must continue to improve regardless.

I don't think re-application will be a factor in determining the ETA for the process unless you are not yet eligible.

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Sofia
Expert
replied on Sep 20, 2021
McKinsey San Francisco | Harvard graduate | 5+ years of coaching | >90% candidate success rate | Personalized approach

Hello,

The lead time between application and first round is generally in the territory of a few weeks, and can be as short as 2. I think applying when you feel 80% ready is good advice. 

The typical duration of the whole process will vary a lot based on the office/role you are applying for, but tends to take up 1.5-3 months, roughly along the following lines: application submission - a few weeks to first round (during which you might be doing some online tests like Imbellus) - a few more weeks/a month until second round - a few days/weeks to hear back.

I don't know to what extent you are “overcasing”, but 70+ cases is a lot (and more than you would typically need to be prepared for the interview). Based on the number of cases you have done I would also highly recommend you work with someone experienced to help you prep, whether a coach or a friend who works at one of the consulting companies, so that they can give you in-depth feedback and really help target your practice towards what you need to improve.

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Ian gave the best answer

Ian

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BCG | 100% personal interview success rate (8/8) and 95% candidate success rate | Personalized interview prep
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