McKinsey Engagement Manager & BCG Consultant | Interviewer at McK & BCG for 7 years | Coached 45+ candidates secure MBB offers
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How to answer the question about competitive interviews?

Anonymous A

Hello,

how do you recommend to handle a question during the interview: why would you want to work for us vs another MBB and are you sure you would sign the offer?

I got this question in the first round of my preferred company so even though the interviewer kept grilling I was able to provide good reasons why but I’m not sure how to answer such a question for another upcoming interview which is my 3rd choice.

(edited)

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Sidi replied on 03/12/2018
McKinsey Engagement Manager & BCG Consultant | Interviewer at McK & BCG for 7 years | Coached 45+ candidates secure MBB offers

Just be open and honest! I do not believe in canned answers here.

For example, if you are also interviewing with a much larger firm, be open about it if asked. And if they ask why you would choose them over the competitor, there is no problem with stating something like:

"I am not entirely sure yet, but I know that I thrive in settings that are highly professional and collaborative, but also small enough to carve out an individualized development path for myself and to potentially enable close mentorship. This is where I have some doubts with [LARGER FIRM] and where I hope that you can help me understand how working for [THIS FIRM] would look like."

Such an answer has the nice side effect that the interviewer usually switches into "sales man mode" and tells you about the advantages of his firm, rather than grilling you.

(edited)

Vlad replied on 03/12/2018
McKinsey / Accenture / Got all BIG3 offers / More than 300 real MBB cases / Harvard Business School

Hi,

“Why consulting?”, “Why McKinsey” or “Why BCG” questions are used to assess your motivation to be a consultant in general and to work in that particular firm. They will check how you have done your homework and what you’ve learned about them. They also want to make sure that you have a clear intention to work in consulting.

  • The answers to these questions are supposed to be short and take no more than a minute.
  • For each question, you should provide three bullets points with different reasons.
  • Make sure that you guide the interviewer through your reasoning. Words like “The first reason”, “Moreover”, “Finally” will help you.

Here are some ideas of what you can use to structure your thoughts around "Why Company" question:

  • 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, Bain can be the only consulting firm working with airlines in your region.
  • You may address to different Global opportunities and office initiatives. Using 1-year relocation as an opportunity to learn about business in a particular country can be a valid reason
  • 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 company on a client side.

Here are the typical "Why our company" mistakes

  • The most common mistake here is to use the Facts applicable to any company like "BCG serves the largest Fortune 500 companies". All big 3 companies work with top companies in all industries.
  • Candidates also tend to use outdated facts or historical misconceptions like "BCG is the best in strategy." Try to use only up to date facts
  • Finally, stop blindly Repeating company marketing materials

Good luck!

Currently non-active expert
Expert
replied on 03/12/2018

Hey anonymous,

You didn't mention which company you were interviewing when you got such question, but from my discussions with my Bain and BCG friends, I would be tempted to bet it was for one of these two rather than McKinsey (I would be really surprised to see someone asking such question, especially the second part which seems almost stupid to me!).

If this was the case, you do really need to come up with compelling arguments about why you are super hyper mega motivated to work with them and why they are so different from competition (but beware that saying bad things about competitors is not positively seen, quite the opposite actually; at least in McK), because they do really care about hiring people that "already born with the will to work for them" (I'm exaggerating obviously, but there's a huge difference vs. McK, where what matters the most is the fit to be a consultant, not the "why mck? view")

Best

Bruno

Andrea
Expert
replied on 03/13/2018
Former BCG decision round interviewer with 300+ real interviews in 8 years

I vote for honesty too here. And to the specific question would reply that you are there to interview, therefore means that you are serious about your intentions with them.

Hope it helps,

Andrea

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