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Importance of Grades for Full-Time Recruiting

college consulting full-time grades MBB recruiting university
New answer on Dec 09, 2020
4 Answers
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Anonymous A asked on May 09, 2017

Hi everyone,

I am currently a student at a top business school in Canada. In September, I will be going into my final year of university (college, for those in the US). I recently got my final grades back for the year and my average is just borderline a 3.7/4.0 GPA. In Canada, consulting firms view our grades by percentages, so it's 80.27%. I just barely made the 80% cutoff, which is not a bad mark, but it is the competitive average.

I also (unfortunately) did not get a consulting internship as it was very competitve and positions were extremely limited for summer internships.

However, I heard that more positions and firms are available for full-time recruitment. My worry is that since my marks are essentially the same as when I applied for summer internships, I won't get an interview from consulting firms.

Do firms value experience and extracurriculars more when it comes to full-time recruitment? (i.e. less-so for marks?)

As additional info, since summer internship recruitment, I have gotten a President position at a club here at school (extracurricular) and will have internship experience at a well-known firm (not consulting, however).

I know my question is rather open-ended and can be case-dependent. I'm happy to provide more info if needed, but I would like to hear some feedback from anyone who has done screening for candidates at a consulting firm (MBB or not).

Thanks in advance!


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Content Creator
replied on May 09, 2017
5+ Years at BCG & Kearney Dubai & Istanbul | 400+ Trainees | Free 15-min Consultation Call


Let me jump in here, and speak based on my experience with BCG.

Top tier consulting firms typically evaluate the following in order to invite a candidate for an interview:

1. University brand name (e.g. ~top 5-10 universities in the country)

2. University grades (e.g. minimum 3.70/4.00 GPA)

3. Relevant professional experience (e.g. internships, volunteering)

4. Extra-curricular activies (e.g. positions held in university societies)

1 and 2 are typically the hygiene factors i.e. one should graduate from a reputable university with decent grades. It seems that you are already meeting both criteria. Please note that it is uncommon that a candidate from the same school with 3.90 GPA would be prioritized before you purely based on the grades.

3 and 4 are the real differentiators. Thereby, you would need to highlight the relevance of your internship and extracurricular, and how these will help you in your work as a consultant.

Best of luck!

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Howard on May 09, 2017

Thank you for your input, Deniz. I appreciate it!

Anonymous replied on May 11, 2017

I came into McK (and then Google) with an undergrad GPA of <3.0. Here's how it works.

1. UG GPAs become less important once you are a few years out. Play the long game - if you think 3.7 is the only blocker you have to get into MBB, then wait it out a few years. Do great at your first employer. Apply for an MBA at a top college, then join after. MBBs hire you in at the same level after the MBA regardless of your work-exp years; a 35yr old MBA grad is at the same level as a 25yr old MBA grad who just moved more quickly. You can gain a few years that way.

2. GPAs are just one way to test smarts. GMAT, GRE, etc are another. 3.5+, in my mind, are sort of all the same. Unless you have a lot of well-known scholarships and are leading various univ clubs/programs, I'd think of a 3.7 on par, in intelligence, with a 4.0 all other things being same.

3. Take more difficult courses. A 3.7 w/ advanced courses >> 4.0 with easy ones.

4. When you apply to MBB they ask for 'additional info'. Write a short letter NOT discussing why you have 3.7 vs 4.0 (if you have a 2.8 or 3.0 vs 4.0 that explanation makes sense) but rather focus on various extracurricular and leadership roles you took that were not part of the CV.

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Howard on May 14, 2017

Thanks Hemant! I appreciate the answer. I'm curious to hear a little bit about your transition from McKinsey to Google as I have always wanted to work at Google in the long-term. How did the opportunity arise, what made you switch, and how do you like it so far in comparison to consulting?


Content Creator
replied on Dec 09, 2020
McKinsey | Awarded professor at Master in Management @ IE | MBA at MIT |+180 students coached | Integrated FIT Guide aut

Overall, extra-curricular are at least as important as grades!

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Anonymous replied on Jul 16, 2020

Dear A,

Grades are important at the screening phase. So having high grades will make his job. BUT, you can also apply with referrals that helps you to skip the general process of CV screening and increase your chances for being invited for the interview.

Also, it's nessessary to mention that relevant working experience, growth and leadership skills.

Wish you best of luck,


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Deniz gave the best answer


Content Creator
5+ Years at BCG & Kearney Dubai & Istanbul | 400+ Trainees | Free 15-min Consultation Call
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