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Importance of Grades for Full-Time Recruiting

Anonymous A asked on May 09, 2017 - 2 answers

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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replied on May 09, 2017
BCG | A.T. Kearney | University of Cambridge | 150+ coachees | 5+ years of consulting experience in London, Dubai and Istanbul
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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!

Thank you for your input, Deniz. I appreciate it! — Howard on May 09, 2017

replied on May 11, 2017
Current partner @ Andreessen Horowitz (VC firm). Ex-Mckinsey, ex- strategy guy at Google.
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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.

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? — Howard on May 14, 2017 (edited)

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