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Informational interview advice

informational interview
New answer on Sep 20, 2020
5 Answers
1.5 k Views
Anonymous A asked on Sep 09, 2020


I managed to get an informational interview with a principal. I would like some advice on what to ask and to know whether asking for a referral is a good idea or not.

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Anonymous replied on Sep 09, 2020

I fully agree with Vlad! Asking for a referral is bad practice and puts the principal in a difficult situation. A referral means taking a risk for someone and recommending them for their merits. If that someone then bomb their interview, this will not reflect well on the principal. You should therefore only ask good friends or former colleagues for a referral, as only they know you well enough to take that risk.

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Anonymous B on Apr 06, 2021

It does not reflect badly on any individual - let alone a principal. The way a person performs on the interview day is driven by multiple factors - which none can predict. If someone just restricts themselves to former friends and colleagues, then they would have very limited scope or no scope. Since, not everyone has someone with their firm and office of choice.

Content Creator
replied on Sep 09, 2020
#1 BCG coach | MBB | Tier 2 | Digital, Tech, Platinion | 100% personal success rate (8/8) | 95% candidate success rate

Hi there,

First, do not ask for a referral! However, there are ways to "hint" or leverage this call to network further (see networking section below).



Ask For Yourself

While a coffee chat is a way for you to make a good impression, please remember that it's also about you making sure this job + path are right for you!

To prepare, think about things you'd like to learn about the company. Ask about your person's experience at the firm, where they've come from, if they have any advice for you etc. Be inquisitive and interested in what they have to say, and feel free to ask thoughtful follow-up questions.

Most importantly, remember this is a conversation! Keep it dynamic, two-way, etc.

Have Your Pitch Ready

In terms of what they'll ask you, make sure you have your 30 second pitch prepared! Who are you in a nutshell and why are you interested in Bain and strategy consulting?

Ask About Them

People love to talk about themselves. Just ask them what they've worked on recently or what their journey at BCG has been like. Importantly, do your research beforehand - find out what they've done and try and pick something from their past that looks interesting to you. Tailor your questions just like they tailor their FIT questions to your resume.

"So, how did you end up in the Industrial Goods sector?" "I saw you worked on a big digital transformation for a financial services company - I experienced one myself and it seemed so hard to move such a big organisation. What did you see as the major challenges and breakthrough moments?"



a) Reach out to people in your network

b) Reach out to people once removed from your network

c) Reach out to people with a similar backgorund to you (i.e. same alma mater, same historically underrepresented demographic i.e. gender, orientation, ethnicity, etc., same career switch, etc.)

d) Tailor a message to them specifically both showing interest in them and their journey and demonstrating that you have done your research and could be a valuable hire

e) Play "tag" across calls you get so that you can work your way towards the company/office/role you want

f) Never directly ask for a referral, but "hint" at needing one (this is nuanced and important...happy to talk through wording)

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replied on Sep 09, 2020
McKinsey / Accenture Alum / Got all BIG3 offers / Harvard Business School


The best thing is to ask for advice:

  • Share your background and ask if it's a good fit
  • Show your resume to check
  • Ask about prep tips and strategy
  • Ask for a mock interview at some point in the future

I would not ask about referral directly, but rather ask about the best ways to apply to increase the chances


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Anonymous replied on Sep 11, 2020

Dear A,

I wouldn't ask for referral directly. You can ask for some tips on how to increase you chances instead.


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Anonymous replied on Sep 20, 2020

You can ask about the principal's experience, the firm culture, his/her advice to candidate like yourself, etc.

Don't ask for referral since the person would barely know you.



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