Interviewing in a Slow Economy

Bain BCG McKinsey Recessions
New answer on Jun 30, 2023
5 Answers
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Emma asked on May 07, 2023

I've gotten first round interviews with MBB coming up and I was wondering how this interacts with a slow economy. I know all of these firms have slowed down hiring. Does this mean my interviews are a sham? Do they actually intend to interview me to fill a spot or is competition just tighter for fewer spots?

Are there any strategic choices I can make to maximize my chances of progressing? I'm thinking along the lines of geographic flexibility, group flexibility, etc.

I'm also curious how these firms view entry-level hiring in a downturn. Are they continuing to bring in talent, just at a slower pace?

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Francesco
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Content Creator
replied on May 08, 2023
#1 Coach for Sessions (4.000+) | 1.500+ 5-Star Reviews | Proven Success (➡ InterviewOffers.com) | Ex BCG | 10Y+ Coaching

Hi Emma,

Congratulations on the invitation. In terms of your question:

1) I know all of these firms have slowed down hiring. Does this mean my interviews are a sham?

The interviews are not going to be a sham, they would not spend time to interview you if they were not looking for candidates. However, the bar might be higher.

2) Do they actually intend to interview me to fill a spot or is competition just tighter for fewer spots?

If your target companies have a lower supply of slots, they will hire fewer people so the bar will be higher.

3) Are there any strategic choices I can make to maximize my chances of progressing? I'm thinking along the lines of geographic flexibility, group flexibility, etc.

I believe you already secured the interviews, so I would not change the selection now. For new applications, I would recommend to network to find a referral and check with them about the situations there before applying. You can find some tips on networking here.

4) I'm also curious how these firms view entry-level hiring in a downturn. Are they continuing to bring in talent, just at a slower pace?

Most companies are still hiring, just less than before.

Good luck!

Francesco

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Ian
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replied on May 07, 2023
#1 BCG coach | MBB | Tier 2 | Digital, Tech, Platinion | 100% personal success rate (8/8) | 95% candidate success rate

Hi Emma,

Congrats on getting interviews!

Your interviews are not a sham.

They would not waste Consultant/Partner time (very very expensive) interviewing people if they weren't looking to fill roles.

Please remember, that even in the Great Depression with 25% unemployment hiring and firing was happening!

Even as Meta and Amazon fire people, they're only going back to Sept 2022 levels.

Once you take a step back, you realize the doom and gloom of media is really easy to over-dramatize. People still get hired. You're right in saying they still bring in talent, just at a slower pace.

In terms of maximizing your chances, if you truly want to, there is no more maximizing option than coaching. A top-tier coach takes your odds from around 10-15% to 60-70%.

Try not to worry about geopgrahy etc., but rather focus on crushing your case + fit interview!

Here's some reading to help you optimize your chances!

https://www.preplounge.com/en/articles/pitfalls-case-interview-preparation

https://www.preplounge.com/en/articles/how-to-shift-your-mindset-to-ace-the-case

 

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Dennis
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replied on May 07, 2023
Ex-Roland Berger|Project Manager and Recruiter|7+ years of consulting experience in USA and Europe

Hi Emma,

congratulations on making it to the interview stage. 

Yes, based on what I have seen and heard, hiring has slowed down in many geographies. That certainly means that fewer spots are available to be filled. Therefore, the competition for these spots is naturally higher assuming that the average number of applicants remains fairly constant. Even in a good economic climate, the odds of receiving an offer a relatively low. You have to be well prepared and give it your best in either case - that is within your control.

Consulting firms would typically not conduct “sham” interviews because it would waste their consultants' time which can be directly translated to opportunity cost. The firms would rather have their consultants be billable to client projects or work on proposals to hopefully win new projects than spend their time interviewing people that have no chance of getting hired. Hence, I tend to think that they actually have some open positions to fill.

They also might continue to recruit but will offer a later starting date for new joiners - e.g. end of 2023 or beginning of 2024.

Regarding your “strategic choices”, it really depends on the firm. Keep in mind that recruiting is typically done at the country-level and offers are not usually fungible across regions. So you'd have to factor that in before you apply. For your upcoming interviews, you are likely bound by the process of the country/region you have applied to.

Best of luck

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Sofia
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replied on May 08, 2023
Top-Ranked Coach on PrepLounge for 3 years| McKinsey San Francisco | Harvard graduate | 6+ years of coaching

Hello,

Congratulations on getting to the interview stage!! Very impressive, particularly in a slow economy :) To answer your questions: 

Does this mean my interviews are a sham? 

Absolutely not! Think about it from their perspective - setting up interviews with candidates requires effort, resources, and most crucially, consultants' time (which they would have otherwise spent working with clients). So they would never interview as a matter of course if they were not serious about hiring someone. It is true that recruiting has slowed down somewhat right now, but if you have already gotten an interview, you are going to be seriously considered for a position. It is not a sham.

Do they actually intend to interview me to fill a spot or is competition just tighter for fewer spots?

If you have been offered an interview, it means there is a position available that they see you as a potential option for. Regarding competition, this depends on the full candidate pool - there may be fewer spots open, but they may also be interviewing fewer candidates, for instance. Rest assured that if you are invited to interview, there is a position that you are being considered for there.

Are there any strategic choices I can make to maximize my chances of progressing? I'm thinking along the lines of geographic flexibility, group flexibility, etc.

If you already have an interview, there's not much latitude for geographical or group flexibility at this stage. But definitely bear this in mind if you are applying to other firms right now. 

I'm also curious how these firms view entry-level hiring in a downturn. Are they continuing to bring in talent, just at a slower pace?

It varies by region/firm/office, but broadly speaking yes, that's exactly what's going on.

Best of luck with your interviews!

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Cristian
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Content Creator
replied on Jun 30, 2023
#1 rated MBB & McKinsey Coach
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Francesco gave the best answer

Francesco

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