Is it difficult to join McKinsey BCG or Bain as an experienced professional?

Bain BCG Experienced McKinsey Professional
New answer on Nov 23, 2020
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I have 4 years work experience in a large multinational company and I am considering transitioning into consulting. I was wondering whether there are differences in the selection criteria for experienced hires vs graduates. For instance, are expectations on some of the criteria higher for experienced hires? If so, which ones?

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I was an experienced hire as well, so can definitely relate. The hardest part for your will likely be to get an interview. McK is probably most open, assuming you have a specific expertise set that they need; BCG does also hire some experienced hires but that's rare; as for Bain... to my knowledge, they pretty much don't take anyone out of school. I ended up at BCG because I had worked alongside them for 4 months on a project at my company, and the principal felt comfortable recommending me for an interview. Contacts at McK and Bain were unable to get me an interview however, even after BCG had already made a verbal offer. I do know of 2 or 3 folks who got an offer from BCG as experienced hire without having worked with anyone there, but they were definitely exceptions. Now, once you got an interview... expectations will be largely the same. Yes, you probably should have a slightly better business sense than average due to longer work experience, and yes you might feel more comfortable talking to senior execs, but that won't make a noticeable difference in how you will be judged. At least, these 2 or 3 folks I mentioned above and I didn't feel we were treated any different than the rest. Does that help?

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Hi Neil,

I rebuilt from the ground up the experienced hire recruiting program in 2007 for McKinsey's Operations Practice and also led McKinsey Solutions recruiting which was mostly focused on experienced hires.

Knowing you have 4 years experience is insufficient to determine if you're going to be a reasonable candidate; however, I can address your specific question about the screening process.

Firstly, the criteria to get an interview, typically the resume review, will be very different than campus recruiting and based on McKinsey's needs and your background. You'll typically be evaluated for Specialist/Expert roles in a practices whereas campus candidates will be evaluated for generalist roles in offices.

Secondly, your assessment, typically the interview process, will in principle be exactly the same during first and final rounds focused on case and PEI. However, the preliminary process at the front end will be slightly different depending on where you're in the world but should include a Webex case prep (American Beauty - it's a junk case), 1-hour one-on-one phone coaching with an alumni coach and typically a week later (although it can be scheduled further apart) a 30-minute go/no-go phone case to determine if you'll get an invitation to first rounds.

I can't speak to other firms but what I wrote above is going to be accurate for 99% of all experienced hire candidates applying to most offices in the world. McKinsey is a firm that is easy to get an offer from but you need to know how to make that happen - feel free to book a session with me if you'd like to know more.



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Hi Nick, any prior experience with candidate applying for the implementation department? I have almost 10 years in the power industry from one of the multinational company and passed the screening interview. My first round of interviews is scheduled on Aug 3rd. I read few blogs that process is pretty much the same than generalist application?

Hi A,

My short answer is no, not that difficult. However, expectations on some criteria will be higher (e.g. on your business judgement).However, you need to prepare well for the selection process.

Type of selection exercises: there are no regular interviews. All selection stages revolve around business cases (written case/group case study/case interview). Your experience and specific industry knowledge play far less important role. You will be assessed for having right competencies and ability to solve business problems.

If you need any help, feel free to reach out.



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Hi Neil,

A lot of good answers below! A few things to add from my perspective as an experienced hire at McKinsey.

You are likely to be interviewed by more senior consultants from the first round - McKinsey will generally not send junior EMs or Senior Associates to interview a seasoned exec. Expect Partners and APs from the start. The implication is that you need to focus more on showing your business sense, exec level communication and confidence, and ability to generate immediate rapport with the interviewer.

Hope it helps!

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Anonymous A replied on Feb 11, 2016

Hi Nick,

Could you elaborate on the "go/no-go" phone call for experienced hires at McK- mine is scheduled soon. So I would be grateful for any insights.


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Hi Neil,

I partially agree with Guannel regarding the chances for the different firms, but I have to precise that experienced hires will be generally penalized on their career paths. Especially if they do not come from a strategy consulting background, in the first period they will struggle a lot more than an internal consultant of the same level because of the specific mindset of the big 3. However I fully agree with Guennel taht the treatment during the interview process is exactly the same. except that generally if you are and experienced hire you should skip the analitycal test and get directly to the case interviews. Hope this is useful, I wish you a wonderful WE!

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No, not mroe or less than fresh from Uni from master. The bars that you need to meet are just different, according to the expected experience.



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Anonymous B replied on Aug 22, 2016


I got selected by HR and very soon will face 1st round with Senior Manager in McK Digital practice.I am experienced Enterprise Architect and former Deloitte consultant. Can anyone please explain me McK experienced hire process?


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It's about supply and demand. I know of several experienced hires who went into McKinsey. One went from being a director at a pharmaceutical (about 7 years out of college) to an Associate at McKinsey in their Business Technology practice and eventually became a Partner there. I know of another person who was hired straight at the Associate Principal level after about 12 years out of college and coming from a senior role in the Government. As of BCG and Bain not too familiar with their policies on experienced hires but they definitely do interview experienced hires as well.

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Hi Neil,

The differences could depend on where you are applying, e.g. certain Bain offices in Europe typically prefer experienced hires rather than graduates. But mostly your behavior during the interview as well as dealing the cases determine your success. You need to be prepared for the case interview, and it's also essential that your CV should be polished.
Do you need any help with that?


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You are expected to have a better understand of the area you come from. You should have more powerful FIT answers, as you should have had some tying/challenging experiences.

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Hi Neil,

Not difficult at all, is the short answer. Granted you wouldn't have the 'traditional' access to on campus events, though being an experienced hire can give you an edge nonetheless. Each of the firms have an experienced hire-specific recruiting program. Don't think the expectation is higher - as long as your 'story' of applying and transitioning to consulting makes sense. Happy to chat more if you'd like. Best of luck with the process.



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Guennael gave the best answer


Ex-MBB, Experienced Hire; I will teach you not only the how, but also the why of case interviews
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