Is it possible to apply to MBB without having done a 'grande école' ?

business school MBB recruiting
Recent activity on Sep 15, 2018
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Anonymous asked on Sep 14, 2018

I am a French student in Advanced Master in Strategy and international business (SMIB) at ESSEC. I have an engineer background but not coming from top 3 schools.

Do I have a chance to get to the 1st round of top strategic consulting firms?

Thank you in advance,

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replied on Sep 14, 2018
McKinsey / Accenture Alum / Got all BIG3 offers / Harvard Business School


First of all, yes. MBB firms are also interested in the non-business backgrounds.

There are two ways:

  1. Get some work experience relevant for consulting (FMCG, tech, Tier 2 consulting)
  2. Get a referral (however even with a referral your resume should look impressive by itself)

There are certain criteria for the referral:

  1. The consultant makes you a reference in the system and uploads your resume. Usually, he has to indicate why he thinks you are a good candidate
  2. You skip some steps in the recruiting process (CV screening at McK, Test at Bain)
  3. The consultant gets referral bonus ($) if you get a job offer

As you can see simply mentioning a person in your CL does not change the process at all.

The conversion to reference will be higher among consultant / manager level people who are still interested in the referral bonus. The basic idea is to ask these people for a mock interview.

Here are some tips on how you can do that:

1) Leverage your own network - find friends or friends of friends who can practice cases with you or make you a reference.

2) Attend company events. Consulting companies do a lot of events both for graduates and experienced hires. Find the social network groups related to consulting or websites, subscribe to newsletters and stay tuned. Also, check if they have events in your University since you are a PHD.

While some of the events will be open to everyone, others will require a resume and a cover letter, so make sure to prep.

3) Talk to people on the events and send Thank You notes. After each event, there is a Q&A session where you can talk to consultants 1 on 1 or in a group. Ask for contact info or send a thank you note after the event ("I just wanted to thank you for visiting our University... It was especially interesting to hear about... Would be happy to keep in touch and apply in the nearest future.). Alternatively, you may use linkedin for that. If you are an experienced hire I strongly suggest to ask for a 1 on 1 meeting in a thank you note.

4) 1 on 1 meetings. All people like giving an advice. So don't hesitate to ask consultants for a career advice. Tell your story and ask how consulting fits into it

5) Mock interview Depending on where you are in your prep process you may ask a consultant for a mock interview. Consultants are very much opened to help even if it is a cold call e-mail. The main problem is a lack of time on their side. So don't be afraid to remind about yourself if the consultant has already committed but finds it hard to find the time

6) Talking to partners If you are an experienced hire I suggest to talk directly to the partners in your industry or the partner responsible for experienced hires (in consulting partners also have additional roles). Get an intro from the HR or from your friends working there. Partners care a lot about experienced hires with relevant industry expertise. Chances to get referral are much lower though. They also will not be interested in giving mock interviews.

7) If you are an MBA graduate Just talk to your section mates and ask for a reference or a mock interview - they will be happy to help. Make sure you attend all the consulting events.

Good luck!

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Jérémie on Sep 15, 2018

Thank you very much for your advices. It is really useful !!

replied on Sep 15, 2018
ex-Manager - Natural and challenging teacher - Taylor case solving, no framework

Hi Jeremie,
In case you're reffering to applying in France more specifically, this is not straight forward but still feasible.
If you specify your engineere degree I should be able to tell you where yo can apply.
Most likely you'll be at the limit of the recruiting criteria for MBB, and this should work more easily with TIER 2 firms. In any case I recommand to give it a try, and leverage your network (personal or school alumni), leverage linkedin to get connected to consultant which will provide info about the firm and may at some point offer to pass your CV. This will definitely increase your success rate to get the 1st round
Don't hesitate to reach by mp if needed.

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replied on Sep 14, 2018
Ex-MBB, Experienced Hire; I will teach you not only the how, but also the why of case interviews

Yes, but it will obviously be harder. Networking becomes more important. Start with folks who've done your school, and students from the ESSEC Grande Ecole curriculum. FYI, I am coaching a few Edhec students, which isn't a target school either. Every year a few make it.

PS: objectively, an MBA might help you - but you can try now already.

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Jérémie on Sep 15, 2018

Thank you for anwser and your advices!

Vlad gave the best answer


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McKinsey / Accenture Alum / Got all BIG3 offers / Harvard Business School
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