Language constraints for Management Consulting in Switzerland

language MBB switzerland
New answer on May 01, 2020
9 Answers
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Anonymous A asked on Apr 03, 2020

Hi,

The title pretty much says it, does anybody knows whether it is possible to work at top tier management consulting firms in Switzerland knowing only English? Or is local language skills (German for example) considered a pre-requisite?

Thanks in advance.

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Dorothea
Expert
replied on Apr 04, 2020
Ex-Oliver Wyman with 100% interview success rate - specialized in female career coaching

Hi Anonymous,

having lived in Switzerland for 5 years, part of that time working for the Oliver Wyman Zurich office, normally the requirements are:

(1) Graduate hires: C1 German skills as a lot of clients require teams to speak / work in German, create slides in German and so forth (as a matter of fact, many Swiss clients even prefer Swiss German speaking consultants over German speaking consultants (and yes, Swiss German is an entirely different language). The only exception I encountered was McK as they have an office in Geneva, do a lot of business there and accept French-speaking candidates. However, if you are not fluent in either of the two languages, you should consider investing some time in your German skills - they will test this during your interviews, so it doesn't help simply to state it in your CV.

(2) Experienced hires: No German skills required if you are hired for your expert skills or network and they can afford sending you only to english speaking clients. I have met Italian- / English-speaking, French- / English-speaking and English only-speaking principals / partners working for Swiss offices.

Hope this helps!

Best
Dorothea

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Viktor
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replied on Apr 04, 2020
BIG 4 Interview methodology & questions, PEST tests, REAL BUSINESS CASES

Hi

It depends on the assignment or position You apply for. For example, if the role is global (to serve the customers globally) then English might be enough. And if the role requires working in Switzerland (not only German, English but very often French is required).

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Axel
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Content Creator
replied on Apr 04, 2020
Bain Consultant | Interviewer for 3 years at Bain |Passionate about coaching |I will make you a case interview Rockstar

Hi,

As has been mentioned already you will need to have excellent German level skills for the MBB Zurich offices for entry-level / post-MBA roles.

I have seen non-Swiss nationals working in Bain Zurich in generalist roles but they would have German skills at the C1/C2 level.

Best wishes,

Axel

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Vlad
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replied on Apr 03, 2020
McKinsey / Accenture Alum / Got all BIG3 offers / Harvard Business School

Hi,

I agree with Clara here. If you are an expert (let's say in Digital - then its not mandatory). Otherwise its required

Best

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Daniel
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Content Creator
replied on Apr 03, 2020
McKinsey / ex-Interviewer at McKinsey / I will coach you to rock those interviews

Hi!

  • For the entry positions (business analyst, associate) you need to know the local language, the interviews are held in the local language (Zurich – German, Geneva – French)
  • For experienced hires applying for a certain role they might make an exception (but it's not guaranteed, it's on case by case basis)

Best,
Daniel

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Clara
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replied on Apr 03, 2020
McKinsey | Awarded professor at Master in Management @ IE | MBA at MIT |+180 students coached | Integrated FIT Guide aut

Hello!

A priori, and for entry-level, I would say you need to be fluent in German. As an experienced hire, knowledge/industry expert, this can be "waived"

For instance, I did not speak a word of German when McKinsey offered me a postiion in Zurich with the McKinsey Global Institute, after having been a BA for 2.5 years.

Hope it helps!

Cheers,

Clara

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Luca
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updated an answer on Apr 03, 2020
BCG |NASA |20+ interviews with 100% success rate| 120+ students coached |GMAT expert 780/800 score

Hello,

A good level of the local language is required to work in Switzerland. It means that you should know German for Zurich offices and French for Geneva offices.

Best,
Luca

(edited)

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Francesco
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replied on May 01, 2020
#1 Expert for Coaching Sessions (3.600+) | 1.300+ Reviews with 100% Recommendation Rate | Ex BCG | 8+ Years of Coaching

Hi there,

all the people I helped for MBB in Switzerland were fluent in either German (for Zurich) or French (for Geneve). I know of some exceptions for people working there but I believe they were either hired as experienced hire or organized an internal transfer with the company.

Best,

Francesco

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Antonello
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Apr 30, 2020
McKinsey | MBA professor for consulting interviews

Hi, there are some slots available for English speaking candidates. After the intake, MBB usually invite you to take language courses to gain proficiency (in German for Zurich office and in French for Geneve office)

Best,
Antonello

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Dorothea gave the best answer

Dorothea

Ex-Oliver Wyman with 100% interview success rate - specialized in female career coaching
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