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Lateral hire at MBB?

Anonymous A asked on Sep 04, 2018 - 6 answers

how does it happen?

I am a BA at Mckinsey, I do not fit in the culture or even worse: I kind of feel I am not going to pass the 2 year fixed 'screening'. Can I start to apply at BCG or Bain, for instance?

Would it be perceived negatively by the other firm?

Can a lateral hire happen at any level of the hierarchy (i.e. associate, engagement manager...)?

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replied on Sep 07, 2018
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Agree with everything others have said. Two things I'd add, which you might find interesting

- Several people I know at Bain London have received head-hunting emails asking if they were interested in a role at McKinsey - usually relating to a specific practice (e.g. Private Equity). I am not sure, but I assume there would be similar, lateral poaching in the other directions (e.g. Bain from McKinsey).

- "Cultural fit" is, if communicated appropriately, is actually a perfectly fair reason for switching. Especially at Bain, the whole "collegial" culture is really promoted and believed in by most of the employees. The focus of your reason, though, should be on why Bain/BCG, not on why not McKinsey. You should frame everything positively in terms of what B/B can offer you that is better, rather than why you are not enjoying your time at McKinsey. I spoke to the head of recruiting and they told me that every year we actually hire 1-2 people who interned/briefly worked at McKinsey and wanted to change due to cultural fit reasons.

Good luck!!

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replied on Sep 05, 2018
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Hi Anonymous,

I know cases where people moved at junior level, however, as already mentioned, the way you present your motivations will be critical and the interviewer will likely dig deep in every detail.

Theoretically yes, it is possible to move whatever the level of the hierarchy. The most common type of lateral move I know at MBB is at Manager and Principal level, when people move to second-tier companies to achieve partnership there.



Benjamin replied on Sep 05, 2018
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As said previously, if you're narrative is ok, and you don't feel great in your curretn position, you should at least give it a try, since you actually have no much to loose (maybe the option of re-applying in 2 years). Then I would clearly state the culture fit as a reason, and since all this firms claims they have a unique culture I'll confront them with continous claim and then expect that they will undertand the move.

In case this is a success, keep in mind, that you may lose time in your carreer progression.
As you know this job internally is about reputation, and you'll have to start again from scratch.

Hope this helps

replied on Sep 05, 2018
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I am actually not as negative as Vlad on this one, but would need to know a lot more. In a nutshell though: Your narrative will be critical here (as it always is), but I do believe Bain and BCG will accept that you would be a better fit at one company vs. another. Again, it all depends on why you aren't a 'fit' where you are currently.

Also - laterals can and do happen, though not obviously not very often; I don't have any data to back this up, but would expect partner is the most common level for this btw.

replied on Sep 04, 2018
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You still can apply to BCG, Bain. And I've seen the cases when people made a successful transition. Several things to keep in mind:

  • The hardest thing will be to explain your motivation and why are you making the transition. I would say it will be much easier to switch to some other company / startup for 1-2 years and then BCG / Bain
  • If you have problems with McKinsey culture fit, most probably you will have similar problems at the other two companies. So I would rather think whether this career suits you or not


Anonymous B replied on Sep 10, 2018

Could you please elaborate upon your cultural misfit case? What about McKinsey is jarring for you?