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MBB 2020/2021 Recruiting timeline with COVID-19?

Actively preparing for interviews at McKinsey and BCG Bain BCG COVID-19 Hiring freeze Hiring Timeline MBB United States western europe
New answer on Oct 09, 2020
4 Answers
3.3 k Views
asked on Oct 06, 2020

Dear Preplounge Community,

I am new to the prep lounge platform and I am currently looking for advice regarding the recruiting starting date of the MBB firms in 2020 and 2021. Within the wake of COVID-19, the whole recruiting process has slowed down as much as the economy did, therefore putting a grey area on a confirmed interview day. So it is very challenging to figure how much time is necessary to prepare effectively if this marathon finish line is moving with you at the same time.

It is very tempting to go for coaches, live practicing cases with peers, expansive prep lounge Coaching Plus plan, if one does know when is the "exam day" in order to invest the required amount of time, money, and energy to keep the momentum going. All of this is also time-sensitive.

I am a so-called "experienced hire" of 12+ years of experience in Energy & Sustainability, based in San Francisco, looking for interviews for the US and Europe Market. The recruiting teams often don't know how what consultant capacities will be needed for 2021, therefore they don't have a definitive answer on the interview day/week/month, which I find challenging.

Thank you for your tips and advice. I welcome any thoughts that one can share so I can understand better when to ramp up to best prepare against the next to come exponential casing curve.

Best, Olivier.


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Content Creator
updated an answer on Oct 06, 2020
#1 BCG coach | MBB | Tier 2 | Digital, Tech, Platinion | 100% personal success rate (8/8) | 95% candidate success rate

Hi there,

Welcome to the platform as well as the recruiting journey!

In Terms of Preparation

In general, I find candidates need 2-3 months to feel ready (some need more, some need fewer).

Of course, it depends person to person. But I have a few "baseline" suggestions:

  • Aim for a few hours a day
  • Start "heavy" on fast math, and background knowledge/reading (building industry knowledge, reading case books, reading The Economist/FT/BCG insights)
  • Always go steady with actual casing (aim for a minimum 25 cases by the time you're done)
  • Work on fit/behavioural questions just 2-3 weeks before


Here are a few other thoughts on how COVID-19 is affecting the consulting world.


Most interviews will now be virtual. They may also involve COVID-19 as a topic!

For Virtual Interview Tips:

For Coronavirus Cases:



A number of existing offers as well as future offers are coming with delayed start dates.

(If this happens, use the time to both upskill and find a 2nd job/internship in the meantime)



Some of the tier two firms are cutting costs through:

  • Setting pay to 80%, with an opt-out policy (KPMG)
  • Letting go of some staff with <6 months tenure (EY)
  • Forcing unpaid leave for staff not on billable projects (Deloitte)
  • Stopping bonuses

So far, it seems the tier 1 firms are cutting some bonuses and being stricter with the "Up or out" system. It seems unlikely they would rescind new hire offers, but you should always have a plan B.

Al this being said different geographies are different, as are different roles...even in tough times companies do hire and projects are won.



There are a lot of companies, a lot of offices, with a lot of different timelines. I recommend you reach out to the recruiters of the offices + companies in which you are interested! This had the added benefit of you potentially being put in touch with a potential referee!

Take the initiative, reach out to the offices/companies you want, hustle hard, and find the jobs that are available and fight for them. Don't the cards TODAY and operate as such, until something changes, then adapt.



The top-tier firms are very nimble. They are notoriously "immune" to economic cycles. This Is because:

  • When the economy does well, MBB are hired to help companies do even better
  • When the economy does poorly, MBB are hired to help companies survive (cost costs, adapt, plan for the new world)

I can tell you that MBB are hustling hard and that when companies are in trouble, they look to MBB first for guidance. Strategy consultants help firms navigate uncharted territory...these times are when they're most needed



1) Yes it will affect the nature of work

2) I can't see it improving work-life balance. The fundamentals of top-tier companies in any industry are: Get the best, get the brightest, get the hungriest, charge them out for a lot, and work them hard

3) It'll change business trips in much the same way business trips will be changed across the world

4) It's anyone's guess as to whether WFH will become more acceptable in consulting. Personally, I doubt it.




Was this answer helpful?
Olivier on Oct 07, 2020

Hi Ian, Thanks much for all those very helpful resources. I guess I have quite a bit to read at this point before I have further questions!

Content Creator
replied on Oct 06, 2020
McKinsey offers w/o final round interviews - 100% risk-free - 10+ years MBB coaching experience - Multiple book author

Hi Olivier,

Thanks for sharing quite a bit of information already.

However, your question is not exactly clear to me. Can you please elaborate on that?

Thank you,


Was this answer helpful?
Olivier on Oct 07, 2020

Hi Robert, Thanks for reaching out. My question is pretty much in the header as far as knowing when are the next first round of interviews for MBB given we are in unprecedented times witnessing shifted hiring needs and recruiting timeline. I understood one needs to give itself 3 months to prepare, but I wonder when to start preparing seriously if MBB firms don't have yet the certainty of an interview day? That question might be already answered in the forum, so I will dig deeper. Thanks for the feedback!

Anonymous replied on Oct 06, 2020

Hi Olivier!

great to see someone with a similar background! I joined Bain after 9 years in Renewables & Sustainability back then!

Yes, the market has slowed down, but recruiting is usually by office or country level, so it's difficult to make a general statement. Of only, this raises the bar a bit.

To give you an idea of how much time you should spend preparing, in my experience, practicing 15-20 cases is sufficient, if you do it strategically. My recommendation is as follows:

  • Read up on the typical approaches and standard frameworks to get the concept.
  • Then, do 5-6 cases to get a practical feeling for what a case is like. Start with easier ones - e.g. market size mini cases, simple profit tree cases, etc. This will help you develop a rudimentary sense for how cases work
  • The next 5-6 cases should cover cases from all major types and help you gain the experience and comfort with standard frameworks and the thinking required for solving the cases.
  • Lastly, you will want to do 6-7 cases to hone your skills. Practice with people who understand what they are doing - experienced interviewers, coaches, etc. that can give you 1-2 main items of feedback after each case that you can then practice to apply and improve on in the next case. During this time, you should also practice to move away from off-the-shelf frameworks and tailor, or - even better - develop your frameworks specifically during the case.

The further you move towards the final interview, the more important it is to practice with experienced interviewers. While you can easily ask any friend or practice with peers for the first few cases, you should aim for qualified, professional feedback as you approach the finishing line.

However, keep in mind, that this requires a strong plan and strategic approach to the preparation. I regularly see people doing 30-40 or even more cases. While this can also lead to success, in my eyes, it is a bit of a waste of time, especially for experienced hires that often also have a regular job to do while preparing for the consulting interviews.

Let me know if this helps. I'm also happy to elaborate any of the above in more detail. DM me if you like.

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Olivier on Oct 06, 2020

Hi Henning, thanks very much for the feedback! It is actually very exciting that we share a common ground after spending some time in the energy industry before pivoting to consulting. Thanks for the tips! I would be very happy to chat with you off-line if your times allows it since I have already dived into the bullet points you have enumerated. I will ping you soon!

Anonymous on Oct 06, 2020

Awesome! Looking forward to chat.

replied on Oct 09, 2020
BCG | Received offers from all MBB & Tier 1Firms | Supporting you secure your top tier consulting offer

Hi Olivier,

As you know the market slowed down due to COVID-19 but is expected to take offat any time as clients adapt to the current situation.

As you know, the recruitment is slowed down but firms as still hiring especially for some key positions & industries. I recently coached some candidates who got a call from MBBs inviting them to interview in a short notice (2-3 days), so it's impotant to get ready and to expect an interview invitation at any time.

I would advise you to start familiarizing yourself with the consulting toolkit (frameworks, math tricks, etc.) and to start practicing with other candidates here on PrepLounge. I would also adivse you to alternate the case practices between candidates and experts so that you get valuable feedback on your performance and you monitor your progress. You might want to practice 4-5 cases every week, including 1 with an expert for instance. If you do this consistently (for 1-2 months), I believe you will be ready to interview at anytime.

I will be happy to answer any other question you might have.

All the best,


Was this answer helpful?
Olivier on Oct 10, 2020

Thank you very much Mehdi for your insights!

Ian gave the best answer


Content Creator
#1 BCG coach | MBB | Tier 2 | Digital, Tech, Platinion | 100% personal success rate (8/8) | 95% candidate success rate
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