MBB vs Big 4 for PhDs

mbb big4 PhDtoConsulting
New answer on Jan 30, 2023
5 Answers
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Anonymous A asked on Jan 23, 2023

Hello,

I just finished my PhD in Engineering. During the last year of my PhD I interviewed for McKinsey and BCG but unfortunately did not pass to the second round. I have practiced a lot with cases and I would not like to waste all the work hours I spent for this. Moreover, I am very interested to work in Consulting, so I apply often for Big 4 companies. However, I never got to an interview stage with them. Are the Big 4 more negative towards PhD graduates? How different should be the CV and motivation letter comparing to MBBs? Thanks in advance.

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Hagen
Expert
updated an answer on Jan 24, 2023
Ex-Bain and interviewer for 7+ years | >95% success rate | mentor and coach for 6+ years

Hi there,

I think this is an interesting question that may be relevant for many people. I would be happy to share my thoughts on it:

  • I would rather say MBB is more welcoming of PhD graduates than Big 4 consulting firms. MBB frequently seeks out people with advanced degrees and solid academic backgrounds and tends to place a larger focus on intellectual rigor and problem-solving abilities.
  • Although it is feasible to submit the same CV to all consulting firms, it is crucial that it is in good condition and customized for each firm you are applying to. Get some assistance with your resume and cover letter since your present approach seems to not be effective.
  • It's important to keep in mind that the job search process is a numbers game and rejections are typical. To manage the job search process and improve your chances of success, it may be helpful to ask a coach for guidance.

If you would like a more detailed discussion on how to address your specific situation, please don't hesitate to contact me directly.

Best,

Hagen

(edited)

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Cristian
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Content Creator
replied on Jan 23, 2023
#1 McK Coach by rating & recommendation rate| Honest feedback: no sugar-coating | Success stories ➨ tinyurl.com/43rkxa8f

Hi there, 

Sorry to hear about this experience. The reality is that it's tough to get into these firms and the recent economic events don't help much either. 

To answer your questions:

Are the Big 4 more negative towards PhD graduates? 

I'd rather say instead that MBB is more open / interested in PhD graduates. That's mostly because they have a different target client and type of project and they look for people with knowledge spikes in certain areas. Nevertheless, the differences are not huge and they shouldn't show up if you're applying to multiple firms. 

How different should be the CV and motivation letter comparing to MBBs?

You can use the same CV to apply to all consulting firms as long as that CV is in a good shape. 

My suggestion would be instead to get some help at this point. Let's put the aside the fact that I'm a coach on this platform. The fact of the matter is that your current application strategy does not work and somebody with more experience needs to help you understand why. It's a worthwhile investment especially if you think about the long-term benefits. With the current info you provided in the questions it's difficult to give more specific feedback. 

Lastly, job hunting is also a numbers game. So even though I know it's painful to be rejected (I've been there so many times), you just have to keep on going.

Best,
Cristian

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Ian
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Content Creator
replied on Jan 24, 2023
MBB | 100% personal interview success rate (8/8) and 95% candidate success rate | Personalized interview prep

Hi there,

You failed 2 interviews and also are struggling to get more interviews. It truly sounds like you could use a coach…

CV + Cover letter should both be as strong as possible, but do not need to changed for Big4. My guess is you need a stronger CV.

You need to network as well to improve your chances.

Finally, it doesn't matter if you practiced a lot of cases. What matters is how you did. If you weren't able to pass either of your 1st rounds, then you haven't been preparing properly and are not ready to interview with Big4. You should seriously consider getting a coach to help you figure out where you're going wrong.

Here's some reading to help: https://www.preplounge.com/en/articles/pitfalls-case-interview-preparation

https://www.preplounge.com/en/articles/how-to-shift-your-mindset-to-ace-the-case

 

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Moritz
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Content Creator
replied on Jan 30, 2023
ex-McKinsey | Senior Interviewer & MBA Coach @ McKinsey | Personalized key-skill coaching |Blue-chip Strategy Lead

Hi there,

Your preparation work is not wasted as it will serve you well outside of consulting. Also, you shouldn't pursue a certain career just because your prepped for interviews.

As for MBB vs BIG4, I would say that MBB are better at accommodating experts from all areas, yes. In fact, the internal expert network particular at McKinsey marks the firm out from the rest.

An exception from the above are PhDs that are specialized in something more mainstream e.g., Data Science, which can more easily fitted into BIG4s.

Hope this helps a bit. Best of luck!

Moritz

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Anonymous A on Jan 31, 2023

This is very helpful. Thank you.

Pedro
Expert
replied on Jan 24, 2023
Bain | EY-Parthenon | Roland Berger |Former Head Recruiter | Market Sizing

If you didn't pass to the 2nd round twice, it means you still have a long way to go before being ready for case interviews.

Usually MBB are more open to PhD, that is true.

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Hagen gave the best answer

Hagen

Ex-Bain and interviewer for 7+ years | >95% success rate | mentor and coach for 6+ years
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