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Project Manager from Big4 to MBB

John asked on Feb 04, 2019 - 3 answers

Hi all,

I will keep this short for your convenience.

I've applied to a consulting project manager position for a specific industry at BCG. I have been invited and am currently preparing for a first round interview with a managing partner. My background is 5 years of Big4 experience with a healthy mix of Strategy/Operations consulting in Central/Western Europe.

I would kindly ask for your insights on the following questions:

1. What can I expect from the first round partner interview, and provided I make it, the subsequent rounds?

2. What are the main differences in expectations between a Manager at BIg4 and a Manager at MBB, specifically BCG? (culture, work ethic, knowledge, etc.)

3. Is it generally acceptable to try and contact a peer working at the company in advance to try and get some insights before the interview?

Many thanks for your responses in advance!




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Vlad replied on Feb 04, 2019
McKinsey / Accenture / Got all BIG3 offers / More than 300 real MBB cases / Harvard Business School


If you really have enough experience to get directly on a PL level at BCG, I can give you some guidance regarding the interview since some of my friends have done that.

You will have a pretty much standard case interview process (and you can search here what are the standard MBB interviews about). However 3 major differences

  1. During the cases, they would ask additional managerial questions. E.g. what will be the workstreams on the project, team composition, key deliverables, etc
  2. The fit part is even more important. In all of your stories you should demonstrate the MBB-level skillset
  3. Since by that time you should have a significant industry / functional experience - get ready for the questions in the areas of your expertise.


Sidi replied on Feb 04, 2019
McKinsey Engagement Manager & BCG Consultant | Interviewer at McK & BCG for 7 years | Coached 60+ candidates secure MBB offers

Hi John!

I agree with Guennael here! In order to be hired as PRoject LEader at BCG, you would normally need to have a much more senior role at Big 4.

Just as an example: one good friend of mine left BCG at a Senior Consultant (Pre-Project Leader!) to joind a Big 4 Advisory as "Senior Manager" (Post-Manager at Big 4!). So a transition from "Big4-Manager" to "MBB-Project Leader" would be pretty unheard of I have to say.

Cheers, Sidi

Guennael replied on Feb 04, 2019
Ex-MBB, Experienced Hire; I will teach you not only the how, but also the why of case interviews

John, I am not familiar with "project manager" jobs at MBB" or "1st round interview with a Partner". The lower level of manager is a "Project Leader" at BCG, but your profile doesn't suggest to me that you'd be qualified for this quite yet => is there a significant part of your background that you are leaving out? I mean, kuddos to you if this is truly what you are in the running for, but it defies pretty much anything I've seen so far.

Generally speaking, all interviews have a mix of a case interview (for which you will have to prepare, they are much harder than what you've faced to enter Big4) and fit. Partner-led interviews might be a bit less structured (they own the company and basically do what they want), but even they typically still give a case. If you are truly interviewing for a PL position and meet a Partner in your first round though, all bets are off in terms of what to expect. I'd still highly suggest you do a solid case interview prep and work with a coach in particular. It's taken most of us well over 100 hours of dedicated prep to really understand how to crack a case, please don't dismiss this part.

In terms of the expectations, I'll again have to assume you'd be a PL at BCG. If so, the expectations would be higher at MBB: you will need to drive the project (small projects don't even have a Principal above you, so you become the face of BCG on a day-to-day basis); you will have to craft the story with the help of a partner, and mentor your consultants and associates + ensure they are all working towards a consistent message. Compared to a Big4, you are much more likely to have to create a new solution vs. reusing a cookie-cutter one, but will also benefit from solid mentoring inside the company as needed. Just don't hesitate to ask for help, especially at first.

Regarding your 3rd question lastly- yes, definitely yes: reach out to anyone you know there to get insights

Good luck.

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