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Rejected after 1 Round from BCG and Bain - McK to come

Anonymous

Hi everyone,

I have been rejected from BCG (today) and Bain (last week) after the first round. However, I still have my McK interview ahead (next week). Nevertheless, I am now thinking about how to deal with the situation. Let me share my thoughts with you:

1. Feedback

Bain:

+ good analytical skills

+ good business sense

+ good drive

- not crispy enough (explaining ideas too long and sometimes even repeating)

- missing dialoge

BCG:

(feedback was focused on the negative parts only)

- not emotional enough during the Personal Fit (they had the feeling I did not show enough feelings and emotions)

- they did not feel my special motiviation to work at BCG

- missing creativity during the cases

- BCG Online case only average

2. Preperation

- done more than >100 Cases (actually never received the feedback that my Case performance killed me)

- to me the feedback is hard to understand; sometimes I have the feeling of being overprepared (maybe they miss me being nervous or thinking out of the box)

3. Options

- I currently have an offer at Monitor Deloitte (need to decide soon) and Accenture Strategy

- McK (1), Stern Stewart (2) Goetzpartners (3), Strategy& (4) to come

How shall I procceed? Shall I re-schedule McK (flights already booked) and do the others first? What do u think in terms of preparation? What do u think is the "best" approach to take?

I am really looking forward to your feedback!

Thank you so much ;)

(edited)

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Vlad replied on 02/12/2018
McKinsey / Accenture / Got all BIG3 offers / More than 300 real MBB cases / Harvard Business School

Hi,

Based on the feedback it's really hard to provide a specific recommendation. I would suggest the following:

  1. Reschedule an interview for 2-3 weeks. You've already missed 2 1st rounds. Do you want to have a risk? Rescheduling doesn't heart, there is no penalty for that. But if you miss that one. you'll lose your chances to get a big 3 offer for the next 1.5-2 years. I don't see any reason why you can hesitate to reschedule
  2. Try to eliminate the personal root-causes: if there is something more than just case and fit. Maybe it's the way you are dressed, the way you behave, body movement, etc. Do you look mature enough? Do you behave professionally? It may sound obvious, but many candidates miss that. Make a video of your interview and show to your friends or even random people. Ask them if they would personally hire you.
  3. Practice the interviews with the other companies you've mentioned.
  4. Take a coaching session here to calibrate your interviews and get an honest feedback
  5. Work on your feedback:
  • Ideas too long - this may mean that you are either too wordy or you don't formulate your questions. In the first case, instead of just saying "In the market, I would like to look at a,b,c" you provide examples on each of them what could have to happen. In the second case your questions are too open (e.g. "What's going on with the market?" instead of "what's the size and growth rate?")
  • Not emotional enough during personal fit - this probably means that you did not tell them WHY this situation was important to you. Or maybe you provided examples how you organized the process but you've missed the details on how you motivated / influenced others
  • No special motivation to work at BCG - you did not provide details why BCG and not others. You didn't manage to mention any specifics of the local office: e.g. what are the industries they are good at? Have you talked to them before / participated in their events? Maybe your friends worked there? Maybe you personally touched the results of their projects on your previous work? Etc.
  • Missing creativity - this means you didn't demonstrate enough business judgment and the knowledge of the industry.There are several sources of info to develop industry knowledge:

    1) Cases - you simply solve 50-70 cases and get a broad knowledge of different industries, common pitfalls and questions. The key here - find good partners who already had case interviews with MBB companies

    2) Company reports, equity reports, IB roadshow docs - usually have a good overview of company and industries. Annual company reports are probably the bast source of information about the industry

    3) HBS cases - quite useful, but not sure if lot's of them available publically. Probably worth buying

    4) Books - one good book about airlines with numbers and industry analysis can give you all needed industry knowledge

    5) News, Industry blogs

Finally, it may happen that it was just a random feedback and you were not lucky enough. Well. that happens. Worst case - you'll spend some more time on prep.

Best,

Vlad

Currently non-active expert
Expert
replied on 02/12/2018

Hey,

I understand how frustrating it can be when you believe you're ready but then you fail, especially if you receive some feedback you were not expecting.

However, there are a wide range of possibilities that can help explaining such discrepancy between expectation and actual feedback, two of most likely ones being:

(i) you practiced 100+ cases, but your interviewers were not being completely honest with you/challenging you enough/they didn't really know what was expected;

(ii) there's always a difference between practicing and actual cases, so it might happen that you got too nervous, with reflections on communication and emotional side (which seems it was an issue in both cases);

Regarding next steps, if I was you I would divide it into 2 parts:

(i) understand what did it fail in the first stage of preparation that led you to fail the interviews (two ideas above); interiorize the feedback; practice significantly for McKinsey, taking into account the very specifics of McKinsey (we look for people that are able to be outstanding in the interviews that are quite standard, but very different from Bain or BCG; on the other hand, we look for people with interesting PEI stories rather than a huge will to join McKinsey as you heard from BCG). I would pay a lot of attention to these details if I was you and really wanted to get an offer from McKinsey!

(ii) I wouldn't reschedule the interview with McKinsey, except if you have a very good reason to give to HR, which doesn't seem to be the case. I would instead practice!

Anyway, good luck for your upcoming McKinsey interview :)

Best

Bruno

Sidi replied on 02/15/2018
McKinsey Engagement Manager & BCG Consultant | Interviewer at McK & BCG for 7 years | Coached 45+ candidates secure MBB offers

Wow! With >100 cases as a preparation, I am very strongly suspecting that the quality of the guidance and feedback you received from your case partners was not up to par. Did you do a significant amount of mock interviews with ACTUAL consultants/ex-consultants? It is good to practice a lot with peers, but this should always come AFTER having had coaching sessions with experienced ex-interviewers from MBB. Otherwise, you will inevitably build certain habits that go unnoticed by non-consultants, but wich are really killing you in the top consulting environment and which are also extremely hard to correct afterwards.

Anyway, from your received feedback I believe you clearly have all intrinsics! It is now about finding out, what gets in the way, and then possibly also about that last 5% of getting "McKinsey-ready".

Best of success!

Andrea
Expert
replied on 02/12/2018
Former BCG decision round interviewer with 300+ real interviews in 8 years

With feedback you received I do not see a need to reschedule McK interview. Feedback seems mostly concentrated on creativity, communication, and ability to build rapport rather than actual case performance (ignoring the comment on online case since doesn't seem relevant for live interview).

In one week I think you can easily work on and improve your communication skills and polish your delivery by being more succint and prioritized.

What I think will be critical is your ability to pass the "airport test" that seems both Bain and BCG dinged you on. When having the interview with McK I would suggest to try to have a positive, carefree attitude (you already have an odffer after all! I know is McK...but worst case you can apply two years from now!) while maintaining professionalism.

What I always tell my candidates is that after a day in which I interview 10 candidates what will stick in my memory is the ones with whom I had an enjoyable experience in solving the case correctly. This is because most of them solve the case not only correctly, but in an excellent manner; therefore the true differentiator is how nice of a conversation we have.

Hope it helps!

Andrea

Hemant
Expert
replied on 02/12/2018
Current partner @ Andreessen Horowitz (VC firm). Ex-Mckinsey, ex- strategy guy at Google.

BCG & Bain are typically more sensitive about why them vs McK.

You are very lucky to have some detailed feedback. A lot of people fail to sound genuine and enthusiastic about their preferences even when they actually are. Seems like you need to work more on your interpersonal / executive presence than you do on your analytical skills. It may also be that you've dont TOO many cases and now it's feeling like you are not really ENJOYING them but view them as just a hurdle to pass to get a job vs really participating in them as a fun intellectual debate with the interviewer. Here are some concrete steps:

- review your personal stories and practice them with a seasoned interviewer or in front of a mirror. Bring out some set of genuine emotions; dig deep; recall what really AFFECTED you vs viewing people and problems unidimensionally. The real fun begins when you get behind the symptoms and reveal the nature of their origin (ego, cultural diff, fear, etc).

- take some time off of cases; yes, really, just don't do them for a few days. After a bit of a break, do a few FUN cases -- non-profit are my favorite. Find cases you really feel passionate about, or cases that really are off-beat.

- Find a good "why McKinsey" story. Don't give the generic "best firm bla bla" stuff. BCG/Bain are equally good.

- Work with a coach who can focus both on your emotional and intellectual content of the presentation. Seems you are too focused on the former.

Hemant

Francesco replied on 02/13/2018
Ex BCG | MBB Specialist | #1 Expert for coaching sessions (1400+) and recommendation rate (100%)

Hi Anonymous, sounds your issues were based on

  • FIT – Not enough preparation on specific questions like “Why BCG”
  • COMMUNICATION – No ideal communication on fit questions and structure of the case
  • STRUCTURE – Not enough structure for second level

You are not overprepared with 100 cases – many people who land multiple offers have that kind of preparation. It seems instead main issues were not having focused on fit and communication enough, and not having deveoped a deep enough structure for the second level. These areas are more difficult to spot, in particular if you are concentrating on the case only.

Below you can find some potential areas where to focus on, based on the input (note: this is indicative, as purely based on the information provided, which is not 100% clear):

  • Not crispy enough:
    • Case part: Improve structure for main cases, in particular for the second level of the structure
    • Fit part: Time yourself when answering the fit questions loud. Be sure you convey the key message in 2 minutes
  • Missing dialogue/ Not emotional enough:
    • Case part: Interact more with interviewer - eg asking information, repeating questions
    • Fit part: Break ice earlier with interview and create connection. Additionally, improve questions at the end
  • Motivation for company XYZ
    • Prepare unique, personalized answer for Why McK (90% of the candidates use cliché answers like it’s a top company, great people, great culture, without any specific example. Key check for personalization is: can you use the name BCG or Bain instead of McKinsey, and have your answer still making sense? If that the case, your answer is not personalized enough. You should provide specific examples to avoid that mistake)
  • BCG online case only average
    • If you have to do it, prepare as much as you can for the PST; if needed, invest in tests online. Sounds you undervalued this step of the process

As for McKinsey, I would strongly recommend to reschedule; not because you have to do significant preparation on your own (seems you have already done a lot) but to:

  1. understand with experience candidates, or ideally experts (disclosure: I am an expert) where to focus to improve. As mentioned, the suggestions above are general, as one should see your actual performance in a case; thus you should have someone “translating” the feedback in actual steps to follow
  2. gain confidence. From your message it sounds you may end with too much pressure for McKinsey if you go in one week (I guess it's your number 1 target now). You would have to gain the right amount of confidence as if you appear unconfident/ with too much pressure you will unlikely move to the next round, even with a case cracked perfectly

If you don’t work on these two areas to cover the weaknesses mentioned in the feedback, it would be unlikely you could move to step 2 of McK after missing both BCG and Bain for similar reasons. And I personally don’t think it’s a good idea to risk waiting 2 years for a few weeks of further preparation.

Thus as next steps I would suggest to:

  • Reschedule McKinsey – between 2 weeks and 1 month, according to the time you can dedicate to the preparation, would probably be ideal
  • Do some advanced coaching sessions asap (experts or advanced candidates). It is totally useless you continue to prepare without knowing in which areas you should work; as mentioned, the suggestions (mine or of other experts) on the feedback you provided can only be hypothetical
  • Proceed in the meantime with the others interviews – landing an offer there could be great to gain confidence

Best,
Francesco

(edited)

Anonymous B replied on 02/13/2018

Hi Anonymous,

From what I hear you struggle in the delivery, rather than the technical solution process.

I read the other answers and in essence I would recommend you to practice with somebody who has experience, who can go through your stories and also through the delivery.

I worked with a few people and usually it is small things that make the difference on how the interviewer perceives you.

From my own experience, I got declined everywhere on my first attempt for internships: BCG, Bain, Mckinsey, AT Kearney, Roland Berger...Just everybody.

Interviews started to work for me when I relaxed, when I stopped wanting it too much and told myself that I don't care about the outcome, I'm there to have fun with the interviewers. (And realistically, with an offer in the backhand, you have reason to relax)

As the others have said, the interviewers remember the excellent candidates that they have a good and fun time solving the cases with. If you are relaxed and can perform, you have a better time, and so do they.

I ended up working at both BCG first and later at Bain...turned down the McKinsey offer.

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