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Rejected after final round at MBB (Bain), need advice for trying again

Anonymous A

Hi everyone,

I wanted some advice on next steps. While I did not receive interviews from McKinsey and BCG, I recently did my final round at Bain and was rejected (I executed on the cases at ~65% of how I usually perform due to a few factors).

My ultimate goal is still MBB and I was wondering if anyone could weigh in on the best path there. Some options I'm considering are:

  1. Tier-2 consulting (Oliver Wyman, Roland Berger, etc.)
  2. Tier-3 consulting (Big4 non-Monitor etc.)
  3. F500, rotational programs
    1. More specifically, likely CPG (think Kraft-Heinz).
  4. Additionally, B-school after any of the aforementioned options
  5. Anything else you all might recommend

As well, what is general process is for reapplication? It seems there's a blacklist period? I was also considering writing to my interviewers and asking for more direct advice RE: reapplying and RE: what roles I should pursue to set myself up properly.

Thanks everyone.

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Wouter replied on 09/17/2018
Ex-BCG and top-tier MBA with 7+ years in CPG industry experience. The full package for experienced or post-MBA hires!

Hey!

Consulting recruitment in general, and MBB recruitment in particular is a numbers game. Even the best prepared probably have a 50-50 change of getting an offer if they only go through the process with one company – at best.

Consulting shops often see (and accept) candidates more than once. The blacklist period is merely a waiting period to offer you the chance to improve your overall application. The options you mention are all valid. I think it’s definitely better to enter consulting (tier 2) and cut your teeth for a while than going into Industry at this point. You’ll get extra interview practice, a first-hand look inside management consulting already and even potentially a top-tier MBA financed for you (longer term option). The way I see it:

  • You got invited by Bain, so you resume must be convincing already. Entering Tier-2 consulting will make this even more the case (so next time, McK and BCG might extend an invitation as well)
  • MBB doesn’t mind capable professionals who have already been trained by other consulting shops, considering it’s not too long, so I would go for it.
  • Entering Tier-2 consulting shows clear commitment to the profession, which is going to strengthen your next-year application as well
  • You can hold off on the option of considering an MBA until you’re a couple of years into your career

So from where I can see it, only benefits in applying to tier-2 shops. However, don’t underestimate their process. Their requirements can be as elevated as MBB, so prepare accordingly!

Good luck,

Wouter*

P4S Coach

(edited)

Kay replied on 09/17/2018

Hi Anonymous!

Firstly, I'm sorry about the Bain rejection! Always a bummer to put in a ton of work and not see it come to fruition when you hoped it would. However I'm sure you can get back on track!

To be clear I don't have specifically consulting experience with this, but have definitely redirected my career in response to setbacks, so I'll share my experience and maybe the experts will weigh in with consulting-specific advice.

Here are the steps I would take:

1. Decide where you want to go. Do you still have your heart on consulting? Are you still eventually hoping to work for MBB?

2. Identify what factors contributed to not getting interviews at McKinsey and BCG, and what factors contributed to getting rejected in the last round at Bain. Likely it is not only one factor.

3. If in step 1 you decide consulting is what you want and you can identify traits/skills you need to work on, then I'd start planning my next steps around that i.e. what will help you fill that gap from the list you've provided?

The "blacklist" period is anywhere from 6 months-2 years, depending on the company and office location. Effectively, they want you to take this time to develop in some way, so make sure you set this as your deadline to improve on the factors you identified in step 2.

I didn't apply to consulting firms straight out of my undergraduate degree and regretted it immediately, but due to several personal factors I had to stay with the FTSE100 company I was employed by for three years. So, I tried to take on projects/positions that allowed me to tick a few of the Fit and Behavioural questions, and make my CV stand out. I didn't necessarily enjoy all of it, but I did learn all the things I set out to.

Best of luck!

Kay

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