Rejected despite referral and HR interview to apply

MBB rejection Resume
New answer on Sep 30, 2022
4 Answers
Anonymous A asked on Sep 14, 2022


I was recently rejected at Bain and I'd appreciate some advice. I applied for the Associate Consultant position as an experienced hire (4 years of work experience) via a referral. 

I showed my resume to a couple of MBB consultants who helped me strengthen it. I have a 4.0 GPA, several academic prizes, and lots of extra curriculars. My application went through a referral and HR told her they were impressed with my resume and invited me to apply. 

Despite this, I was rejected at the resume screening stage. I thought I would have a fairly good chance of at least being sent the online test, but it seems even HR saying they're impressed is not enough. 

That was my last MBB rejection, so I'm feeling very dejected and not sure what I've done wrong. What else can I do to strengthen my application? I can't afford an MBA and I'm at a point in my life where I can't change to a more “impressive” career and start at the bottom of the career ladder again because of financial commitments. Should I even bother applying again?

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Content Creator
updated an answer on Sep 15, 2022
MBB | 100% personal interview success rate (8/8) and 95% candidate success rate | Personalized interview prep

Hi there,

I'm sorry to hear.

Unfortunately, often in life we can do everything “right” and still things don't work out. When it comes to recruiting, we are always maximizing our odds, but they will never be 100%. In addition, the current hiring environment is a bit tepid, so I would not be surprised if this had a bit of an impact.

I want you to remember that MBB is not the end-all-be-all. You are going to be just fine. Not only is there always next year, but there are a million companies out there.

I was convinced I wanted to work for the US Federal Reserve (prestigious in economics), but in a “practice interview” with a no-name company called Appian, I saw another opportunity. It was the best job I ever had.

You never know.

Keep networking and applying to other firms. And try again next year.

The greatest accomplishments come from temporary defeat.


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replied on Sep 30, 2022
Bain | EY-Parthenon | Roland Berger | FIT | Market Sizing | Former Head Recruiter

My understanding is that companies are starting to expect a recession. Meaning that while new entries are still going on (as people are always also moving away from consulting), they probably want to make sure that if there's a decrease in business they don't have to fire anyone people. And the easiest way to do that is making sure that on the ranks above it isn't too much crowded.

The way you adjust the hierarchical pyramids in consulting ideally is not by firing people, but by reducing hiring - particularly at the mid levels of the pyramid (since the people you hire at the entry level are cheaper and therefore more for the “long term” pyramid)

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Content Creator
replied on Sep 14, 2022
#1 rated and most recommended McKinsey Coach | 97% success rate (tracked) | Honest feedback: no sugar-coating

Hi there, 

Sorry to hear about how this went!

Based on your description, there doesn't seem to be any good reason for the rejection. I would assume that since the CV was already reviewed by several MBB consultants, it's good enough. If you had a referral that already put you at the top of the candidates. And if HR said they were impressed, probably they weren't just polite. So, yes, basically there doesn't seem to be a proper reason. Have you perhaps considered telling HR all of this and then asking them for some feedback? Maybe this way you get to understand what was their perspective.

My practical suggestion would be that you aim for other consulting firms outside of MBB and assuming they have milder expectations on the screening, you should be able to pass. Then, if the target is MBB, you can always make a lateral move in 1-2 years. 



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Content Creator
replied on Sep 14, 2022
Ex McKinsey EM & interviewer (5 yrs) USA & UK| Coached / interviewed 200 +|Free 15 min intro| Stanford MBA|Non-trad

I’m so sorry to hear that after all that work you didn’t get an interview. There could be all sorts of factors at play - including that at least anecdotally I’ve heard that many MBB offices are contracting their experienced hire recruitment in preparation for a general market contraction.

I recommend that you reach out to the recruitment team to ask them what happened and make decisions based off their response. 

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Anonymous A on Sep 14, 2022

Hi Emily, thank you for your response. That makes sense. I was hesitating to apply for a long time, so it's my own fault that I ended up applying at this time! Would you recommend that I call the offices I applied to (3 in total) or should I send an email?

Ian gave the best answer


Content Creator
MBB | 100% personal interview success rate (8/8) and 95% candidate success rate | Personalized interview prep
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