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Rejected from Bain (CV round)!

Anonymous A asked on Nov 06, 2018

Three of my MPHil friends from Cambridge were just rejected from Bain (London) and can't seem to figure out why - First Class at undergrad, banking/law/consulting internships, represented our universities in football, rugby etc, VP/presidents of social enterprise/consulting socieites.

Perhaps I'm just bitter (definitely am!) but how can we not even pass the pre screen? What superhumans are they instead inviting for interview?? Is it luck?

Now I feel discouraged to apply next year becuase not sure how I can improve my CV in a year to the extent that is necessary.

Any thoughts much appreciated!

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replied on Nov 06, 2018
Bain & Company | University of Cambridge | CV/Resume writing | 770 GMAT
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Hey there,

I appreciate how you feel - sometimes it really is the luck of the draw. From many friends applying, I know pretty much every combination of people who got 1/2 MBB interviews (e.g. Bain and BCG but not McKinsey, McKinsey but not Bain/BCG etc.), which just goes to show how random/up to chance it can be.

However, there are ways to maximise your chances. Of course you need to have actual strong experiences, which it seems you/your friends have. The next step, though, is how you present those experiences. The same work/leadership experience on a CV, depending on how it's presented, can make a CV go from mediocre to excellent. Some general tips:

-Focus on Impact/"So what", not process or details: Especially for Science students, I have seen so many CVs that just talk in detail about the experiments they ran without any clear mention of the impact/"so what".

-Focus on impact YOU had, not the team: Of course we don't want arrogant people at Bain, but a certain amount of bragging is necessary. It's no good to say "worked on the TMT deals team" - tell me specifically what YOU did - e.g. analysis, presentation, data collection, client meetings.

-Keep it to one page, and have a succinct cover letter: Too many times I have seen 2-3 page CVs filled with loads and loads of details about every project the person ever worked on. This is bad because a) the reader will instantly disengage and b) it actually will take away focus from the strong experiences you actually have. On the cover letter, I have also seen my fair share of 800+ word cover letters - again, here, this is just too long for someone reviewing 50+ applications to read and digest. Keep the cover letter short and to the point - I usually recommend about 400 words.

Sorry for the bad news, but you should not be discouraged from reapplying - Some people I know at Bain only got in after their 3rd time applying!

Guennael replied on Nov 06, 2018
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Outstanding responses already. Don't forget also that networking can help at this stage as well: if a member of the hiring taskforce has met you and remembers you well, it can help to move to the next level.

PS: Luck definitely plays a role. This is real life - for better or for worse. Being lucky helps. May you be lucky

Anonymous replied on Nov 06, 2018

Consulting interview pass #s depend on a number of things and strength of resume doesn't always win the day. There are a few big factors the Office considers:

1) New hire demand: The single biggest factor is Office demand. Each office performs a "reverse waterfall" analysis. They start with a discussion with the Office Manager, who has already had a discussion with most of the Office partners to gauge upcoming demand for analysts and associates. The recruiters then pull all the historical data for accept rate, 1st/2nd round offer rate and then start with the demand # and just work backwards to figure out how many interviews they need to conduct. If the Office is in a slump, they may not interview many people.

2) Campus vs experienced hires: The philosophy of the Office can go through cyclical changes. Some of the partners will prefer experience hires that have backgrounds in the specific industry vertical or horizontals where the Office is focused and will want to cut back on University hires. I've seen it multiple times where as the lead Partner of recruiting at McKinsey's Boston Office, I cut back University hires drastically

3) Strong class ahead of you: This is less likely but ocassionally, the Office will overhire in the year before yours. To make things worse (for you), the class performs exceptionally well and doesn't have the normal attrition rates. Therefore, there are an unusually high number of lower tenured analysts and associates.

Your situation is a little unusual but not unheard of because of all the external factors that prevent firms from hiring the standard # of consultants every year. I received my MBA from MIT Sloan and for the previous 8 years, McKinsey had hired ~30-35 summer interns from MIT. For my year, they hired less than 10. I hope this helps.

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