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Reveal or conceal existing offer from MBB competitor?

Anonymous A asked on Jun 20, 2018 - 7 answers

Hi all,

I have received an offer from BCG to join as Consultant in one of their German offices. I also have interviews scheduled with Bain and Strategy&. I wonder how I should position myself in case that they ask if I have an offer already, and why I would want to work for them instead of just taking the BCG offer? What are credible reasons to give here? Should I even reveal the BCG offer or would this diminish the probability of getting also an offer from Bain and S&?

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updated his answer on Jun 20, 2018
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Hi Anonymous!

I have a clear view here: just be open and honest! And if they ask why you would choose them over BCG, there is no problem with stating something like:

"I am not entirely sure yet, but I know that I thrive in settings that are highly professional and collaborative, but also small enough to carve out an individualized development path for myself and to potentially enable close mentorship. This is where I have some doubts with BCG (who are huge in Germany) and where I hope that you can help me understand how working for Bain/Strategy& (who are much smaller in Germany) would look like."

Such an answer has the nice side effect that the interviewer usually switches into "sales man mode" and tells you about the advantages of his firm, rather than grilling you.

Cheers, Sidi


replied on Jun 20, 2018
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I have a slightly different view here:

  • An essential part of your job choice should be whether you feel that a firm is the right fit for you - which you will try to figure out during your interviews or on a separate day after you got the offer where you will meet a few consultants and get the chance to ask questions (Yes, I have done this with different firms incl. MBB on several occasions - just ask for it).
  • In my experience, the only way to get this feeling is to talk to people working for the firm (does it feel right? Do I really want to spend days and weeks with these guys?). And most importantly: Your interviewers also want to make sure that you fit in and are likely to stay for a while (hiring somebody who is going to leave after a few weeks is a great waste of ressources).
  • Very often, your interviewer will ask whether you are interviewing somewhere else / already received some offers. In this case, as my colleagues here said: Be open and honest about it. Besides switching into „sales man mode“ your interviewer may disclose where he interviewed before he decided to start with a particular firm and will state his or her reasons. Your interviewer has once been in the same situation as you are in right now. Of course you can also simply ask „why did you decide to start at this firm?“ - however, it becomes a lot less abstract, once you start discussing differences between real firms.
  • Don't not start the conversation with "I got an offer from BCG - tell me why I should reject it and start with you instead" - your interviewer will realise that you are a strong candidate who will probably receive offers from competitors as well, which will then lead to the discussion described above.

Using your offer as a leverage in order to expedite the process may work, however, from my experience recruiting reality is very often faced with too few interviewers on interview days and a corresponding low number of interview slots, so putting more pressure on recruiting may not be the best idea.

Hope this helps.

replied on Jun 20, 2018
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Only use your BCG offer as leverage if you need to fulfil a special request - e.g. expedite the interview process.

Once/if you get an offer from Bain or S&, you could use the other offer as further leverage - for example, I know someone who used an offer at another MBB to get his offer at bain transferred to a different office without going through any additional interviews.

Finally, if you are asked about competing offers during your interview (can happen), definitely be honest and candid (as Sidi said).

Vlad replied on Jun 20, 2018
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First of all, you should understand what is your top choice company. If it is BCG - why do you even have to do the interviews with Bain and Strategy&? If you can't choose between the companies at this point - I don't think that another job offer will make the decision easier.

Next, try to understand whether you have a chance to get the job offers that will be significantly different? (e.g. BCG give you an associate offer and at Bain you have a chance to enter as a consultant. Or maybe the offers have different relocation options?)

Reveal the offer from BCG only in case you want to expedite the process. In the other cases, the competitive offer will not change anything and may even show the lack of motivation.


Francesco replied on Jun 21, 2018
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Hi Anonymous,

I agree with the previous answers, I provided mine below:

I wonder how I should position myself in case that they ask if I have an offer already, and why I would want to work for them instead of just taking the BCG offer? What are credible reasons to give here?

As Vlad said, why are you interviewing with them since you have the BCG offer? Answering to such question will help to identify some relevant reasons. Potential elements to mention include:

  • Company potential: how much the company grew in the last year, which is a good guarantee for your future career as well
  • Sectors of interest: specific focus of the company in areas interesting for you
  • People you met and culture: specific people of the company you discussed with, and the things they shared on the company
  • Your growth opportunities: specific programs of the company you heard about to enhance your growth
  • Size/reputation of the firm: smaller companies usually offer a more entrepreneurial culture, with higher growth potential internally. Bigger companies have more resources and support staff, and more prestige in terms of exit.

Sidi provided a great answer to move then the interviewer to answer you rather than the other way round.

Should I even reveal the BCG offer or would this diminish the probability of getting also an offer from Bain and S&?

It's totally fine to answer the true if they ask (don’t volunteer the information unless you want to speed up the process as mentioned, otherwise you may give the negative impression that you want to impress), it can actually improve your perception as BCG is an equivalent (Bain)/stronger (S&) competitor for them as for the brand name. Of course it will lead to the previous question.



Anonymous C replied on Sep 24, 2018

Congrats on the BCG Germany offer!! Any tips by any chance on the process?

Anonymous B replied on Jun 21, 2018


Just another option here -

The fact that you already have a BCG offer shows that you are generally interested in Bain and Strategy&, or you wouldn't be going to the interviews. Therefore, you may get the chance to flip this and build on it.

Should the conversation come up naturally...maybe in 'Why Bain?'

"I already have a confirmed offer for one of your competitors - however, i have read/spoken/researched a lot about Bain and i actually feel as though its better suited to be - the work you do in X,Y,Z is more aligned to my goals and i think this would be a perfect flit. Hence, I've come along today as i do believe Bain would be my first preference of role but of course, i am here to learn more about what you guys do and if my gut feel is right that Bain would be the best fit should i receive an offer"

This 1- displays subtly you already have an offer and 2- gives your answer even more merit, showing YOU choose THEM, not just the other way like for 99% of canididates who apply for every company and hope to hear from ANYONE. This helps making them think you're generally super excited and keen to work there and 3- like Sidi says, actually gives them a way to sell you the firm.

Good luck

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