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Strategy for applications

New answer on Mar 23, 2020
5 Answers
1.0 k Views
Anonymous A asked on Mar 16, 2020

Hey guys,

I'd like to get a position in MBB, but as we know, it won't always work. Therefore, I would like to discuss the following:

1. I would start interviewing Big4
2. Then ADL, Kearney
3. And then MBB

I would like to start interviewing about 3 months before the planned start of work.
How to answer the interviewer question if I have submitted applications to other companies? How to communicate correctly that I want to start work in 3 months?

For example:
I would successfully pass the BIG4 interview, how do I get the time for BIG4 (ADL, Kearny) to interview MBB while BIG4 is as a backup?

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Content Creator
replied on Mar 16, 2020
BCG |NASA | SDA Bocconi & Cattolica partner | GMAT expert 780/800 score | 200+ students coached

Dear anonymous,

I would suggest to apply for all of them as soon as you can. You should consider the following point:

  • Once that HR contacts you, you can ask to postpone the first round because you want to refine your preparation.
  • It's important to practice with some real interviews before starting the process with MBB
  • You can negotiate the date of the 2nd round according to your needs. They will try to push you but you should not worry: first of all they want you to do interview, so you are in a position of strength
  • You can leverage on an offer from tier-2 to accelerate the process of a tier-1 company

The perfect agenda would be to have Round 1 of Tier-2 --> Round 1 of Tier-1 --> Round 2 of Tier-2 --> Round 2 of Tier-1.

Feel free to write me for any needs,

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replied on Mar 16, 2020
Manager at Kearney, former consultant at Arthur D. Little, former President Consulting Club IE Business School

Hi! These companies have different views on this topic, but a few general indications:

- MBB, as well as Kearney and ADL do not see big 4 as doing the same kind of work, or they have a different focus, so generally best not to mention that you see them as the same. There are some nuances to this, e.g. Monitor Deloitte is not the same as Deloitte, and EY Parthenon is not the same as EY,..

- For most firms it's ok to be interviewing with firms in their same "tier", some companies are a bit more sensitive to naming those competitors. That means you could say e.g. in a MBB interview when asked about this "I am in the process with another top tier firm (MBB), but when I get the chance, I would prefer to work here".

- In terms of planning: Most candidates are afraid to ask for more time to prepare before their interviews, but typically that is not an issue (don't push it 6 months forward of course..). This should allow you to group interviews somewhat.

- Once you have an offer, you need to be careful not to push dates too far. If you get asked to decide the same week, you can probably push back a little. If you got a month and ask for another, it may be seen as disinterest, and the offer could be pulled.

- These previous two points mean: do not start before you are at least at a decent level, and then try to schedule interviews as closely together as possible, so you can wrap them up as soon as you can as well. I think the idea of having interview processes completed from all big 4, plus ADL, Kearney, and MBB all more or less at the same time might be a stretch, so I recommend prioritising, or dismissing some early offers if you have to, and accept the consequences of that.

Hope this helps

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Content Creator
replied on Mar 17, 2020
#1 Coach for Sessions (4.000+) | 1.500+ 5-Star Reviews | Proven Success (➡ | Ex BCG | 10Y+ Coaching

Hi Anonymous,

please find below the answer to your questions:

How to answer the interviewer question if I have submitted applications to other companies?

In terms of the companies that you can mention, I agree with Simon, Big 4 are not considered in the same league as Tier 1 and 2 (although ADL is usually considered Tier 3), thus would not mention Big 4 during the process with them. Ideally you should mention to each company that you are interviewing with others in the same or superior tier.

How to communicate correctly that I want to start to work in 3 months?

Interviewing only 3 months before your planned start seems a bit too close, in particular at the current time where the coronavirus is creating quite some uncertainty. I would recommend you plan to start interviewing at least 6 months before the starting date (assuming the interviews are on rolling admission and not at fix schedule, and that in your geography are not frozen due to the virus), which would leave more flexibility. You can communicate to HR your ideal start day when asked without issues.

I would successfully pass the BIG4 interview, how do I get the time for BIG4 (ADL, Kearny) to interview MBB while BIG4 is as a backup?

It is fine to plan first for less interesting companies, although the exact schedule may change due to the companies' needs; if that happens, you can ask to postpone the interview rounds with your top choices so that you can interview first with the less interesting companies. Once you have an offer, instead, you should be able to leverage it to get interviews earlier with your first choices, to avoid that the offer expires.



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Content Creator
replied on Mar 16, 2020
McKinsey | Awarded professor at Master in Management @ IE | MBA at MIT |+180 students coached | Integrated FIT Guide aut


On paper you can plan as much as you can, but in reality, and even if you phase your applications, anything can happen.

At this point, my advise would be to apply to all asap -if you are almost ready, of course-. Then, if MBB calls you before the other ones -that you can use as dry-runs, you can always postpone the interviews for personal reasons.

Altough HR will pushback a bit, it´s totally doable.

Hope it helps!



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Content Creator
replied on Mar 23, 2020
McKinsey | NASA | top 10 FT MBA professor for consulting interviews | 6+ years of coaching

Hi, I recommend discussing with the HR your idea about the intake only once you are doing/ending the process. It's a normal discussion to have and they are super flexible on it (especially in this period). Otherwise, the risk is to postpone the whole process and it's not efficient for you.

If you get an offer you usually have a limited amount of time to accept it. Therefore candidates usually accept it and eventually reject it if they get better offers later. There are no consequences to it.


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