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Switch from Tier 2 firm internship to MBB full time

Experienced FIT internship Interview MBB McKinsey McKinsey PEI switch tier2
Recent activity on Sep 19, 2017
8 Answers
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Anonymous A asked on Sep 18, 2017

Hey guys,

I'm currently an intern at a tier 2 consulting firm in Hong Kong ending at end of December. I'm currently looking to apply for an MBB full time position but heard that they are usually reluctant to recruit consultants from another firm because they've already adopted a different culture and such.

So that being said, I was wondering if anyone can give some advice on how I could sell myself or any other tips like maybe rely on strong networking and such?


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Content Creator
updated an answer on Oct 23, 2017
#1 Coach for Sessions (4.500+) | 1.500+ 5-Star Reviews | Proven Success (➡ | Ex BCG | 10Y+ Coaching

Hi Anonymous,

I agree with Matthew, in terms of the expectations they will not be impacted in a relevant way from your previous experience.

In terms of the stories to use, besides the traditional questions common to all the firms (“Tell me about yourself”, “Why McKinsey”, “Why should I hire you”), as you probably know you should focus on three main areas for McKinsey: personal impact, entrepreneurial drive, and leadership. I have described them in details at the link below:

In short:

  1. Personal Impact is mainly based on persuading someone about doing/not doing something.
  2. Entrepreneurial Drive is about implementing something overcoming major difficulties.
  3. Leadership is about leading a whole team in challenging situation and team management skills

So far that your previous consulting experience helps you to show these skills, it would be a good example; having said that, you probably want to have multiple stories for the same question, in case you get the same one asked by different interviewers. For this reason, I would recommend to use both your consulting experience AND additional ones, focused on the previous three areas.




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Anonymous replied on Oct 20, 2017

First of all, the bar for your performance on the PEI and the case sections will be the same, regardless of whether you have experience at another consulting firm or not. The only time that could vary is if you were an experienced hire / expert hire with many years of experience. In that case, the fit / behavioral bar would likely be higher and the case interview bar could be a bit lower.

In terms of using your previous consulting experience for your PEI answers, the answer is “it depends”. In general, you should be looking for the best answers / stories / situations that answer the question the interviewer is asking. Almost any experience can be successful during the PEI portion of the interview as long as it addresses some of the following attributes:

  • Influencing: Does the candidate accurately anticipate or react to the need for various influencing tactics and deploy them appropriately
  • Drive / Achieving: Has the candidate demonstrated a passion for setting challenging goals and achieving them in a practical way?
  • Leadership: Has the candidate demonstrated inspiring leadership, sensitivity to others and an ability to help teams succeed in the face of challenge?
  • Teamwork: Has the candidate shown deep insight into the whole team effectiveness and taken action to improve it (e.g., actively coaches, resolves conflict)
  • Empathy: Does the candidates behaviors, plans and actions demonstrate an awareness and understanding of the thoughts and feelings of others?
  • Learning: Does the candidate show an sufficient level of intellectual curiosity and extract learnings from experiences?

I find it most helpful when candidates try to mix in a non-work experience into a least one of your PEI interviews. By using a non-work situation, you are able to:

  • Stand-out: Remember that there is a decision meeting about whether you pass to the next round (if it’s a first round interview) or get an offer (if it’s a final round interview) and the more you stand out as a candidate, the easier it is to “make the case” for you during that meeting. I can remember to this day dozens of non-work PEI experiences that didn’t involve work, but not a single one that did involve work.
  • Add humor: You can tell your story and add a twist of humor to it. Interviewers have long, mundane days of interviewing and like to have the mood lightened.
  • Add personal depth: Show that you have skills and interests outside of work. If you happen to hit upon a story that resonates with the interviewers past experiences or interests, that’s a home run!

Having led many decision meetings (1st and final rounds) as a Partner at McKinsey, let me give you a little insight into how the meetings actually happen. A tired group of interviewers convene at the end of the day with all of their notes. The decision meeting leader begins pulling up the candidates info one by one. The interviewers are trying to think back to the candidate and looking at their notes (which are not very detailed). The interviews give a recap of what they taught and actually oftentimes playback a PEI story if, and only if, it was interesting before a final decision is made. This is why it is key to pick the right stories and often times, a non-work story or two.

Going back to the case interview, there is really going to be no difference. If anything, the interviewer may think that you should be more polished on the case than other candidates since you have previously worked in consulting.

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Antonio on Oct 21, 2017

Thank you Matthew! Really helpful!

Anonymous replied on Oct 21, 2017

This is not an uncommon background for people at MBB to have done internships at other firms before. It will not affect you negatively. Focus on preparing well just as if you come from any other backgrounds.

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Content Creator
replied on Sep 19, 2017
#1 Coach for Sessions (4.500+) | 1.500+ 5-Star Reviews | Proven Success (➡ | Ex BCG | 10Y+ Coaching

Hi Anonymous,

as Hugo and Vlad mentioned, it is normally totally fine to apply from other consulting firms to MBB, even after a couple of years of experience. To check whether that’s the case in HK, there is an easy double check you can do – you can simply go on LinkedIn, and check if any alumni of your company or comparable competitors actually joined MBB. If you find evidence of that, you can be sure moving there is feasible.

As for ways to strengthen you application, the best thing is definitely networking; at the following link (second post) you can find some reference on how to structure the referral process:



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replied on Sep 18, 2017
McKinsey / Accenture Alum / Got all BIG3 offers / Harvard Business School


It's totally fine for the following reasons:

  1. You have not spent enough time in a tier2 firm
  2. MBB companies are actively hiring Tier2 consultants, so the initial point of them being reluctant to hire Tier2 consultants is based mainly on rumors:)
  3. If you want to be on a safe side use a reference. I have provided some recommendations re references in the following topic:

Good luck!

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Anonymous replied on Sep 18, 2017

Dear Consultant,

What you heard about the reluctance to hire consultants from other 2nd tier firms might be true if the candidate has been there for a long period of time (note: although among MBB there is a lot of lateral hires). However, (even though I do not your background and context), you are in a good position since you are an intern so you have several ways to sell you candidature to MBB. I know several people that did internships in the second tier consulting companies and then ended up working in MBB.

How? The fit part will be very important and will depend on you basically. Some examples:

  • Try to network internally to identify specific reasons to apply and how you can add value to the firm.
  • Try to have strong answers to the following questions:
    • Why did you not take the full-time position in your previous company?
    • Why do you want to apply to MMB?
    • Did you apply with us before? (What happened? What changed? What did you learn?
    • Elevator pitch

I hope this information helps.



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Anonymous B replied on Oct 21, 2017

Hi Matthew, Francesco and Eric,

Many thanks for your very helpfull answers, I will indeed prepare multiple stories for each of McK core values.

Do you recommend to systematically provide new stories everytime a different interviewer asks the same question ?

I will have an assesment day with all round and potentially 5 interviews in one day, therefore it is very likely that I will receive the same questions multiple times. Should I try to put forward the most convincing stories first ? Should I reuse them in the afternoon if I pass to the second round or keep providing new ones instead ?

Many thanks for your help,


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Francesco gave the best answer


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