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Tailoring "why (insert firm)" answers

Ben asked on Sep 11, 2017 - 2 answers

While I believe I have a pretty good set of answers for the "why consulting?" questoins, sometimes I have a lot of trouble finding truly important differentiators between the MBB and Big 4 firms.

They all have high impact clients. They all work across many industries, globally. They all will keep you busy but have various programmes to keep your work/life balance in mind. They all value your development. There are talented people at all of them.

I feel like my mind goes to stereotypes about these companies, perhaps more than it really should. What comes to mind:

McKinsey - best of the best, largest and most resourceful of MBB, does things their own way.

Bain - "work hard play hard" culture, more of a quantitative and greater PE focus. More local, helping with the comraderie and "play hard" aspect.

BCG - intellectually curious, asks the big questions. My brain also says they're closer to McKinsey in terms of culture than Bain, but this is truly anecdotal.

AT Kearney - similar size/scope as MBB with less pretense. More operational, hands-on, ipmlementation focused.

Long story short I'd like more specifics... names of differentiating internal programs, acronyms for internal thought processes and problem solving approaches, things that make each different that don't let me boil it down to superficial stereotypes.

I have a call with a BCG partner this week, and a Bain recruiter next week. I'd really love some more insght from people who have gone through the recruiting process and given (what they they thought were) good answers, as well as former Bain/BCG/etc consultants.


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updated his answer on Sep 11, 2017
Current BCG Active Project Leader |Former A.T. Kearney |+8Y of consulting experience | Received 8 consulting offers in the past 2Y
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Dear Ben,

In my experience, "Why X company" is based solely on your own research and the internal network that you have built (e.g., friends, conversations, experience, etc.)

All companies have its own strategy, strengths, weaknesses, and specific goals either in the short-term or long-term. By doing your research and talking with people, you will find out relevant information that will help you build your customized answer. Determining these differences are important during the interview, especially in MBA or experienced hires.

Some specific examples that come quickly to my mind:

- ATK: Worldwide experience in Procurement and Analytics

- OW / Bain: Financial Institutions and PE

- Simon K.: Revenues


I hope this helps.



(deleted, pressed enter too early) — Ben on Sep 11, 2017 (edited)

Oops, so... BCG wise (as I see you are a project leader there), would a "Why BCG?" answer along the lines of the following work: Why BCG? Well, the biggest difference I see between BCG and its peers, is that it embraces intellectually challenging problems, seeks the 'best' answer, and is adept at finding creative ways to re-state problems. (Insert example of BCG Perspectives piece, where they compare biological systems with companies/economies, showing some parallels between robust examples of each). I believe these are areas where I thrive and excel. Most of my resume impacts involve either creative problem solving, and/or finding ways to reconstruct a problem in new, insight-providing ways. (insert example; I have a few instances of using creative problem solving, and at least one good example of reconstructing a problem that gaved impactful insight)." — Ben on Sep 11, 2017

Also my initials are BCG, which I'm sure will take me far ;) — Ben on Sep 11, 2017

replied on Sep 11, 2017
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It should be your personal research since the reasons may vary in different geographies. Here are some ideas of what you can use to structure your thoughts:

  • You can start with general facts about the local office. Something like “Sidney office is the fastest growing McKinsey office worldwide.”
  • If you have an interest in a particular industry or client this may also be a great reason. For example, Bain can be the only consulting firm working with airlines in your region.
  • You may address to different Global opportunities and office initiatives. Using 1-year relocation as an opportunity to learn about business in a particular country can be a valid reason
  • Try to combine professional and Non-business rational. If you have friends working in that company, don’t forget to mention them and what you’ve learned from their experience.
  • You may use your other personal experiences like working with this company on a client side.

Good luck!

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