Targeting English speaking MBB office strategy?

English MBB networking
New answer on Mar 11, 2020
6 Answers
3.0 k Views
Anonymous A asked on Mar 08, 2020

Hi everyone, I am new here and obviously still a long way to go regarding absorbing all the materials here, however my inquiry is rather a delicate one. I am a master student of a technical university in the Netherlands, with still 1 year to go before graduation. In addition I currently have an internship with a fortune500 company (top10) + another master degree from mech. engineering (outside of netherlands as I am not Dutch, cum laude) + a publication in an academic journal.

My main problem is that based on my previous research, McK & BCG for instance, require Dutch fluency in the Netherlands (even for their networking events!!!), while as for Bain, I have found a source here saying that they are okay with English only (though I cannot confirm or deny that on their website so its still up in the air) but they don't even have networking events in the next X months in the netherlands. I have read here that Nordic offices could be an option next to the UK of course but I fear that if I apply out of the blue my application will not go through as the prestige of technical uni is lost when you cross the border as it is not like top50 or something. And in that case I can't reapply for a year or so. Don't want to get rejected for no reason (ie language fluency)

I am not sure how to approach the people in these office's as I am sure they have their own target group (ie Swedish office targeting swedish uni/ppl) and wouldn't be interested in me seeing I don't have a fancy business school on my resume. Another way down the road in improving my resume is doing my thesis in Big4 but that's as far as it goes at this point, I still do not think that its a resume for passing the screening stage in a completely different country.

edit: ME offices are of course a great option and I would be willing but due to visa requirements I think they would be even more improbable (+ even harder networking I imagine)

I'd appreciate any insight you folks could offer!


Overview of answers

  • Upvotes
  • Date ascending
  • Date descending
Best answer
Content Creator
replied on Mar 08, 2020
McKinsey offers w/o final round interviews - 100% risk-free - 10+ years MBB coaching experience - Multiple book author

Hi Anonymous,

Thanks for all the information provided.

For non-experienced hires (like in your situation), offices usually require to speak their local language, at least up to some level (it's not black or white..). It's also important for yourself on office Fridays to not be left out from some information conversations and being really part of that office. Also, for local projects it's important to speak local language - even though official language might be English, you will never bond the same as in local language though.

(For experienced hires - if there is a need for a certain resource/skill-set in the respective office for staffing some projects - the language is less important ..).

The most secure way to get to on-site interviews is always to network your way into that, and have some consultant (the higher in the ranks, the better) forwarding your application to HR. Unless your application documents are a complete mess, with that route you surpass the first HR screening and get invited to on-site interviews directly. Oftenly this is easier said than done - but with Xing/Linked-In etc. you have good tools in your hand to do some research and try to find some connections, unless you anyway have some acquaintances "somewhere" around close to those firms you are targeting.

In respect to the real requirements, you can always give HR a call upfront just to find out if local language is an absolute requirement from their side as well. Don't by shy to call them on the phone, it's their job to service potential hires!

Hope that helps - if so, please give it a thumbs-up with the upvote button!


Was this answer helpful?
Content Creator
replied on Mar 09, 2020
McKinsey | Awarded professor at Master in Management @ IE | MBA at MIT |+180 students coached | Integrated FIT Guide aut


First of all, regarding the languages, it totally depends on the office. As a thumb rule, you should think: in this determined geography, do local clients speak English? Or would they need local language to communicate?

Regarding how to best secure an offer without coming from a target school, don´t worry, since i´ts not impossible. There are plenty of cases, I am one of them -I am actually an architect!!-. I would suggest you to (1) leverage or build a network and (2) attend to networking events -the ones from the firms, from Unis, specially targetted for groups, etc.-.

Hope it helps!



Was this answer helpful?
Content Creator
replied on Mar 11, 2020
BCG |NASA | SDA Bocconi & Cattolica partner | GMAT expert 780/800 score | 200+ students coached


It depends on the specific country, but usually to join countries where company's clients speak english, the local language it's not mandatory.
Another option could be to enter an office of your home country or an english speaking country (USA, UK, ME..). Once that you enter is easier to move between the offfices wihout bein required for the local language.


Was this answer helpful?
Anonymous replied on Mar 10, 2020

I am a non-Swedish speaker working as a consultant in Stockholm. So I can share my first-hand experience here.

I agree with your assessment that once you cross the border, awareness of university declines and some countries do have stringent local language requirement (Southern Europ in particular in my experience)

In your case, I would advise as follows:

  1. Find alumni from your college who are working in your target firms, either locally or in other countries. They will be your best champion and if they provide a referral, the likelihood of interview call is higher despite the language barrier
  2. Some sectors have a higher propensity of clients speaking English (tech, consumer goods for ex.) than others (Public sector, Healthcare likely to work in local language). So shape your CV to be more suitable to sectors accordingly
  3. Prefer global firms over niche local firms
  4. Apply for an internship if direct recruitment is a challenge. work your way to a full-time offer
  5. Join an English speaking office (ME visa requirements are not stringent in my opinion) and then take an internal transfer

I hope it helps. Best of luck!

Was this answer helpful?
updated an answer on Mar 08, 2020
Restarting after long holiday - skills might be rusty


BCG and Bain Amsterdam are both ok with English only. And also a couple of tier-2 firms as well.

Try to network with your alumni, they will tell you more about the offices.


Was this answer helpful?
Anonymous A on Mar 09, 2020

Are you sure about BCG? Since I've seen a bunch of networking events and they all require fluency in Dutch to participate.

replied on Mar 08, 2020
McKinsey | BCG | CERN| University of Cambridge

Hello there,

As Robert says, English is primarily being utilized at selected office such as UK, US, Singapore, Middle East, Australia, etc. Some Nordic offices does open to English speakers but there's competition with candidates with similar profiles with an added bonus of fluency in local language.

Typically, people would try to focus on their home country to break into MBB, as unless you have specific skillset, being in a new country plus without fluency of local language will put your profile at disadvantage.

One way to do this is having an exchange or some kind of exposure to the target country (internship, etc), and then network your way in to the consultants and partners there.

Hope it helps.

Kind regards,

Was this answer helpful?
Robert gave the best answer


Content Creator
McKinsey offers w/o final round interviews - 100% risk-free - 10+ years MBB coaching experience - Multiple book author
Q&A Upvotes
171 Reviews
How likely are you to recommend us to a friend or fellow student?
0 = Not likely
10 = Very likely