Undergraduate grades and recruitment

MBB MSc
New answer on Jan 27, 2021
10 Answers
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Anonymous A asked on Jan 25, 2021

Hi everyone! Hope you're all doing well.

I'm heading to a top master's program next year, and I'm really hoping I can get a chance to work at MBB/tier2 firm (preferably in London/Dubai) afterwards. One issue that I'm anxious about is my undergraduate grades. The undergraduate university wasn't exactly the best, and to add insult to injury, the covid situation really messed up my chances of getting my grades higher. It is quite unfortunate, because those pass/fail and other grades are really not indicative of my performance, and that accounts for 2 whole years. I have a 750 GMAT, which is how I was admitted to the MSc, and I'm waiting for my CFA level 1 results.

The university I'm attending next year has the biggest MBB network in Europe, middle east, and Asia. Hopefully, it will be a bit more facilitated to earn high grades.

Given the situation, are my undergrad grades going to affect me significantly?

(edited)

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Francesco
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replied on Jan 25, 2021
#1 Coach for Sessions (4.000+) | 1.400+ 5-Star Reviews | Proven Success (➡ InterviewOffers.com) | Ex BCG | 9Y+ Coaching

Hi there,

They will affect your CV review but won’t necessarily be a deal-breaker.

Different companies/offices also judge in different ways grades. Few years ago McKinsey Milan was really strict on grades, while BCG and Bain were more open.

There are three main things you need to be invited for interviews:

  • A great CV
  • A great Cover (not required for some offices/companies)
  • A referral – the more senior the person the better

For the CV, you can work on the following to compensate for the low GPA:

  1. Internships/work experience in relevant companies (other consulting firms, IB, strategy roles in big brands, entrepreneurial initiatives)
  2. Volunteer/leadership experience
  3. University achievements: top GPA for your master, exchange program, university clubs

Definitely underline your GMAT as 750 is a great score.

For the Cover, you can structure it in 4 parts:

  1. Introduction, mentioning the position you are interested in and a specific element you find attractive for that company
  2. Why you are qualified for the job, where you can report 3 skills/stories from your CV, ideally related to leadership, impact, drive and teamwork
  3. Why you are interested in that particular firm, with additional 1-2 specific reasons
  4. Final remarks, mentioning again your interest and contacts

In part 2 – the one you are referring to – you can write about experiences that show skills useful in consulting such as drive, problem-solving, leadership, teamwork and convincing others.

It is important that in part 3 you make your cover specific to a particular firm – the rule of thumb is, can you send the exact same cover to another consulting company if you change the name? If that’s the case, your cover is too generic.

For referrals, you can find a step-by-step approach at the following link:

https://www.preplounge.com/en/consulting-forum/hey-everyonehope-all-is-well-3176

Best,

Francesco

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Florian
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replied on Jan 25, 2021
#1 rated McKinsey Case and PEI Coach | 5 years at McKinsey | Mentorship Approach | 120+ McK offers in 18 months

Hey there,

it might be tricky, especially now, however, you can try. In the end, the overall picture counts, and there are many contextual factors that influence the decision.

If you are struggling in one dimension, you need to make sure to counterbalance this in some other area: In general, focus on optimizing the following four points on the resume:

  • academics (university prestige, program prestige, GPA, awards, etc.)
  • career (corporate, lower-tier consulting, working student, student projects, etc.)
  • experience abroad (exchange or internship abroad)
  • extracurriculars (captain of a team, founder of an NGO, etc.)

The more you have from the above list, the better your chances you will be. One word on the contextual factors from above. This can also vary across offices, time of hiring, the personal motivation of HR, etc.

Additionally, in your position, you need to focus on networking across all three MBBs. The more referrals you get, the higher quality and seniority these referrals are, and the more contacts you create, the better your chances will be to pass the HR screening. Attending a school with a large network is highly beneficial in that case.

Start networking early on and enjoy the experience!

All the best!

Cheers,

Florian

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Anonymous replied on Jan 25, 2021

Hi there,

applying out of an MSc, your undergrad scores will definitely still impact the invitation decision. However, it will be only one part of the overall picture you convey. When reviewing your application, top firms take into account:

  • Your academic scores (GPA from high school, undergrad, grad, but also GMAT)
  • If your universities are top target universities (you tick that box for the MSc)
  • Your outside achievements (clubs, societies, sports, ...)
  • Your work experiences (Entrepreneurial experiences, Internships, ...)
  • Experience abroad

That being said, if your goal is to land a job at a top firm, I would focus on improving performance on the "buckets" you don't necessarily tick yet. E.g., a strong master's degree score will substantially increase your chances of being invited for the interview.

Also, in your case, your very good GMAT will definitely help you (top firms value that), so make sure to present it on your CV!

Hope this helps! Cheers

Jonas

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Henning
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replied on Jan 25, 2021
Bain | passed >15 MBB interviews as a candidate

Yes, undergrad scores might have an impact, especially when you're applying out of a MSc or MIM program, rather than an MBA.

However, you have a few good things speaking in your favor:

  • Going to a strong school like INSEAD is an academic achievement itself. On top, a 750GMAT is not outstanding, but high enough to show make a dent
  • If you get the CFA results, add those to your profile, they are an additional piece in the puzzle.

On top of those, try to futher strengthen your profile with internships, extracurricular activities, etc.

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Ken
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replied on Jan 25, 2021
Ex-McKinsey London final round interviewer

Unfortunately it will have an effect but if your masters programme, not just the school, is considered to be a competive course then you should meet the bar to be considered. Having work experience and extra-curriculars that helps you stand out from the crowd will be especially important for your case.

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Antonello
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replied on Jan 27, 2021
McKinsey | MBA professor for consulting interviews

Hi,

They'll be considered as part of your application.

MBB will review your application as a whole though. Invest your time on crafting a killer application and network, network, network!

Hope this helps.

Best,

Antonello

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Clara
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replied on Jan 26, 2021
McKinsey | Awarded professor at Master in Management @ IE | MBA at MIT |+180 students coached | Integrated FIT Guide aut

Hello!

There is no need to worry.

CFA + 750 GMAT are indeed great data points about great performance, make sure that you include those -they weight even more!-.

Furthermore, if you apply as a grad student, undergrad grades are not relevant anymore

Hope it helps!

Cheers,

Clara

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Udayan
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updated an answer on Jan 26, 2021
Top rated McKinsey Case & PEI coach/Multiple real offers/McKinsey EM in New York /6 years McKinsey recruiting experience

Masters programs are not typically where MBB recruits from. Most of their grad recruits are MBA. However if you are going to a top school (e.g., Oxbridge) and a top program (e.g., Math or Law at Cambridge or MSc in Economics at LSE etc.) you will have a decent shot at being interviewed. If you are going to a top school but not a program it is well known for then your chances are lower.

Given your previous university and grades, I would suggest optimizing office locations where possible (for example middle east is less competitive than London) and also heavily networking your way into an interview.

Best,

Udayan

(edited)

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Ian
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replied on Jan 25, 2021
MBB | 100% personal interview success rate (8/8) and 95% candidate success rate | Personalized interview prep

Hi there,

Undergrad grades are certainly a portion of your screening. That said, they are not everything.

The more you can "cover up" the grades, the better. This comes in the form of a strong GMAT, more recent grades, extensive work experiences etc. Networking also doesn't hurt!

I recommend you leave out your grades on your resume - if they force you to enter it during the online application, of course you have to.

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Gaurav
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replied on Jan 25, 2021
Ex-Mckinsey|Certified Career Coach |Placed 500+ candidates at MBB & other consultancies

Hi there,

it might have an impact, but it is not necessarily a deal breaker if you show a great improvement through the years in your grades and add extracurricular achievements to your application (internships, awards, experiences abroad, start-ups etc.)

Hope it helps!

Good luck! GB

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Francesco gave the best answer

Francesco

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