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Various questions

Anonymous A asked on Jun 26, 2019 - 2 answers


I have a number of interrelated questions, and would appreciate if you could help me.

I graduated in 2017 with a BSc and MSc from a top British University with strong grades in a "hard" STEM subject (think Physics). I was accepted for doctoral studies in another top British institution, but due to family reasons (serious illness in my immediate family) I decided to postpone my enrollment in graduate studies and took a year off. Unfortunately, my familiar situation did not improve and consequently I decided to forego my PhD studies and gain employment in my home country (a small Eastern European nation).

I work in finance (it has been a year now) in a big regional player, though the company is pretty unknown outside of my home country and its immediate neighbours.

During the last two years (whilst I was a resident in my home country) I was exposed to a number of different industries (both through volounteering and side projects), managed to gain significant leadership experience in the process and became interested in consulting.

Therefore, I would like to apply off-cycle very soon. Consequently, I have a number of questions:

1. My country is very small, and there are few (if any!) major consultancies operating within its borders. However, there are offices covering my nation in neighbouring countries. I attended recruiting events by these offices and obtained some contacts. The point is, I don't really want to work in this region. I have significant connections to two other Western European countries (not the UK) meaning I am fluent in their respective languages and have also lived in one of them. In fact, I hold citizenship of one of these nations (I am a dual citizen). I don't speak the language of the countries' offices that cover my own home country and have literally no connections there. Therefore, I would like to apply to those Western European nations I am familiar with. Clearly, it has been difficult to mingle with consultants from these countries, so I was wondering whether it would be a good idea to contact the consultants I know (from the offices next to my country), and ask them about advice about the offices I am interested in (as well as other questions). Would this be considered very rude? Is it too ambitious to apply to Western Europe off-cycle for an Eastern European?

2. My understanding is that for entry level roles consultants are placed in two batches: the "regular" ones (recruited from University) start in September and the off-cycle ones start in January. I would be one of the former. My understanding is that I would be interviewed in the period between September and November, and hence should apply towards the end of August. However, I've also read that it is not wise to apply in August (due to holidays). Furthermore, I have also heard that interviews rarely take place in December (holidays again). Is this timeline broadly correct? I need to know since I have to tell my current employer that I will resign my job with some advance. This is quite difficult to estimate for me because it appears very unclear how the process works for off-cycle applicants (how long it takes to be interviewed after application/test, etc.).

3. I have started my preparation a week ago. Is 10ish weeks of preparation (at application date) enough to be successful? I have heard very different stories about how long to prepare in advance (and it is unclear whether this preparation is "overall" preparation or preparation before application). I can devote about 4 hours per day on my preparation (less during weekdays, more during weekends).

4. Some companies would require me to apply within two years of graduation. Is applying two years and a month from graduation a definite no go area or are they flexible in this regards? It would be two or three weeks past the two year graduation mark in my case.

Thank you very much for sharing your wisdom with me!

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replied on Jun 27, 2019
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Hi Anonymous,

please find below the replies to your questions:

1) You can definitely ask them tips if your connections are strong enough, however you can also connect directly with alumni of your university who are present in the offices you would like to target – this should speed up the process. You can find some tips on how to connect below:

2) The recruiting cycle really depends on the country, some countries have specific start dates only (usually September and January), other have rolling admission for the whole year. If you manage to network as for point 1 you can ask a suggestion to the people that can refer you on the best timeline for that specific office. I would also suggest not to resign from your current job before you get an offer. Consulting companies are quite flexible in letting you start later if needed, so you don’t have to worry about it.

3) If you put 4h/day for 10 weeks on the right material that should definitely be enough. The exact timeline depends on the material/peers/coaches you base your preparation on, your current level and how quickly you can improve.

4) It should not be a concern, however just to be sure (there may be specific rules for specific offices) I would suggest to start the networking process sooner rather than later as for point 1, so that you can ask to your connections in the office confirmation on that.



Hello, OP here again. Thank you very much for your message. With regards to point one, I have done some research and found quite a bit of alumni in the offices I would like to target (LinkedIn search). In your previous thread you suggested I should e-mail them. Point in case, how exactly am I supposed to find their e-mail addresses? The problem is that very often HR depts in the offices I would like to target have online forms (not e-mail addresses such as, say, h*@m**.com) and is not so easy to gather whether my alumni's e-mails are a**@m**.com, a*@m**.de, a**@m**.ch or similar. Would it be appropriate to ask HR to put me in contact with alumni of my University, or should I just send a barrage of e-mail to reasonable looking e-mail addresses? Thanks again! — Anonymous A on Jul 07, 2019

Sorry, with regards to e-mails, I wanted to give hr (at) mbb (dot) com, ab (at) mbb (dot) com, a.b (at) mbb (dot) fr, etc as examples. Also, alumni that are employed at the offices that I am targeting are fairly junior people. Should I be concerned about referrals? On one side this seems to mean that people with my background are targeted, though I am not entirely sure how much they can help me in the whole process. — Anonymous A on Jul 07, 2019

Hi Anonymous, in terms of the person for the referral, obviously more experienced consultants would have stronger leverage, however even if your connections are juniors it is still better to go through a referral with them rather than apply through the website. In terms of how to proceed with the emails, please feel free to PM me. Best, Francesco — Francesco on Jul 14, 2019

Hi Francesco, OP here. I actually succeded in finding the required e-mail addresses, and even obtained my first referrals (including MBB firms)! Would it be fine if I publish the anonimised e-mail structure of MBB companies, so to help the lurkers in the discussion, or would I be breaking some forum rule? Thank you for your help! — Anonymous A on Jul 21, 2019 (edited)

replied on Jun 26, 2019
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Addressing your first question: it would not be rude at all, in fact you can ask them whether they know anyone in the office of your preference, and they may connect you with them. Larger consulting companies may have strict deadlines, however smaller consulting companies typically hire all year round.

Addressing your second question: I would advise you to get in touch with the local HR, send them an email regarding the expected timeline of interviews, as it may vary by office to office.

Addressing your third question: An average candidate typically has 30-40 cases of preparation. This can be done within 10 weeks easily. You can also benefit from the coaches on this platform to get you more guidance.

Addressing your fourth question: There is really a no strict tenure cut-off, these are rather more indicative.



Hi, OP here, sorry for the late reply (have seen the message at the time, but have been really busy preparing for case interviews!). I found the message useful and will be acting on it. Cheers! — Anonymous A on Jul 07, 2019 (edited)