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What are the typical work day hours at a major consulting firm?

Frank
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Andrea
Expert
replied on 12/18/2017
Former BCG decision round interviewer with 300+ real interviews in 8 years

Frank,

I am aligned with what other said in terms of "there is no typical" day. That said for MBB in US what I have experienced and observed for Consultant level is (if local):

  • Mon - Thu 8am - 6.30pm at client, 8pm - 10pm from home/office
  • Fri 8.30am - 5pm with 70% client work and 30% office work (expenses, training, etc)
  • Weekend 1 hour catch up Sunday night to prep for the week

If you are on travel case plan to be at client at 10-11am on Monday morning and leave client on Thursday afternoon around 3pm.

Again as other said you can have more or less intense cases vs. the median one described above and varation can be pretty significant (+50% or -25% hours vs. above) with added weekend work.

Nabil (Bill) replied on 12/18/2017

Hi Frank,

There are no typical work day hours at a major consulting firm. Sure, on your contract, you may have a mention of an estimate of the total number of hours you can expect to work in a given year, however, the time you'll spend working at a major consulting firm will vary immensely.

For example, at McKinsey Dubai, the average workday lasts about 12 hours/day, with some consultants working even longer than that. You should also expect to work on week-ends (either entirely or partially), depending on how urgent the engagement you'll be working is. You will also have days where you'll be working less than 10 hours/day, especially if you're not staffed on an engagement, are in training, helping in recruiting and so on.

Long story short, consulting (especially at MBBs) is not a 9 to 5 job and most applicants are fully aware of how temporally taxing a career in consulting is.

Best,

Bill

Francesco replied on 12/18/2017
#1 Expert for coaching sessions (1700+) | Ex BCG | 850+ reviews with 100% recommendation rate

Hi Frank

as mentioned by Bill, working hours depend on the geography. In Dubai, Singapore and Southern Europe hours are usually longer (my experience in Italy was 9am-11pm Mon-Thu, 9am-8pm Fri and 70-80% of weekends with some working activities). Hours also depend on the type of project (on average, the shorter the project, the longer the hours, with at the extremes due diligences and last minute proposals).

Below you can find some tips to better organize your time and manage your relationships, given the challenges of the job:

  1. Allocate the time for what you need to do one week in advance. I recommend that you avoid daily allocations, as a weekly calendar is better to define the ideal free slots for calls/chat/dinners with people you want to keep in contact with. This will allow you to avoid to over promise things and align with both your job and personal needs.
  2. Clarify at the beginning of the project which are your personal/family needs with your supervisor. If you need to be free on a certain time or day on the weekend, the beginning of the project is the ideal time to speak. You cannot be sure that you will not have to work on your requested free time, of course, but it will be easier for you to negotiate it when needed
  3. Anticipate to friends and significant others your needs and schedule and define with them the best time to keep in touch. As before, it is better to make it clear you will likely not be available on certain days, in particular when strict deadlines are in place. They may not like the idea, but it will allow you to avoid conflicts later on.

Best,

Francesco

Currently non-active expert
Expert
replied on 02/24/2018

Hey Frank,

This changes so much between geographies and projects - my experience ranged from weeks with <50h of work (Australia) to 120h+ (in Southern Europe).

Btw, for someone who is just caring about lifestyle, I do really recommend Australia, by far the best of all locations.

Best

Bruno

Jan-Philipp (BCG)
Expert
replied on 12/27/2017
German/English BCG Consultant who also cracked Bain, Strategy& etc.

Hi,

I largely agree to the answers given. It is difficult to provide a general answer to this question since it depends on a few factors like


a) Team and Project Leader you are working with

b) Country you are working in

c) Client aspiration/experience to work with consultants

d) Your personal working style and effectiveness

Based on these four factors your hours can vary significantly. I have made the experience that d) your personal working style and effectiveness is the major driver for working hours. So if you have clear principles and learn to work effectively you can have a reasonable lifestyle despite tough projects.

Best,

Jan-Phillipp

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