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What does Experienced Hire mean in consulting?

Anonymous A asked on Jun 07, 2018 - 4 answers

I am new to consulting and am a bit confused by all the terminology...

What does Experienced Hire mean exactly? Does it mean that the candidate has already experience in consulting or in another industry? Or does it include both?

Help is appreciated!

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updated his answer on Jun 07, 2018
Bain & Company | University of Cambridge | CV/Resume writing | 770 GMAT
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Hi there,

Experienced hire simply means that you are hiring candidates that have worked and held a full-time job before. This can either be industry (e.g. worked at Procter&Gamble) or boutique/different type of consultancy (e.g. BTS consulting). "Lateral" transitions between strategy consulting firms (e.g. Bain to BCG) are quite rare so it would depend on the specific instance whether the candidate is treated as an experience hire or not.

A further requirement is that the candidate usually has to have worked for at least ~2 years to be considered experience hire. Shorter than this, candidates usually have the option of applying through the regular, "graduate hiring" cycles.

Key differences between graduate hires and experienced hires:

  • In terms of recruiting, consulting firms likely have separate teams for both, since consulting has a very different appeal for someone straight out of university vs. a finance manager at a F500 company
  • Experience hires can enter at many different levels based on experience. For very senior hires, they may enter as a Manager or even as a Partner (e.g. if you hired the COO of a division at a client). More junior hires could enter at various levels, based on both their experience and their ability to negotiate. In some cases, hires might be hired at a very junior level, but with the possibility of "fast track promotion" if they perform strongly.
  • Experience hire recruiting goes on year round, graduate recruiting generally happens once a year
  • Depending on specific experience, experience hires are more likely to align to a practice right away vs. graduates

Hope that helps clear this up!


updated her answer on Jul 04, 2017
Strategy& / INSEAD MBA / ex-McKinsey / Here to guide you from your very first steps
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Dear Kenny,

if you come from another MBB firm, you might be considered an experienced hired already after 2 years of working experience. If, as in your case, you come from a completely different industry, you might need slightly more, such as 3-4 years experience. This what happens in average, however, note that there might be differences or exceptions among the different offices.

If you pass the selection as experienced hired, you might start with a "junior" title. For example, at McKinsey you might start as "Junior Associate" which is a non-official position that will last only for a "trial period" of 6 months or similar, before you get officially to the next step, in this case, to "Associate" (that in BCG is call "Consultant").

As a matter of fact, less people join the firm as experienced hire. However, talking with a few colleagues from the HR department, I discovered that there are just fewer applications of this kind and the people come less prepared to the interview (maybe thinking that their experience is enough to guarantee them a spot).

If they like your CV, they like your CV, full stop. They will then suggest you in which position they see you better. Will an MBA increase your chances to get in as an experienced hire? Certainly yes! However, you can also try to apply now and in case you don´t succeed, you apply again after the MBA: 1-2 years will have passed and your CV will look brand new.

I hope I´ve been helpful and made a bit of light on this point.


Sara, thank you for your answer I really appreciate. So if I understand I might not be considered as an experienced candidate yet since I only have 1 year experience in engineering consulting. I'm starting my preperation and your answer is really encouraging. — Kenny on Jul 05, 2017 (edited)

replied on Jun 07, 2018
McKinsey / Accenture / Got all BIG3 offers / More than 300 real MBB cases / Harvard Business School
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There are no official criteria. However experienced hire means:

  • 4+ years of experience (3+ in rare cases)
  • Single industry / Different industries but similar functions /other consulting company
  • Unique expertise relevant for McKinsey can increase your chances to be invited for an interview (e.g. digital)
  • PHD may be the part of experience if you continued following the related industry / function
  • MBA May be counted as part of this experience

All of this means that you can be considered to an associate in Mck scale (in rare cases even hire role in the company)


updated his answer on Jun 09, 2018
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Confirm that experience is meant to be in industries other than consulting.

Also, a confirmation to Vlad's point, for US experienced hire would be at least 4 years of work experience. Three or less usually you are offered an appropriate pre/post MBA entry level position with tenure but you are not called an "experienced hire".