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Working in MBB - Intellectually difficult or just demanding?

Bain BCG MBB McKinsey on the job Worklife
New answer on Oct 15, 2023
6 Answers
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Anonymous A asked on May 04, 2018

Is working in MBB actually difficult once you are inside? Are the problems tough to crack - do they require a high IQ and excellent quant ability...OR is the major factor that you are somewhat smart and good with people, but more so your ability to work extremely hard to complete tasks under pressure tough time constraints?


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updated an answer on May 04, 2018
McKinsey Senior EM & BCG Consultant | Interviewer at McK & BCG for 7 years | Coached 350+ candidates secure MBB offers

Hi Anonymous,

your certainly need to meet a certain threshold regarding cognitive smartness ("IQ"). However, you do not need to be Albert Einstein for sure! If you meet that required IQ floor level, it is much more important that you

  • are able to navigate social/political client settings,
  • build trust quickly,
  • have the work ethic to put in the hours, which can be brutal at times.

This is why you need a well-rounded profile as a consultant - if it was only about cognitive smartness, the firms could just go and offer huge salary packages to the best graduates from the most difficult programmes at universities around the globe.

Cheers, Sidi


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replied on May 04, 2018
Former BCG interviewer

Depends on the industry/practice and types of projects you'd like to pursue. As a generalization, is not the most intellectually difficult job, but definitely can provide an healthy intellectual challenge. That challenge becomes quite significant due to time pressure.


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Anonymous replied on Sep 22, 2020

Hi A,

I find your question a bit tricky. I would say you really have to invest heavily in completing challenging tasks and improve networking rather than be genius and have 150< IQ.

This is more a matter a practice and you do need to work hard to feel comfortable with this work on a daily basis.



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Anonymous replied on May 13, 2018

Yes - some intellectual horsepower is required - driven by short timelines and need to get up to speed on new subjects very quickly and find the right answer. Also equal parts emotional intelligence though - it is a client facing role dealing in management decisions, understand people, motivations / biases, building trust are critical skills.

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Anonymous replied on May 04, 2018

Nothing requires even a fraction of intellectual horsepower as does pure sciences, arts, or to a degree, engineering. MBBs are to be seen as training grounds: stress management, networking, branding, going broad vs deep, dealing with ambiguity x-functionally, etc.

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Content Creator
replied on Oct 15, 2023
Ex-BCG Principal | 8+ years consulting experience in SEA | BCG top interviewer & top performer


This is an interesting question. Some great perspectives already shared - I'll add on more nuance based on my time in consulting.

The toughest problems to crack in consulting are actually not intellectual - they are people-based problems. Enacting change in an organization, convincing stakeholders with opposing agendas - these are the toughest problems to crack and often have little to do with “IQ”.

This mirrors the real world - you have really smart people on both ends of the political or even religious spectrum. Sometimes numbers and ‘logic’ aren't enough to drive convergence or enact change.


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Sidi gave the best answer


McKinsey Senior EM & BCG Consultant | Interviewer at McK & BCG for 7 years | Coached 350+ candidates secure MBB offers
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