Answering the “Why Consulting?” and “Why Bain, BCG or McKinsey?” Interview Questions

Even though these questions are asked in most consulting interview rounds, this is still an area where many candidates make mistakes. 

In this article, we highlight the common pitfalls to avoid and provide a strategy to help you put forward a distinct and convincing rationale for wanting to make a career move into consulting at a top firm.

Avoid being generic or random

Sometimes candidates give generic responses that any candidate could use. It’s best to stay clear of answers like “because I want to work for a prestigious firm” and come up with reasons specific to you.

Another common mistake candidates make is explaining their motivation with reference to goals that they’ve not mentioned earlier in the interview or that are not consistent with the choices they’ve made earlier in their career. 

When motivations come as a surprise to the interviewer, the candidate comes across as either not being fully honest or as not having really thought properly about their rationale. Neither of these are a good impression to make!

This is why it’s important to really think about a narrative that can explain your journey thus far, as well as your decision to move into consulting and to a specific firm.

Craft a narrative to answer these questions well

Your narrative is your journey so far and how it has led you to wanting to join a consulting firm. There will be key themes in your career that make consulting an obvious next step, so it’s worth taking the time to consider those and your journey as a whole. 

Start by reflecting deeply about what it is that motivated your career decisions to date and what it is that you’ve enjoyed most. You should try and find the common threads between your past career experiences and your motivations now. From that isolate a narrative that reflects your aspirations.

It will speak to the credibility of your answer if you introduce this narrative early on in the interview so that your motivation comes off as less of a surprise. For example, if you say early on that you’re someone who’s both curious and driven then it becomes relatively easy to articulate why consulting is the right choice for you in the context of these points.

Another way of conveying your narrative is to show how consulting will allow you to do more of what you enjoy in your past or current roles. Focus on what in your current experience is pulling you towards consulting. For example, perhaps you’re not in a hugely commercial role today, but the commercial experiences you’ve had were stimulating and consulting provides a way to get more exposure to these. 

Your narrative doesn’t have to be too complicated, but it needs to be specific. It shouldn’t be a laundry list of factors. You should isolate the one or two points that really matter and articulate those.

Show your validated interest in the specific firm

In answer to questions such as “Why Bain?”, “Why BCG?” and so on, the key risk here again is being too generic. 

It will help put you in good standing if you can come up with a concrete example about the firm, their work or the people there that are aligned with your narrative.

One way to articulate this is by mentioning any personal connections you have to the firm. You should mention if you know of, or have met, people at the firm and have had a positive impression of the company from your conversations with them. It shows that you’ve done your homework and have built some connections to the firm.

We also recommend reading our pieces on how McKinsey, BCG and Bain are different, so that your response to this question is nuanced enough to be relevant.

For more tips about the fit interview, sign up to our mailing list below.

  • Get our free prep material

    Free case studies. Free interview videos. Free expert advice.

  • How to Ace McKinsey’s Digital Assessment

    Imagine that you are immersed in a natural environment populated by different kinds of plants and animals. You learn that some animals are quickly succumbing to an unknown illness. You have to stop this epidemic. This is McKinsey’s Digital Assessment: the ground-breaking video game that the firm has introduced to assess candidates’ cognitive abilities. To […]

  • An Example of a Great Consulting Interview

    A great consulting interview is one where candidates not only demonstrate that they have all of the skills needed to become a high performing consultant, but also it’s one that gets the interviewer excited about having the candidate on their team. In this article, we outline the three key aspects of the interview and what […]

  • How to Write a Resume to Land an Interview at the Top Consulting Firms

    In this article, we walk you through the three most important aspects to think about when preparing your resume for McKinsey, BCG, Bain or other top consulting firms. If you want to understand each of these points in more detail, including how to use networking to your advantage and what the application process really looks […]

  • How to Write a Cover Letter to Land an Interview at the Top Consulting Firms

    Are you mind-blanking in your cover letter? Are you wondering if it’s good enough? If so, you’re in the right place! Here we’re going to share the most important aspects of a cover letter for consulting roles at top firms such as McKinsey, BCG and Bain. Cover letters won’t land you an interview, but they […]

  • How to Join McKinsey, Bain or BCG as a Fresh Graduate

    The top strategy consulting firms solve their client’s most complex and challenging problems, so you’d be forgiven for assuming that McKinsey, BCG and Bain only employ tenured people who have been around the block, or to assume that they wouldn’t hire a fresh graduate right out of university. But you’d be wrong! The Top 3 […]

  • Everything You Need to Know About the Recruitment Process for McKinsey, Bain and BCG

    With a typical hire rate of less than 1%, interviews with top consulting firms such as McKinsey, BCG and Bain are some of the most challenging in the world. The selection process is divided into screening and interviews. 1. The application screening Screening is typically based on selecting CVs or resumes that show the most […]

  • What are the Best Parts About Being a Consultant at Bain, BCG or McKinsey

    If you’ve read our article on the Cons to a Life in Consulting, then you may also want to know about the Pros and highlights, too. The good news is that consulting at the Top 3 firms is full of unique benefits you rarely find in other industries. In this article, we cover the top […]

  • The Cons to a Life in Consulting

    While a consulting job at McKinsey, BCG and Bain has numerous benefits, there are of course a few downsides worth preparing for as you enter the world of a top consultancy. Creating a work-life balance can be challenging The client’s success is the top priority for consultancies. The team often does all they can to […]

  • Why Some Consultants Don't Make Partner

    Only a small percentage of consultants who join top consulting firms like McKinsey, BCG and Bain make it to Partner. Based on best estimates, we suspect it’s less than 5% of consultants who make it. However, the majority of consultants aren’t interested in pursuing Partnership and only stay in consulting for 2-3 years to gain […]

  • What It's Like Being an Entry Level Consultant at Bain, BCG and McKinsey

    If you’re comparing consulting with other career options or if you just landed yourself an offer with McKinsey, BCG, Bain or another top firm and are now wondering what being an entry-level consultant is really like then you’re in the right place. In this article, we share what life is like for the newbies on […]