In recent years, Bain has made some significant changes to its interview formats. Here, we provide an overview of these changes and the reasons behind them. We also explain how to prepare successfully for an interview at Bain.
- Bain’s case interviews are now standardized and interviewer-led. These interviews include multi-pronged questions, as well as digital and sustainability content.
- Fit interviews are no longer part of the consulting interview format at Bain. Instead, candidates are given a separate ‘behavioral’ interview in which they are assessed on four soft skills.
- In the behavioral interview, candidates are asked eight scripted questions, which require them to consider a mix of backward-looking and forward-focused scenarios.
- Bain bases its hiring decisions on how candidates perform in both the case interview and the behavioral interview. The case interview dimensions it assesses are similar to those assessed by other top consulting firms, with an emphasis on recommendations that are both practical and commercially sound.
- If you’re getting ready to interview at Bain, the video lectures, sample interviews, case material, and practice tools in our Interview Prep Course can help you prepare. We can also connect you with practice partners and coaches who can help you accelerate your preparation, many of whom are Bain alumni.
The Bain case interview
Historically, Bain interviewers developed their own case material, and interviews were typically candidate-led. This meant that the candidate suggested different aspects of the problem to explore, analyzed additional information provided by the interviewer, and suggested next steps to reach the answer.
Bain now uses a set of standardized, interviewer-led cases that have been developed by a central team. While the candidate suggests different aspects of the problem to explore in interviewer-led cases, the interviewer may interrupt and ask the candidate to focus on a specific question or aspect of the case. The candidate then explores this particular area and suggests the next steps to get to the answer.
Bain’s ultimate goal in making these changes is to make better hiring decisions by assessing candidates in a consistent and calibrated fashion. That being said, some offices and many senior interviewers (who most often conduct final-round interviews) continue to use their own material and the legacy candidate-led approach.
Bain’s standardized, interviewer-led cases may include a main question and several sub-questions, which the interviewer shares upfront as part of the case prompt.
The first part of the case is inevitably about structuring the main question. Candidates should identify either how the interviewer’s sub-questions fit into their overall structure, or how they would tackle each sub-question separately.
The interviewer then guides the candidate through the case and asks them to conduct specific analyses or investigate new questions. However, this doesn’t mean they should take a back seat! It’s essential for candidates to demonstrate case leadership by showing initiative, putting forward hypotheses to test, and suggesting next steps – even when the interviewer is following a pre-set plan. You can see examples of strong case leadership in these case interview videos.
Digital and sustainability content
To reflect the work that Bain does today, most offices’ cases include both a digital and sustainability angle. It’s therefore a good idea for candidates to familiarize themselves with these topics.
Additionally, Bain includes an ethical challenge in every candidate’s first or second-round case interview. The firm does this to test each candidate’s ability to identify ethical issues and respond with integrity.
The Bain behavioral interview
The elimination of the fit interview
To reduce unconscious bias, foster diversity, and give everyone the same fair shot at joining Bain, the firm has asked its offices to eliminate the fit interview from their process. This means that case interviews at Bain – at just 45 minutes in length – are now shorter than they are at other top consulting firms. They only include the case and time for the candidate to ask questions.
In the spirit of reducing unconscious bias, some of Bain’s offices have stopped sharing candidates’ resumes with interviewers. However, some interviewers might look candidates up on LinkedIn ahead of their interviews. Candidates should therefore ensure that their profile on the platform is both up to date and reflective of their key achievements.
A full behavioral interview
Instead of conducting a short fit interview, Bain now takes candidates through a separate ‘behavioral interview’. This is a 45-minute one-on-one discussion between the candidate and either a manager, senior consultant, or senior member of the HR team.
In this interview, candidates are asked a total of eight scripted questions across the following four dimensions:
- Listening and empathy
- Humility and teamwork
- Growth orientation
Two questions are asked to assess each dimension. These questions consist of backward-looking scenarios, which are about past experiences, and forward-focused scenarios, in which the candidate is asked to consider a hypothetical situation.
Because the questions are scripted, with no link between them, the behavioral interview at Bain can feel a little transactional or mechanical at times. Candidates should also be prepared for the possibility of their interviewer interrupting them to ensure that all eight questions are covered.
How Bain assesses candidates’ performance
Bain bases its hiring decisions on how candidates perform in both the case interview and the behavioral interview.
Like other top consulting firms, Bain assesses candidates’ case interview performance against problem-solving dimensions such as structuring, case math, and synthesis. It places an emphasis on recommendations that are both practical and commercially sound.
Bain assesses candidates in an additional dimension called ‘Maintaining Ethical True North’ through its inclusion of an ethical challenge in at least one case interview.
How to prepare for an interview at Bain
If you’re getting ready to interview at Bain, be sure to ask your recruiter at the firm what kind of interviews to expect for your target office and role.
Then, use CaseCoach to prepare. Our Interview Prep Course contains all the video lectures, sample interviews, case material, and practice tools you’ll need to ace Bain’s case interviews.
In our experience, most candidates who go on to receive an offer from a top consulting firm practice at least 25 live cases with a partner before their interview. We can connect you with a diverse community of fellow candidates who are all available for case interview practice in our Practice Room.
Finally, you might want to consider supplementing your practice further by practicing cases with a coach who has previously been an interviewer at Bain. Consulting interview coaches can help accelerate your preparation by gauging your level of performance and helping you identify your strengths and weaknesses. You can book a coaching session with a Bain alum on CaseCoach.