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 firms hire Undergraduates, Advanced Degree graduates, MBA graduates and Experienced Professionals for generalist consulting roles. Consulting is a great career choice for new graduates who want to learn about lots of business sectors quickly. But the competition is intense.
In 2016, McKinsey reportedly received more than a million applications globally and hired less than 1%…
So, how can you give yourself the best chance of landing a rare offer from McKinsey, BCG or Bain? Here are four elements you need in your arsenal to be able to stand out.
Study at a target university and graduate with top grades
You can check if you’re at a target university by checking consulting firms’ websites. If your university is listed and the firm attends the campus to host recruiting events then you’re at a target university. If that’s not the case, the odds are against you but are not impossible.
If you study at one of the very best universities, one that sends a large contingent of students to McKinsey, BCG or Bain, graduating in the top half of the class could be enough. If you study at another target university, where the top firms only recruit 1-3 students a year, then you’ll need to be in the top 5-10% of your class.
Make sure to include this information in your resume.
Start with other selective internships
The top consulting firms want to see that you have a track record of success. Working at selective companies and/or in sought-after roles during the summer or as university work placements is a good way to demonstrate this.
Whenever you can, summarize your performance during the internship. For instance, state if you were offered a full-time position after your internship, had an unusual scope of responsibilities, or made a unique impact in your role.
Don’t be afraid of removing less relevant work experience form your resume to create more space for details of your internship(s) at more selective employers.
Show evidence of high potential through extracurriculars
Top consulting firms are only interested in hiring those who demonstrate they have high potential and are therefore more likely to succeed in the job. You can demonstrate you are a high potential candidate through extra-curricular activities that demonstrate leadership skills, personal impact, and a commitment to success.
Just mention two or three of the most impressive examples in your resume and describe each of them in a bullet point. This is more impactful than sharing a long list of activities without any details.
Prepare for your interviews
Interviews at McKinsey, BCG and Bain are among the most competitive in the world. They comprise of two aspects: the case interview and the fit interview.
The case interview is a condensed simulation of a real client case where your skills as a potential consultant are tested in real time. This means you can’t simply read a case book and rock up to your interview hoping for the best. Although raw skill and aptitude is important, nobody is born knowing how to crack a consulting case interview. You must put the time and work into developing the skills you will need to demonstrate in consulting interviews.
The fit interview is more similar to a traditional job interview but often requires significant preparation due to the specific nature of the questions and the characteristics being tested.
Want to know exactly how to prepare for consulting interviews in the most time-efficient way?
Check out our Interview Prep Course where we share the best preparation material accumulated from our experience as McKinsey interviewers and headhunters for the Top 3 global management consultancies.