(You can read a French version of this article published by Les Echos in the link provided)
McKinsey, BCG, and Bain, collectively referred to as MBBs, are widely recognized as the top management consulting firms globally. Each has well-established operations in France.
In this article, we answer top-of-mind questions for potential candidates. Questions like:
- What kind of candidates are recruited by McKinsey, BCG, or Bain in France?
- Which undergrad schools give you the highest chances of getting into McKinsey, BCG, or Bain in France?
- Is an MBA a good route to management consulting in France?
- Is there an entry path to McKinsey, BCG or Bain in France from other industries?
The insights in this article are based on a detailed analysis of about 500 individuals hired by McKinsey, BCG, and Bain for their client-facing consulting roles in France from 2020 to mid-2022.
- McKinsey, BCG, and Bain in France mostly hire pre-experience students (69% of hires) and experienced candidates (27%). MBAs (3%) and advanced degrees (1%) are not meaningful routes into MBBs in France.
- BCG has hired twice as many people as McKinsey and three times as many as Bain, in line with its leadership of the French market.
- Two schools that have not traditionally placed their students at MBBs, have started to do so: Dauphine (Masters in Finance) and Edhec.
- 60% of hires by MBBs in France were male.
- Over 70% of pre-experience student hires come from four schools: HEC Paris, ESSEC Business School, CentraleSupélec, and ESCP Business School. Add in the next three schools (Emlyon Business School, École Polytechnique, and Sciences Po) and 90% of hires are accounted for.
- Well over half (54%) of experienced hires come from other consulting firms. The rest come from a variety of industries.
The main sources of candidates for top consulting firms in France
Top firms in France primarily hire pre-experience students
While the three firms recruit candidates in all recruitment categories, almost 70% of hires by McKinsey, BCG, and Bain in France were pre-experience students. The next largest category was experienced professionals (27%).
Unlike in the US, MBAs (3%) and advanced degree candidates (1%) are obviously not typical hiring pools for MBBs in France.
To better understand these categories, here are quick definitions:
- Pre-experience students (bachelor’s degree or a non-MBA master’s degree) are hired out of school or shortly after. They typically have no more than two years of experience and are hired into entry-level roles, i.e., Business Analysts at McKinsey, Associates at BCG, and Associate Consultants at Bain.
- MBA hires are graduates of a one- or two-year MBA program, usually at a European or US business school. They typically have work experience before their MBAs and are hired into post-MBA roles, i.e., Associates at McKinsey, or Consultants at BCG and Bain.
- Experienced hires are from other employers and typically have two to eight years of experience. Those with less are hired at pre-MBA roles, i.e., Junior Associates at McKinsey, 2nd year Associate Consultants at Bain, and Senior Associates at BCG. Those with significant experience are hired into post-MBA roles, i.e., Associates at McKinsey, or Consultants at BCG and Bain.
- Advanced degree hires are hired during or soon (not more than two years) after their Ph.D. or medical school programs. In France, they’re typically hired into senior pre-MBA roles, i.e., Junior Associates at McKinsey, 2nd year Associate Consultants at Bain, and Senior Associates at BCG.
BCG hires significantly more than McKinsey and Bain
Within the research period (Q1 2020 to Q2 2022), with 55% of total hires, BCG hired more client-facing consultants than McKinsey and Bain combined. This meant twice as many hires as McKinsey and more than three times that of Bain.
This is consistent with BCG’s leadership position in France.
Despite the hiring volume disparities, all three firms had similar hiring proportions by channel. For all three, about two-thirds of their hires were pre-experience students, about a quarter were experienced professionals, while MBAs and advanced degree hires made up 3-7% of the total.
MBBs in France hire more men
60% of hires by McKinsey, BCG, and Bain in France were men, signaling some room for improvement in gender parity in hiring. While these stats hold true at similar levels across all significant channels (pre-experienced students and experienced hires), the gender gap isn’t the same across firms.
On one end, only 55% of McKinsey’s hires were male, while on the other, 65% of Bain’s hires were male. BCG is right down in the middle with about 61% male hires.
McKinsey, BCG, and Bain’s pre-experience student hiring in France
Pre-experience students were the largest recruitment channel for McKinsey, BCG, and Bain in France from Q1 2020 to Q2 2022. They made up almost 70% of all hires by these firms within this period.
Hires from a bachelor’s degree or a master’s degree program (excluding MBAs) made up the largest recruitment channel into entry-level roles at McKinsey, BCG, and Bain in France.
Only 1% of pre-experience students, however, came from schools outside of France, notably the London School of Economics, the London Business school and the University of Cambridge. That said, even the 99% local hires came from a few schools as we’ll discuss in the next subheading.
Where did France MBBs pre-experience students go to school?
About 90% of pre-experience student hires into McKinsey, BCG, and Bain in France come from only seven French schools. Of these, four produced more than 70% of hires:
- HEC Paris (25%)
- ESSEC Business School (19%)
- CentraleSupélec (15%)
- ESCP Business School (14%)
Add in the next three (Emlyon Business School, École Polytechnique, and Sciences Po) and 90% of hires are accounted for.
Finally, we have a long tail of about 13 schools that comprise the remaining ~10% of pre-experience student hires. The majority of these (9 schools) are French, while the rest are based in the UK and Switzerland.
Out of those schools, two that have not traditionally placed their students at MBBs, have started to do so, in small numbers: Dauphine (Masters in Finance) and Edhec. This is good news for their students. As we have seen in other geographies, the growing recruitment needs of top consulting firms mean that they need to look deeper in the pool of candidates to maintain the same quality of talent, and Dauphine and Edhec appear to be first in line.
We can also note the emergence of INSEAD’s Masters in Management, which only launched in 2019. We identified four members of its first class joining MBBs in France. This is an impressive success given its small class size of 80, comprised of 35 nationalities.
Out of the top-3 firms, McKinsey appears to be the most open to a variety of schools. 13% of their pre-experience student hires originated from the long tail of school (vs 9% for BCG and 7% for Bain).
What did they study?
Of the pre-experience students hired into McKinsey, BCG, and Bain in France, 66% studied management, and 25% studied engineering. The 8% remaining studied a variety of disciplines.
Unlike in the UK and the US, however, pre-experience student hires into MBBs in France needed a Masters degree to get in (91% of pre-experience student hires). Thus, a Masters in Management at one of the aforementioned top seven schools is one of the most viable ways into MBBs in France as a pre-experience student.
McKinsey, BCG, and Bain’s Experienced Professionals Hiring in France
Experienced hires, those who typically have two to eight years of professional experience, were the second largest recruitment channel for McKinsey, BCG, and Bain in France from Q1 2020 to Q2 2022, making up ~27% of all hires by these three firms.
Experienced hires joined top firms at different levels:
- 52% of experienced hires were recruited into pre-MBA roles (i.e., Junior Associate at McKinsey, Associate, and Senior Associate Consultants at Bain, and Senior Associates at BCG.
- 48% of experienced hires were recruited into post-MBA roles. These are primarily Associates at McKinsey, Consultants at BCG, and Bain. Candidates with team leadership experience at other consulting firms sometimes join at a more senior level, but will typically experience a small step back compared to their seniority at their initial firm.
Which companies did French MBB’s experienced hires come from?
Other consulting companies were the main feeders into MBBs in France, making up over half (54%) of experienced hiring. The leading talent providers included other strategy consulting firms (Roland Berger, Oliver Wyman, L.E.K, Mars &Co), Big-4’s strategy teams (e.g., Monitor Deloitte, EY-Parthenon), Accenture, and Capgemini Invent.
The remaining experienced hires came from a wide range of industries including finance (7% of experienced hires), and tech (4%). This implies that a candidate’s industry is not a limiting factor for recruitment to the MBBs as experienced hires.
Where did MBBs experienced hires in France go to school?
The top seven schools that made up 91% of pre-experienced student hiring in France, make up only 64% of undergraduate and graduate programs attended by experienced hires. Right off the bat, we can see that MBBs in France are more open to hiring outside of core schools for experienced hires.
Two other notable schools that together contribute nearly 10% of experienced hires are EDHEC Business school (6%) and ISAE-SEPAERO (3%).
Experienced hiring isn’t, however, more open to international applicants, as more than 20 of the 25+ schools that make up the long tail are based in France.
McKinsey, BCG, and Bain’s MBA hiring in France
Unlike in the US (and even in the UK), MBBs in France are not big on MBAs. They make up only 3% of hires between Q1 2020 and Q2 2022.
As a reminder, MBA hires are graduates of a one- or two-year MBA program, usually at a European or US business school. They typically have had some work experience before their MBAs and are hired into post-MBA roles, i.e., Associates at McKinsey or Consultants at BCG and Bain.
Three in four hires from an MBA program came from INSEAD. Add in HEC Paris, and we’ve covered almost 90% of MBA hiring. Interestingly though, about half of MBA hires came from an international undergraduate or graduate program, making this channel the most open to candidates that did not attend school in France.
Advanced Degree hiring in France
Advanced degrees were the smallest proportion of hires for McKinsey, BCG, and Bain in France, making up less than 1% of total hiring.
The few advanced degree hires mostly came from schools outside of the top schools earlier discussed for pre-experience students and experienced professionals. Advanced degree hires had degrees in pharmacy, physical and biological sciences, and computer science.
What’s next if you’d like to get into McKinsey, BCG, and Bain in France
Looking to join McKinsey, BCG, or Bain in France? CaseCoach has resources to guide you all the way from your resume crafting stage to your final interviews.
Our Free Resume Course provides resume and cover letter templates and specialized advice for students, MBAs, and experienced professionals.
The Interview Prep Course contains all the material you need to ace your case and fit interview, including interview videos of candidates who joined top consulting firms in France.
CaseCoach’s team of coaches includes former consultants and interviewers with McKinsey, BCG, and Bain in France. They are available to deliver case and fit interview coaching and mock interviews in a realistic setting to put your preparation to the test, providing the personal feedback and practical advice needed to ace your interviews.