McKinsey, BCG and Bain, collectively referred to as ‘MBB’, are widely recognized as the top management consulting firms globally. Each has well-established operations in Germany.
In this article, we answer top-of-mind questions for potential candidates. Questions like:
- What kind of candidates are recruited by McKinsey, BCG and Bain in Germany?
- Which universities give you the highest chances of getting into McKinsey, BCG or Bain in Germany?
- Is an MBA a good route to management consulting in Germany?
- Is there an entry path to McKinsey, BCG or Bain in Germany from other industries?
The insights in this article are based on a detailed analysis of about 900 individuals hired by McKinsey, BCG and Bain for client-facing consulting roles in Germany from 2020 to mid-2022.
- McKinsey, BCG and Bain in Germany mostly hire pre-experience students (70% of hires), experienced candidates (19%) and advanced degree candidates (9%). An MBA (2%) is not a meaningful route into MBB firms in Germany.
- MBB firms in Germany hire more advanced degree candidates as a share of total hires (19%) compared with most other geographies, including the US (4%), UK (3%) and France (1%).
- In Germany, BCG hired 30% more consultants than McKinsey, and nearly three times as many consultants as Bain, between Q1 2020 and Q2 2022.
- 57% of total hires by MBB firms in Germany were men, signaling some room for improvement in gender parity in hiring.
- Unlike in other countries, pre-experience student hiring by MBB firms in Germany is not concentrated among a few core universities. The four universities that contributed the most pre-experienced student hires only made up 28% of the total, compared to 70% in France and 65% in the UK. This suggests that MBB firms in Germany focus more on grades than on the university of origin when selecting pre-experience candidates.
The main sources of candidates for top consulting firms in Germany
Top firms in Germany primarily hire pre-experience students
While the three firms recruit candidates in all recruitment categories, 70% of hires by McKinsey, BCG and Bain in Germany were pre-experience students. The next largest category was experienced professionals (19%).
Unlike in the US, McKinsey, BCG and Bain in Germany rarely hire MBAs, which made up only 2% of total hiring. Interestingly, the firms hired more advanced degree candidates as a proportion of the total (9% of all hires) than in most other countries (including the US, UK, Canada and 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, gained before their MBAs. and are hired into post-MBA roles (i.e. Associates at McKinsey and 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 and 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 Germany, 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 hired more consultants than McKinsey and Bain
Between Q1 2020 and Q2 2022, BCG hired 30% more consultants in Germany than McKinsey, and nearly three times as many consultants as Bain.
Despite the hiring volume disparities, all three firms had similar hiring proportions by channel. For all three, about 69-72% of the hires were pre-experience students and about 16-21% were experienced professionals. Advanced degree hires made up 7-12% of the total, while only 1-3% were MBAs.
MBB firms in Germany hire more men than women
57% of total hires by MBB firms in Germany were men, signaling some room for improvement in gender parity in hiring. While 56% of the firms’ pre-experienced student and experienced professional hires in Germany were men, the gender disparity in MBA and advanced degree hiring was far greater. ~65% of these hires were men, although these channels only made up 11% of total hiring.
McKinsey, BCG and Bain’s pre-experience student hiring in Germany
Pre-experience student hiring was the largest recruitment channel for McKinsey, BCG and Bain in Germany from Q1 2020 to Q2 2022. This group made up 70% of all hires by the three firms within this period.
The next section will look closely at which universities the pre-experience student hires of MBB firms in Germany attended.
Where did Germany’s MBB pre-experience students go to university?
MBB recruiting in Germany is unique among most other European countries for being spread across a large variety of universities. In France, the top four schools contributed more than 70% of the pre-experience students who were hired. In the UK, candidates from the top four universities made up 65% of the total number of pre-experience student hires. In Germany, however, MBB hires from the top four universities made up only 28% of the total.
MBB firms in Germany recruited pre-experience students from 125 different universities. By comparison, MBB’s French offices only hired from 20 universities and the UK offices hired consultants from 30 universities. Eighteen percent of pre-experience hires in Germany came from international universities. This is a significant number, especially when compared to France, where only 1% of pre-experience hires came from international universities.
Clearly, MBB firms in Germany are among the most (if not the most) open to a diverse set of universities, both locally and from outside the country. This suggests that international candidates who speak German and are looking to join MBB firms in Europe should consider applying to a German office. In addition, it indicates that MBB firms in Germany weigh grades and other factors more heavily than the university of origin when selecting pre-experience candidates.
Of the the three MBB firms in Germany, BCG and McKinsey appear to be the most open to a variety of universities. Twenty-four percent of pre-experience student hires at BCG, and 21% at McKinsey, originated from the long tail of universities (those contributing <2% of the total hiring volume). Only 7% of Bain’s pre-experience student hires came from those universities.
What did they study?
Of the pre-experience students hired into McKinsey, BCG and Bain in Germany, 70% studied business administration, management or economics, and 10% studied engineering. The 20% remaining studied a variety of other disciplines. Unlike in the UK and the US, however, 85% of pre-experience student hires into MBB firms in Germany held a master’s degree.
McKinsey, BCG and Bain’s MBA hiring in Germany
Similarly to France, but unlike in the US and the UK, MBB firms in Germany are not big on MBA hiring. This channel made up only 2% of total hires at MBB firms in Germany 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 some work experience, gained before their MBAs. While they are usually hired into post-MBA roles (i.e. Associates at McKinsey and Consultants at BCG and Bain), some MBA hires in Germany were brought into pre-MBA roles.
The European business schools represented by MBB’s MBA hires in Germany included INSEAD, IESE, ESADE and Cambridge Judge. The firms’ other MBA hires in Germany came from programs in France, Singapore, and non-top programs in the US.
McKinsey, BCG and Bain’s experienced professional hiring in Germany
The ‘experienced hires’ channel, in which candidates typically have two to eight years of professional experience, was the second-largest recruitment channel for MBB firms in Germany from Q1 2020 to Q2 2022. These candidates made up 19% of the firms’ total hires, and joined at the following levels:
- 74% of experienced hires were recruited into post-MBA roles (i.e. Associates at McKinsey and 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 in seniority compared to their previous firm.
- 26% 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).
Which companies did German MBB’s experienced hires come from?
More than 40% of experienced hires came from other consulting firms like Roland Berger, Oliver Wyman, Deloitte, and Strategy&. Two other industries are represented in meaningful numbers in Germany: finance (6%) and technology (4%).
The remaining candidates came from a variety of other industries, including healthcare, manufacturing, education and the public sector.
Where did MBB’s experienced hires in Germany go to university?
As with pre-experience student hires, there is significant diversity in the university distribution of experienced hires at MBB firms in Germany. Experienced professionals come from over 90 universities, 81% of which are based in Germany.
This suggests that if you could not join McKinsey, BCG or Bain as a pre-experience student hire, you might be able to do so by gaining experience as a strategy consultant – or in any industry – and applying as an experienced professional hire, especially if you have a master’s degree.
Advanced degree hiring in Germany
Internationally, advanced degree hiring constitutes the smallest proportion of hires for McKinsey, BCG and Bain. In Germany, however, advanced degree hires made up 9% of total hiring from Q1 2020 to Q2 2022, making it a bigger recruitment channel than MBA hiring.
As a reminder, advanced degree hires are hired during or soon (not more than two years) after their Ph.D. or medical school programs. They are typically hired into more senior pre-MBA roles (i.e. Junior Associates at McKinsey, Associate Consultants at Bain and Senior Associates at BCG).
As with candidates from the other recruitment channels, advanced degree hires into MBB firms in Germany came from a wide range of universities (over 40). About a quarter (24%) came from international universities, while the rest (76%) were from German universities.
Universities that supplied three or more advanced degree hires into MBB firms in Germany include the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, the University of Cambridge, Heidelberg University, the University of Freiburg, the Technical University of Munich, RWTH Aachen University, and the University in Düsseldorf.
What’s next if you’d like to get into McKinsey, BCG and Bain in Germany
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