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We Met Bain & Company's MBA Recruiter — This Is How You Get Hired

Here's what MBAs really need to work at the elite consultancy firm

Few firms command as much prestige on campus as Bain & Company does.

And for good reason.

The elite management consultancy firm is one of the world’s most sought-after employers. It frequently trumps rankings of top companies to be hired by, including Glassdoor’s 2014 list of the “Best Places to Work”.

And while its closest competitors, McKinsey & Company and the Boston Consulting Group, are still lauded at the world’s best business schools, Bain scooped the No. 1 spot in this year’s “Vault 50” ranking of the best consulting firms to work for. Vault reckons Bain edged into pole position because of its results-driven culture and top ranking for employee satisfaction.

“We pride ourselves on hiring fantastic folks and having the best training available for them,” says Elizabeth Spaulding, a Stanford MBA and head of the firm’s global digital practice.

The pay isn’t bad, either.

The average salary of Bain’s 6,000 employees is $94,256 per year (plus $13,225 bonuses), according to salary benchmarking site Emolument.com. And if you rise to partner, you’ll be netting $323,410 yearly.

Yet landing a job at the firm is no easy feat. Unsurprisingly, Bain is one of the 25 toughest places to interview at, according to a Glassdoor survey.

We asked Elizabeth what MBAs can do to make the cut. She singled out these sought-after skill-sets:

1. Critical thinking.

Bain looks for recruits who possess the ability to critically analyse problems, Elizabeth explains. “Our main focus is on great critical thinkers, people who are focused on creating impact, making change, and that will thrive in the supportive culture we have here at Bain.”

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2. Analytical capability.

Successful interview candidates at Bain have strong analytical skills. Indeed, the ability to assess ever growing amounts of data, to help companies overcome their most difficult challenges is the fabric of Bain’s culture, Elizabeth says. “We put the brutal facts on the table and create the vision of where the organization needs to go.”

 

3. Adaptability.

“Be open to trying a lot of new things,” says Elizabeth. Consultants must work across a diversity of sectors and geographies. “Having exposure to a variety of topics and building out that balanced skillset is a must,” she says. “The diversity is what helps you grow,” Elizabeth adds.

4. Sector-specific expertise.

Bain consultants possess industry-specific expertise relevant to one of the firm’s nine practice areas. Bain seeks people who can demonstrate experience in unique capability areas, says Elizabeth. In her practice, for example, Elizabeth’s building a team of digital champions “and identifying hires with specific technology expertise”.

5. Passion.

Finally, the company looks for people who are passionate about the areas they want to work in. “Have a passion for what’s going on in the world around you,” Elizabeth says.

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