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7 Things Bain, BCG & McKinsey Look For In Their MBA Hires

Bain, BCG, and McKinsey hire hundreds of MBA graduates into consultant roles each year. But what skills and characteristics do the Big Three consulting firms look for?

Mon Aug 17 2020



Landing a job with Bain & Company, the Boston Consulting Group (BCG), or McKinsey & Company is not just a ticket to a lucrative salary, but an opportunity to apply everything you’ve learned on your MBA and work at the cutting-edge of new technology and business.

The Big Three management consulting firms hire the most MBAs from top US business schools like Harvard, Stanford, Chicago Booth, and Columbia as well as schools like INSEAD, London Business School, and IESE Business School in Spain.

The consulting industry is awash with MBA graduates. Nearly half of McKinsey's incoming consultants have MBAs. Breaking in requires beating off the swathes of competition eager to try their hand with the Big Three. 

To stand out during the interview process and land an MBA consulting job, it helps to know more about the skills and characteristics that Bain, BCG, and McKinsey value the most.

BusinessBecause spoke with MBA recruiters from each of the Big Three consulting firms to find out.

Here's what Bain, BCG, and McKinsey look for from their MBA hires:

1. Soft skills

In an industry so reliant on client relationships it’s no surprise that soft skills are high on the list of demands. An ability to build strong relationships is tantamount to success as an MBA consultant. 

“We see can candidates prep a lot for problem solving, which is good, but I encourage them to focus also on what are often referred to as soft skills—their aptitude for collaboration, teamwork, empathy, and leading others. In the long run, those are qualities that make for success,” explains Brian Rolfes, global head of recruitment at McKinsey.

You can be as smart as the day is long, adds Frances Taplett, a former partner at BCG and now the chief people officer at the Broad Institute, but if you don’t communicate your points well you won’t get as far as you’d like.

“As our clients tackle how to address business in the digital world, we look for candidates to have a good business acumen and client communication skills,” she says. 

2. Problem solving 

Problem solving is the crux of the consulting world. It’s why companies pay the money they do to hire the best from Bain, BCG, and McKinsey. 

An MBA program equips students with the consulting knowhow they need to enter the industry after graduating. Project work makes up a large part of the curriculum at many schools and challenges students to solve business problems for clients in real time. 

The Cambridge Judge Business School MBA gives students real-life consulting experience throughout the degree. HEC Paris has both a student-led MBA Consulting Practice and refined MBA Consulting Club that work tirelessly to help graduates land MBA consulting jobs.