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Although in some instances, the selection criteria can be similar, there are also clear differences between the 3 organizations. Differences in criteria are also influenced by a number of factors. Differences in selection criteria can range from being more stringent in terms of academic requirements to your employment history and previous experience.

The selection criteria can also be influenced by the organization's specific needs at the time of the recruiting cycle and even the position being applied for. Some differences in criteria can be clear and obvious, such as test and interview formats and even the more intricate details. Although there can be similar criteria, these can also be weighted differently from one company to the next. 


Let’s start with the most obvious, being the differences in the interviewing process and criteria. Although the format of the interviewing process is very similar at all three organizations, there are also a few clear differences between them. All three organizations include a PEI (Personal Experience Interview) and a case interview. Although similar, there are notable differences between all three organizations, these include:

Personal Experience Interview

The PEI is performed differently from one organization to the another. These differences include:

  • Differences in structure and how the questions are asked. McKinsey is more structured in their approach to the PEI questions and the fit criteria while BCG is shorter and less structured. Bain is also less structured and has a few specific guidelines. 
  • The depth of the interview and questions also varies considerably. Each organization has clear requirements of competencies which include leadership, teamwork and also influences and personal impact. 
  • Time and length of the interview will also differ, these can range from less than 20 as is the case with BCG to 30 minutes for McKinsey. In addition, this will differ considerably and is also influenced by a number of factors including the interviewer, the position, and your answers.
  • Question weights differ and range from being less structured and with fewer guidelines.BCG is also more structured with more emphasis on the fit for culture as is the case with McKinsey. 

Case Interviews

Bain and BCG cases ask candidates to answer questions of one case with structured answers and are more candidate led. The McKinsey interview process is more controlled with pre-determined questions. So simply put, while with Bain and BCG you are solving one big case and with McKinsey, you are resolving a number of more minor cases. There are a number of differences in criteria when it comes to the interview process. These include:

  • The Bain test is developed to measure pressure and how secure the applicants are in their findings and solutions while the McKinsey tests are designed to measure and determine the applicant's abilities to handle pressure. 
  • At BCG, the test has been developed to measure the candidate's ability to be quick and instant in responses and solutions. The BCG test is also known to have the most surprising questions in order to determine and measure your skill and capability to come up with solutions. 
  • In addition, McKinsey has the PST (Problem Solving Test) which is made up of 26 questions which represent multiple choice and measures the candidates potential in terms of their language and mathematical competency. 

Click here for more information for preparing for the PST and Case Interviews.

Academic And Other Requirements

While there are a number of factors that influence the selection criteria, these can be grouped generally. There are obvious differences when it comes to the 3 organizations, and of course, the position which the candidates are applying. 

These differences include:

  • Academic achievements like GPA
  • Leadership qualities
  • Work experience which can include:
  • Size of the organization 
  • Status and standing of previous work experience 
  • Personal fit 


It is best to evaluate the criteria on an individual level, taking into consideration the candidates academic achievements, experiences and the position being applied for.