Working for a project in my previous company, I got the opportunity to work alongside BCG for almost 6 months. It was through one of the consultants from the MBB firm that I got to work with who recommended me for an interview. My contacts in the other 2 MBB firms were not able to get me an interview in their respective firms.
In my experience, it appears that it is very rare to get an interview as an experienced hire without the right connections and the opportunity to work alongside with the consultants of the firm that you want to work for.
Generally, your chances of getting an interview would be a lot better if you have a strategy consulting background and a post graduate degree, preferably an MBA. Having a prior experience in the so called “Big 4” companies (i.e. Ernst & Young, Deloitte & Touche, Arthur Andersen, and KPMG) would also provide you a better leverage compared to other experienced candidates.
Experienced hires are treated differently from undergraduates or straight from school hires. The experienced hire will most likely be evaluated for a specialist or expert role, hence the screening and criteria are much more scrutinized.
During the interview proper, all candidates regardless of experience are treated and judged the same, since getting in the company is based on the results and assessment of your personal experience and case interview, and tests. However, some of the MBB firms may let experienced hires skip the practical or analytical tests and directly get through the case interviews.
Also, please note that among MBB firms, McKinsey has the PST (Problem Solving Test) prior to its personal experience and case interviews, to which statistically only 33% percent of the candidates would pass.
Roles for Experienced Hires
To manage expectations, although MBB firms do consider the amount of experience you had on your previous job, once you get in, expect that your role may be lower than your previous work. A lot of experienced hires that I know have lead and senior roles in their previous jobs and were hired for an associate or principal role in the MBB firms after a successful interview.
If you did not graduate from any top business schools but have a substantial working experience in the management consulting industry, your chance of getting hired may still be slim. Getting the right connections for an interview recommendation would surely help but having a previous working experience alongside these MMB firms’ consultants and principals may get you a better chance of a recommendation for an interview. However, since not all of us would get the same opportunity, you should invest in an excellent resume building and some insider tips to get you on an MMB frim interview. Some candidates on the other hand are fortunate enough to get an an interview in an MBB firm, but preparation is still required and coaching is highly recommended just to get through the case interviews and test.