BCG Internship Interviews

BCG Internship Success Story:

Last Friday was the first round, and I was invited to the final round the same evening, which happened this Friday!

Some thoughts/observations on the process below, which might be of interest to you (although I imagine you get a lot of these!)

Feedback from one of the BCG interviewers after the first round was mostly good, with (as they put it) some ‘minor tweaks’, specifically (with my thoughts in italics):

  • In one of the cases, the interviewer felt they needed to do a little more ‘logical leading’.

Seeing as these were case lead interviews, I suspect this had the result of me assuming that the interviewer was going to lead the case, but they said on the phone that they wanted to see me drive the case more (and perhaps with some logical inductions), although I can’t remember it that specifically! I think the key thing is that as soon as the interviewer stops, you (the candidate) need to continue onwards with the case unless they pull you another way.

  • At the start of the first interview I seemed ‘slightly withdrawn’ although the second interviewer didn’t spot this.

I wonder if this had something to do with the 8:30am start. I had an L.E.K. Interview Thursday (the day before my BCG final round) and I realised that whilst I wasn’t late, arriving on time isn’t a good idea– this backtracks from the time I wake up and leave the house. With interviews in banks I’ve had before, there has been so much waiting around there’s no need to arrive early.

So to be totally mentally alert and full of beans, I woke up particularly early before my BCG final to arrive 30 mins before and basically wander around town on the way in with a coffee. Definitely felt really ‘with it’ before (and then during) the first and subsequent interviews yesterday. This sounds silly, but something I guess I hadn’t fully considered– other interviews I’ve been through often had a lot of waiting around, but consulting ones are very much full on as soon as you step through the door!

  • Maths fumbling (wrong answer the first time) in an interview with a table of numbers.

Despite preparing beforehand for the first round, I think even the timer on your website doesn’t simulate the pressure of an interviewer staring at you do maths!

When practising case studies with friends, I had zero (none at all!) problems with maths. I prepared even more on your site, but I still fumbled in the final round on a couple of maths points. I found preparing for the pressure of the actual interview with maths questions difficult. The advice I would give is write everything down and talk out loud with calculations.

I received a phone call late that same evening, on Friday night, to offer me a place as a Summer Associate! Based on how I handled the cases in my final round, I was fairly certain that I wouldn’t be made an offer– a few times maths needed correcting, and in one case I attacked the wrong part of the problem (not ideal!). A friend of mine who’s now an associate said that BCG are actually looking slightly more at the ‘fit’ questions than we might assume.

I’m certainly very excited, although actually the hard work starts now (well, in the Summer)! I had a quick look on your website, but nothing too obvious was there– is there anything you recommend graduates/interns to read/do before they start?

My Reply:

Congratulations on the BCG job offer!

With respect to the feedback you provided, I totally agree with your conclusions. With the exception of McKinsey, most firms, including BCG, want you to drive the case. If they want you to go in a different direction, either because you’re out of time, or they want you to pursue a different aspect of the case, they will simply redirect you.

In terms of being alert for cases, I had the same problem with my McKinsey final rounds. I did two final rounds -- one in Los Angeles, and one in New York. I had to get up at 7:30am NYC time, which was 4:30am California... combined with the fact that I had a hard time falling asleep (a little nervous) let alone early (due to time zone), I was tired. My worst case performances were in the NYC office final round — but in aggregate good enough to get an offer.

In hindsight, I should have drank more coffee to compensate but wasn’t a coffee drinker back then.

As for the pressure of doing math while someone is staring at you, it’s not easy! One of my McKinsey final round interviewers was someone who was formerly a fully tenured professor in Astrophysics at Princeton. We was only a 1st year associate at that time.

As you suggested, a few things are helpful. Don’t just do the computation in your head, write it down. This allows you to double check your math on the spot. If you make a mistake, but catch it yourself, that is so much better than missing it entirely. In addition, I prefer writing down the text version of the formula before writing down the numerical. So if I’m calculating net profit, I would write

Net Profit = Sales - Costs
Net Profit = $100M - $90M
Net Profit = $10M

I could have easily said net profit is $10M and done it all in my head, but as the computations get more complicated and the answer to one computation becomes the input to another, it is very easy to get confused.

In addition using the approach above is also very client-friendly as clients, even those not exceptional in mental math, can follow your work and not feel dumb. So it has the dual benefit of being good practice for client interaction, reduces the chances of getting confused, and facilitates double checking computations.

Overall, you clearly did well enough to get the offer. Good job and congratulations.

In terms of preparing to do well on the job, I would recommend my Consulting Internships Secrets program — it focuses on the specific skills you need to demonstrate during your internship, broken out into the 3 phases of the internship — beginning, middle and end.

(Consulting Internship Secrets).

Good luck and congratulations!

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3 comments… add one
  • paramvir May 4, 2016, 9:29 am

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  • Skye Oct 28, 2016, 12:43 am

    I want to be better and work for my dream. Thank you!

  • Shannon Nov 1, 2016, 1:18 pm

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