Networking to Get McKinsey, Bain & BCG Offers

I just want to send you a thank you e-mail, as I heavily relied on your preparation sources throughout my interviewing journey.

I interviewed last autumn for a post-MBA/PhD position at the top firms in Germany.

I applied to nine firms, and I had networked heavily with the four major players here in Germany, which are McKinsey, BCG, Roland Berger Strategy Consultants (which are huge here!), and Bain.

I went through workshops offered by these firms and talked to numerous recruiters and consultants. I additionally applied to Booz, AT Kearney, Oliver Wyman, Siemens Management Consulting, and OC&C.

First observation: I didn't get invitations from three out of the nine firms, which were ATK, Siemens Management Consulting and Booz.

I did get invited by all top firms (McKinsey, BCG, Bain, Berger)!

The only two firms which invited me without prior contact were OC&C and Oliver Wyman.

So, here's the first learning -- a point that underscores your own claim: networking makes a huge difference!

I had started preparing four weeks before applying, hence I had around two months in total before the interviews started.

I read Case in Point  and I watched your videos and started crafting my own frameworks for different case scenarios.

More precisely, I built custom frameworks around your "Business Situation" Framework (Customer, Product, Company, Competition) by adding selected notions from Case in Point (and my own ideas).

I then put these frameworks to test during practice interviews. I founded a group of consulting-addicted folks who prepared for interviewing. We shared preparation material and practiced cases via Skype.

After each case that I approached with my custom-made framework variations, I slightly adapted the framework if I had missed some important issue in order to make it both more robust and more "crisp."

I did the same for resume questions, i.e., I tried to structure my answers to questions like "Why our firm?" according to different dimensions, to avoid an unstructured "brainstorming approach."

By the time of my first interview day (which was with Bain), I had around 30 mock-interviews under my belt, and I felt quite confident. And here is what happened.

I was set to have three First Round Interviews of 45 minutes.

The first interview went great. The second was even better - the interviewer directly expressed that he was very happy with my performance.

Then came the third interview and it all fell apart!

I had no problem with the case, but I suddenly was confronted with a simple calculation, which I completely messed up.

I got confused with my own notes, and wasn't able to do the division anymore. It was so bad that the interviewer interrupted the case, since there was no way he could let me through to the second round.

I was devastated.

I had no problems with the cases, had impressed all interviewers with very thorough structuring, but massively failed at a simple calculation.

I had only a few days to recover from that, and I started practicing math like a lunatic.

I set up an Excel sheet which generated random numbers and added them up, divided them, multiplied them, subtracted them.

I continued doing one mock interview per day in order to stay in shape with the general case process.

Then interview day with BCG. And it went fantastic.

My feedback was: "We can't give you any improvement advice; please continue in the same manner in the final round."

All I had done in the cases was basically come up with structures built around your Business Situation Framework and very interactivelypresent these to the interviewers (turning the sheet 180 degrees, etc.).

I got the BCG offer after six one-hour interviews!

And there is one thing for sure: I would not have been able to make it without your fantastic advice!


BCG was my clear first choice, so I didn't bother to go to the other firms.

I figured it wouldn't have been fair towards both the firms and my "competitors" during these interview days.

Thank you again! I hope we'll be able to meet one day. I will gladly invite you for dinner in case you are near Germany at any point in the future!

My Comments:

Congratulations on the BCG offer, and thank you for sharing the ups and downs in your recruiting process.

I think it is reassuring for others to know that it IS possible to recover from a devastatingly poor performance -- and even more reassuring for people to realize that some degree of "failure" before ultimate success is not that unusual amongst those who end up at the top firms.

Again, thank you for sharing the full history of your recruiting process.

I remember when I went through recruiting, the people a year ahead of me who already had jobs never talked about the jobs they did not get -- only the one they did.

The perception my friends and I had was these people at MBB are perfect -- Geez, how do they do that?!?!?

And it was only later that I realized that everyone at MBB is human -- myself included. I got seven job offers in consulting (McKinsey, Bain, Oliver Wyman, LEK, Monitor (since acquired by Deloitte), ATK -- and I canceled my Booz final round), but I could not get past BCG Round 1!  Ugh.

There is one point you mentioned that I wanted to elaborate on.

There was an interesting pattern in terms of which firms you got interviews from. All the top firms wanted to interview you, yet some of the less well-known firms did not.

You cited networking as the key distinguishing factor that explains this unusual outcome.

Intuitively, most people would assume that if MBB wanted to interview you, the firms typically considered a little less prestigious as MBB would want to interview you too.

But this was not the case.

As I have mentioned before, and as you reiterate through your own experience, networking helps a lot.

The part I'd like to elaborate on is why networking helps a lot.

I do not think I have covered this point in much detail previously, so I thought I would do it now.

To understand why networking works, it is useful to understand the perspective of the person who is reading your application. When I was at McKinsey, I used to read hundreds of applications at a time.

What you must realize about this role of reading consulting resumes and cover letters is this.  It is a painful experience.

Out of 400 applications, I would say about 350 of them were clear and obvious mail merge cover letters.


Dear Sir/Madam:

I am applying for the [insert job title here] position at [insert employer name].

Blah, Blah...


Now the first time I read this letter, I read it very carefully. But the second time I saw a letter that sounded like it, I start to get suspicious.

After the 200th consulting cover letter in this obvious mail merge format, it was pretty obvious to me that most applicants were flat out lazy (or perhaps didn't know better).

When you use a generic consulting cover letter, what it says to the resume screener is: you do not care enough about this position to even do a little homework to learn more about who we are, what we look for and to specifically explain why you would be a good fit for us given our specific recruiting criteria.

The immediate bias when one reads a cover letter like this is to draw the conclusion: "This person is not genuinely interested in our company."

Keep in mind, this is the mindset of the resume screener as he/she finishes the cover letter and starts to read the resume.  In other words, the contents create a favorable or unfavorable bias in the mind of the reader.

It is this bias (which is simply a function of being a human being) which then colors how the subsequent resume or CV is interpreted.

If I read a crappy cover letter, I'm basically in an irritated mood... yet another person who wants to waste my time.

Because of this, my default decision as to whether to vote to interview this candidate has switched from neutral to "reject." Keep in mind, this is before I even read the resume.

Now, I will still glance at the resume (the key word here being "glance," as opposed to "read carefully") to look for any AMAZING accomplishment that would veto my default decision.

And if someone did in fact have something truly amazing on their resume, I would change my mind -- but the standard of achievement for this to happen is much higher following a poor cover letter than following a strong one.

Many firms have a formal resume scoring system - one point for GPA, one point for each very strong work experience, etc.What I described above influences the more subjective aspects of the resume evaluation.

For example, what exactly constitutes a strong career experience is subjective. It is a judgment decision.  It is this judgment decision that get colored by the strength or weakness of the cover letter.

It is precisely because the cover letter is read before the resume that I consider it more important -- for this simple reason, if you have a terrible cover letter, often the resume will not get read (or more accurately, will not get read with much attention).

Here's the general rule of thumb. That which comes first is more important than that which comes later.

At this point, you might be wondering what any of this has to do with networking -- the topic I originally started with.

Networking is in essence the "cover letter" to the cover letter.  It is the step that comes before the cover letter that influences how the cover letter itself is interpreted.

Based on my prior rule of thumb, networking is in many respects more important than the cover letter because good networking can determine whether or not the cover letter is actually read!  (Or more accurately, whether or not the cover letter is read carefully, as opposed to merely glanced at.)

And just like how a strong cover letter can compensate for a weaker resume, so too can networking compensate for a weaker cover letter/resume combination.

At the start of this whole discussion, you will recall that the person who wrote it got interviews from 100% of the top firms, but only 40% of the "2nd tier" firms.

The way I interpret this is that the person's cover letter and resume alone was on the borderline of competitive for the 2nd Tier firms, and I suspect that without the networking, the same combo would be even less competitive with the top firms.

Given this individual still got interviews from 100% of the top firms due to networking, it illustrates how much of an impact networking can have.

Now let me explain why this is the case.

In the recruiting process with the case interview and math problems, consulting appears to be an analytical business. But it is not.

The business of consulting (e.g., from the partner's perspective), is very much a relationship business.

A strong client relationship with adequate analytics will beat a poor relationship with superior analytics every time.

When you network with the recruiting team and consultants at a firm you are targeting, what you are really doing (even if you don't realize you're doing it) is building relationships.

Think about it.

From the recruiter's point of view, if you want to determine if a candidate has good people and client skills, what better way than to see how they build a relationship with you!

Networking is a great way to demonstrate your people skills.  It is certainly one thing that recruiter is noticing about you.

Here is the other thing networking conveys to a firm: it conveys genuine interest in the firm.

As I mentioned previously, most applicants are lazy.

Given the choice of hitting the "print mail merge" letter in Microsoft Word (or hitting the "submit" button on the website) vs. dragging yourself to a lunch meeting, networking event, or "meet the firm" type event, most applicants would rather take the easiest approach -- not realizing the easiest approach is the least effective for the simple reason it attracts the most competition (precisely because it is so easy).

While I started my career at McKinsey as a consultant, resume screener, and case interviewer, I have been interviewing people for jobs for many years.

I have come to appreciate two things in all that time as a recruiter.

1) How much someone cares about the job is highly correlated with how well they will do in the job.

I believe this to be so true that I routinely reject applicants that are the most skilled at what they do, but the least interested in working for me. In my experience, it has never worked out.

2) Most applicants just don't care or don't take the time to show they care.

Taking the extra effort to network, even just for a McKinsey internship, allows you to substantially compensate for a weaker resume. Here's why.

When you network before you apply to a firm, and apply with either a tacit or formal endorsement, you are virtually guaranteed your cover letter and resume will be read carefully.

In addition, when you apply via a networking contact, you also guarantee that when your application is considered, you will receive the benefit of the doubt on any resume item that is good but perhaps not exceptional.

When I screened resumes, I made three piles of applicants that I would sort each application into.

1) Reject

2) Maybe

3) Must interview

Of the three piles, pile #1 (Reject) and pile #3 (Must interview) were the easiest piles to create.  Some candidates were overwhelmingly unqualified, and they went into the "Reject" pile, often within a few seconds.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, some candidates are so amazingly strong that they go into the "Must interview" pile, also within a few seconds.

By far the most difficult pile to decide upon was the very large "Maybe" pile.

I was recently asked by a reader if I could comment on the "fit" questions in an interview.  In at least one respect, often the answer to the "fit" question is determined before the interview.

This is where most recruiters self-debate and debate with others on the recruiting team.

That's because it's extremely subjective to compare someone with a 4.0 GPA, 800 GMAT, and good work experiences vs. someone who is a 3.5 GPA, 720 GMAT, with excellent work experiences.

If you and a colleague were screening resumes, and you had only one spot left, which one would you pick?

There is not an obvious answer.

What ends up as the "tie breaker" factor in this hypothetical situation?

Often it is one person on the recruiting team saying, "Oh yeah, I remember meeting her. She's been at every recruiting event we've had for the past five months. Very nice person... good people skills."

That is called networking... and that is the "tie breaker" that gets you the interview when you otherwise might not.

An alternative form of networking is when a consultant that is well respected in the office walks your resume and cover letter down to the recruiting coordinator's office and says, "This person is very strong. We definitely should interview him."

That too is networking... and interestingly enough, in that scenario there is nobody else you're being compared against. It is simply the endorsement of someone internally that creates the interview opportunity for you.

Incidentally, some people mistakenly think you should network with people who have the most power, such as partners.

This is not necessarily true.  Often you have no idea who has influence, so you network with anyone you can within the firm you can get access to.

The big secret to networking is not to ask the people you meet for a job or interview.  Rather you ask them for advice on your career or to learn from their career decisions. It's called "informational interviewing," where essentially you are interviewing them for the purposes of learning more about their profession or firm.

The reason you want to use this approach is because it does not create an awkward situation where they might be forced to reject you.  If you ask them for a job or ask them to get you an interview, the first reaction is going to be"Um...... " (a.k.a. "How they heck do I get myself out of this conversation?").

Now if instead of asking them for an interview, you say, "I would really value your advice on something.

What is the one thing your firm looks for in candidates that the candidates most often think is unimportant?"

Well that's a lot easier of a question to answer than "Can you get me an interview?"

When you do enough informational interviews, people either:

1) remember who you are during a formal recruiting process like on campus recruiting (or you can remind them in a cover letter), or

2) at some point, will decide to offer to help you somehow (offer to critique your resume, submit your application to recruiting for you, give you a quick case to see if you are worth endorsing, etc.)

You wait for the other person to initiate a direct offer of help, and you focus on asking only for advice.

Also, one more thing. When I applied to McKinsey from Stanford, my resume was the first resume

submitted out of 400 classmates. I was the first person to apply. I was the first person to build a relationship with the recruiting coordinator.

How did I do it?

I was networking with Stanford alumni in investment banking and private equity. I reached out to one woman who was working in private equity who happened to be ex-McKinsey.

In my letter to her, I said I was looking at three different fields: investment banking, private equity (long term) and consulting.  Since she had worked in two out of three of those areas, I offered to take her to lunch to ask her a few questions about her career choices and her perspective.

Well, it turns out she was too busy to meet with me and never responded to my request.

Instead, she forwarded my resume to the head of Stanford recruiting at McKinsey (where she used to work) in July (about two months before school started).

I suspect she said something like this to the recruiting coordinator: "Hey, this Victor Cheng guy looks pretty good and he's interested in consulting, you might want to interview him."

The recruiting coordinator calls me back, has all the time in the world because on-campus recruiting hadn't yet started up, and we talked for about 20 minutes.

I had some general questions. She mentioned all the events she was organizing on campus, invited me to come by and say "hi" in person. I said I would (and of course I did... all five times).

I mentioned the resume, as she did not have my summer job experiences on there, and she said, "No problem. Send me an updated one at the end of the summer."

(And I did... and I called to confirm she got it... and we spoke again for a few minutes.)

And once the in-person events rolled around, I was the first person to show up at every event for every firm... because that's when there is nobody else around and you can talk to the current consultants on a 1:1 basis.

At these events, I did not go there early to get a good seat and sit there... no way. I went there early to talk to people.

And in case you have not guessed by now, I was also the last person to leave every event, because that time too is also when everybody else is gone and you are more likely to have a 1:1 conversation.

Keep in mind, I did this with every firm I targeted.

Sometimes these firms would include former consultants in their line up (often those on leave to get their MBA at Stanford). When I found out such a person was already on campus, I offered to buy them a cup of coffee if I could continue our conversation after the meeting.

Now there are two lessons to point out here.

1) When you network extensively, it is unpredictably predictable. The specific way in which networking can help your recruiting is unpredictable, but what IS predictable is that it will help in some way.

2) The other big lesson to success (in life, not just recruiting) is to do the things that others do not do, do not know how to do, or choose not to do.

You will notice that I give a lot of advice on how to do well in the entire consulting recruiting process.

Most people who send in their success stories usually reference one key piece of advice or a specific case interview preparation tool, such as Look Over My Shoulder®.

And in most cases, it was one key thing out of the many things I emphasize that put them over the top in their recruiting.

Keep in mind, when I went through recruiting myself, I practiced everything that I "preach"... and instead of just using one of the tips I've shared with you, I did ALL of it.

I practiced the most. I drilled math skills the most. I did the most research for cover letters. I networked the most. I showed up early the most. I stayed late the most.  And at Stanford, with one exception, I got more consulting offers than anyone else in the entire University.

While talent certainly played a key role, talent is something you cannot control. You either got it, or you don't.

But, take notice of the things I could control, how many of them I focused on doing more than the next person.

In short, I took no chances.

Of the six things I could do to give myself a competitive edge, I didn't just do one of them, I did all of them.

Now this was not exactly 80/20, but I wasn't interested in performing merely at the 80% level. I wanted every little bit of an edge that I could squeeze out.

The more I learned about consulting, the more I wanted to do it -- so I made it a priority (and I share this story not to impress you with my talent oraccomplishments, but rather to impress upon you my commitment to the process. And hopefully you see how that commitment translated into results.

The other reason I mention this is because unlike talent, which is a gift, commitment is a choice -- nothing more.

It is a decision that was available to everyone who applied from Stanford my year.

It is a decision that is available to YOU too.

Choose wisely.

For other suggestions on networking, consider my guide on How to Network to Get a Consulting Interview, for a specific process you can start using right away towards securing an interview.

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64 comments… add one
  • Mohammed Burhanuddin Jul 4, 2011, 9:00 pm

    Thank you very much Victor for the cases and the information you are sending, and I would like to specifically know whether I can get into Consulting with 8 years experience – 4 years in finance and 4 years in Oracle Financials as Functional Consultant and I want to get into this arena very much. I am a Commerce Graduate and semi-qualified Cost Accountant (equivalent to semi-qualified CIMA or Management Accountant) Please let me know your opinion.

  • Ashish Aug 11, 2011, 8:18 am

    Good analysis, Victor. Particularly, I agree that the networking influence played a major role for the candidate in securing a higher percentage of interview invitations from MBB than from the 2nd tier firms. Thanks for sharing.

  • Eric Yang Sep 14, 2011, 8:30 am

    A very good experience share and a very useful advice for interview. Thank you very much,Victor!

  • Adam Pawlikiewicz Feb 3, 2012, 2:31 am


    Your insight is extremely valuable. I am saving this article for reference to read again and again. I know you must be very busy but I was wondering if you could answer a question that has been on my mind lately. I am in a similar boat like the man you referenced from Germany, I go to a great university but unfortunately none of the top 3 recruit on my campus. Unfortunately, none of the firms offer workshops on my campus either. My question is how do I go about making that initial connection? Do I just email the recruiter for the office I am interested in working at out of the blue and try to establish a relationship there?If you get a chance I’d appreciate your input.



  • victor Feb 3, 2012, 3:12 am


    If your have high prestige credentials and good numerical stats, you can apply online. The online process is very keyword based- either computer algorithm based or human reader doing essentially the same thing.

    Calling a recruiter is perfectly fine as well. Just be sure to proactively name drop your credentials… I’m Harvard grad top 10%, 99% GRE scores, etc… To have them take you seriously.

    If your background is short of excellent across the board, then the direct application process either of calling the recruiter or online will likely not be helpful – too much competition.

    In these situation and in situations where direct application did not work, then you want to network to meet someone in these firms that does NOT work in recruiting. The goal is to ask them for advice about what the profession is like, any suggestions they might have for applying and not getting overlooked. And ideally have them offer to walk your resume to recruiting with their personal endorsement. THAT is hands down the most effective way to get an interview especially if your resume is short of perfect.


  • Roberta Feb 25, 2012, 5:02 am

    I had a first interview at BCG in Italy, and had the same problem: I could not do a simple division, as I was in panic and my mind was literally blank. I hold a Ph.D. in micro-econometrics: I’d say that my certified quantitative skills go certainly beyond a simple division…I do not know what happened. I managed many stressful situations with success, but in this case interview I performed very poorly. I felt so ashamed when realised such a mistake…it’s been horrible. I prepared watching Dr Cheng’s videos and reading ‘case in point’, which I found both very useful, but my anxiety did not allow me to perform not even decently. I feel devastated. Hopefully I performed better in the computer-base test undertaken right after.

  • Mitch Mar 19, 2012, 8:02 pm


    Thank you for such in-depth insight and recommendations of universal application in my opinion. I personally have began to research investment banking and consulting as potential careers just as you did initially. However, I do not have the academic credentials that you and others were fortunate to acquire. I’ve completed a joint JD/MBA at non-elite state schools in the Northwest US, got a 590 on the GMAT, and ended up with a 3.5 in my MBA program. My only professional experience, aside from three summers in legal clerkship capacities, is in supply-chain management as a forecasting analyst and in business development.

    I am both capable of success in consultancy and willing to make the sacrifice to get there, but realistically, what are my chances of getting into this field given my background?

    Alternatively, are there any steps I can take to remedy my perceived shortcomings, such as working as a financial analyst for a good banking firm for several years?


  • Victor Mar 19, 2012, 10:43 pm


    Given the GMAT score, I’d say it’s unlikely you’d be competitive in the top 10 strategy consulting firms. Your best bet is to focus on boutique, regional or local firms or firms that do more operational consulting (such as the management consulting arms of the big accounting firms)


  • Christopher May 2, 2012, 5:44 pm

    Hi Victor,

    Thanks for sharing your insights! I’m currently an undergraduate at Wharton and am really interested at getting into management consulting, so what you said about networking being key is really striking to me. I guess I was wondering if you could share a little more insight on how you contacted people through the alumni network and how early did you really start networking. Thanks for the helpful tips


  • Ed Jul 24, 2012, 10:45 am

    Awesome material and really nice of you to offer a good chunk of it for free. I think respective individual enthusiasm and effort should take care of the rest. One quick question though. Having totally no connection at all to McKinsey or any of the MBBs, what is the best way to reach their recruiters? I have over 10 years of Big 4 consulting experience, but wish to explore true Management and Strategy consulting exposure with an MBB.

  • Sunny Sep 12, 2012, 10:59 am

    Hi Victor,

    This article is very inspiring! Thanks for all the awesome resources!
    Personally, I could be the first person to arrive in an event and last person to leave (I am actually trying to do that during the recent recruitment events), but I don’t know how to start a conversation and what kind of questions I should ask to the recruiters when I get the chance to do 1 on 1 talk. Especially after attending 2 other events from the same company, I feel like I was asking the same questions again and again. I’m not a very shy person, I am just the kind of person who needs more time to be familiar with some one and then he/she will find out I am quite talkative and not boring.

    Can you give me some suggestion on this problem?
    Thanks in advance!


    • Victor Cheng Sep 12, 2012, 12:33 pm


      I find this very ironic because that person you’re not sure what to say to was you (a year or two ago) and STILL doesn’t know what to say to you either!

      Seriously though, here are a few ways to break the ice and get the conversation going. Keep in mind if you start it, they will help continue it.

      Hi, I’m Victor Cheng. (let them into themselves).. then, use any combo of the following.

      * What office are you from?
      * How long have you been at X firm?
      * I just wanted to introduce myself and say hi. I’m a graduating senior / 2nd year mba student, and I’m hoping to see you in the recruiting process and just wanted to put a face to your name and vice versa.

      If you’re in an extended conversation, you can say:

      * Why did you choose X firm?
      * How did you get started in consulting?
      * What do you like the least about what you do? The most?
      * What advice would you give to someone considering the industry? considering your firm?
      * What have been the biggest surprises?
      * I’m curious what a day in the life of a consultant is like. If you don’t mind my asking, can you tell me a little about what you’ve been working on the past week or so?
      * What kinds of clients have you worked with?
      * What industries have you worked in?
      * Do you like X firm? Why?

      The info session generally covers firm FAQs, so for individuals just ask them about them. They never get tired of talking about themselves.

      Also, if the firm has been in the news lately, ask them for their thoughts on that (diplomatically).

      So if I were at a McKinsey event, I would say, “I saw the news around Rajat Gupta, what are your thoughts on that?”

      This of course presumes you know who Rajat Gupta is and if the story is negative, avoid phrasing the question in a judgmental way. Just ask in a neutral “what do you think about X” way which implies neither nor positive connotations.

      Hope this helps.

      • Sunny Oct 4, 2012, 5:02 pm

        Hi Victor,

        Sorry for replying so late. But I have started to practice your suggestion in recent events. Very helpful! I think networking is also a skill that needs practicing, then get used to it and make it a habit.

        Thanks again for your kind reply!

  • Joe Nov 14, 2012, 5:59 am

    Hi Victor,

    Thank you very much for your advice. Unfortunately, I have underestimated the power of networking and failed to make any impact in all the events attended. At the back of my mind, I told myself not to ask ‘silly’ questions (those that can be found in the FAQs) so as not appear like a fool in front of the recruiters and jeopardise the progress of my application! It seems like I should have asked them that after all!


    • Victor Cheng Nov 14, 2012, 10:42 am


      Instead of asking silly questions. Next time consider asking intelligent questions or ask for that person’s personal opinion on a commonly asked question (as their answer isn’t probably isn’t on the website).

      A great question is, “just to get a feel for what the work is like, what did you personally work on last week and what kind of work do you have coming up next week?”


  • ksanaxsu Mar 6, 2013, 12:26 pm

    hi, victor. Thank you so much for you advice. I wen to PwC consulting event today. It helped a lot that almost every staff I talked gave me an insight view of their day life. I got their email successfully. Basically, I just browsed what you mentioned and quickly used when networking. May I ask what should I do next? They all said you could ask anything about consulting and just email them. However, how should I keep in touch with them? And how could I use these contacts to help my apply? Should I send an letter to them today to say I was really grateful? ( I did not from top school and did not have strong background, I read your advice and thought the better way for me is to apply online. But my friend told me I should mention that I spoke with the specific staff on a specific event when I fill the open question, is that a good way to answer ops?)
    Sorry for so many questions. Looking forward you advice. Thanks!

    • Victor Cheng Mar 6, 2013, 4:25 pm


      1) You should send an email to say thank you to the ones you had an extended conversation with and if possible mention something specific you remembered from your conversation with them. Don’t send the same email to everyone because they will compare notes if you send too many and they’re all the same.

      2) You might have misunderstood what I mentioned about applying online. Applying online works the best when your resume is stellar in a traditional way (Ivy, high gpa, high test scores, name brand employes). The more you deviate from the so called “perfect” resume, the more it helps to make use of your prior conversations with PwC consultants.

      2a) At a minimum, in your cover letter mentioned one or two people you met, name them by name, and explain what it is that they said that was meaningful to you. Most people who apply to PwC (or any firm) do it blindly – sending out hundreds or thousands of resumes hoping someone will be interested. By mention the names of specific people you met and what they said, it shows you have a SERIOUS interest in PwC which will automatically differentiate you from 98% of the applicants.

      2b) If you come across any articles online that reference something that one of the PwC people talked about, you should send them an email with a link to the article… saying you saw this article, it reminded you of your conversation (explain why), thought they might find it useful.

      2c) If you met someone who seemed especially friendly, and if they are local, or you don’t mind traveling to them, you might considering asking one of the friendlier people to lunch to ask more questions about pwc, career options, consulting in general. Be sure to pay for lunch, and be sure to pick a restaurant that is across the street from their office so it’s easy for them to get to (so they can’t use that excuse). Over lunch as you ask good questions, you should ask if they have any ADVICE for how to apply in a way that ensures that your application won’t get “lost in the shuffle”. Either take their advice, or ask for a name of someone specific you can send your application to (instead of the online application), ask if it would be okay if you used their name in contacting the person they suggested (they rarely say no). Then apply through this contact/approach that is NOT used by 98% of applicants. It’s much less cluttered. Resumes coming in this way get read more carefully, etc…

      Good luck,


  • Ana Chacon Apr 10, 2013, 1:08 pm

    Hello Victor,
    thanks for your help. What do you think about joining a small consulting firm founded by a group of partners from Bain and Co. As a trampoline to get into the big firms through networking?

  • Ana Chacon Apr 10, 2013, 1:13 pm

    Forgot to mention, Bain is a firm that I prefer over the rest. I got also an offer from Deloitte (Mexico City). What do you suggest as a better opportunity to start my career, Deloitte from the reputation and name. Or The ex-bain boutique firm where I can do Bain networking and gain experience directly from that alumni?

    • Victor Cheng Apr 10, 2013, 5:04 pm


      All things considered, Deloitte will be the better option – its a known name and hard to go wrong. A boutique might provide you with a better work experience, but you lose out on name and it doesn’t really help that much in terms of trying to work your way into Bain. They’re just going to get mad at you for not actually wanting to work there.

      Nobody likes to be anybody else’s second choice.


  • Shubham Aug 2, 2013, 6:58 am

    Hi Victor,
    I’ve been subscribed to your mails for a couple of weeks now and its been a great pleasure reading them.
    Though its already been asked in the former comments about “having a substandard background then how to start networking” but for more clarity I wanted to have your kind words on my specific case.
    I’m in pre-final (3rd) year of my UG in Mechanical Engg from a tier-2 college of India and I somehow, see my future in (General) Management Consulting. But I do not see the path to reach there. So, what will you suggest me, as in, what should be my first few steps towards the GOAL?? And if there’s anything specific I should do regarding my background?
    P.S: Thanks for your wonderful articles.

  • Joanna Aug 7, 2013, 11:59 am

    Hi Victor,
    I am an International student studying in the States now and I started the preperation process for recruiting with a lot of concerns on my language proficiency. Having subscribed to your daily email and purchased both your resume toolkit and LOMS definitely helps me to ease my anxiety and helps me to take initiatives that my classmates do not think of and hopefully this will give me more advantages. Thank you so much for the wonderful materials!

    In terms of networking, I have a more specific question in terms of when to start doing it. I am a rising junior now and I will be going through recruiting in the winter to look for an internship for 2014 summer. I thought of starting to interact with the recruiters and consultants now but I hesitate to do so because I am afraid that I am doing this way too early and they will forget about me way before the winter starts! So I wonder if you could provide us some advice on when to start networking when we have multiple months ahead of the actual recruiting. Thank you again!

  • Dustin Aug 10, 2013, 2:47 pm

    Hi Victor,

    I just got a 740 on the GMAT but with an unfortunate split (70% math, 98% verbal). I’m already at a target school but should I consider taking it again to be truly competitive for M/B/B? I know they want proof of quant firepower, so I’m not even sure if this 740 is better for MC than my previous 710 (76% math, 90% verbal)…


  • Aaron Jan 27, 2014, 7:09 pm

    Hi Victor,

    Excellent article! I’ve been reading as many of your articles as possible but found this one particularly insightful. A little bit about myself, I graduated from a pretty well-known (regionally at least) private liberal arts college with an accounting major and subsequently acquired my CPA. I started my career at Deloitte Tax where I stayed for about two years. I soon realized that tax wasn’t for me and moved on to a medical device startup as an operation analyst in the finance department, where I have been for about a year now.

    I am very interested in exploring the possibilities of getting into an MBB or other top consulting firm to advance my career, and I’m wondering if you have heard of a situation like this. Do you think an MBB would be willing to interview me given my resume? Also, I know it’s really important to network as this article details but I’m not sure how to go about it. Do the MBB’s ever hold recruiting events for experience hires?


    • Victor Cheng Feb 18, 2014, 12:41 pm


      Firms tend to not holding many experienced hire recruiting events as most such hires come in through an internal referral.

      Your profile is not the typical one for MBB, but may be for the second tier of firms. The more common profile would be going from where you are not to get a top level MBA, and become an MBA hire. The other would be to get a few promotions in your functional area, take on much greater levels of responsibility disproportionally more than what would normally be given to someone of your experience (basically be a rising star), and then apply as an experience hire. Or stay in your current role, but work on major projects with major responsibility disproportionately high for your experience level.

      MBB basically wants the top 1% – 5% of the people working in industry. So whatever that means in your field, that’s what they want to see. They want the super achiever. They are flexible on the field to some extent, but they are inflexible in wanting to make sure you were very good at it.


  • Niranjan Kumar Feb 9, 2014, 6:23 pm

    Hi Victor,

    I realize getting a response from someone as busy as you is the equivalent of winning the mega-million lottery (well maybe the odds are a little better, but it’s difficult nonetheless). I’d still like to try in case I get lucky. The most difficult aspect of applying to MBB firms is evaluating one’s Return on Time — stated simply, recognizing whether one has any talent whatsoever to get some kind of return for the time spent on preparing resumes/coverletters/ for case interviews. In this regard, I’d like to get your insight on where someone with a highly technical background like engineering (no MBA) stands in applying to top management consulting companies.

    In my particular case:
    I graduated 6 years ago from Georgia Tech as valedictorian of the School of Electrical Engineering with a perfect GPA (4.0/4.0) — my name was engraved on a plaque that contained the names of all valedictorians who graduated from the school since 1932. Since then I’ve worked as an analog designer for a leading analog design company, called Linear Technology which was deemed the most profitable company in the United States by Bloomberg in 2011. In this time, I was responsible for creating and managing the entire life cycle of 2 products — from conception to release. The first product has generated revenue on the order of about 5 million dollars for the company per year (the company generated about 1.5 billion dollars in revenue last year), while the 2nd one was just released. The 2nd product is attempting to create a new market segment within a niche market, and I just filed a patent (in Jan 2014) for the technology behind it. As an engineer, I know one brings fairly strong analytical skills to the table. I led a small team of people (none of whom reported directly to me) in creating each of these 2 products. HOW DOES ONE EVALUATE WHERE ONE STANDS WITH SUCH A TECHNICAL BACKGROUND? You often talk of high impact careers, but a high impart career can only be evaluated in the context of the industry that one works in.

    • Victor Cheng Feb 10, 2014, 1:52 am


      Short answer: You have a strong background (especially if you have high GRE scores consistent with your undergrad GPA). It would definitely be worth your time applying.

      Just be sure to reference much of what you mentioned in your comment to me in your cover letter. Also include your GRE score if it was high. Definitely include valedictorian at GA Tech and/or “Rank #1 of out X students”

      See my consulting resume toolkit on this website for specifics on what to emphasize in your resume.

      However, the time to apply such as resumes and cover letters is actually very small compared to either networking or case prep. Applying as an experienced hire, which is the type of candidate profile you fit into, works best when you apply via someone you know or meet or get introduced to that already works for the target company.

      I suggest using linkedin to find alumni from your school who are already working at your target firm and inviting them out to coffee or requesting a phone appt (preferably the former).

      The lack of MBA is not a major issue for the biggest firms (that have the size and infrastructure to train non business people on business ideas) who principally look for people with raw analytical talent.

      Good luck!


  • tara Apr 18, 2014, 2:35 pm

    Hi Victor,

    I sent out my application for an event organised by McKinsey and didn’t get selected. However, the local office I selected asked me to keep in touch and basically email the HR for “further informal chat and other possibilities to meet in person”. I wonder if I should re-introduce myself again, listing the “brands” ?

    Many thanks,


  • AD Aug 17, 2014, 10:59 pm

    Hi Vic,

    I am from a Southeast Asian country and targeting to work at a regional MBB firm. I have learned so much from your website, especially the networking thing (I would not have done it if I have not read your articles).

    So here’s my story so far:

    I’ve contacted someone from Linkedin who I’ve just met when I traveled for vacation. I asked him if he knows someone from MBB firms. Luckily, he knows someone from one of the MBB firms and called him for me. Then, he provided me the e-mail of the consultant of the firm.

    I searched about this consultant since I already have his name. He is already a Partner of the firm (NY office though) so I really prepared constructing the e-mail. I used some questions based on your articles.

    After 12 hours, I received a reply saying “great to hear from you” and “these are really great questions”. I’ve learned a lot from him. Finally, on the last paragraph of his e-mail, he said he will be happy to introduce me to the Southeast Asian team.

    I just replied back and waiting for his reply, i.e. to introduce me to the Southeast Asian team. Do you think this will increase my chance to get my resume be noticed, and hopefully get an invitation for an interview when I send them online?

    I graduated from a top 100+ university in Asia and had a couple of years experience in an advisory firm.


    • Victor Cheng Aug 18, 2014, 2:10 am

      YES, YES, YES!

      This definitely improved your odds of getting your resume actually considered by a real person. Most likely someone from the recruiting team in Asia will contact you. They will likely ask for your resume and possibly cover letter. That recruiter is now expected to answer to that partner in NY if that partner should ever ask, “Hey whatever happened to AD?”

      The only unacceptable answer is “I don’t know.”

      So now they more or less have to either grant you an interview or decline to interview (or perhaps call you by phone informally). But what ignoring you is hard to do now that a partner is in the loop.

      Now let me explain how consulting and many professional service firms work. They work on the basis of reputation. When the partner introduces you to the Asia team he or she can do so in one of two ways. The partner can say here is AD do whatever you want with him or her. Or the partner can say, I spoke to AD at length. He/she seems like sharp person, asked some really good questions. I think AD is worth a closer look.

      Pretty much any consultant at MBB in good standing can make such an internal referral. It carries significant weight.

      In addition, it takes a certain level of people skills and corporate savvy to network your way to a partner at MBB. It’s the exact same kind of savvy MBB values in their more senior consultants. In short, by getting to the right person, you demonstrated your fluency in navigating a corporate system. This can compensate for a resume that’s good but perhaps not exceptional in some obvious way.

      Good luck on the one tier 1 contact and be sure to not stop there. Keep reaching out to your other contacts. Try to find several different paths into each firm you are considering. Even if every person sends you to the same person in Asia, that’s totally ok. Just keep at it relentlessly and don’t slow down just because one contact seems to be working (or doesn’t seem to be working). This is a probabilistic endeavor. Do it enough times with a sufficiently strong resume and your efforts in aggregate will work, but it is impossible to predict which specific attempt will work.


      • AD Aug 18, 2014, 2:35 am

        Your reply makes me more motivated to work my way to be in any of the MBB firms. And yep, I’m still networking and finding other possible ways to get a contact person inside the MBB firms. I even contacted the CFO of a company I applied before who interviewed me but I did not get the job despite having good conversation with him. I got a good reply from him but he does not know anyone from MBB firms.

        Btw, how long do I need to wait before I send a follow-up email to the NY Partner if I have not received an e-mail yet regarding the introduction to the Asian team?


        • Victor Cheng Aug 18, 2014, 3:01 am

          I’d give it 3-5 business days.


          • AD Aug 25, 2014, 11:55 pm

            Hi Victor,

            So I was already contacted by one of the Asian recruiting team and had a 10-minute phone chat with her. I told her my preferred offices and she said that she will connect me to the consultants if I want to (I said it will be great to speak with consultants). It was a good conversation overall.

            I remember she said that I’ll let her know once I already submitted my application online. They have not seen my resume and cover letter yet. I only have the Big 4 accounting firm (consulting side) as the brand name but I have a great working experience, top 2% of the graduating class, and president of an organization for years. Do you think they will invite me for an interview?

  • Victor Cheng Aug 26, 2014, 10:16 am


    There’s only one way to find out!

    If you went to a top tier university for your region and have good test scores, I’d say there is a good chance. At this point you’ve done what you needed to to ensure your application actually gets considered. Definitely contact the recruiter when your application has been submitted and do take them up on any offers to speak to their consultants.

    Also up until now, emotionally you have risked nothing. After all if you don’t apply, they can’t reject you. You’ve done enough of the right things that now is time to take the risk and see what happens. At this point taking action takes precedent over thinking about taking action.

    Good luck!

  • David Roth Oct 6, 2014, 12:43 pm

    Great advice about the networking and dedication. I can see why your are so successful. Although I don’t feel I am great enough to get into a consulting firm, I use networking in my sales career to create long-term client relationships. Really enjoy your consulting tips. Thanks again for the advice. Keep up the good work.

    • Victor Cheng Apr 7, 2015, 9:26 pm


      You are quite welcome. Ultimately we are all in the career of selling one way or another (selling ourselves to employers or to clients). Thanks for your note.


  • Hasan syed Mar 20, 2015, 10:31 am

    Hey victor, loved the article and have a very relevant question regarding recruiting. I’m at a small liberal arts college here in GA miles away from a mbb target school. My question is, would it be in bad taste to attempt to find ways of attending the recruiting events at this nearby university and network at them or should I avoid this strategy altogether?

    • Victor Cheng Apr 7, 2015, 9:29 pm


      It’s borderline a bad idea. I think half the people working at these events might be okay with it, but most likely the majority would not. They are there for a stated purpose and you don’t fit the criteria of the stated purpose.

      I would suggest networking via 1st, 2nd and 3rd degree contacts. That approach is very much approved by and welcomed by all the top consulting firms. I think crashing an info session at another school might backfire. I don’t think it’s worth the risk.


  • AS May 27, 2015, 4:14 pm

    Victor, great advice about the networking part of the whole process. I’m a PhD student in an Ivy league engineering program and have been invited to Bridge to BCG in NYC. What is the best strategy to network in this instance? I will spend 3 days there getting to see how a case works and speaking with many consultants and partners. Is it a good idea to do partner-level networking here since I am guaranteed a first round interview after this experience? Also, is the fact that the Bridge class gets the first, first round interviews a big plus, and if so, how can we leverage that for a full time offer in the fall? Thanks in advance.

    • Victor Cheng May 28, 2015, 3:27 am


      You have a great opportunity with the Bridge program. At this point, I would actually suggest not being overly strategic. Ask your genuine questions in the workshop sessions. Meet as many BCG people as you can. Try to stay in contact with the ones you genuinely like and get along with.

      The right mindset at an extended event like this is to think of it as your first day at work, you have lots of questions, and you’re to finding a more senior consultant to show you the ropes and teach you how things work at BCG.

      In terms of interviewing earlier than other candidates, I would make any special adjustments just for that timing difference. It does make a difference in the decision meeting that is held behind closed doors that you never see. The lack of a large comparison pool might make it a little easier to get an offer – but that doesn’t impact what you actually do during the interview. It simply impacts the interview performance threshold needed to get an offer.


  • Sydney Jun 24, 2015, 10:36 am

    Hi Victor,

    Thanks so much for providing such a wealth of information and resources for getting into the consulting industry, they have been incredibly helpful. I am about to enter my junior year at a non-Ivy that McKinsey does recruit at, and have recently decided that consulting — over investment banking or private equity — is the journey I’d like to take. I applied to and was accepted into the McKinsey Undergraduate Women’s Summit this weekend in NYC and I wanted to know if you had information regarding if/how I should include that information on my resume or cover letter when applying for an internship in the following year, and how to best take advantage of my day at McKinsey in terms of networking. Also, would it be considered tacky to bring my resume and give it to anyone I meet there?

    Thanks in advance, and I look forward to your response.


    • Victor Cheng Jun 24, 2015, 3:14 pm


      First off bringing your resume to hand out would be considered VERY tacky. I strongly advised doing so.

      There are two ways to leverage the event. Meet people at the event that work at McKinsey, either people on consulting staff or recruiting (both are useful), and try to connect with them in such a way that 1) they remember who you are even after the event, 2) ask them if they would be open to answering any follow up questions about consulting after the event, 3) get their business card, 4) follow up after the event to say thank you and ask any additional questions you may have, ask for “advice” on how to best apply to McKinsey (this is code to see if they would be willing to endorse you to the recruiter coordinator behind the scenes).

      If you ask for “advice” they may endorse you without ever telling you, or they may say why don’t you send me your resume and I will forward it to recruiting (potentially with their endorsement).

      The best thing you can do at the even is meet people from the firm and ask damn good questions. Sharp, concise.. Questions whose answers can. It be found on Google. Ask them about McKinsey in general or about their specific careers at McKinsey. Don’t just say you are interested in McKinsey, SHOW them via your questions.

      The ability to ask good questions is a highly revered skill at McKinsey. They notice who asks good questions.

      Ideally you benefit from the event even before you write a cover letter or submit a resume. If not, or just to be sure, mention that you went to the event in your cover letter (important), mention the people from McKinsey that you met there and what they said or did that increased your interest at McKinsey, (very important to mention first and last names). This will show you took the effort to learn more about McKinsey and the recruiter may contact the person you mentioned to ask for their impressions about you.

      Good luck,

  • Sneha May 12, 2016, 12:02 am

    Hi Victor-

    I am great fan of your book Case Interview Secrets and all the informational videos you have put on your website. Like most of us here, I am too looking to get into the MBB. Here a bit on my background-

    I have an MA in Anthropology from Columbia University(GPA: 3.98). After graduating in 2013, I started working with the United Nations. This was a consulting position, I was responsible for many special projects: spearheading internal consulting group, brokering between the Global South for best practices exchange etc.

    As per your suggestion, I began to network and was able to find someone in the research and analytics team at BCG who shared my Resume with the recruiter. ( My resume is actually vetted from people who have worked in McKinsey and Bain).

    I received a letter of rejection today from BCG saying that they do not see match between my background and their present needs.

    I am definitely disheartened and wondering if I am investing my time in the wrong direction. My background does seem obscure to most people anyway and may actually be the reason for rejection. But then I do look at people in MBBs doing Social Sector Consulting and that inspires me to try further.

    What do you think may have gone wrong with BCG that even after an internal referal, I was not invited for an interview.

    • Victor Cheng May 18, 2016, 10:06 pm


      I don’t see any obvious red flags about your background. The one issue that you would need to proactively address is the perceived notion that people with Anthropology backgrounds aren’t quantitative in nature.

      One English major I knew, emphasized her perfect grades in taking advanced calculus classes as a way to demonstrate her quantitative proficiency.


  • Tom May 28, 2016, 11:29 am

    Victor, I would love it if you could discuss risks and things not to do in networking.
    For example: with how many consultants of the same company in the same city can you meet 1 on 1? Because I feel if you meet up with 5 of them, and they talk about you to each other, they will feel used and not ‘special’ any longer?

    • Victor Cheng May 31, 2016, 4:02 pm


      The reaction tends to be the exact opposite. This guy had the political savvy to connect with and impress all five of us. He would be great with clients.

      I had a reader do exactly this in London. He had been previously rejected by Bain. He impressed 4 – 5 consultants at Bain. They all recommend him to the recruiting department. Recruiting discovered they had already rejected him.

      The got the Partner in charge of world world wide recruiting to call this person to apologize, said they had made a mistake, and would he consider accepting an invitation to interview.

      You can’t have too many fans or supporters in your network.


  • Liangfang Zhao Jun 25, 2016, 6:49 pm

    Hi Victor,

    I’ve been reading this post several times by now, and each time it gives me some new inspiration, thanks for the great advice.

    I have a question though, I’ve heard a saying that the candidate can and should mention the people they have talked from this firm to in the cover letter, but what if I have talked to 10+ people across different offices of a firm? Should I really write down every single name? Is this taking up too much cover letter space while not hitting the point?

    • Victor Cheng Jun 27, 2016, 4:31 pm

      Just mention 1 or 2 names to prove you made an effort. It would helpful if the 1 or 2 people remember you.

      – Victor

  • Adesewa Aug 1, 2016, 12:45 pm

    Hey Victor,

    Reading your post did not only motivate me, but made me realize how much I haven’t done and need to do. I will be resuming final semester in about 4weeks, I haven’t started preparing and I really intend to go all out. Please, how do I fast track this process?
    Companies will begin to come to school about 3weeks after resumption and that means I have about a month and 2weeks to prepare. I need your advise on a schedule that will work. HELP!

    Thanks again. Your resources are extremely valuable.

    • Victor Cheng Sep 13, 2016, 4:37 pm


      1) Attend all information sessions by firms you’re targeting. Get there 20 minutes early and stay 30 -60 minutes late. Meet consultants from the firms to say, learn about their jobs, and to express interest. They take notes as to who asked intelligent questions and expressed interest in the firm. This in part determines if you will get an interview.

      2) See if your alumni office or career office have a directory of alumni from your school willing to speak to students about their career experiences. If so, contact several in your area with interesting backgrounds. Invite them out to coffee. Learn about their experiences.

      #1 is more important (or at least more time sensitive than #2). #2 is useful in the longer run.


  • Micaela Oct 25, 2016, 7:31 am

    Hi Victor,

    As I scrolled down the screen, I held my breath hoping you would still reply to the questions posted here and to my pleasant surprise, you replied to Adesewa just over a month ago!

    I am currently applying to various consulting firms in the UK and am wondering if it is a good idea to introduce recommendations and opinions in my cover letter. For example, if MBB does something a certain way, or has come up with a new initiative, I could insert something along the lines of: Perhaps try and include xx into the initiative/there are opportunities to carry out xx at xx whom I think would be very interested etc.

    Your input on this would be very much appreciated.

    Thank you in advance!

    Kind Regards,

    • Victor Cheng Oct 26, 2016, 5:14 pm


      I would advice against including opinions and recommendations in your cover letter. Your cover letter has a single purpose: to articulate why they should interview you. That is all.

      The first person reading your cover letter likely has no idea what you’re talking about anyways. Recruiters don’t have often follow the details of the firm’s work. Keep in mind many firms have thousands if not tens of thousand of consultant. They are in the news daily in one of 60 countries around the world. Don’t make the recruiter’s job harder. Just explain why they should interview you.


  • Ann Feb 17, 2017, 9:59 am

    Hi Victor

    I was applying with Mckinsey, Got through till the first round of interviews. The response that I got was that its a ‘no for now’ but that I was going to get enrolled into the Keep in Touch Program. What are the chances of getting considered for a re-application within some months as my interviewer states; or is the Keep in touch program just a polite ‘No’

    • Victor Cheng Feb 27, 2017, 10:46 am


      Such a program didn’t exist on a formal basis when I was at McKinsey. McKinsey did routinely interview people later in their career that they declined to interview previously. However, this was usually after 2 years or after a major change in career history (aka business school, a prestigious research fellowship, working at a big brand name company and doing well, etc).

      For practical purposes, I would agree to stay in touch while moving on with your recruiting process with other companies.


  • Noah Meyer Mar 15, 2017, 3:56 pm

    Hi Victor,

    I have two pages of notes from each of your highly useful responses and success story. I’m sure everyone reading really appreciates it! I am a senior at a non-top tier undergraduate school studying finance. Aside from that, my university career has been made up by myself building a franchise as a manager/owner. With an entrepreneurial and financial background, how do you recommend I sell myself to boutique, regional, and local firms via my resume, cover letter, and when making initial contact with either a recruiter or someone else within the company?

    Kind Regards,

  • Sarah Jun 1, 2017, 5:26 am

    Hi Victor,

    I had an interview with McKinsey approaching my last year as an undergrad however I did not prepare for the interviews as well as I was supposed to.

    I came in a bit relaxed but once the interviewer gave me the case I panicked and couldn’t do simple problems or answer correctly.

    The group of interviewers all met up and discussed each one’s performance. However, my issue is, I do not know if McKinsey give second chances in the future if one applies again for someone who screwed up so badly.

    I do not know if they would jot down my weaknesses and store it in my file for the future for when I apply which would much decrease my rates of getting an offer. What are your thoughts? Should I be worried about this from now for the potentially re-applying consideration?

  • Victor Cheng Jun 1, 2017, 12:34 pm


    They do take another look at previous candidates who interviewed but did not progress to an offer. The stated interval is a 2 year waiting period and presumes you’ve done something meaningful during those two years (e.g., good job or grad school).

    I know a few people that didn’t get an offer the first time around and later worked at McKinsey. It’s not a deal breaker.

    They would be aware that you applied before and didn’t get an offer. The might keep notes on where you were weak last time; and may target those previous weak spots in first interview to see if any thing has changed.


  • sean alyeshmerni Aug 11, 2017, 9:40 pm

    Hey Victor,

    I just bought and started reading your book today. It’s amazingly helpful. I’m a recent medical school graduate with two years of clinical experience, published research, and a philosophy background (all problem solving) at a non target school. When you mention networking, are there any sites, services, etc that you endorse for me to get my foot in the door? I’m utilizing LinkedIn but its very hit or miss. I’ve had multiple consultants edit my resume, I continuously go over my cover letter as well. Any hard advice with the networking would be greatly appreciated. Are there ways to get into the ivy league networking web?


    • Victor Cheng Aug 14, 2017, 3:40 pm


      Generally LinkedIn, any organizations you belong to, or any friends of friends are your best bet. Since you were not at a target school, you might not have ivy league contacts in your closest circle of contacts. In that case, you will need to network out to your second and third circles (friends of your contacts, and friends of friends of friends).

      For example, when I was networking coming out of undergrad, my mother’s friend’s daughter was a partner at Morgan Stanley. I was able to get a phone call with her.

      As you meet people, ask them question to learn about their field (if you are interested in their field), and also let them know what kind of person you are trying to reach and see if they know someone that meets you description or if they know anyone that would be more likely to know someone that fits your description.

      The general idea is to get a few dozen people keeping an eye out for who and what you are looking for. Be sure to thank everyone for their time.


      PS. Network is inherently a person-to-person contact kind of activity (in person, phone, or email — listed in order of preference and effectiveness). The digital tools simply help the process but they don’t replace the more manual process.

  • Dutchie Oct 19, 2017, 12:14 pm

    Hi Victor,

    First of all, thanks a lot for all the information you have provided me with. It will definitely help me a lot with my applications.

    I am a 20 year old International Business Administration student at a top-10 European business school. Currently in my third and final year. Although I will be a student for several more years (gap year, MSc, etc.) it is my goal to work for an MBB sometime.

    Some facts about me that may or may not be of relevance
    – Currently studying a semester abroad at the best business school in China
    – I do not have experience in consulting yet
    – I am a top10-15% student, GPA 8.0/10.0 (average of all courses of all years up until now)
    – My high school grades were lower (average 7.5/10). Mentioning this because, apparently, MBB also look at high school grades
    – Did a voluntary “internship” at a leading technology company after my freshman year, during summer break (primary goal was to find out what a company looks like from the inside, and what it’s like to work in a MNE. The tasks I completed were not too challenging, but the experience itself was very valuable)
    – Have been a board member of an investment club (which is part of the local student investment society), 2016-2017)
    – When I finish my exchange (Dec. 2018), I plan to join a student-run consultancy club if possible, and, if not, do a committee or take a relevant side job.
    – Plan to take a gap year after receiving my BSc diploma in 2018: want to do 1 or 2 internships (preferably in a big name company. MBB will be near-impossible given my limited experience, but I will also try to get into tier-2 or boutique firms).
    – After my gap year, I want to do a MSc. At the moment I don’t know yet what (hesitating between Finance/Investments, Strategic Management, International Management, Business Information Management)
    – If I am motivated, I plan to do a 2nd MSc either at a top business school abroad or at the same university.
    – If I don’t do a 2nd MSc, then maybe another internship or committee at study association
    – I am using LinkedIn a lot. Until now I have been adding a lot of campus recruiters from MBB, tier-2 and other firms. My idea until now is to write a post on LinkedIn somewhere in December this year mentioning that I’m looking for an internship in 2018 hoping that recruiters will notice it and contact me/forward my request to colleagues. However, after having read a bit on this page, a more personal approach might be way more effective.

    So yeah, as you see I have a lot of plans. And I hope to do everything that I wrote here. Do you think I’m on the right track? What (else) do you think I could do to improve my chances a bit? Or should I not worry too much since I am still a BSc student?

    Thanks a lot in advance!

    • Dutchie Oct 20, 2017, 8:27 am

      Maybe also worth mentioning that my university (business school) is the best one in my country (RSM Erasmus University), and that I’m looking for a spot in my own country, the Netherlands (probably in Amsterdam, since MBB and lower-tier consulting firms have their offices there).

      • Victor Cheng Oct 23, 2017, 5:54 pm


        That’s definitely a plus. If your university facilities you contacting recent alumni from your university, I would suggest trying to meet recent alumni working in the firms you’re targeting. Setup an “informational interview / information gathering session” as a way to learn more about their experiences in consulting. See my articles on this on the blog. This would help you get on the radar with those firms and/or when you apply through on campus recruiting, be sure to mention the names of the people you met with.


    • Victor Cheng Oct 20, 2017, 4:05 pm


      Of the things you mentioned, most aren’t 80/20 important from a MBB standpoint. If MBB recruits at your school, the focus will be on your grades at that school (not prior), any standardized test scores, and the strength of your resume — especially meaningful big brand name experiences or highly selective experiences. See my resume toolkit for specifics on how to phrase your achievements. The phrasing is very important. Networking helps you develop a personal point of connection with the MBB firms and shows your interest in genuine given the effort you are expending to make connections.

      If MBB doesn’t recruit at your school, but you are at the caliber of the students graduating from the schools where MBB does recruit on campus, then networking helps you get considered.

      At a target school, your application will absolutely get read and considered. In that case, networking is to strengthen your candidacy by showcasing interest.

      At a non-target school, you can not assume your application will be read or considered at all (at least not by a human resume reader). In this case, the purpose of networking is to get your application receive enough attention to be considered fairly. The candidates that get in from non-target schools are those of similar caliber of achievement.

      If your level of achievement is not as high as peers at target school, your high leverage points are get into a job / career with a big brand name company (in any field) and do an exceptional job; then get into a top 10 business school. That’s the most proven path for a non-target undergrad that’s not as competitive as candidates from target undergrad institutions.


      • Dutchie Oct 25, 2017, 4:13 am

        Dear Victor,

        Thanks a lot for your two replies! That certainly helps a lot. I agree that contacting alumni from my university can certainly put me a step ahead.

        Regarding the 80/20 thing you mentioned: which things are not so important for MBB, according to you? Which things would you consider to be important, instead?

        Thanks again!


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