The consulting interview series
We decided to launch a new series here on StrategyCase.com that should give our readers an insight into how the consulting roles differ across firms and geographies. We reach into our network to talk to people from the McKinseys, BCGs, and Bains of this world and get their perspective on their jobs and the industry.
If you have any requests for particular firms or geographies and particular questions, let us know and we will reach out to our network to conduct an interview for StrategyCase.com.
For the first post in this category, we have interviewed one of our contributors who works as a second-year consultant analyst at Bain in Shanghai, China to answer the questions on What does a Bain consultant do and How does the day of a Bain consultant look like. See the interview below!
The experience of a Bain consultant
StrategyCase.com: Where do you work? What position?
Interviewee: I work in Shanghai as a second-year consultant at Bain & Company.
StrategyCase.com: What kinds of cases do you work on?
Interviewee: 80% of my cases are helping leading consumer goods companies solve strategic problems. I was also staffed on commercial due diligence and industrial goods related cases so far.
StrategyCase.com: How is the travel for Chinese top-tier consultants? Do you travel every week? How far?
Interviewee: I travel around 40-50% of the year. I could travel every week on travel cases (when clients are not based in Shanghai) but I usually prefer to stay in the client city over the weekend when traveling. The most common case locations are Beijing, Shenzhen, and Hongkong. So it’s around 2 hours by flight to get to the clients usually.
StrategyCase.com: What are your favorite travel hacks?
Interviewee: Definitely credit cards and their reward programs. We are allowed to use personal credit cards and usually, junior consultants pay for team meals, which will generate lots of mile points.
StrategyCase.com: How does a typical day look in your consultant life? (e.g., distribution between client meetings, problem-solving, analytical work in excel, slide preparation, etc)
Interviewee: This varies a lot depending on cases. I have PMO (project management office) cases where 80% of my time is spent in client meetings/engagement and due diligence cases where 80% of the time is spent in analytical work in Excel.
StrategyCase.com: What’re the typical hours you work during the week and on Friday? How about weekend work?
Interviewee: Mon-Thurs: start at 9:30 am and finish at around 11 pm on average. Fridays end at 6-7 pm. Weekend work is very limited but we usually start responding to email on Sunday nights.
StrategyCase.com: How do you unwind during the week and on weekends?
Interviewee: Weekdays: chatting with colleagues over dinner time. It’s very common for us to have a team dinner and we try to have non-work-related topics. Weekends: meeting friends, reading, sports, and having nice food.
StrategyCase.com: What’s the best part of the job?
Interviewee: Working with a group of smart, professional, and fun people!
StrategyCase.com: What is the worst part of the job?
Interviewee: Consistently long hours. Many colleagues have back problems as a result of long sittings.
StrategyCase.com: What tip would you give applicants for your role and your firm?
Interviewee: There are basically three things: Research the firm and be well prepared for case interviews, talk to us directly to understand the firm culture, and do enough mock interviews to make sure you will pass once being invited for interviews.
StrategyCase.com: What exit opportunities are you considering?
Interviewee: Strategy department in corporates.
StrategyCase.com: What have you learned on the job?
Interviewee: Too many things. Consulting is a very learning-driven job. If I summarize them as one thing, that is “how to be professional”. It is the mindset of making things to its perfection and this, of course, leads to detailed tactics/actions/executions.
StrategyCase.com: Anything else you would like to add?
Interviewee: Two more things to those who are interested in joining consulting firms. This is a tough and stressful job that you will feel being challenged every single day. In China, it is not well paid given the long hours you put in, especially in comparison to some positions in the finance industry. Make sure you think these through before making a final decision.
How we can help you
If you want to break into Bain, check out how we can help you below.
Our approach follows the stages of the consulting application life cycle.
1. Start out by reading our freely available articles on consulting applications, digital assessments, case interviews, and the consulting lifestyle to get an idea of where you’ll be heading. More info here.
2. Check out our application document guides for cover letters and resumes (including ready-to-use templates) that allow you to complete stellar consulting applications within less than 1 hour. The guides and templates are tailored to contain the right content, keywords, phrases, and stories to maximize your chances to receive the invitation to the interviews. More info here.
3. Specifically for McKinsey, we have developed our Ready-for-McKinsey (RfM) video academy, which consists of 40 educational videos that dissect a typical McKinsey interview step by step. We cover both the business case interview including structuring, exhibit, and math questions as well as the personal experience interview with its dimensions leadership, personal impact, and entrepreneurial drive. We employ a “contrasting method” by showcasing to you how bad, good, and excellent candidates would answer the questions. Through this, we are able to demonstrate interview best-practices, the most common mistakes to avoid, and what it really takes to receive an offer. This video program is the best resource for McKinsey interviews out there. You can use this academy also for your Bain preparation. More info here.
4. Book a case interview appointment to benefit from our real MBB interviewer experience. We have successfully coached 100s of candidates on their journey of getting offers with top-tier firms such as McKinsey, BCG, and Bain. Our approach differs from the usual interview coachings and teaches you specific habits and tools to crack every case, regardless of the context or industry. We also offer behavioral and personal experience interview practice and coaching. To maximize your chances, we recommend you to book a 6-sessions program with us (3 typical MBB cases and 3 personal fit simulations). More info here.