- Case Interview
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Life of a Management Consultant
Case Interview by Firms BCG Case Interview
To be honest, I am not a big fan of categorizing case interviews by firms. Are there really differences between a BCG Case Interview and McKinsey (or Bain) one? Even if there are differences, most of them are just vague generalizations of the highly dynamic case interview world. So are they different?
The answer is not really! Similar to McKinsey recruitment process, BCG recruitment process consists of at least 4 rounds: CV screening, BCG potential test, 1st round of case interview and 2nd round of case interview.
Overall, the format of each step in 2 firms shares many things in common. However, the volume of google searches for those keywords is massive and I still get questions about these every week. Therefore, I would like to take this chance to tell you and many fine candidates pondering about these topics.
1. The differences in real consulting projects – BCG and Bain project teams are more “powerful”.
In McKinsey, sometimes it feels like the engagement team just acts like the front face or the representatives of the bigger, smarter, and more competent “somebody” backstage. The team has little say on what the project content would look like. Most of the content comes from the network of partners and experts with years of experience in that particular industry, function, or location. At McKinsey, “I drew it” is not the preferred answer to the “where did you get that framework from?” question. This may sound a little negative, but maybe that’s the key to success of McKinsey over the others (McKinsey on average commands much higher consulting fees than any other competitors).
On the other hand, at BCG (and Bain), the engagement team acts more like an independent cell in the worldwide network body. The team depends less on the network’s knowledge and expertise. There are more “problem solving” teams and less expert interviews.
2. Case Interviews of McKinsey vs. BCG (and Bain) somewhat reflect that aspect.
Guess what, the case interview format does have the feel of that difference in real life. In McKinsey interviews, more often than not, you will get a so-called “interviewer-led” case, in which you are asked to work on specific parts of the overall case question designated by the interviewer. Usually the ability to look at the big problem as a whole and break it down is not as important as the ability to effectively and coherently solve mini problems.
In BCG and Bain case interviews, you will often get a format called the “candidate-led” case. This is the opposite of the interviewer-led format. The interviewer will give a case problem (i.e: case key question) and leave you on the island. You are expected to think on your feet, actively draw an issue tree (interchangeably called frameworks), tackle the issue tree based on hypotheses, and so on. The interviewer plays a very passive role. He / she doesn’t usually intervene unless you ask questions.
3. Studying for the BCG Case Interview? Learn candidate-led cases!
So back to my opinion, you may hear people talk through the roof about BCG vs McKinsey cases, to me, the much better and more important categorization method for cases is interviewer-led vs. candidate-led. This mindset allows you to articulately steer your study plan to learn case interviews in the easiest way possible. There are so many exceptions in the dynamic case interview world, don’t go into a BCG interview with “BCG case interview” knowledge armed, go in there equipped with case interview knowledge.
And the first and more important step to equipping yourselves with case interview knowledge is the Candidate-led case format. Let’s learn it with this wonderful video tutorial.
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