Why Bain? And why consulting in the first place? Answers to these questions are crucial, personally and during fit interviews. Everyone needs good reasons for big career decisions, and every employer expects to hear good reasons for their next expensive hires.
In this article, I’ve compiled the 8 most common reasons why people choose Bain for their career in consulting, and how to answer the likes of “Why do you want to join us” interview questions. Enjoy reading!
8 reasons to work for Bain
In reality, there are only slight differences between the Big 3 consulting firms – McKinsey, BCG, and Bain. But despite the equally attractive aspects – the salary, the network, the growth opportunities and exit options, Bain stands out in 3 key respects: (1) Its close-knitted culture, (2) The all-round support beyond consulting work, and (3) Its transparent staffing opportunities and need-based externships program.
No.1: A dynamic, close-knitted corporate culture
Among MBB (Big 3) firms, Bain is distinguished for its dynamic corporate culture and close-knitted, fraternal bonds of colleagues in an office.
You don’t see a company hosting its own World Cup events or throwing corporate parties featuring song lyrics rewritten by its own music band very often. So these alone should tell you something about the “work hard, play hard” culture at Bain (check out Sweet Child of Mine and Brown Eyed Girl performed by The Bain Band).
Since Bain is younger and smaller in scale relative to other MBB firms, their employees at each office enjoy a much closer bond. Insiders often refer to an internal adage: “If you want the fame, join McKinsey; if you want the impact, join BCG; if you want to be in a fraternity, join Bain.”
No.2: Any background can get you into Bain
Two great characteristics of the consulting world are openness and diversity – There is absolutely no background required to become a management consultant, not even a degree!
For fields such as Engineering or Finance, you would almost certainly need an Engineering degree and a Finance degree to get in. Consulting is exactly the opposite of this. Management consulting firms will hire candidates from every academic discipline and background – so long as they meet three key criteria – leadership, achieving, and analytical problem-solving. After that, consultants will receive all the training they need to do the job.
It’s true that Maths or Finance degrees do give you an edge as they sharpen important consulting skills like analytical problem-solving. Yet, they’re not so necessary. With enough practice, using great materials – such as my Ultimate Management Consulting Program, anyone can make it to top consulting firms!
No.3: High income, glamorous lifestyle
Many people choose management consulting because of the outrageously good pay and the glamorous lifestyle. According to Glassdoor, a typical US consultant at Bain earns over $165,000 a year, and the highest positions pay up to $1m a year.
Life-style wise, although the consulting world is often known for its frequent travels, Bain always ensure the highest-standard travel experiences possible for their people. Bainies will always stay in the nicest five-star hotels, own the most elite membership cards, access to premium gyms and pools, you name it.
Of course, travel schedules and destinations vary depending on client industry, work scope, job titles, and other reasons. This is why, sometimes, the best places to stay might not be as glamorous as expected. But rest assured that they’re the best services around!
No.4: All-round support beyond consulting work
Bain is on top of the pyramid when it comes to creating a robust support system for its people – support that extends beyond consulting work. For example, every Bainie receives massive help to pursue sideline hobbies that they deeply care about.
To put this into perspective, if you’re a consultant, passionate about competing in World Championships, but lack the time and funding to do so, Bain will pay for your professional coach and rearrange projects to free up your training time.
Your team will make sure you never miss a practice and show up on competition rounds to watch you on the side-lines. Even if you make it to the semi-finals and fail, you will connect with top-notch professionals in those fields, who might even offer you full-time roles on their team (talk about exit opportunities!).
No.5: A mountain of support services to capitalize on
Very few companies will let new hires manage other employees much senior than themselves. Consulting firms flipped this – even as an intern, you can get other people to do your work right away. Why? Because you get access to a mountain of support in all kinds to capitalize on.
These support services come in many forms, but they all serve a common purpose – to ensure that consultants save 99% of their time doing consulting work. For example, when I was at McKinsey, there was an entire function of professional Powerpoint designers. All I had to do was to quickly draft the contents on a piece of paper, take a picture of it, and send it to the Powerpoint team to beautify.
Other services work similarly. If you cannot afford an hour to figure out complex Excel models, outsource it to the company’s pool of Excel experts. If you need industry experts’ advice on your client’s case, look up the company’s network and help will come in two minutes.
Bottom line is, consulting firms want consultants to focus on the big content, and utilize all time-saving support they can get to take care of the rest. This is because profit-generating time outweighs all extra costs.
No.6: Fast, high-level, and well-rounded growth opportunities
Aside from the great pay and the great reputation, management consulting is especially attractive because of the fast, high-level, and well-rounded personal development that lasts a lifetime.
Bain particularly places a strong emphasis on coaching and mentoring, with extensive training programs both globally and locally. Members from global consulting teams are also regularly transferred to Bain’s Capability Network to serve as team leaders.
Additionally, Bain provides need-based transfer or “externship” opportunities for its employees to involve in projects outside of their original scope of work for 4 to 6 months. Examples are transfers to New York or externships to philanthropic organizations such as Darsa.
No.7: Reasonable work/life balance
Compared to other high-income career paths, management consulting offers a more reasonable work-life balance. A consultant typically works 60-70 hours a week. Of course, this number heavily depends on project type, job titles, office geography, and how well each consultant can utilize given resources.
At Bain, in particular, employees enjoy a slightly better work-life sustainability than McKinsey and BCG, in two aspects – transparency, and travel
No.8: A wide range of good exit options
Many people choose consulting as a springboard to a wide range of careers. This is because consultants often enjoy impressive exit opportunities thanks to industry prestige, diverse experiences, and high-quality alumni networks. The most common consulting exit routes are:
Bain consultants have a particularly straight-forward highway to Private Equity, thanks to Bain Capital, a management and information independent company from Bain & Company, a private investment firm founded by Bill Bain in 1984.
Bain Capital often invests in or buys companies plagued with problems but has great growth potentials, then hires Bain & Company to solve problems for these companies before selling them off. These projects are great opportunities to build networks and gain experience for those who consider Private Equity as their potential exit option.
“Why Bain?” – Interview question
During fit interviews, understanding your personal reasons for the question “Why Bain?” is already half the battle. The other half is to persuade the interviewer that this particular position at Bain is really for you. To deliver a convincing answer, bear in mind the below strategy and checklist.
“Why Bain?” – Interview question strategy
The truth is, nobody cares about WHAT particular reasons (or insights) you list out.
What they do care about is HOW you deliver them. Hence, the key is to implicitly show off qualifications and consulting traits, i.e: structured, fact-based, achieving (strong will to succeed).
To do so, you should always structure your points and collect strong data to back up each point you made. Follow the steps listed below for more details.
Five steps to approach the “Why Bain” interview question
Step 1: Take some of the insights from the “why Bain?” section above. Strictly avoid mentioning sensitive topics such as salary, prestige, glamorous lifestyle, etc.
Step 2: Personalize them. The ideas above are my personal insights. You’re welcome to use them, but do modify in such a way that they highlight your character. That said, only choose the insights that resonate the most with you. That way, your answer will also sound more sincere.
Step 3: Structure them. The most important thing is to show interviewers you’re structured and MECE. If a Bain interviewer were to ask me a question along the lines of “Why do you want to join us?”, I would answer them in the order of two parts – (1)”Why Consulting” and (2)“Why Bain”. For each part, I will give three among the insights above.
Step 4: Collect strong data to backup each argument. Every sentence of your answer must be backed by strong evidence. For example, if you were to say “I’d like to work for Bain because of the more diverse practices I get to explore”, make sure to clarify which benchmark you’re using, and list out the additional practices Bain has that you’re interested in.