What is Bain & Company looking for in an MBA?

Tuesday, July 04, 2017 at 12am

When we first spoke to Keith Bevans from Bain & Company in the summer of 2013, he had recently been appointed the company’s head of global recruiting. Three years later in 2016, the summer associate class for 2016 was the largest the company has ever had. And 2017 is following in the same upward trajectory with record numbers, most of whom will be MBAs. Bain is a top recruiter at most of the top-20-ranked Business schools including Columbia Business School and INSEAD of France. The firm employs 6,000 in 53 offices in 34 countries.

What does an MBA student need to do to land a coveted role at this top consulting firm? Keith shares what Bain looks for...

MBAs bring a lot to the table – their educational background, together with great work and leadership experience. Most campuses also bring students from around the world who are transitioning from different industries. MBAs continually challenge themselves which is considered valuable.

Bain plan to hire in excess of 400 Consultants this year, which includes MBAs, PhDs, and Associate Consultants. Their intern cycle is considered a great way to find the best talent on campus and give them a chance to see what they do and gauge fit. Unsurprisingly Ninety percent of their interns come back as full-time hires.

So which schools do Bain hire from – They tend to look at the top 15-20 ranked schools, which are generally the bigger programs. Which makes sense because they need to recruit large numbers of students. In addition top-ranked schools are very selective, so they know that all their students are strong candidates. It’s important that they meet students at their on campus events as part of their hiring strategy to maximize the time spent with them and reducing time on presentations etc.  

What are the key attributes sought in consulting staff? 

The case interview questions show that the people bound to be most successful at Bain have an aptitude for: 

  1. Problem solving – with the ability to communicate complex problems in a succinct way.
  2. Communication – as a client services business you are expected to have a way of connecting
    and engaging with people and look to them for answers to your questions
  3. Teamwork and fit - working as part of a team is more unique to Bain than at other firms. They tend to be very humble about their backgrounds, so if you feel the need to prove you’re the smartest person in the room, then that’s definitely not considered a great fit at Bain. When you join Bain, you join an office. Although they are a global firm, they are a team in an office. Those relationships are valuable.

You join Bain as a generalist to ensure you are open to a variety of experiences within the business and have been effective in bringing insights from one industry to another.

Surprisingly Bain also does something totally outside the box - despite the growth and the need to get people to Manager, they conduct open discussions on what else people would like to do professionally, five or ten years’ down the line.  Sizeable chunks do go on to Fortune 500 companies, but there are those that choose to follow their passion in SME and not-for-profit organizations.

The MBA broadens horizons and gives you an appreciation for people with different backgrounds. For those who have been in consulting, it’s also often the first extended period of time spent with people who have come from different industries.

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