Consulting Career Academy

Maximizing Your Chances for a Management Consulting Career: Insights into MBB Recruiting

February 3 2024 By The MBA Exchange
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This fall, thousands of new MBA students will arrive on campus, excited to begin the next phase of their lives. Many individuals attend business school primarily to switch to a new career path. Furthermore, over 30% of incoming MBA students select management consulting as their desired industry.

Consulting is an exciting and rewarding field that introduces MBA grads to a variety of industries and teaches them how to solve a broad range of business problems. Being a management consultant can be a career unto itself or serve as a conduit to a senior management position in another industry.

Given the relatively small number of post-MBA positions at, and the high selectivity of, consulting firms, competition for these coveted jobs is fierce. In fact, most of those who want to enter consulting are turned away. According to a recent survey by RelishCareers, 65% of respondents who indicated “consulting” as their first career choice ultimately joined a different industry. Fortunately, if you’re an MBA student determined to enter management consulting, there are ways to improve your odds for success. 

Most of the advice below were provided by our consultants, Stephanie Horn and Matt Strickler. At the Consulting Career Academy, we have seen individuals from a wide range of pre-MBA industries and functions move into consulting. Having made this career transition ourselves, we’ve developed customized strategies and tactics to help others get hired. Here are some relevant lessons we’ve learned along the way:

Launch the Hiring Campaign Early

During the first few months on campus, MBA students face demanding classes and a long list of fun activities to help them get to know each other. Given the demands on their waking hours, it can be very tempting to postpone career planning. However, those who are most determined to join management consulting seize the opportunity to get a head start. Crafting a solid plan, getting started early, and sustaining efforts to become competitive can make the difference between getting hired or getting ignored by consulting firms. Enlisting the services of experienced advisors from an organization such as the Consulting Career Academy at The MBA Exchange could help you gain the edge you need to win.

Starting early is key to success in consulting recruiting. Begin networking, polishing your resume, and preparing for interviews as soon as you start your MBA program. The earlier you start, the more time you have to refine your skills and build the relationships that will help you secure a consulting job.

Build A Relevant Network

As a career-switcher targeting the consulting field, your first step is to build a robust professional network. Before business school, our roles were military officer (Matt Strickler) and manager for a non-profit organization (Stephanie Horn). Since neither of us personally knew any consultants, we had to get up to speed quickly on the practice areas, culture, and problem-solving approach of each major firm. To do so, we leveraged our MBA classmates as well as existing undergraduate and professional relationships. We also attended the consulting firms’ information sessions, campus visits, and social events, and then contacted managers at their individual offices to find the best match for our skills and interests.

Networking is crucial in consulting. Firms like McKinsey, BCG, and Bain often recruit heavily from their established networks. By attending information sessions, participating in campus visits, and engaging with current consultants, you can build relationships that may help you secure interviews and job offers. Use your alumni associations and LinkedIn to connect with current consultants and learn more about the firms. The stronger your network, the better your chances of landing a coveted interview.

Strengthen Your Resume

Student resumes are the only data that consulting firms consider when determining who to invite for an interview. In many cases, major accomplishments that earned high praise in your pre-MBA industry need to be recast to feature the skills consulting firms value most. For example, Stephanie was concerned that the small scale of her non-profit organization would limit her appeal to consulting firms. So she highlighted the fact that she had made senior-level management decisions and impacted an entire organization compared to the traditional roles of her counterparts at large, for-profit companies. By featuring her leadership and teambuilding skills and quantifying the results of her projects, Stephanie’s resume now showcased strengths that resonated with consulting firms. Similarly, Matt realized that he had to delete his proudest accomplishment – Honor Graduate of Army Jump Master School – because it wasn’t relevant to consulting. So, he translated his military responsibilities and activities to make the achievements on his resume pertinent to management consulting.

Crafting a strong resume tailored to consulting is vital. Highlight leadership experiences, problem-solving skills, and quantifiable results. Focus on achievements that demonstrate your ability to handle complex projects and lead teams. Consulting firms value analytical and strategic thinking, so ensure your resume reflects these competencies.

Prepare for Interview Success

Finally, future consultants need to develop exceptional communication skills and strategies for “fit” interviews, case interviews, math tests, take-home cases, online cases, and other steps in the hiring process at consulting firms. Students must get up to speed on the evaluation process and become comfortable in stressful settings. One of the keys to becoming competent and confident is getting insightful, actionable feedback from qualified sources so you can practice efficiently and perform like a star on interview day.

Preparing for consulting interviews involves mastering the case interview process. Practice structuring solutions to business problems, performing quantitative analysis, and explaining your thought process clearly. Fit interviews assess your cultural fit with the firm, so be prepared to discuss your experiences, motivations, and career goals. Utilize resources like CaseCoach, PrepLounge, and Management Consulted for practice cases and interview tips.

Choosing the Right Office in MBB Consulting

A key success factor in getting a consulting offer is matching your skills and abilities not only to the right firm but often to the right office within that firm. Offices can vary dramatically in terms of size, culture, and type of business. When you apply to consulting firms, they usually ask you to pick your office preference very early in the process, so you need to do your homework upfront.

Here are the important characteristics to consider:

  • Culture of the Firm and Office: Not only is there a difference between the cultures of different strategy consulting firms, but the culture within the offices can vary as well. A small, new office will have more of a start-up feel than a large, established office. Understanding the specific culture of an office can help you determine if it’s a good fit for your working style and personality.
  • Work/Life Balance: Work/life balance can differ significantly between offices. Some firms ensure you are in the office on Fridays, while others may have the “standard 12-hour day” that can extend to 15 hours. Know what balance works for you and seek out offices that align with your preferences.
  • Options for Personal and Professional Development: While some firms have a firm-wide staffing model, it’s crucial to be in the home office of the partners you want to mentor you. Make sure you’ve done your homework on what professional training is available and what additional support systems exist in the office you are considering.
  • Functional Areas the Firm Covers: You can determine from where the partners are located which offices are key for the operations practice, or the finance practice. Understanding the functional expertise of an office can help you align your skills and career aspirations with the right team.
  • Industries the Firm Covers: Reading the bios of the partners in the office can give you insight into how much work is done in healthcare, defense, entertainment, or other industries. Knowing which industries the office specializes in can help you find a better fit for your interests and experience.
  • Geographic Scope of Projects: Different firms have different staffing models. If you don’t want to travel as much, you want to be in an office that is located near the heart of the industry you are interested in. Some offices may focus on local projects, while others might have a global reach.

To discover the focus of individual offices, you can start by visiting the firm’s websites where you can often look up partners who specialize in different functions or industry groups and see where they are located. Some firms will include office-specific descriptions. However, for the best information, use your networks. Find current and past employees who can give you detailed insights into the office culture and the type of work usually available.


Getting hired by top management consulting firms like McKinsey, BCG, and Bain requires a strategic approach. Building a strong network, crafting a compelling resume, and preparing thoroughly for interviews are essential steps. Starting early and seeking guidance from experienced advisors can significantly enhance your chances of success. By following these strategies, you can maximize your chances of securing a coveted position in the competitive world of management consulting.