The Bain case interview has its own nuances and slight differences in focus. Not understanding these differences from McKinsey or BCG case interviews could mean the difference between landing an offer at a top firm, or not. Bain, like all management consulting firms, use a case interview format in their consulting interviews because case interviews mimic real world business problems – and Bain is all about the real world.
These cases require the interviewee to demonstrate thorough understanding of applicable frameworks (ie: Porter’s Five Forces, Profitability framework, 3C & P, M&A Framework, The 4 P’s, SWOT, Force Field Analysis, Benchmarking, MECE, etc) to throughly understand the problem(s) and then apply that understanding to draw a conclusion that you can clearly give to the Bain interviewers. Be prepared to talk through your rationale with the interviewers as well.
Understand better how Bain operates through key points in the video – and you will shine at a Bain interview.
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Hey, I’m Jenny Rae Le Roux, the Managing Director of Management Consulted. We get a lot of questions about how to break into consulting. But a lot of people don’t ask exactly the right question.
I’m going to focus today on one of those, which is, “How do you shine at a Bain interview?” which basically means, how do you walk into the room, and make somebody know that you are Bain-quality material? I’m going to talk about my experience both interviewing for Bain, and also in the interviewer chair. I want to give you a couple of key things that you really have to focus on.
Pay Attention to Bain Interviewer Subtle Cues:
Number one, when you walk into the room for a Bain interview, you have GOT to smile at your interviewer. A lot of people miss some of the subtle cues – that you are ready to play, confident, and game on! People at Bain are generally very forward, game on type of people.
That doesn’t mean that you have to be an extrovert. It doesn’t mean that you have to be the life of the party. It just means that you are ready to go. So…every way that you can think of to demonstrate that – get feedback on it before you go into the interview. Make sure that you are ready to bring your A-game when you come in.
Set Up Expectations:
If somebody wants to work with you, at Bain they generally have the confidence that they can train you in the skills. So number one is just setting up the expectation that somebody would want to work with you, that you feel comfortable in that space.
Bain Doesn’t Rate Interviews The Same As McKinsey, BCG, or Deloitte:
Number two, something that you need to know at Bain is that they don’t rate their interviews the same as BCG, Deloitte, McKinsey, or many other consulting firms. The interviews are rated in an integrated way.
What that means is that they care a lot about pulling the pieces together, more than they
care about the individual mechanics. They are not sitting there with a stopwatch to say, “Oh, you did your math in 17.2 seconds, but somebody else did it in 11.6.” That doesn’t matter to them. What matters is that when you’re doing the math, you’re thinking about the bigger picture. You’re pulling the math back to the overall problem, and you’re driving to a conclusion.
Bain’s Value For Time Management:
That leads me to the third thing. So not just 1) having a lot of energy and
also 2) pulling it all together, but probably most importantly 3) when you’re at Bain, and
thinking about going through a case, thinking about going through the problems, thinking
about going through everything – they care about your time management. Seems like a weird thing to be testing inside the interview. But at Bain, even more than the other consulting firms, you’re given a ton of leeway. You’re given the freedom to work on projects, you’re given the freedom to work out of the office, you’re given the freedom to not work at the client’s site – even more than at other consulting firms. They need to know that you can manage that freedom.
What does that look like? When I ask you a fit interview question, it means that you answer it in a minute or under, unless it’s “Walk me through your resume”- on that one, I want two minutes. I want it to be very direct, very clear, and very short.
When we’re talking about the case interview, it means that you’re finishing each piece of the case interview in the expected amount of time. As a standard, two minutes for everything, except for the math, which you can spend five minutes on. But I need to know that you’re not just languishing, or looking for my direction – that you have your own ideas, that you’re going to defend them, and that you’re going to pursue them inside of the case and fit interview.
If you do those three things, you are going to shine inside the Bain interview.
Make sure you bring tons of energy, make sure you pull all the pieces together, and make sure that you manage your own time to focus on what they care about the most – which is driving to the major conclusion.