The 3 recruitment heads at Bain, PwC, and McKinsey share how you can make your application stand out and land a 6-figure consulting job at the firms

From left to right: PwC’s Rod Adams, Bain’s Keith Bevans, and McKinsey’s Kerry Casey.

  • Each year, leading consulting firms hire thousands of employees into new roles. 
  • McKinsey & Co., Bain & Co., and PwC, for example, hired more than 15,100 entry-level and experienced employees in 2019 combined. 
  • I spoke with Keith Bevans, global head of consultant recruitment at Bain & Co., Kerry Casey, director of North America recruitment at McKinsey & Co., and Rod Adams, US and Mexico talent acquisition leader at PwC, during a live event on September 15. 
  • Each panelist shared the exact tips for candidates to increase their chances in landing a consulting job at these firms. 
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The management consulting industry is hard to break into, but there are still ways to make your job application stand out.

In 2019, three giant consultancies combined — McKinsey & Co., Bain & Co., and PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) — hired more than 15,100 employees for entry-level and experienced roles. All three firms have extended full-time offers to more than 1,500 summer interns. 

Though recruitment processes at the consultancies has gone virtual in response to the coronavirus pandemic, the schedule for all three companies hasn’t changed. They are still hiring talent, and they are each looking for a different set of qualities.

In an event exclusive to Business Insider subscribers on September 15, I spoke with Kerry Casey, North America recruitment director at McKinsey, Keith Bevans, global head of consultant recruitment at Bain & Co., and Rod Adams, US and Mexico talent acquisition leader at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) about the qualities  each firm is looking for in candidates, and how they can stand out in applications and during interviews.  

If you’re interested in applying for a consulting job at Bain, McKinsey, or PwC, here’s how you can increase your chances, according to the recruitment leaders. You can watch the full webinar here.

PwC’s Rod Adams said you should communicate your WFH situation at the beginning of the online interview, and work on your storytelling skills.

Rod Adams PwC
Rod Adams, talent acquisition leader at PwC

Whether the dress code is business attire or business casual, every firm is different. But Adams said to prepare for the virtual interview as if it would be an in-person meeting.

First, candidates should dress up for the occasion and be ready to present themselves in a professional way. You should also be conscious of the screen background because you don’t want anything that’s going to be controversial, he noted. 

Everyone has a different working-from-home setup, and that’s okay. But you should communicate your WFH situation — like if you have children, roommates, noisy neighbors — at the beginning of the interview. 

“We’ve all been there and we understand that the interruptions happen, but I would say you should communicate that at the front end so that there wouldn’t be any surprises,” he said. 

When it comes to assessing candidates, PwC cares more about the decisions you’ve made in the past over what you said would do during case interviews and assessments. It comes down to your ability to tell your story and highlight past experiences, Adams said. For example, recruiters might ask that you give an example where you led a team and had to make a tough decision, or how you managed a challenging work relationship. 

“We want to understand actual experiences you’ve had,” he said. “Give me examples that show who you are and how you deal with challenges.” 

Having an online presence is also crucial, especially during a time where nearly all recruiting is being done virtually. Make sure your information is current online, he added, and if a recruiter reaches out to you, make sure you reply promptly.  

Bain’s Keith Bevans said you shouldn’t list buzzwords or simply write what you did on the résumé. Instead, you should describe how you succeeded.

Keith Bio Pix 1

If you’re applying for a job at Bain, you should know why you want to work there. 

Bevans emphasized that you should always have clarity of your career vision, and know how a consulting career fits into your journey. Secondly, you should also understand how a position at Bain would be different from other consulting firms that you consider, he added. 

When it comes to standing out in an application, the global consultant head shared one common mistake people make on résumés is that they list adjectives and skills they think recruiters would want to see without backing it up with proof.

“They just list all the superlatives that they could think of, that they would want other people to think about them in the summary on top of the résumé, but then I’d read the résumé and there’s no evidence of the things they put in the summary,” Bevans said. 

If you’re going to call yourself a great communicator, 0r a leader, or an impact player,  you need proof, the recruitment head added. 

“I’m looking for someone who comes in and is ready to nail a tough piece of analysis for clients, and I can if they’re wired that way by the way they talk about what they did in the past,” he said. 

As for candidates who are interested in making a career change into consulting, Bevans advised that they redirect focus from dwelling on what they don’t have to thinking about what they can bring to the table and how they have a different perspective on business. 

McKinsey’s Kerry Casey recommended that you practice telling your story out loud with a friend, and practice speaking in first-person.

Kerry Casey McKinsey

In school, at work, and in life, we often share credit for projects and achievements and shy away from using the word “I.” But in an interview setting, you should be giving anecdotes of your own personal achievements, Casey said.

“Practice telling your story out loud with a friend, and practice speaking in the first-person,” she told Business Insider. Because the more you do it and every time you tell it, it becomes a crisper story, she added. 

The recruitment director previously recommended that you provide examples from when you led a team or used your entrepreneurial skills to build something from scratch. A management-consulting job requires some creative thinking, and showcasing your ability to think outside the box will help you land a consulting job.

“There is not just one way to be successful in interviewing or working at McKinsey. In fact, the best interviews are when candidates share who they are beyond their résumés,” Casey said. We want you to be yourself and also bring your best self.”

Take advantage of the resources that are available online. There are no surprises or trick questions when you’re interviewing at McKinsey, she added.

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