The question, “why this firm?” is guaranteed to come up at least once during your BCG consulting interviews. It is one of the most frequently asked fit questions, and also a topic you are expected to tackle in your consulting cover letter.
So it’s imperative that you come to the interviews having thought about why you want to work for BCG specifically, rather than its competitors. We’ve put together this guide to help you craft the perfect answer.
Our first tip: Focus on the office you’re applying to over the company as a whole.
How should you respond to the Why BCG interview question? Do your research. Be specific about BCG and the exact office you want to join: network, talk about the office’s projects and industries, and go over BCG’s reports and intellectual capital that interest you the most.
To help you get started, we’ll list some unique facts about BCG versus other top consulting firms below. You can pick one of these facts to be a data point in your answer, or to simply inform yourself about what makes the company stand out.
As we mentioned before, it is also very important to bring up facts about the specific office you’re applying to join. BCG has offices in more than 100 cities and 50 countries, so won’t be able to go over every office here. But we’ll give you some tips on how to do your research and prepare your answer in sections 2 and 3.
Here are some facts that make BCG stand out:
- BCG does consulting work across many sectors, but they have particular strengths in corporate development, innovation, and business growth. If those are sectors that interest you, and especially if you have previous experience in these areas, you should bring it up.
- In terms of organizational structure, BCG is known as the flatter and more collaborative firm out of the Big Three, with McKinsey known for a traditional structure and Bain falling somewhere in between the two. If you’ve worked in flat structures before and tend to succeed in that environment, you can talk about that with your interviewer
- Out of the Big Three, BCG has the most robust Digital Ventures practice. If you have experience in digital ventures previously, or if it’s something that you’ve been wanting to work in, BCG would be a good place to do it.
- BCG consistently trains and rewards top talent at the firm. One example of this is their BCG Fellows program. Leaders in the company are nominated to the fellowship and given multiple years to develop their own innovative idea that will create value for business leaders. If you’re inspired by that program, or by the work one of the Fellows has undertaken, this is a good time to mention it.
Now that you’ve seen a few reasons that make BCG unique among the Big 3, let’s take a look at a full sample answer that uses some of these facts as well as details about a specific office. After this, we’ll go through a list of tips and tricks that will help you craft your own stellar answer.
Sample answer: Why BCG?
“BCG appeals to me for three reasons.
Firstly, I’ve spoken with multiple people from the firm, who’ve all told me they’ve enjoyed their time there—particularly Madhu Khatri, who was a project leader in Climate and Sustainability at the Boston office. She mentored me during my internship at BCG last summer and continued to stay in touch as I finished my MBA.
Also, I have a particular affinity for BGC’s Boston office, which is why I’m applying to this one specifically. Of course, as the original location, that means that it is at the epicenter of BCG’s big ideas. In addition to that, I’ve been personally touched by the office’s community service culture, as I’ve made it a habit to volunteer in my community through non profit mentorship programs.
Finally, I regularly read BCG’s featured insights delivered by François Candelon, Shervin Khodabandeh, and others in digital technology and data. These insights are regularly superior to those of other consultancies. By joining BCG I therefore think I would have an opportunity to work with and learn from the best consultants in the industry.”
2.1 Tips to prepare your answer for “why BCG?”
As you create your own answer to this question, take a moment to consider why BCG interviewers ask it in the first place.
Interviewers ask questions like “why consulting?” and “why BCG?” to test whether you’ve got the motivation to last in a fast-paced and high-stakes environment. If they sense that a candidate is not motivated enough, or has the wrong motivations (e.g. the high salary), then they’re unlikely to hire them.
Interviewers also want to know whether you’ve done your research. As you’ll be doing quite a bit of research and analysis on the job, showing a nuanced understanding of BCG in your answer is a good sign to the interviewer that you possess the right skills for the position.
Below are a few ways that you can show off these qualities in your answer, as well as common pitfalls that you should avoid.
How to answer “Why BCG?”
- Network. Mention the people you have met from the office you are applying for. A surprisingly big part of answering the "Why this firm?" question is about networking. Your interviewer wants to know if you have done your homework and have talked to anyone from the office you are applying for, or at least from the firm in general.
- Talk about the projects and industries that the office you will join focuses on. Having talked to a few people is not enough. Your interviewer also wants to know if you understand what type of projects the office you are joining works on. If you join the BCG New York office, for instance, you will likely work on financial services or media projects because these industries are big in the city. But if you want to work in oil and gas, New York is not the right destination; instead you should probably apply for Houston.
- Mention the reports and other intellectual capital produced by the office you will join. Be aware of the recent reports published by the partners from the office you are trying to join (e.g. New York) and the practice you are interested in (e.g. Financial services). This will demonstrate to your interviewer that you have a genuine interest in a specific area that the office they belong to works on.
- Make it personal: If you have any examples from your personal experience that tie in with this firm, now is a good time to bring them up.
- Make it specific: Of course, your answer for “why this firm?” should be different with every company you’re interviewing with. Test out your answer by swapping another bank’s name with the one you’ve got in mind. If your answer could also apply to this other bank, then you need to fine tune it.
- Rehearse your answer: Before the interview starts, you should already have your answer to this question prepared and ready to go.
Now, take some time to review common mistakes that candidates make when answering this question.
Common pitfalls in answering “Why BCG?”
- Answer is too broad: Simple answers such as “it would be a great opportunity to learn more,” “the people here are very smart and work hard,” or “the culture here is awesome,” won’t make the cut on their own (even if it’s true!). Interviewers have heard these responses many times before, so you’ll need to make it more personal and targeted.
- Answer is too long: This question is frequently asked at the beginning of a longer interview round or during the initial screening process. In both cases, it’s important to answer quickly and concisely, so that the interviewer can understand your answer and have time for other questions. Aim for a roughly 1-minute response.
- Answer lacks structure: Think of two or three reasons you’d like to work there, and describe each of them, one at a time. Otherwise, the interviewer will have difficulty following your train of thought, and you are more likely to ramble.
Of course, there are many aspects to prepare for in a BCG consulting interview in addition to the “why BCG” interview question. To help you get ready for the interview process as a whole, we recommend that you complete the two steps below.
3.1 Practice for every type of BCG interview question
BCG has many facets to its interview process, including case questions, fit/PEI questions, an online interview, and written cases. Here are overviews of each of these assessments:
You will get a combination of Fit / PEI questions and case interview questions in ALL your interview rounds. Your interviewer will typically ask you one or two Fit / PEI questions (~10mins) and then move on to a case interview (~30 to 40mins).
In addition to fit and case questions, BCG also uses a pymetrics test, a 20-30 minute test that includes 12 games. Each game takes about 2-3 minutes to complete. This test is designed to test 70+ different social, emotional, and cognitive traits that can help determine whether or not you would be successful at BCG.
BCG also sometimes uses a written case in SECOND ROUND interviews. So far we have only heard of this being used in the US. For this written case, you will be given a set of documents, which you will use to answer case questions. You will then have 2 hours to answer these questions in the form of a 3 to 5 slide presentation, which you will have 15 minutes to present to your interviewer.
3.2 Practice with mock interviews
Finally, it’s time to try out your answer in an interview setting. A great place to start is to do mock interviews with friends or peers.
This will help you polish your answer, practice answering follow-up questions, and get used to case interviews. However, if your interview partner isn’t familiar with consulting interviews, then practicing with an ex-interviewer will give you an extra edge.
If you know someone who runs interviews at BCG and other firms, then that’s amazing! They'll be a great person for you to practice with.If not, we want to help you make these connections. That’s why we’ve created a coaching platform where you can find ex-interviewers from BCG to practice with. Learn more and start scheduling BCG mock interviews today.