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Frequently Asked Questions

There are many qualities that set BCG apart as an ideal place to launch your career. Get answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about BCG and learn more about our international opportunities, your choice of assignments, the interview process, and where a consulting career could take you.
How is BCG different from other consulting firms?

BCG's work for its clients is built on a foundation of custom insight and open collaboration, not a set of templates or prescriptive recommendations. We strongly believe in working with clients, not on them. We know from experience that only true team work with clients will lead to lasting results. You will be challenged to find advantage for your clients and to work side-by-side with them to make it a reality. As a result, BCG helps its clients change the rules of the game, not just play better. This is why our clients outperform and our people grow to achieve greatness—from a Grammy-winning vocalist to the CEO of Pepsi.

BCG strongly believes that our people are our biggest asset. When you join BCG you will learn not only analytics, but also the important soft skills of negotiating, presenting, coaching clients, and mentoring more junior team members. BCG truly cares about creating the perfect environment to enable the development and growth of consultants. And we foster such growth in many ways, recognizing that every individual has slightly different needs.

What is the ideal profile for a BCG consultant?

There is not one ideal background; there are many. We have found this confirmed over and over in our daily client work. The complexity of the problems we deal with in management consulting not only accommodates but demands great diversity of academic backgrounds, work experience, perspective, thinking style, and expertise. At BCG, physicists and historians, chemists and lawyers have become successful business leaders.

It is not the degree that matters. Having excelled in academia is necessary, but not a sufficient condition to succeed in consulting. Having a successful career in BCG takes an open mind, the eagerness to learn from your team members, the curiosity to continuously explore new topics, and the eagerness to find solutions to problems. 

What if I don't have a business degree? Would I be lost at BCG?

As a new consulting hire, you will receive plenty of training and coaching, help, and advice. Many new hires come to us from a non-traditional background. BCG bases its decision to hire a candidate on your curiosity, your willingness to develop, and your appreciation of teamwork, as well as more traditional criteria such as the amount of work and leadership experience you have, and scholarships or distinctions you have earned.

Training is a continuous process at BCG. Entry-level training is available, as are targeted training sessions as you move along in your BCG career. BCG also makes an effort to share its collective knowledge through the BCG Knowledge Management (KM) system, which provides information about BCG people, topics, experience, know-how, and more. It is available to every consultant in every BCG office, although client names and other confidential information are protected.

In the end, most of your colleagues will tell you that the most effective school at BCG is the daily work. Working with your team and with clients, you will experience an incredible learning curve. And BCG does not leave you alone in this endeavor: your peers will support you, your project leader will coach you, and your career advisor will provide useful advice on how to overcome some of the obstacles we all face.

How much fluidity is there in international staffing? Will I have an opportunity to work in other countries?

Short answer: absolutely. From the very beginning of their time with BCG, consultants are encouraged to experience living and working outside their own country and culture. Although specific client and language requirements do not allow completely unencumbered individual choice of location and assignment, opportunities abound. BCG has many programs which are targeted at consultants at different levels of seniority and which allow them to spend a period of time working in a foreign office. And with more than 80 offices in 45 countries to choose from, there is a lot of choice!

Most BCG consultants work in several BCG offices in different geographies during their career. And even those who choose to stay in their home office will often travel abroad for client work, meetings, or other engagements.

When and how will I be evaluated?
Evaluation at BCG is taken very seriously. One of the most important components of professional development for consulting staff is learning from previous experiences. There is a concerted effort to offer continuous informal feedback as well as more formal feedback at the end of each project. All individuals will be evaluated along a number of dimensions that are important to their development: analytics, presentation style, conceptual ability, interpersonal skills, motivation, initiative, organization, communication skills, team skills, and overall integrity.
How does the summer program for consultants work?
The summer program is a chance for you to learn about BCG and at the same time allow BCG to learn about you. The program is a 8- to 12-week internship in which students are hired and assume the role of an associate or consultant. Please apply online for a summer position.
When and how do I submit my résumé?

Although we accept applications at any time, our primary recruiting season for consultants in most countries is from September to February. The most practical way to submit a résumé for a consulting position is through our online application.

For non-consulting positions, we have provided a list of contacts to whom you can submit your résumé—both for our Knowledge and Practices Organization and our Business Services Team.

What is the interview process?

While our hiring criteria are virtually identical worldwide, there are some differences in the interview processes for different positions and different offices. One thing that does not change, however, is that every candidate goes through several interviews with BCG consultants. The interviews usually have three main parts: the first part focuses on the candidate’s résumé and motivation, the second one serves to discuss a case which can give you a real flavor of what our actual work is like, and, lastly, there is time for Q&A.

The Interview Prep section describes the process for consulting staff. In particular, you'll learn what to expect, how to prepare, and even get a chance to experience what it is like to work on a project in our Interactive Case.

The interview process for non-consulting roles at BCG varies from position to position. Candidates should be prepared to discuss examples from their work experience and key professional achievements. Please note, however, that you will normally not be asked to do a written or case interview.

What is BCG's work mix? Do you just concentrate on strategy? How much work is operational?

BCG's heritage, and the core of today's work, lies in setting strategic direction. We help set the CEO's long-term agenda, often implementing our recommendations in collaboration with client teams. As the founders of the discipline and art of corporate strategy, BCG is made up of people who have a deep understanding of what drives competitive advantage.

The business issues we address within all industries are usually fundamental to the CEO's agenda. CEOs hire us when they feel they cannot find a solution to the problem at hand with traditional means. The challenges our clients seek our help with are fraught with ambiguity and uncertainty and often there is significant resistance to change within our clients’ organizations. While navigating such an environment is not always easy, our people relish the opportunity to go beyond the obvious answers so as to find the best solution within the constraints given.

How much travel can I expect as a consultant?

If you don't like to travel, you probably should not consider consulting. This is a challenging job, and one of its challenging aspects is the travel. Nevertheless, BCGers work hard to strike a balance between work/travel and personal life. A balance is critical to being effective over the long run. Three points are worth considering:

  • Our work mix is quite varied—strategy, operations, internally focused, externally focused. As a result, the travel will vary as a function of the assignment—some are more travel-oriented, some less. A "typical" travel pattern might be two nights and three days per week on the road, but again, projects and patterns vary.

  • Our office structure works in our favor here: we have more than 75 offices in 43 countries. Our office philosophy is to put our people in the local markets so that we can serve global clients as locally as possible, in contrast to some firms that build “mega-offices” and export their staff from a central location every week.

  • We cannot make real change happen with clients if we are not with them, working side by side and developing a firsthand understanding of them and their businesses. However, unlike other firms, we avoid “camping out” at the client site just for the sake of being seen. On days when we can be more effective in our office rather than at the client site, we work in the office.

Does BCG staff consultants on one or two projects at a time?
Our staffing philosophy is to staff in a way that best serves our clients' needs. Our work mix tends to be one project at a time, or 100 percent staffing. This has fit best with many of our recent assignments in industry restructuring, launching new online ventures, and the like. As our work mix changes, we will adapt staffing accordingly.
How much choice is there in consulting assignments?

Individuals are able to steer their assignments in the directions that most interest them. The ability to have a say in staffing decision has, and will continue to be, an important part of BCG. This does not mean that everyone always ends up on their first-choice assignment, although we definitely try to make it happen.

Individual assignments depend on when a consultant is available, the specific skills required by the assignment, the relative balance between client demand and consultant “supply,” and the career development needs of the consultant. Over the long term, however, most consultants are able to shape their portfolio of experiences. We do recommend that consultants seek exposure to a broad variety of industries and functional areas during their first years before specializing in any specific area.

How is BCG's business doing?

For more than two decades, BCG has grown on average at about 15 percent per year showing strength in all regions. In the last five years we have opened 12 new offices. And while BCG is not immune to the business cycle, the company has grown even during difficult periods. Experience shows that while the growth rate may change somewhat, more than anything else the work mix tends to adapt when the economy goes through a downturn.

BCG’s growth also has implications for our staff’s satisfaction. Internal surveys have shown that consultant satisfaction has increased for four years in a row. And 95 percent of our staff indicated they are proud to be at BCG. Our engagement pipeline is strong and focused on our long-term clients, and we are aggressively recruiting to serve this demand.

Should I even consider consulting if I would like to start or run a business some day?
Few people begin consulting knowing they will retire in consulting. In fact, many people come in with a desire to try it, and if it “clicks,” they stay on. Fortunately for BCG, it does click for many. Others decide they want to put the skills they have acquired at BCG to use somewhere else. Some take up a job with a client, others start their own company. Meet Our Alumni to learn where they go, what they do, and what they gained from the BCG experience.
What career opportunities are available outside of consulting?

There are a variety of career opportunities at BCG in the Knowledge Organization (working in Knowledge, Advanced Analytics, Data Research Services, or Practice Area Management/Operations) or as a member of the Business Services Team (working in finance, human resources, IT, legal, marketing, operations, or risk). 

BCG strongly believes that our people are our biggest asset.  There is not one ideal background; there are many, from recent college graduates to experienced professionals.

BCG truly cares about supporting the professional development of all staff, recognizing that every individual has slightly different needs. It begins with onboarding and continues with targeted training sessions as you move along in your BCG career. One of the most important components of professional development is learning from experience, and there is a concerted effort to offer continuous informal feedback as well as more formal feedback throughout the year.

We have provided a list of contacts to whom you can submit your CV/résumé—both for our Knowledge and Practices Organization and our Business Services Team.  

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