First time hiring someone with a background from McKinsey, Bain and Boston Consulting Group (often shortened to MBB)?
I’ve hired hundreds and interviewed thousands over the last 13 years.
Here’s what you need to know:
1.They are expensive.
Much more than the data from your usual pay benchmarking providers indicates.
This is because your usual compensation surveys are not granular enough.
Consulting firms’ compensation widely varies by tier.
These are the tiers:
✅MBB (McKinsey, Bain, BCG) candidates are the most expensive.
✅Oliver Wyman is surprisingly similarly expensive.
✅Then come firms such as Kearney and Roland Berger.
✅Some small boutique consulting firms pay well, others don’t.
✅Big 4 firms like EY and firms with historical strength in IT (e.g., Accenture) pay less.
BUT you need to differentiate between strategy consultants and non-consultants (e.g., auditors or transaction/ M&A specialists). E.g., EY Parthenon is the strategy arm of EY and pays much higher than the rest of EY.
The quality of candidates is more consistent at the top (MBB). You can definitely find strong candidates in other firms, but it’s more of a gamble as the quality can vary.
Some people say: ‘No one ever got fired for hiring a former McKinsey Consultant’.
MBB alumni are perceived as a safe choice.
2. Total years of experience is not a good proxy for seniority
If this person is currently in consulting, just counting total experience won’t work.
Someone with 15 years’ experience in consulting is usually a partner, maybe even a senior partner. Their package might be in the millions but is likely higher than you would expect.
A candidate with 8 years total work experience might be on USD 300K total package IF this person joined a top-tier firm straight out of college, stayed there and received the regular promotions (in the US this number can be even higher).
Instead of looking at total years of experience, you need to look at their current title/ designation. Consulting firms tag compensation to the designation.
3. They Will Ask a Lot of Strategic Questions
Ex-Consultants ask probing questions and dig deep into the details.
They will ask different questions than other candidates. They’ll want to know about the role/ department’s setup, the purpose of the department, how it fits into the company’s strategy. They are keen to add value and want to understand how you will utilize them. If it’s a strategy role, they will want to understand how much influence they have.
So, have answers ready during the interview process.
4. They Want to Know What’s Next
Top-tier ex-Consultants are ambitious.
From Consulting they know crystal clear career paths. They are used to promotions every 2 years. They prefer having clarity about their career path. They’re always thinking about their career trajectory and what their next move will be. So, it’s important to have a clear growth path outlined for them within the company. If the career path is unclear, be honest and tell them how they can secure their next internal role.
Give examples of predecessors’ career moves.
5. You Need to Sell the Job to Them
Ex-Consultants are in high demand and have many options available to them.
Consulting is booming so their employers will work hard to retain them. Or they might try to hire them back (boomeranging is popular with ex-Consultants).
So, you need to sell them on the job and the company during the interview process. Be clear about the opportunities for growth and the impact they can make within the company. Every interviewer needs to sell the job in every single interaction.
6. Don’t Misrepresent the Job or the Company
While selling the job is important, don’t oversell it either.
Ex-Consultants are well-connected and will often speak with current or former employees to learn more about the company culture and work environment.
Therefore, it’s crucial to be truthful and transparent during the interview process. Don’t oversell the job or misrepresent the company, as this can lead to disappointment and high turnover rates. Be upfront about negatives.
Consultants understand that no job is perfect and are willing to make tradeoffs.
7. Good Lifestyle Means 50-60 Hour Weeks and 25% travel
When ex-Consultants ask for a good lifestyle, they mean a 50-60 hour workweek.
Currently, they may be working 70-80 hours per week, so a 50-60 hour week would be considered good. It’s important to be transparent about the expectations and workload of the role to avoid any surprises later on.
Some travel is attractive to most, heavy international travel is not.
8. They want to work with other ex-Consultants
If there are no other ex-Consultants in your company, be ready for a challenge.
Some consultants might enjoy being the first one in your firm, most will consider this high risk.
They will ask many questions about current and former ex-Consultants in the team and the compan
Put them at ease by giving them data on the background of their future colleagues.
9. They expect a speedy and unbureaucratic hiring process
They’ve seen their friends getting hired in a quick process.
They won’t be impressed if your hiring process drags on for weeks or months.
Also, don’t ask them to fill out lengthy application forms.
Hiring speed can be a real differentiator in the ongoing talent war.
Hiring a top-tier ex-Consultant can increase your revenue or profits by millions. They bring fresh perspective and a great work ethic. Many ex-Consultants have become CEOs.
So, hiring one is a great choice, but it comes with its own set of challenges.
Be prepared to pay more than usual, answer a lot of questions, sell the job to them, and have a clear growth path outlined. Also, be transparent about the expectations and workload of the role to avoid any surprises later. By following these guidelines, you can successfully hire a top-tier ex-Consultant who will add value to your company.