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Bain & Company Associate Consultant Interview Questions & Reviews

Updated Jun 25, 2014
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Accepted Offer

Positive Experience

Difficult Interview

Associate Consultant Interview

Associate Consultant
Los Angeles, CA

I applied through college or university - interviewed at Bain & Company in September 2013.

Interview Details – There were multiple rounds of interviews. 2 shorter interviews in one block for the first round (~30 minutes) with 3 interviews in the second round (~45 minutes). The first round emphasizes quantitative skills and ability to do the case a bit more while the second round places a bit more emphasis on candidate fit.

Interview Question – Just run of the mill business cases. Nothing especially difficult or tricky.   Answer Question

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Accepted Offer

Positive Experience

Very Difficult Interview

Associate Consultant Interview

Associate Consultant
Dallas, TX

I interviewed at Bain & Company in June 2010.

Interview Details – Two back-to-back on campus interviews in the career center. Heavy case interviews emphasizing quantitative and logic. Two Bain Manager/CTL level people came to do the interviews. They selected 10 applicants to interview out of about 100 applications. They usually hire 1 or 2 people from the ones they interview.

Interview Question – What is the exact angle formed by the hands on a clock when the time reads 9:30?   View Answers (5)

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1 person found this helpful

Accepted Offer

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Difficult Interview

Associate Consultant Interview

Associate Consultant
Chicago, IL

I applied online and the process took 2 weeks - interviewed at Bain & Company in January 2014.

Interview Details – The entire process was very smooth and took about 2 weeks (not including waiting for the first interview). My first interview round was with a SAC and a Consultant at their office, and both interviews went well (except that the numbers on one case tripped me up). These interviews were both profit cases and were not especially difficult.

For the final round, I was flown out to Boston to interview with a Partner and Senior Manager. I had to do a market sizing case which also felt like a pressure test, because my interviewer questioned my every assumption. I had a profit case with the Senior Manager which required a rather unexpected recommendation.

The Partner who interviewed me called me the next morning to let me know that I received the offer.

In general, the process was great and you have the opportunity to receive detailed feedback at each round. In fact, I was surprised at the quality of the feedback given that the interviewers are so busy! So if you get the opportunity to interview, definitely request for feedback and it will help you to do well in future case interviews.

Interview Question – Market sizing.   Answer Question

Negotiation Details – There was no negotiation as it is a standard contract.

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57 people found this helpful

Declined Offer

Neutral Experience

Average Interview

Associate Consultant Interview

Associate Consultant
New York, NY

I applied through college or university and the process took 3 days - interviewed at Bain & Company in October 2012.

Interview Details – I did on-campus recruiting at my university, and there were 2 rounds of interviews, with 2 case interviews each. I found the Bain cases to be a bit more straightforward than the cases for BCG and other top consulting firms. They weren't about banks, pharmaceutical companies, or companies in other complex industries that most undergrads don't have a strong background in. Instead, they were analytical problems about corporations most people intuitively understand (grocery chain strategy, airline considering adding an economy-plus program, that sort of thing). Obviously I only had four data points from my cases, but my friends had similar experiences, and the internship interviews this year seemed to go the same way for people I knew. I think the flipside of the easier questions was that they expected a higher standard of performance from people because the ceiling of the test was lower and the scenarios weren't hard to understand conceptually. It seemed like they gave us cases that feel manageable to try to put us at ease, but they didn't accept a lot of the candidates I knew who felt they had made small errors or had given solid but unremarkable performances. The interviewers seemed happiest when I went into depth and tried creative answers during the brainstorming parts of the cases, so I think they might be looking for particularly well-considered answers to cases that seem simple on face.

I also think my interviewers cared about presentation and personality based on what they said about the cases after I got my offer. They want people who are high-energy (VERY peppy and friendly -- this was a unifying characteristic for the people I met at the firm, and my friends who work there have confirmed that it's emphasized in the corporate culture) and would be good at giving a client presentation. Have a big Starbucks before your final round if you're a laid-back personality type, and don't let nerves or number-crunching get in the way of having a clear conversation with your interviewer. Long story short, the Bain cases weren't so tough, but to get the job you'll need to distinguish yourself with some innovative ideas and a great demeanor.

Interview Question – I found the case interviews to be straightforward. If you prepared, you'll be fine. Even if you didn't prepare much but you're just used to thinking on your feet, you'll probably be fine.   View Answer

Reason for Declining – If you get the job and you're comparing it to others to make a decision, find a way to speak to people who have left the firm in addition to the people the recruiting department puts you in touch with. They have an amazing recruiting team and I think they spend a LOT of time and money trying to get you to sign, but obviously the people they put you in touch with are the ones who are the happiest about their time at the firm. I talked to probably 30+ employees trying to make a decision (I know that sounds kind of ridiculous, but at least 20 of them spontaneously called to say congrats and answer questions). They got my name because recruiting reached out to them, but I ended up asked those employees if they had any friends who had left the firm for other careers after their first few years there, and those people provided a radically different perspective in many cases. At all up-or-out management consulting firms like Bain, there's a clear crowd of people who succeeded and were a good fit (these are managers, partners, and star consultants recruiting will put you in touch with), and there's a separate group of people who were the wrong personality type, found the work unfulfilling, or had horrible experiences with the workload (these people leave the firm quickly, and if they're still employed there, they don't voice these concerns to recruits). Talking to people who had bad experiences and felt like they weren't personality fits for the firm helped me to get both sides of that story. Neither perspective is really more valid than the other, and Bain has many more happy employees than detractors, but ultimately you're the person who is best situated to tell whether you're more similar to the happy employees or the people who felt they didn't enjoy the work or didn't fit in. I ended up deciding it wasn't for me and going into non-profit work, but I think it's a great firm, and for someone with different long-term goals and a more extroverted personality, I think it would be an awesome place to start a career.

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7 people found this helpful

Accepted Offer

Positive Experience

Difficult Interview

Associate Consultant Interview

Associate Consultant
Boston, MA

I applied through college or university and the process took 2 weeks - interviewed at Bain & Company in October 2013.

Interview Details – Went through a college recruiting process — standard resume, cover letter. Did not network at all with Bain before beginning the interviews and did only a few cases as prep. First round was two 30-minute case interviews with a few fit questions and resume reviews; they were behind schedule and felt rushed. The two interviewers were both young Consultants, recent business school graduates, who were friendly and supportive even in a few moments I struggled with a case. One complimented my socks.

Somehow, I got through them, and the next day was invited to another office for a final-round interview a week later. Three candidates were there for that position; the night before, we had dinner and drinks with a collection of managers, consultants, and associates in the office. It was a relaxed, no-pressure environment, and I had ample opportunity to schmooze and relax with the assembled staff. (I actually thought it was a fun dinner.)

On the day of the final round interviews, I was given my interviewers' biographies (which I should have gotten at the dinner, had I not needed to leave early). I and the other two candidates filled out background-check information forms nervously before our interviews. The recruiters and receptionists were very friendly and a calming presence. The format was three 40-minute interviews; two were case interviews (one with a manager and one with a partner) and one was a fit interview with a consultant who worked as a mentor within the firm. I luckily had my cases first and then my fit interview, which let me ease into the day.

Both case interviews were challenging, but stimulating. They were not framework-friendly, and instead were driven by intellection and inference — it was crucial to apply Bain's hypothesis-driven approach to succeed. I stumbled in both, but kept up a great rapport with both the manager and partner. They were fun. The second interview was by far the most challenging; I was essentially made to ask questions and throw out dozens of hypotheses for a case which was not exactly solvable. The fit interview was very relaxed and friendly — some "why consulting," "what makes Bain stand out," "what other firms are you considering," and "what should we expect if we give you an offer" questions, but mostly a nice chat with a lovely person.

I flew back to school and received a Saturday afternoon phone call from the partner who had interviewed me, both to congratulate me on receiving an offer and to offer immediate feedback on my approach to the cases. He dissected my approach and gave me constructive feedback and areas to focus on in the future with Bain. Perhaps his most interesting note was that, while the two other candidates (from engineering and business undergraduate programs) breezed through the cases mathematically, I was less detail-oriented but more right-brained, and that the firm valued liberal-arts students like myself. (His exact words were "your left brain is teachable.") I was extended an offer in writing three days later.

Interview Question – Being flat-out told "You're wrong. Why are you wrong?" in a case with a partner.   View Answer

Negotiation Details – There really wasn't that much negotiation there — I didn't have any other offers and was happy with what I had been offered, so it was an easy sign. Perhaps I should have fought for it.

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1 person found this helpful

Accepted Offer

Positive Experience

Average Interview

Associate Consultant Interview

Associate Consultant

I applied through college or university and the process took 4+ weeks - interviewed at Bain & Company.

Interview Details – Two first round interviews with Consultants; three second round interviews with Managers and Partners. Engaging in meaningful conversation and demonstrating fit with the office was key in the second round. In both rounds, cases were very straightforward and did not aim to be confusing or misleading, but therefore addressing every element correctly was essential.

Interview Question – Nothing harder than Case in Point, however not a lot of emphasis on advanced frameworks.   Answer Question

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1 person found this helpful

Accepted Offer

Positive Experience

Difficult Interview

Associate Consultant Interview

Associate Consultant
Los Angeles, CA

I applied through other source and the process took 3 weeks - interviewed at Bain & Company.

Interview Details – Interview consisted of two cases. First case involved laundry as a service and breaking it down into segments to better understand how it could grow. Second case involved a company that owned a mall that was looking at growing its revenue through renovation. Had to calculate basic numbers such as payback period and return on investment.

Interview Question – Had to calculate return on investment in my head with no paper or pen so be prepared to think on your feet fast.   Answer Question

Negotiation Details – No negotiation allowed.

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Accepted Offer

Positive Experience

Difficult Interview

Associate Consultant Interview

Associate Consultant
New York, NY

I applied through college or university - interviewed at Bain & Company in October 2012.

Interview Details – The entire process consisted of four interviews (two sets of two back-to-back interviews). The first two took place on my college campus, and for the second two I was flown out to my preferred office. I got the interviews through networking emails and phone calls. All of my interviewers were very relaxed, though it was clear that they expected me to produce when it came to the case. Very brief small talk at the beginning - "What's your story?" kind of questions, and then they would jump into the case.

Interview Question – Had a somewhat difficult case involving rates of work. Also had to know the population of China for a market sizing question.   Answer Question

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1 person found this helpful

Accepted Offer

Positive Experience

Very Difficult Interview

Associate Consultant Interview

Associate Consultant
San Francisco, CA

I applied online and the process took 2+ weeks - interviewed at Bain & Company in November 2012.

Interview Details – Case study + questions on resume & personal development

Interview Question – Case study about various industries with varying questions   Answer Question

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16 people found this helpful

Accepted Offer

Positive Experience

Very Difficult Interview

Associate Consultant Interview

Associate Consultant
Chicago, IL

I applied through college or university and the process took 4+ weeks - interviewed at Bain & Company in October 2012.

Interview Details – Bain just started interviewing at my school (non-target in the Midwest) in the last few years, and I decided to attend a practice case info session at the business school put on by two consultant alums. During the info session I volunteered a ton (probably answered 75% of the questions, and luckily with pretty good answers) and afterwards I made an effort to meet both consultants, introduce myself and put a face to my name. I submitted my resume to the applicant pool, and I was called the following week by one of the alums who I met with to inform me they'd like to bring me in for a first round interview. Not sure how much of a difference it made, but I definitely think it helped taking the time to attend the info session, actively participating, and making a connection and strong impression on the recruiting contacts from the start rather than just hoping my resume would get noticed.

First round consisted of two 30 minute cases, pretty much zero behavioral. I actually felt really pessimistic leaving the interview, and even called some friends and told them I didn't think I would be advanced to the next round. I was taking a nap the afternoon of the interview when my phone rang, with one of the consultants who interviewed me inviting me to a final round office interview in the near future. Goes to show you want to stay calm on the outside even if you feel like you're struggling and totally lost with a case. In between the first and second rounds, I reached out to the alums I initially met at the info session, and between them and some of the ACs on their teams I was able to go through ~8 live practice cases over the phone with different Bain employees. Can't stress enough how much this helped me prepare.

Second round was three 30 minute cases with a partner and two senior managers, as well as a 30 minute behavioral/fit interview with a consultant. Saw two private equity due diligence cases, the key to these is looking at the overall market, then the competitive landscape, then the client's specific product offering and how it compares to the rest of the industry. I would definitely anticipate a few cases of this sort if you plan on interviewing with Bain. All the cases were pretty straightforward, pretty structured where the interviewer had several slides with key information which they would provide if you asked the right questions. After the final interview I kept anticipating a call, as I'd heard that top firms will often extend offers the same day as the interview. When I didn't hear I was somewhat nervous, but I did my best not to think about it. I received an offer a week later over the phone.

Interview Question – Believe it or not I struggled most with the question "Tell me about yourself". It was my last interview of the final round with a very successful partner, normally I feel pretty good about my 30 second elevator pitch/self promotion blurb but I definitely froze up and got nervous for some reason. I sort of stammered that I was a smart and laid-back kid, immediately regretted the use of "laid-back", randomly threw out that I ran an ironman with no real connection to how it would make me a better consultant, etc. After that we went through a case together which went well, but definitely sell yourself better than I did when given the chance.   Answer Question

Negotiation Details – As others have stated no negotiation for entry-level employees. My negotiation phase consisted of me giggling like a little girl when the partner asked if I would like to join Bain, and trying to hold it together over the phone.

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