As you prepare for First Round interviews, you may enjoy hearing the stories of current BCGers who had no problem remembering the ups and downs of their own interview experiences. Read through their stories, from nerves and jitters, to leaving the tag on their suit, to how they got in the zone and into a stride. They want to pay it forward with what they wish someone had shared with them beforehand, so you may benefit!
We hope these stories will reinforce that even through nerves and stumbles, if you focus on being your true self and lean on your good preparedness…you may just enjoy the experience!
First round interviews can feel like a big hurdle in front of you, but in reality, they are just another opportunity for you to shine! You have put in the time preparing, now it is time to perform the final dance that you have rehearsed. I remember arriving slightly nervous to the conference room where everyone was waiting, but the BCG consultants in the room did a great job of putting us at ease. While I was not sure if my first interview went tremendously well, I knew without a doubt was that my interviewer was engaged and genuinely interested in hearing my thought process and understanding how I worked through a problem.
If you find yourself in a similar situation, shake it off in-between interviews and go in to the next one fresh and feeling good about your chances…good things can still come! You have succeeded all your life to arrive at this point, you are here because BCG wants to see you shine, and you have done the preparation that is needed. Smile and go through the cases with confidence.
I was nervous going into my first round interviews – who was going to be my interviewer? Would they like me? Would I forget everything I prepped for? Ultimately, I think it’s important to relax, and also remember that it’s a 2-way street. You’re “interviewing” BCG in a way, as you’re getting to know the BCG interview team and feeling the firm out to make sure it’s a good fit. During my interview, I happened to discover that my interviewer knew the tiny ed-tech startup I worked for before business school, and we were able to connect unexpectedly on our mutual love of the space. It really helped alleviate nerves and made the interview a more enjoyable and conversational experience.
I remember being so nervous that I would oversleep or be late for my 7:30 am interview that I shot out of bed at 4:30 am, showered and went immediately to the coffee shop down the street from the office to make sure I was on time. In hindsight, sitting there watching the clock for 2 hours and drinking 3 cups of coffee probably was not the best way to keep the nerves down, but I was just that fired up about the interview. My advice to those interviewing this year (good luck all!) is to be thoughtful about the hours leading up to the interview. If going for a run will clear your mind, or chatting with a friend you haven’t spoken to in a while will help you loosen up, or showing up ridiculously early will reassure you that you won’t be late, make sure that you allow yourself to do those things. And have fun with it; your interviewer wants you to succeed as well!
On the day of my interview, I literally ran out of the emergency medicine department where I was working and arrived at the BCG office a bit sweaty and still holding my hospital bleep. My first interview was a case study focused on the production of potato chips in New Zealand, and I remember noticing (with some surprise) that I was completely fascinated by what could possibly be causing a drop in the profits of a packaged snack food. Before going in someone had said – just try and enjoy yourself – and in retrospect, that's the best advice anyone could have given me. Just try and have fun. Even if the answer to the case is a little known potato fungus impacting the potato crop in a country on the other side of the world.
I’m convinced that the reason I made it through both rounds of interviews was because I used puns during my cases. During a case interview about a light bulb manufacturer, I asked the interviewer to “shed some light” and “enlighten me” when asking for more information (super corny, I know!). Interviews are an inherently stressful time because you know you’re being evaluated, but remember that the interviewer also wants to get an authentic portrait of who you are. For me, someone who thinks dad jokes are actually funny, I used puns. Don’t forget to let your true personality shine through.
I remember for my first round interview I walked into the Kellogg waiting room nervous because it was my first interview of the recruiting season and everyone looked so sharp and confident in their suits. I immediately made a u-turn and headed straight to the tiny one-stall bathroom to gather myself. I put my earphones in, played Katy Perry’s Roar, danced in that confined space and felt great! I walked back into the waiting room so confident and greeted my interviewer still with the chorus playing in my head.
My piece of advice is to not let everyone around you throw you off your game. Keep focused on what makes you feel good about yourself – whether it’s a good song, your personal mantra or just remembering what makes you a good candidate.
I remember the anticipation and nerves leading up to my First Round interview. What I remember even more clearly is the feeling of relief and belonging just a few hours later, as I stepped out of my second interview. Sure, I made some stumbles in the case, and answered a few of the fit questions awkwardly. However, these concerns were diminished by the friendly, respectful, and fun interactions I had with every BCGer I met. I could tell from this first taste that BCG is a firm where you are encouraged to experiment, stumble, and eventually thrive, all in a positive and supportive environment.
I arrived 30 minutes early for my final round interview in Houston and I chose the first interview slot, so no one was there yet! A few minutes later I met other candidates that were interviewing during the same time slot – one by one they were retrieved by their first interviewer. Eventually, my interviewer popped in and we walked to his office. We exchanged pleasantries and went through the case prompt. I developed my approach and we talked at length about different avenues of analysis that would be relevant.
After most all of my ideas were exhausted, there was a knock at his door. With 10 minutes remaining…the exhibits to the case came. He spread them out in front of me and said something to the effect of, “how does this relate to what we were just discussing?” I thought to myself, “…this is not going well…” Following a quick interpretation, analysis, and verbal summary I was escorted to my next interview. Turns out, I did just fine despite the circumstances!
It’s funny now, but in the moment quite stressful. The main takeaway for me is that it is important to develop the ability to be flexible, confident in your approach and preparation, and understanding of sometimes unpredictable circumstances. Our world and the world of our clients is not static – things change…even things that are meticulously prepared for.
A few pieces of advice... Eat food before! And bring water – you can either leave it outside the interview room or bring it in. Show your personality in the case portion and bring structure to the fit portion. And finally, cases are somewhat like the GMAT in that interviewers may recalibrate and ask more challenging questions if they think you are doing well. So if you walk out of an interview sweating from stress, it may not actually be a bad thing!
While exiting my final round interview at the Boston office, I took my phone out and noticed that it had completely died; no charging would revive it. Knowing that BCG is quick to respond to candidates, and somehow convinced that if BCG could not get in touch with me, they would move onto the next applicant, I ran to the Verizon store in a panic and purchased a new iPhone. My selection criteria was of course whatever they could charge up, port my information into, and get up and running as quickly as possible. That phone is still with me and I cannot wait to replace it.
On a note of advice, you’re going to see a lot of people all around you managing their stress by doing tons and tons of cases. That’s not necessarily the best thing to do! If you need to improve at casing, focus on the core elements that need to improve (e.g., case math, frameworks, etc.) and block aside time to work on those. (If it’s frameworks) In the same hour, you can either do 10 case starts or 1 mock case. Recruiting season is hard enough. Be mindful of your own time and use it wisely. You want to make sure to approach each problem with a fresh perspective and not fall into the trap of applying stock frameworks and approaches.
I was extremely nervous prepping for my first interview with BCG. I spent over an hour getting ready only to have my first interviewer tell me I had food on my suit! In my second interview, I knew I completely bombed the math and didn't even finish the case…
I called my now-husband right after the interview and told him that I totally bombed it, only to get a call a few hours later with the good news of an offer! Looking back and having done many interviews now, I realize I probably wasn't the disaster I thought I was. And there’s a reason there are multiple interviews! Turns out you are your hardest critic – be yourself, be confident in your preparedness…and if I’m any proof, you can stumble along the way and still make it through!
BCG was my first interview during recruiting my second year. I signed up for the 8:00am interview slot, and got to the waiting room early in anticipation of that first slot of the day. While I was sitting waiting for my interviewer to call my name, the person next to me grabbed my attention to say…the tags on my (brand new) suit were VISIBALLY coming out of the top of my blazer. Cut to me frantically looking for scissors, sweating, all the while kind of forgetting about my stress over the interview…So in a way, the worst thing already happened!
When I came out of my interviews, I was already thinking to what I had next and getting mentally prepared. When talking to my friends, they asked how my interview with BCG went, I told them what I could remember – and they gave me a concerned look. “I hope you didn’t do that in your interview.”…Apparently I said the wrong company name…Moral of the story is to try to find ways to relieve your stress before you walk into the room. If you walk in stressed out, it’s hard to think straight, it’s hard to be yourself.
For a final few pieces of advice… Case interviews are not unsolvable – these are real cases, to be solved, so go in with the mindset that it’s not the hardest thing you’re going to have to do. You prepared, you practiced, now it’s time to apply that logic, and show how you can attack a problem. Practice cases out loud, and practice with someone else. Rehearse your fit questions so you can hear yourself and get live reactions. Fit is just as important as your case, as this is your first impression and that is super important. And lastly, it’s more about the battle and how you persevere – if you make a mistake, it’s more important how you react than what the error was.
When it’s time to interview, remember, you’re not alone. There are a lot of people who have helped, and will help, you throughout the recruiting process. They’ve helped you through building out frameworks and brainstorming sessions, through refining how you tell your stories, through complaints and celebrations. These people care about you. They have been, and are, invested in your success. Take that vote of confidence into the interview with you. Realize that you’ve got that support throughout the process, even if they’re not actually in the room with you.
And, congratulations – you’ve gotten your invite! Yes, there’s still some preparation and practice you’ll need to go through in the coming weeks, but you’ve passed a major hurdle. Don’t forget to relax. Take a deep breath. Take time to appreciate the people who are helping you through the process, and let them know that you appreciate them. You’ve got a support network that has gotten you this far, and they’re invested in your success too. Remember that.
Heading in for my decision round interview, (unsurprisingly) I was very nervous! But from the moment I arrived at BCG’s Chicago office, the butterflies totally disappeared. When I arrived in reception, a member of the recruiting team handed me a personalized folder outlining my agenda for the afternoon. I was then ushered to a waiting area where new BCGers were hanging out to welcome us, answer our questions, grab us some coffee, and ease our minds and nerves of the interviews ahead. I then met with two partners for my interviews, each of whom told me fascinating stories about their careers at BCG, and led me through a case that was more of a conversation than an interview. They even customized the fit questions around my background –I was floored! The level of personalization and detail was over the top. I really felt BCG was making a significant investment in me, just as I was making an investment in them. Needless to say, that feeling has been amplified as I’ve joined the firm – the colleagues who once welcomed and interviewed me are some of my closest friends and mentors at the firm!