FAQs

Application process

Click on your question here to find the answer:

How can I find out more about Bain?
Do I need to apply to one part of the business?
I want to start my career in Sydney. Can I apply via London?
Do I need a work permit?
I have no business experience and a non-business related degree. Should I apply?
What happens to my application when I submit it?
When will I find out whether my application has been successful?


How can I find out more about Bain?
Use the website to find out about the type of work we do and how we make an impact for our clients. You can also use the profiles on Join Bain to find out about the typical working day of an associate consultant.

Do I need to apply to one part of the business?
No. At Bain, you'll have the opportunity to gain experience across corporate clients and private equity clients, transferring the knowledge and experience you gain in one area to others.

I want to start my career in Sydney. Can I apply via London?
No. If you want to start your career in any of Bain's other worldwide offices, you should apply directly to that office. You can find details of all our offices, including how to apply, on JoinBain.com.

Do I need a work permit?
No. As long as you have a degree, we can apply for a work permit on your behalf.

I have no business experience and a non-business related degree. Should I apply?
Absolutely. We recruit from any discipline - business studies, philosophy, languages, history—you name it. We look for analytical ability and structured, logical thinking, not business knowledge or higher level maths. All we ask is that you have Grade A at maths GCSE, or equivalent. Consultancy isn't rocket science, but you do need to be comfortable with numbers.

What happens to my application when I submit it?
Once we've received your application, all three parts of it will be reviewed independently by at least three different consultants. They are trying to answer overall questions about your application such as: What are you motivations for consultancy? Why are you interested in working for Bain? In addition, they are looking for specific evidence that you have the qualities we think you need to be successful at Bain.

When will I find out whether my application has been successful?
As soon as we receive your completed application, we’ll send you a confirmation email. You will then receive an email from us after we have reviewed your application. If your application is successful we will invite you to interview in December (for Milkround) or another time in the year (for offcycle).

The CV

Click on your question here to find the answer:

Companies like Bain receive lots of applications from people with similar qualifications and experience to me. How can I make my application stand out?
What should my CV look like?
What should my CV include?
I'm worried that my CV looks like a long and random list of activities. Do you have any advice?
I keep trying to draft my covering letter, but end up summarising my CV. Is this OK?
Any last tips?

Companies like Bain receive lots of applications from people with similar qualifications and experience to me. How can I make my application stand out?
See your CV as your personal marketing tool. This doesn't mean that it should be gimmicky or 'different' for the sake of it, but just that it needs to 'sell' you and your principal achievements effectively to us, and demonstrate your suitability to Bain. Think carefully about the key attributes that we look for—analytical ability, interpersonal skills, initiative, energy and teamwork—and make sure that you use your CV to highlight where you have demonstrated them. There is no 'right' way to demonstrate these qualities—organising an expedition to Africa can involve just as much initiative as a summer internship, for example.

What should my CV look like?
There are no hard and fast rules here, but try to use your formatting to make it easy for the reader to draw out your key selling points. Aim to keep your CV to one page, and definitely not more than two. Think about using bullet points rather than prose—they can help you to distil and emphasise key points. Break the CV clearly into sections and use "white space" to make it easy to read. Don't be afraid to use bold type to attract the reader's eye to key points or achievements.

What should my CV include?
You need to provide us with all the information that we need to make a fair assessment of your application. Try to include:

  • Personal contact details: name and address for correspondence, e-mail address if you have one, telephone number, date of birth and nationality
  • Education: include degree results to date, predicted degree results (where available), A Level and GCSE results (or equivalent). Play up important skills if not otherwise obvious (e.g. maths qualifications if not taken to A-Level).
  • Work experience: try to emphasise relevant work benefits, and summarise your role and main achievements in each job in a couple of points
  • Interests and Activities: try to focus on things that make you stand out. Include dates wherever possible, and try to place most emphasis on your recent achievements.

I'm worried that my CV looks like a long and random list of activities. Do you have any advice?
Remember that your CV isn't a laundry list of everything you've ever done, but is an opportunity to present the 'edited highlights'. A good application doesn't just list facts, but explains why they are important and how they fit into your application to Bain. Try to give us a sense of the scale of your most significant activities and achievements, and exactly what your role was. For example, rather than just listing 'President of University History Society', you might include:

  • President of University History Society (2001)
  • Elected by 300 society members
  • Organised and chaired weekly meetings with outside speakers
  • Ran monthly committee meetings of 20 people
  • Managed a budget of £10,000
  • Liaised regularly with university authorities

I keep trying to draft my covering letter, but end up summarising my CV. Is this OK?
Many people find writing the covering letter to be the hardest part of the whole process. Treat it as an opportunity to emphasise the key selling points of your CV, and a vehicle to demonstrate that you are knowledgeable about Bain's business, and are interested in what we do. A typical approach would be to say why you are interested in strategic consultancy, what attracts you to Bain in particular, and what it is about you that makes you exceptionally suited to the job.

Any last tips?
Get a friend to read your CV and check that it accurately conveys who you really are and what you have done. Also make sure that you make one final check of both your CV and covering letter for typos and mail merge mistakes—every year each consultancy receives numerous letters that were meant for their competitors. Lastly, remember that all of our interviewers are given copies of your application—so if you are selected for interview, make sure you read your CV through again!

Interviews

Click on your question here to find the answer:

I have a first-round interview with Bain. Can you give me any general advice?
Can you give me some examples of a short problem? What am I expected to do?
I'm doing an arts degree and have heard that the short problem requires some complex math. Is this true?
Can you give me an example of the sort of case that I might be given?
What am I supposed to do now?
Do you have any generic case study tips?
Is there anywhere else that I might be able to find some further case study examples?
What does a written case entail?

I have a first-round interview with Bain. I have cleared the first hurdle but I am still nervous about the interviews. Can you give me any general advice?
Yes. Relax and enjoy your interviews! We try to make our interview process as painless and enjoyable as we can so you can perform to the best of your abilities. This means that we want you to be relaxed. You will find our interviewers friendly and approachable. We do not ask 'trick' questions to try to catch you out. We are looking for people that we would enjoy working with on a day-to-day basis—so try to relax and be yourself.

Can you give me some examples of a short problem? What am I expected to do?
Some examples of this type of problem might be for you to estimate the annual revenue of the London Eye, or the number of CD players in the UK.

Remember that there are no "right" answers to these problems. In fact, your interviewer will not know what the exact answer is. We are simply looking to see whether you are able to structure your answer in a logical way, perform some rough calculations, and then check that your answer makes sense at the end.

I'm doing an arts degree and have heard that the short problem requires some complex math. Is this true?
Absolutely not. To be a good consultant requires you to be comfortable with numbers. This is reflected in your interview, where we look for a basic level of mental arithmetic, but nothing more. For example, you should be able to work out 30x200 or 80% of 4000.

Can you give me an example of the sort of case that I might be given?
Absolutely. Let's go through a sample case study. For instance, your interviewer may tell you:

"The Chief Executive of a fruit juice manufacturing company in Spain has called in Bain. The company's profits have declined by 20% since last year. Bain has been asked to help work out what has gone wrong and how to fix it. I want you to structure the problem and work through to a possible solution."

What am I supposed to do now?
Don't panic! We know that this sort of problem will feel highly unfamiliar to most of you, and we certainly don't expect you to know anything about the Spanish fruit juice market! The most important thing is to lay out a coherent structure.

To start, try to break the problem down into its constituent parts. For example, you might say something along these lines:

"The company's profits are its sales minus its costs. Therefore any decline in profits has to be driven by either decreasing sales or increasing costs, or both.

Sales are driven by the quantity of fruit juice sold (volume) and the price.

The main costs involved in manufacturing and selling fruit juice are likely to be: raw materials (oranges, apples etc.), manufacturing costs (the factory, labour etc.), packaging (bottles, cans, cartons etc.) and distribution (lorries, storage etc.)"

Having identified all the potential parts of the answer, you should ask your interviewer questions to further explore the problem. For example, you might ask some of the following questions:

"What has happened to revenues over the last couple of years?"

"Has the company seen a fall in the quantity of fruit juice sold?"

"What has been happening to their costs"?

"Has every fruit juice manufacturer experienced the same problem?"

From the answers that you receive to these questions, you should begin to identify what the key issues are. Try to ask further questions to focus on the most important issues. For example, you might ask:

"Why was there a fall in price in the fruit juice market in Spain?"

"Why have competitors been able to maintain their volumes while ours have been falling?"

"Why did manufacturing costs rise so substantially?"

Finally, once you have successfully isolated and focused on the key issues, try to propose some solutions. You can be as creative as you wish here, but try to focus on tangible solutions that you think that the company could actually implement. Depending on the answers to your previous questions, you might believe that some of the following are the right answers to the decline in profits:

"It looks like raw material costs are the major factor behind declining profitability. The company should go to its suppliers and make sure that it is getting the best price from them"

or perhaps:

"I think that the company's declining profitability has been principally driven by declining volume. Consequently, we need to make sure that the company's competitors do not continue to steal its customers. To stop this we could look to improve its distribution to key outlets, and perhaps start to aggressively push its product through the large European supermarkets."

That is really useful. Do you have any generic case study tips?
Try to think about the following when you are tackling all case studies.

1. Take your time
35 minutes is a long time—you are not expected to crack the case in two minutes

2. Lay out a framework
Use a framework to break the problem down into its various parts at the start

3. Ask questions
Treat the interview as a two-way conversation. You need information from your interviewer to be able to solve the problem effectively. Moreover, don't be afraid to ask if you don't understand what a term means. Remember that you are not expected to have an extensive business vocabulary, and we are not trying to catch you out.

4. Be concise
Focus on what you think are the key issues. Don't list every single issue, question and solution that you think might exist.

5. Explain your logic
Interviewers are not mind-readers. Don't just give them an answer. Explain to them why you came to a particular conclusion, or why you used a particular assumption.

6. Write things down
It helps both you and your interviewer to understand your logic and approach if you write things down as you go along

7. Is there anywhere else that I might be able to find some further case study examples?
Learn more about Bain's case studies and try some of our interactive practice cases online.

What does a written case entail?
Actually, you should approach the written case study in exactly the same way as the other case study interviews. You will be given some written information outlining a particular business problem, similar to the oral case studies, but with a little more detail. Attached to this information are a number of questions. You have approximately 40 minutes to read the information and to prepare answers to the questions. Your interviewer will then sit down and walk through the case with you verbally, discussing your answers in the same way as a normal case study. You should try to follow exactly the same tips as for the other case studies.