FAQ

Working as a consultant

How are case teams typically structured?
While all case teams are different, a "typical" team might have two partners, a manager, two consultants and two associate consultants. This mix of associate consultants is unique to Bain among major strategy consulting firms. The AC plays a critical role on the team - often leading the thinking for key pieces of work. This model is successful because we have found that if we create a challenging and supportive environment, the people we hire will thrive and rise to meet the tasks presented to them.

Do all Bain consultants work on two cases at a time?
Bain's focus is on doing what it takes to get client results. As a result, staffing approaches need to be flexible within offices and regions to accommodate the needs of our clients. Each office makes the decision about whether to staff consultants on two cases or on one case, based on the needs of the clients it is serving.

How do consultants get assigned to projects?
A staffing coordinator works closely with you to help match your interests with the staffing needs of the organization. Your ability to work on specific clients or with specific industries will depend on availability and your personal development needs. Consultants are encouraged to experience a broad spectrum of project types (e.g. corporate strategy, mergers and acquisitions) across a broad range of industries. If a consultant wants to develop a deeper experience in a given practice area, then the staffing coordinator will work to give the consultant a mix of opportunities both within the specific area of expertise and outside the area for breadth.

Can I specialize in an industry?
Our focus is on developing consultants to possess an invaluable general manager perspective; this requires consultants to work across industries early in their careers, on a variety of business issues. We are flexible and our staffing model is interactive; if a consultant wants to work in a particular industry, we will work with him or her to help accommodate that interest. At about four to five years tenure (senior manager level), our people begin to spend the majority of their time in their industry of interest.

How many hours does a consultant typically work?
Consultants are judged by their results and the value they provide to their clients, not by "face time" or the number of hours they work. Our focus is on doing what it takes to get client results. Given this approach, there is no typical work week. There may be some weeks where work load is higher given a client presentation or a particularly demanding phase of our work. Work style is driven by client need, not rigid protocol.

What type of performance evaluation system does Bain use?
Performance evaluations are conducted every six months. As part of this process, you will receive feedback from the managers/partners on your team who have worked closely with you on a particular client situation. Your consensus reviewer consolidates all feedback received by people with whom you have worked and delivers the performance evaluation. In addition, those responsible for leading cases receive frequent case team surveys, which provide ongoing feedback for areas of improvement. Finally, we encourage all members of the consultant staff at all levels to proactively solicit feedback from the managers and partners with whom they are working. This informal yet constructive feedback is an important component of each consultant's professional development needs.

Are there any support program to whom want to pursuit of an MBA degree or other graduate degree?
Although it is not required, most of our associate consultants have aspirations to attain further education two to four years into their Bain career. For strong performers who demonstrate potential for long term success, Bain supports the pursuit of an MBA degree or other relevant graduate degree in the form of an offer to return to the firm after graduation. Upon the employee's acceptance of the offer, tuition reimbursement is provided for two years of school.

Are there opportunities to transfer to other offices?
The professional development of the consulting staff is further enhanced by a managed process of cross-office transfers. As business needs change, opportunities exist for consulting staff members to transfer either temporarily or permanently to other Bain offices. Temporary transfers typically last for six months. In addition to providing professional development, transfers are one of many ways that Bain facilitates knowledge-sharing across offices.

Transfer opportunities are available to consulting staff that are in good standing with regard to performance and are dependent on business needs in both the "home office" and the transfer office. Transfers require language skills sufficient to work effectively in the new office.

Graduates
Graduates

There is a view that unless someone has general experience working for a corporation, he or she will not be able to provide effective consulting to clients or deliver results to them. Is that true?
Many of our consultants have been successful delivering results to our clients despite limited to no experience working in a company beforehand. Numerous Bain partners and managers joined directly from university, or from non-corporate backgrounds (e.g. government, academia).

Industry experience is only one small facet of what makes a successful consultant at Bain. We believe that people's ability to grasp the whole picture of a business is a much more important skill. This means being able to identify the key questions facing a business, developing a hypothesis about the answers to those questions, and then developing logical analysis that drives a practical recommendation to our clients on what they should do differently to improve their business' performance. To deliver these results, our consultants must be quick learners, able to grasp new industries and business models quickly. They must be able to bring together disparate data sources and design analyses that provide insights on where the opportunity to generate results exist. Finally, they must be able to integrate all that knowledge and findings into actionable solutions for our clients that drive value.

I have studied and conducted research for a science graduate degree, and would like to make use of that specialized knowledge in my career, but I am concerned that if I join a consulting firm I will not be able to do so and would instead end up only as a generalist. Is that concern valid?
Consulting is based on the process of forming hypotheses regarding management issues on the basis of facts and then verifying those hypotheses, so there is a high degree of compatibility between consulting and the research methods employed in the sciences. In that sense, it is possible to make use of the research skills you have acquired.

Furthermore, we have many projects in fields such as semiconductors, IT, telecommunications and machinery and there is an environment in place where you can make use of your knowledge in specialized fields.

To what extent is English ability necessary?
With the globalization of the corporate management environment in Japan (e.g., overseas production, advances into overseas markets, M&A by foreign capital and investment funds, increase in foreign stockholders, etc.), English is becoming increasingly indispensable for providing strategic consulting to top corporate executives. However, if a person is able to adequately and logically grasp, write, and convey important points in English, even without being fluent, there will be no problem in carrying out one's work duties as a consultant. More important is the ability to think. At Bain, it is not our intention to hire outstanding Japanese personnel based simply on their English ability. Those who are less confident about their English or have room for improvement (in terms of meeting our English criteria that is roughly equivalent to a score of 730 on the TOEIC test) should still consider Bain as an option.

We offer an overseas study program in 2008 for newly hired employees prior to their first day on the job, and already have a number of people studying English in the United States (for those who do not require such overseas study we also offer a study program in Japan). When you think about the ideal sort of businessperson you want to become in the future, it is clear that English ability is one important aspect, and as a consulting firm at the cutting-edge of globalization in Japan we are able to provide useful, direct assistance to employees so they can improve their language skills. If you are concerned about your English ability, we hope that you will not let this get in the way of seeking employment at Bain and pursuing a career on the global stage.

If I have applied to Bain in the past, is it possible to apply once again?
We only allow university applicants to apply once while they are still students.

Is it possible to apply at the same time to more than one Bain office?
No, simultaneous applications are not allowed. Those who wish to apply to one of our overseas offices should fill in the following application form.

Experienced hires
Experienced hires

What sort of backgrounds do people who join Bain midway through their careers have?
Bain recruits consultants with a variety of backgrounds, including engineers at manufacturers, trading companies, financial institutions and other organizations, those who have been in charge of sales, marketing or administration, as well as national government employees, physicians and so on.

I do not have MBA or experience working in a corporate planning department. Can I still work as consultant at Bain?
We have many consultants at Bain who do not have an MBA or a background in corporate planning. Even if you do not have such experience, you will have the chance to fully acquire knowledge and skills after you join Bain through global and local training and through daily practice.

What sort of positions are available for those who join Bain with some work experience?
We offer you the position that we think will suit you best, taking into account your experience up to that point and other factors based on decisions made through the screening process. Most applicants enter Bain as associate consultants, senior associate consultants, or consultants.

If I have applied to Bain in the past, is it possible to apply once again?
We ask applicants to wait at least one year before reapplying to Bain. In such cases where a year or more has elapsed since the previous application was made, it is necessary to start the application process again from the beginning.