The candidates favoured by MBB recruiters

23 February 2023 3 min. read

New research has revealed some of the key traits of successful applicants for UK jobs at the world’s top strategy consultancies. Among the findings, McKinsey & Company, Boston Consulting Group and Bain & Company favour recent graduates, who make up as the majority of their hires – but that the largest portion of them come from three elite universities.  

More than one-in-ten students and graduates in the UK hope to land a job in strategy and management consulting when they exit academia. The sector is seen as an excellent opportunity for young professionals to continue learning while gaining work experience, with training and opportunities to travel or relocate among the top factors drawing new talent to the industry.

Among UK students, the world’s three most prestigious strategy consultancies are particularly popular. McKinsey & CompanyBoston Consulting Group and Bain & Company, collectively known as the ‘MBB’, each welcome hundreds of graduates each year – with applicants hoping the firms’ access to global corporations and government departments will provide vital knowhow to build a career in professional services, or in industry.

MBB recruitment channels in the UK

According to new research from interview preparation platform, Case Coach, the largest portion of new hires at MBB firms are graduates. A 41% chunk of the trio’s collective intake between 2020 and 2022 was made up of ‘pre-experience’ students, with fewer than two years of professional work under their belt – often straight after exiting education.

This was highest among BCG, where 51% of intake was this demographic. McKinsey took 47%, while this fell significantly with Bain – the only company where experienced professionals were seen as the top priority, making up 50% of the company’s hires in the two years in question.

However, the researchers also found that despite this, the possibility of joining an MBB firm as a graduate is still only open to a very select group of individuals. About 90% of pre-experience student hires into McKinsey, BCG, and Bain in the UK come from only ten schools, and a 58% majority of the UK hires were former students of the country’s most selective universities: Oxford, Cambridge and the London School of Economics. The University of Cambridge led this on 25%, while the University of Oxford sat second at 22%, and LSE had 11%.

Split view of McKinsey BCG and Bains recruitment channels in the UK

Those findings come as the consulting industry continued to face criticism regarding its social mobility efforts. Despite Bain being among a number of consulting firms hailed as a key point of entry to different socio-economic backgrounds at the turn of the year, the MBB still has a reputation for favouring the UK’s most privileged students.’s study came from a detailed analysis of about 600 individuals hired by McKinsey, BCG and Bain for client-facing consulting roles. The report also casts doubt on the importance of MBAs when it comes to applying for the MBB.

Overall, just 21% of total hires for MBB firms in the UK were MBA graduates. In contrast, the firms favoured experienced hires over those with extra education – with 35% of overall hires coming from experienced professionals with between two and eight years of professional experience.