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Case Interviews: EMBAs / Experienced Hires

As an EMBA / Experienced hire, you are a minority. Yet, you are a minority that we care about.

Follow this unique 110 episode series (see the full list of episodes below), prepared for the Darden EMBA program, to help experienced hires and EMBAs successfully prepare for their McKinsey, BCG and Bain interviews.

This is the only case interview training program in the world dedicated to helping experienced hires /  EMBAs, by taking into account their very unique challenges, join elite consulting firms.

This is a much needed program. If you are an experienced hire or an EMBA you usually have to rely on the advice that has been developed for MBAs and sometimes PhDs. But as an experienced hire or an EMBA you are typically ignored because that advice is not very useful.

As an EMBA / Experienced hire, you are a minority. Yet, you are a minority that we care about. Share on X

Firmsconsulting devotes significant attention and time to experienced hires / EMBAs. Experienced hires are one of our largest client segments and we design our programs to manage the unique challenges they face: usually part-time degrees, deep industry specialization, choosing roles to secure a green card, difficulties finding a fit in McKinsey/BCG, limited time to prepare, small window to change careers, sponsoring family members back home etc.

The majority of our experienced hire clients have EMBAs or some form of a part-time graduate degree. Most have undergraduate degrees from state or foreign universities, with Indian schools being a dominant group.

Age need not be a major factor with the right preparation and determination. We hold the record for placing some of the oldest applicants into McKinsey, BCG and Bain: a 44 years old associate, a 45 years old consultant and a 47 years old principal. We also placed a mother after 5 years of maternity leave into McKinsey, that was also never done before and is a future training program we will release to Firmsconsulting Insiders.

Lessons from working with those applicants have been built into this program.

EMBA classes are not large and therein lies the problem. EMBAs are not the target hiring category for major consulting firms. Schools don’t devote the majority of resources for career advice and career support to EMBAs. It is just a numbers game. The pool is not large enough and most people in that pool are not looking to transition into consulting.

The issues experienced hires / EMBAs face, as this series shows, are radically different. They are not even close to the issues that MBAs, PhDs and undergraduates usually face. Following advice for MBAs is a path to failure.

The paths to consulting available to EMBAs are greater than that for MBAs, PhDs and even undergraduates. Therefore, EMBAs have less time to prepare because they have full time jobs, they have a tougher path because they have less support and usually more responsibilities (spouse, children), yet they have more options so they need more time to analyze those options.

Firms are also not sure about the intent of an experienced hire to join and as a result of the above they have a lower probability of getting in.

When we designed this series we decided to put together a program that catered to the limited time available to experienced hires. The reason we decided to put together an audio program, and not a video program, is because EMBAs / experienced hires are generally busy: traveling, coming home and hopefully seeing their children. And the idea was to create a program that will be very easy for experienced hires / EMBAs to consume while they are working.

This audio training program is specific to experienced hires / EMBAs. It is not generic in any possible way. This program will help anyone going through case interview preparation, obviously, and we recommend you listen to it if you have access to it, but if you are an experienced hire or an EMBA, this is designed specifically for you.

Questions we cover, the advice we give, the topics we choose to elaborate on versus simply touch on to beef up your general knowledge are specific to experienced hires / EMBAs.

We also had a very capable student from the Darden EMBA class, Tom, co-host this training program. The program is developed in a conversational back and forth style.

It is a very detailed series. Most clients have been surprised about the depth of the information provided. It is very prescriptive: this is what you need to do, this is why and this is how you do it, and this is some of the interesting stories that happened with other clients if they did it and if they did not do it.

We specifically spend a lot of time talking about the nuances of networking within the context of experienced hires / EMBAs. The entire program links all the pieces of work needed to be done to network. For example, how must a resume be written and shared to lead to an interview.

FC experienced hire clients have joined from the senior associate level all the way to director at McKinsey & BCG. It is a mistake to assume that one need only join at the associate level.

We also spend a lot of time explaining the differences between BTO, the specialist path, the generalist path and implementation. They are all viable paths at McKinsey and we want people to be comfortable going after them. We wanted to make it clear that the generalist path is not the only path available.

So many paths are available. BTO, in particular, is a path we recommend since it fits perfectly for those with a technology background, is a route to the partnership and teaches all the general problem solving skills.

Furthermore, a lot of time is spent on how to edit a resume and cover letter.

If you have very little time and you just want to focus on the most important things, like what are the most important cases to focus on, what are the most important concepts to focus on because you don’t want to try to memorize everything in your EMBA class, we have designed this program to provide all that material. We teach the core concepts in some detail.

If you are an experienced hire, e.g. if you are EMBA, this program is perfect for you. If you are a fresh MBA or an undergraduate about 70% of material will be applicable. If you are a PhD a lot of the material will be applicable because in a way PhDs are also experienced hires without working experience.

So this program is tailored for experienced hire / EMBA candidates who have very little time. The target audience is someone who is in their car a lot, or commuting a lot, and really does not have time to prepare. They want to be listening and they want to be busy doing other things.

Access to this Program

This program is currently exclusively available to Firmsconsulting Insiders, who will have a way to download content into our App. We will also post special Q&A episodes in response to Firmsconsulting Insiders’ questions.


Each bullet below is a separate episode or a series of separate episodes:

1. Introduction

  • How we designed this podcast series
  • Ethics as a competitive advantage

2. Business Judgment

3. 11 Myths about consulting applications

4. FAQs

  • How important is my school to my application?
  • When does my GPA matter?
  • How important is my experience?
  • What are the firms looking for?
  • What to read to prepare?

5. What do EMBAs need to do differently vs MBAs?

  • What specifically are the firms looking for in EMBA candidates or “mid career hires”?
  • How to deal with being “unevenly qualified”?
  • How to weave in past experience?
  • How to show superior business judgment?
  • MBA vs. EMBA key difference

6. What is the truth for minority candidates: Black / Hispanic / Indian / Chinese?

7. What is the truth for female applicants?

8. Roles available to EMBAs

  • BTO
  • Generalist
  • Specialist
  • Implementation
  • When and how to chose from the above

9. Where to apply

  • How do I decide which firms to target?
  • How important are values and fit?
  • How do I evaluate values and fit?

10. Preparing to network

  • When must networking begin?
  • Why is networking crucial?
  • What is the networking critical path?

11. How to edit a resume?

  • Principles
  • Things that delight firms
  • Things that hurt you
  • Editing critical path
  • Writing rules
  • Education
  • Experience
  • Personal

12. Mid-Point Q&A

  • How does one position oneself to transition from consulting to PE?
  • Should an EMBA apply on-cycle or off-cycle?
  • How does an EMBA balance preparation time with all the other demands?
  • How does one pick an office to smooth out lifestyle issues and when should this decision be made?
  • How does one prioritize time during an EMBA, between studies, extra-curricula activities, travel and recruiting?

13. How to update LinkedIn?

14. When to edit a resume?

15. How are major foreign accomplishments viewed?

16. When/how to write a cover letter?

  • General rules for cover letters
  • Things that delight firms
  • Things that hurt you
  • Cover letter paradoxes

17. How to build your spike in your profile?

18. Networking

  • What is the core principle and objective of networking?
  • Which type of partners to target?
  • The laws of networking
  • The logic of using LinkedIn
  • Q&A
  • How partners manage partners
  • Possibly the worst change at McKinsey and the negative impact of China’s rise
  • How to reach out/use LinkedIn?
  • What happens when someone responds/views the profile?
  • How do you run the call?
  • What happens after the first call?
  • What happens if no referral offers come through?
  • Story of McKinsey 44

19. When to apply?

  • On-cycle versus off-cycle
  • How does the networking guide this decision?

20. Managing Expectations on Offers

21. Communication Skills

  • Importance of communication
  • Airport Syndrome
  • Missing Presentation
  • Blind Navigator

22. Case Types

  • Basics
  • Foundational Skills / How to learn
  • Estimation
  • Brainstorming
  • Full Cases
  • Answer-first/hypotheses cases
  • Interviewee-led cases
  • Interviewer-led cases
  • Conversational cases
  • Clear objective function
  • Data cases
  • Inference cases
  • No framework
  • Partner preference
  • Framework is failing
  • Quote – go for something
  • Written cases
  • How do you know?
  • Full Cases
  • Profit
  • Volume Profit
  • Market Entry
  • Structure or no structure? Analytic vs Quantitative
  • Operations / Productivity
  • Social Sector / Government
  • Investment
  • Key MBA Concepts to Understand
  • Business judgment
  • Volume drivers
  • Pricing cases
  • Break-even curve analyses / CVP
  • Set-up times and bottlenecks
  • Income statement vs balance sheet vs cash flow
  • Marginal cost curves

23. Behavioral interviews

  • How to discuss your background?
  • Why Darden?
  • Why an MBA now?
  • Technical elements of fit
  • Tell me the most memorable thing on your resume?
  • Why BCG/McKinsey?
  • What is the smartest thing you ever did?
  • Why are you leaving your career after such a long investment?
  • Talk me through a weakness?
  • Talk me through a failure you experienced/generated?

24. How to build business judgment?

25. Final Advice for Experienced Hires / EMBAs

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