MBB Increases Size Of MBA Waitlists In 2021

Landing on an MBB waitlist is the dreaded purgatory between knowing you have an offer – and knowing you don’t. This year, more MBAs who interviewed for internships find themselves on an MBB waitlist as McKinsey, BCG, and Bain determine headcount needs for 2021 and beyond. Count this as just another effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on consulting recruiting. So, if you’re an MBA and find yourself on an MBB waitlist, you’re not alone.

Why are these firms expanding their use of the waitlist, and what should you do if you find yourself waitlisted?

MBB Waitlist

Why Are McKinsey, BCG And Bain Expanding Their Use Of The Waitlist?

This last year has brought major disruption to the consulting industry. While overall demand for consulting services has continued to rise, there is uncertainty and the potential for more disruption on the horizon. As new coronavirus strains spread, global vaccination distribution slows, and future government support for impacted businesses remains up in the air, a sharp economic downturn is not out of the realm of possibility. This could absolutely alter demand for consulting services, especially in specific industries and practice areas.

Waitlisting MBA interviewees gives McKinsey, BCG and Bain the ultimate flexibility to add headcount at short notice, especially since all MBA interns automatically receive a 2022 full-time offer as well. The firms’ strong compensation packages and brand power give them the ability to still secure top talent off a waitlist. While the benefit to MBB is quite clear, what should you do if you find yourself waitlisted?

What To Do If You’ve Been Waitlisted!

First, congratulations on making it this far. A majority of candidates didn’t even make it to interview rounds, let alone navigate the case interview in such a way to present themselves as viable options for McKinsey, Bain or BCG.

Instead of looking back at what you could have done better, it’s time for you to “control the controllables.” Here are two things to do as you navigate being waitlisted.

  1. Recognize That Recruiting Is Not Over For You

We get it – you put your blood, sweat and tears into internship recruiting. You took part in a plethora of firm networking events, and feel a bit burned. Still, there’s work left to do. Continue to pursue opportunities outside of consulting by following the same playbook. Mainly: network, prepare your butt off, and interview well.

Best case scenario – if you come off a MBB waitlist, you’ve got another offer to consider and potentially leverage against MBB.

Worst case – if you don’t make it off the waitlist, you haven’t wasted time expecting MBB to come through for you.

  1. Check In Monthly With Your Contacts At MBB

Keep your contacts updated on the skills you’ve continued to build; keep these emails short and low-stakes. The goal here is to stay top-of-mind if additional internship spots open up. Stay in touch with your Careers office as well – they often have strong relationships they can leverage to keep you up-to-date.


MBB has expanded its waitlist ranks this MBA internship cycle. The firms’ brand prestige, market positioning, and comp offerings allow them to successfully employ this strategy to quickly flex headcount later this spring.

If you’re a candidate who has been waitlisted, keep the faith while continuing to pursue other opportunities! Good luck, and reach out for help!

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Filed Under: Bain, BCG, Consulting Internship, Consulting MBA, consulting recruiting, McKinsey Consulting