McKinsey’s Oops Recruiting Moment

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Marvin Bower would be turning over in his grave.

Some MBA students at top three business schools who expressed an interest in working for McKinsey & Co. are steaming over an stock rejection letter they recently received via email from the prestigious global consulting firm.

The rejections began with the rather disinterested salutation: “Dear %PREFERRED.”

MBAs on the receiving end of the emails say they are startled that a firm as widely admired as McKinsey would fail to send out personalized letters to candidates when they are rejected for an associate consulting job. The largest single recruiter of elite MBAs in the world, McKinsey can hire nearly 500 MBA graduates a year. Surveys of MBA students consistently show that McKinsey is the second most desirable MBA employer, behind only Google.

JUST IMAGINE WHAT IT WOULD BE LIKE AT OTHER SCHOOLS?’

“I am so shocked that recruiters can come to campus and get away with stuff like this,” complains one second-year student at a top two business school who asked that his name not be used. “I didn’t expect that out of McKinsey. given the history they have with the school and their reputation. It’s surprising. It feels like the HR people are being lazy. If they do this here, just imagine what it would be like at other schools?”

McKinsey's Eileen Coleman sent out the stock rejection letter

McKinsey’s Eileen Coleman sent out the stock rejection letter

Bower, the visionary who made McKinsey & Co. a powerhouse in the post-war period by heavily recruiting top MBAs, would probably be just as appalled. He was known as a stickler for professionalism and proper etiquette. Bower once insisted that his consultants wear long socks because, he said, “raw flesh in business meetings was simply not appropriate.”

MCKINSEY SENDS AN APOLOGY AND CONFESSES EMBARRASSMENT

The letters from McKinsey’s Eileen Coleman, manager of MBA recruiting operations, went out last Friday (Sept. 27). Less than 24 hours later on a Saturday afternoon, Coleman dispatched an apology to the MBA students who were rejected.

“I wanted to follow up on the recent email you received from me with our application decision and apologize for the impersonal salutation which was ultimately sent from our system incorrectly,” wrote Coleman, who works out of the firm’s Boston offices.  “As you can imagine, I am embarrassed this happened. I fully appreciate it was already a difficult message to receive and that getting a very impersonal greeting likely did not make it any better.”

Oops. An email to Ms. Coleman for comment was unanswered at publication time.

(Read the full letter of rejection on the following page)

DON’T MISS: COACHING MBAS FOR A MCKINSEY TRYOUT or B-SCHOOLS THAT CHURN OUT CONSULTANTS

About the Author...

John A. Byrne

John A. Byrne is the founder and editor-in-chief of C-Change Media, publishers of Poets&Quants and four other higher education websites. He has authored or co-authored more than ten books, including two New York Times bestsellers. John is the former executive editor of Businessweek, editor-in-chief of Businessweek. com, editor-in-chief of Fast Company, and the creator of the first regularly published rankings of business schools. As the co-founder of CentreCourt MBA Festivals, he hopes to meet you at the next MBA event in-person or online.