Closed/open Lists

Some firms dedicate an incredible amount of time meeting students prior to interviews.  For instance, the top management consulting firms will provide a catered presentation, several invitation-only dinners, and even a new consultant as a campus representative with whom students can meet and answer questions.  Firms are looking to get to know students in order to invite them to interview.

Every top-tier MBA program has the notion of closed and open lists. 

The number of closed-list and open-list positions, as well as the ratio of the two, differ by school.  Big-five management consulting firms interviewing at top-tier schools may interview as many as 40% of any given class, half of which are invited and the other half are open-list candidates.  Outside of the top schools, this number drops significantly.  As well, many schools only have a closed lists.

It is important to work to get on as many closed lists as possible.  Why?  The more chances you have to interview, the greater your chances at getting an offer at the end of the day.  Seven consulting firms interviewed on campus during my first year.  The average first-year was invited to interview for approximately two of these firms.  Given historical bidding, students would only be able to bid on two other firms before running out of bid points.  This gives them four chances to interview.  If you as the student were able to receive a third closed-list position, you would be able to interview with five firms.  That extra firm gives a tremendous psychological boost when you begin to interview.

How do I get invited?

There are many ways to increase your chances of getting invited.

What are my chances?

Your position on the closed or open list typically has no bearing on whether you receive an offer.  Most schools and firms strive to ensure that the interviewer does not know whether their list was invited or not.  Many friends at many consulting firms received their offers from the open list, and an informal poll for a larger firm at our school indicated that more offers were given off of the open list than the closed list during full-time recruiting.  Do not worry, you can prevail.

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