Bain & Co. Considers using GMAT integrated reasoning scores in hiring process

Bain & Co., a top management consulting firm based in Boston, may begin to rely on the GMAT’s new Integrated Reasoning section to assess applicants for consulting positions.

Introduced in June 2012, the Integrated Reasoning section measures the test-taker’s ability to analyze and synthesize data, and consists of the following types of questions: graphics interpretation, two-part analysis, table analysis, and multi-source reasoning. Because of its relative newness, the Integrated Reasoning section has not yet been fully integrated into the business school admissions process, but its potential usefulness as a hiring tool may change that.

“The IR scores are trying to test analytical abilities, which is important to us,” explained Keith Bevans, global head of recruiting at Bain, “We hope it’s a good match for determining if you’ll be successful at Bain.” Bevans emphasized that should scores be used for hiring purposes, they will be just one aspect of the candidate’s profile; past work experience, education, GMAT scores, leadership experience and interviews all play roles in the hiring process.

Schools such as Harvard Business School on average see a quarter of their graduates enter the consulting industry, with McKinsey, Boston Consulting Group, and Bain combined hiring more than 500 graduates each year. Obtaining a “big three” consulting job is no small feat – interviews typically require the applicant to solve complex brain teasers with real-world applicability. Though Integrated Reasoning questions are far more abstract, both assess a similar way of problem-solving.

“When they realize the type of skill it measures,” Tami Fassinger, chief recruiting officer at Vanderbilt University’s Owen Graduate School of Management, told Businessweek“I predict the firms that currently want to screen based on high GMATs will want to screen for high IR scores.”

While not all firms have indicated they are willing to place such a high premium on Integrated Reasoning scores, a decision by Bain–regarded as a top recruiter of MBA talent–to utilize the IR section in its hiring could have major ramifications for both current MBA students and MBA applicants.



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