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Meritocracy Inc.


David G. Sanderson is a partner in the Los Angeles office of Bain & Company, where he heads global recruiting. Sanderson joined the firm in 1989 and founded Bain Los Angeles in 1995. Before joining Bain, Sanderson worked at IBM (IBM) as a national account sales manager, systems engineer, and programmer. He holds an MBA from Stanford University's Graduate School of Business. Sanderson says Bain stresses collaborative, team-based work within a meritocracy, where the individual can progress quickly through the ranks. He recently spoke with BusinessWeek Online Reporter Jeffrey Gangemi. Here are edited excerpts of their talk:

Q: What attributes do you look for in a consultant?

A: First and foremost, we look for great analytical skills and capabilities, combined with an ability to determine where value exists in a company. Also, the ability to work in a team environment and interpersonal skills are important. Delivering our set of recommendations to clients requires great communication skills.

Q: How do you judge these skills in a candidate?

A: The best way to get to know a student is through the interview process. The resume is a good indication of history and experience, but the interview process is essential to our understanding of whether you are capable of succeeding in our business.

Q: Please describe how the process works.

A: We provide as much background through on-campus presentations as we can before the interview process. Recruiting typically begins on campus with two interviews. We present a case question similar to what students might find if they were to join the firm. This gives us an idea of how the student frames, solves, and thinks about business issues.

After the first round, there is a second round of interviews. If the office looking to hire a candidate is outside the U.S., then a third round might be necessary before making the final decision.

Q: How can a candidate impress you?

A: There's a lot of information about Bain on the Internet, and you can find out even more through talking to people at Bain, as well as classmates. It impresses me when students try to learn firsthand what it's like to work at Bain and ask those second and third questions. You can see when a candidate has a deep interest in the company.

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