A Bain & Co. recruiter fields questions in the forums over at Businessweek.Here he is responding to someone asking what type of characteristics Bain finds attractive and which ones serve as red flags:
In general we are looking for evidence that the person is analytically excellent, capable of creating change, and willing to challenge him/herself.
As you might guess those characteristcis come out on a resume in multiple ways. Nothing is definitive, and so we have to use "clues." For example, GMAT is one indication of analytical skill, but it is not definitive. Starting a business before business school is some indication of creating change (and challenging oneself), but it is not definitive. Paying one's own way for their undergrad education without parental support is one indication of handling a challenge, but it is not definitive.
These things are very hard to judge on a resume, so we attempt to interview as many people as practical/possible because it only really becomes clear when you get to know someone.
As for red flags, we do pay attention to apparent inconsistencies in one's history. Someone who has a very high GMAT score but went to a relatively low ranked undergraduate institution makes us pause. It doens't mean the person might not be perfectly qualified to do our job, but we get a lot of qualified applicants and we have to ration them over limited interview spaces. Another example is some one who gets an undergad degree, then gets a Masters in something, then goes to Law School, then goes to get an MBA. We see such people and it makes us think they like being in an academic setting (a lot), and may not be ready for the practical business world.
There are also people who we meet on campus during the pre-interview marketing process who may demonstrate a lack of client sensitivity. For example, when we are doing the Q&A after a presentation, occasionally one student will try to monopolize the conversation at the expense of the other students. We pay attention to that, and it wouldn't be surprising if that person doesn't end up getting an interview with us.