Mckinsey Case Study Interview Prep

McKinsey interviews are among the hardest job interviews you will come across. The questions are difficult and specific to McKinsey and the interviewer can sometimes seem intimidating.

But the good news is that with the right preparation it can actually become relatively straightforward to succeed at a McKinsey interview. We have put together the ultimate list of facts and tips you need to know to maximize your chances of success.

1. One in ten interview candidates get a job offer

First, it is important that you understand the different stages of your interview process with McKinsey and your chances at each step. In most countries, McKinsey usesfour filters to select candidates:

  • CV and cover letter screening
  • McKinsey Problem Solving Test (PST)
  • First round of interviews
  • Second round of interviews

In arecent interview, Dominic Barton, McKinsey’s Global Managing Director, revealed that about 1% of the 200,000 candidates applying to the firm every year receive a job offer.

Assuming a 33% success rate at the four steps of the recruiting process described above, we estimate that McKinsey interviews about 21,000 candidates every year and that they extend a job offer to about 2,200 of them. If you have been invited to a first round interview with McKinsey, you therefore have a 10% chance of getting an offer.

  • Filter 1 / CV and cover letter: 200,000 candidates
  • Filter 2 / McKinsey PST: ~65,000 candidates
  • Filter 3 / First round of interviews: ~21,000 candidates
  • Filter 4 / Second round of interviews: ~6,800 candidates
  • Job offers: 2,200 candidates

The good news is that the first and second round interviews are really manageable when you know what to prepare for. The first thing to focus on is really trying to understand what skills McKinsey is testing for in case interviews.

2. Skills tested by McKinsey case interviews

McKinsey uses case interviews to test three types of skills that are used by consultants in their daily job:

  • Problem structuring and maths skills
  • Creativity and business sense skills
  • Communication skills

First, McKinsey already started testing your maths skills with itsProblem Solving Test. This skill will continue being tested during case interviews and you will be expected to perform mental maths both quickly and accurately. In addition, your interviewer will also ask you to solve the problem at hand in a structured way. In simple terms, that means you will be expected to solve the questions you are asked in a clear step-by-step approach that is easily understandable by your interviewer.

Second, McKinsey case interviews are designed to evaluate your business sense and creativity. That means your interviewer will assess your ability to come up with a range of ideas that make business sense to solve the client issue at hand. For instance, you could be asked to find innovative ideas for a restaurant to grow sales, or to decrease costs.

An important nuance is that interviewers will not assess your business knowledge per se. In other words, you are not expected to have any knowledge of the industry your case will be about. For instance, you could get a case about re-insurance and not know what the re-insurance industry is. This is perfectly normal. In these situations, your interviewer will expect you to ask questions about the industry and will help you understand its specificities.

The only expectation is that you know basic business concepts such as revenues, fixed and variable costs, etc. We have summarized the finance concepts you need to know for consulting interviews here.

Finally, your interviewer will also test your softer skills. This includes how you communicate your ideas and interact with others. Good soft skills are critical to deal with clients as a consultant and a lot of interviewees underestimate their importance. To put things simply, you should try to communicate your ideas in as a structured way as possible during case interviews and behave in a professional way.

Take a look at the following excerpt of one of our McKinsey live case interview videos to find out what a good, consistent approach to answering case interview questions sounds like.

3. Differences between 1st and 2nd round interviews

The second important thing to understand is the number of case interviews you will have and how they will differ. In most cases, you will have two rounds of interviews. The number of interviews by round may vary but it is usually between 2 and 4. In total, you will therefore have between 4 and 8 interviews before getting a McKinsey job offer.

First and second round interviews are similar in format and difficulty. However, your first round interviewers will usually be more junior than your second round ones. Associates (2+ years of experience) or Engagement Managers (4+ years of experience) usually lead first round interviews while the second round is led by Partners (10+ years of experience).

In theory, McKinsey takes into account your performance at both first and second round interviews when it makes the decision to make you an offer. However, in practice, your performance during the second round carries a bigger weight simply because Partners will have a stronger voice when the recruiting group will get together to make a final decision on your application. It is therefore particularly important that you do well at your second round interviews.

Let’s now look at how interviews are structured and help you prepare for each of the different sections. Your interviews will usually last between 45 and 60 minutes and consist of two parts: 

  • Personal Experience Interview – for 25% of the interview time
  • Case Interview – for 75% of the interview time

Let’s first focus on personal experience interviews.

4. Personal Experience Interview

The PEI part of your interview will last about ten minutes. It is fairly different from a typical “CV interview” mainly because your interviewer will only assess you on a single topic. Interviewers at other firms tend to cover a large range of topics during a “CV interview” but that is not the case at McKinsey.

The good news is that the topics on which you will be assessed are very predictable. They are made relatively clear on McKinsey’s career website: personal impact, leadership abilities, entrepreneurial drive and problem solving skills. For instance you could be asked: “Tell me about a time when you led a group of people through a difficult situation” or “Tell me about a time when you had to solve an extremely difficult problem”. 

Our recommended approach to prepare for these questions is to craft a story for each of the four skills McKinsey will test you on. You can then use and adapt these stories depending on the exact question your interviewer will ask. There are different structures you could use to tell your story but we recommend keeping it relatively simple:

  • Context: start by giving the necessary context on the example you are using
  • Problem: outline the problem you and your team were facing
  • Solution: explain the solution you came up with to solve the problem outlined
  • Impact: if possible, quantify the impact you had in solving the problem
  • Lessons: finish by any lessons you might have learned in the process

There are two common mistakes candidates make when answering McKinsey PEI questions. First, a lot of candidates spend too much time on setting the context when telling their story. Second, some candidates forget that the question is about them. They should therefore focus on what they did, what their impact was on the situation they are telling their interviewer about. When you craft your four stories you should keep these common pitfalls in mind and try to avoid them.

For more details and example answers, you should read the following blog post on how to impress your interviewer when answering Personal Experience Interview questions.

5. McKinsey case interview structure

After thePEI question, your interviewer will then move on to the case interview.

In this part of the interview, you will be presented with a business case about a company facing an issue. For instance, your case could focus on an industrial facility facing a profit challenge, or a company that needs help to make a strategic decision on a new product. Cases are usually a simplified version of real projects your interviewer worked on in the past.

Your interviewer will tell you about the situation the company is facing and will ask you questions about the situation. She may also provide you with documents such as graphs and tables with figures about the company. You will be allowed to use scrap paper to structure your thoughts and perform calculations. However, you will not be allowed to use a calculator.

Most McKinsey case interviews use the following structure:

  • Situation
  • Framework question
  • Quantitative question
  • Creativity question
  • Recommendation

First, your interviewer will introduce you to the company’s situation and the business problem they are facing. Then, the interviewer will ask you to identify the areas you would look at to solve the problem at hand -this is the framework question. You will then be asked to solve one or several quantitative questions that will help further investigate the problem faced by the company and draw some initial conclusions.

In addition, at some point during your interview, you will be asked a creativity question. These are usually open-ended question such as “what are the other areas the company could look at to increase its online sales?”. Finally, at the end of the case, your interviewer will ask you to make an overall recommendation for the company based on the analysis you have just carried out.

Although the format and order of questions may vary from one case to the next, you will almost invariably come across these types of questions during your McKinsey interviews and should therefore prepare for them. To find out more about the format of case interviews, you can download our Free McKinsey Case Prep product here.

An additional exercise we would recommend doing is to take a look at the different case interviews available on McKinsey's website. As you go through each case, you should try to map each question to the 5 types of questions we have listed above.

6. Differences between McKinsey and other cases

All consulting firms use case interviews during their recruiting process. But McKinsey interviews are different in two regards.

First, McKinsey interviewers tend to control the pace of the interview much more than other interviewers. They’ve got a list of questions about the case they want to go through with you and will take you from one question to the next. If they feel you spend too much time on one question, they might interrupt you and ask the following question. Some people call this “interviewer-led”case interviews. At other firms such as Bain or BCG, interviewers give you more control over the pace of the interview. Some people call this “interviewee-led” case interviews. The skills tested in both types of cases are the same but you should expect slightly different behaviours from your interviewers.

Second, there is a lot of competition to get into McKinsey, and your interviewer will probably challenge the quality and logic of your answers more than at other firms. That being said, interviewers are instructed to always be well intentioned and therefore will not try to “trip you up” or misguide you.

Let’s now walk through the skills you need to develop to be able to impress at these difficult case interviews.

7. Develop confident maths skills

It is almost impossible to crack case interviews without being able to perform maths calculations quickly and accurately. This is because every case interview at McKinsey includes quantitative questions and you will not be allowed to use a calculator to answer questions.

When you start preparing for case interviews, it is common to have relatively rusty maths skills. However, in our experience, successful candidates take the time to refresh their memories and learn a few maths shortcutsat the startof their preparation. This initial time investment provides them with the confidence they need to perform calculations confidently in case interviews.

We definitely encourage you to make this initial time investment. In fact, this maths preparation is the first step of the McKinsey Case Interview Training Programme we have put together. To help you refresh your maths skills, here are also a few mathsshortcutsyou should consider using.

8. Acquire a consistent answering method for each type of questions

As mentioned previously, McKinsey case interviews follow a pre-defined set of questions: situation, framework, quantitative, creativity and recommendation questions. It is therefore critical that you learn to quickly recognise these types of questions and that you develop a consistent method of answering them. Approaching each question with a pre-defined method will enable you to build stronghabits. On the day of your case interview, these habits will make a huge difference as they will reduce your stress and save you a lot of time and mistakes.

At IGotAnOffer, when we were preparing for case interviews, we were frustrated by the lack of consistent method that existed to crack case interviews. We have therefore developed a method to consistently answer McKinsey case interview questions. After being successful at case interviews, we then set out to share this “IGotAnOffer” method with future generations of candidates through ourMcKinsey case interview programme.

Having a consistent method to answer different case interview questions may feel a little mechanical at first. But trust us, if you stick to a pre-defined method you will experience a step-change in your performance that will help you get a job offer at McKinsey.

9. Practice out loud

Another key element to succeed at case interviews is practicing in real conditions. If you can practice case interviews with a partner you should definitely do so, that will help you progress faster.

However, when you practice by yourself there still is something you can do to recreate case interview conditions: practicing out loud. While this may sound a little awkward at first, in our experience, candidates who have forced themselves to use this technique have progressed much faster than others.

When you practice out loud, you should both play the role of the interviewer and the interviewee. You should ask yourself the questions your interviewer would ask you and then answer these questions out loud as if you were in the interview.

The reason this technique works so well is that it forces you to practice communicating your answer to your interviewer. As mentioned previously, communicating in a structured and simple way is a key skill assessed by McKinsey. Developing this skill as much as possible will make a big difference on the day of the interview.

10. Learn from every case

Finally, the best candidates learn as many things as possible from every case they do. In our experience, it is much better to train on 20 case interviews and to learn a lot from them than to train on 40 and not learn much.

To ensure you make the most of each case you practice on, we recommend that at the end of each case, you write down what you have learned as well as the main mistakes you have made. After a few days you should then do the case again. This approach will enable you to make sure that you apply what you have learned and to ensure you are making progress.

Conclusion

McKinsey interviews are challenging because there is a lot of competition for the job, interviewers can be a little intimidating and there is quite a lot of ground to cover in your preparation. However, if you follow the tips listed above it is completely feasible to get a job at McKinsey.

In addition we have put together a McKinsey Case Interview Training Programme to help you land the job. Since we launched the programme at the beginning of 2016, more than 80% of candidates who used it landed a job at McKinsey. We know this because we give 50% of their money back to people who do not get an offer. 

If you would like to learn a method to consistently crack the case you can get started below:

Free Case Interview Prep

McKinsey Case Interview Training Programme

Any questions about McKinsey case interviews?

If you have any questions about McKinsey case interviews, do not hesitate to ask them below and we will be more than happy to answer them. All questions are good questions, so go ahead!

The IGotAnOffer team

Photo: Ed Gregory / Stokpic

MCKINSEY & COMPANY

Since we started the site, you’ve asked us thousands of questions – what goes on behind that MBB veil? Our rapid growth pays testimony to your curiosity – over 1M unique visitors a year, each wanting to know everything possible about these world-class firms.

But do you just want the party line? No way – you can swallow a marketing pitch in an info session or jump on their websites for that. So, friends, we’ve decided to give you what you want – in-depth firm profiles, from our insider point-of-view….

Now you can find company overviews on other sites (WetFeet, GlassDoor), but most of them are outdated, cookie-cutter and lame – they don’t give you the skinny on how the firm works, what the firm values, and tips for breaking in.

Just one note about perspective –  we aren’t beholden to being PC, so we can be completely honest – yes, even when it hurts. And if you disagree? Email us – or comment below.

For each firm, we’ll cover:

  • Key Stats
  • History
  • Organization
  • Culture
  • Interviews and Recruiting
  • Articles and Links

Let’s get started.

We’re launching our first firm profile with McKinsey & Co., arguably THE top, most competitive management consulting firm in the industry. Who doesn’t want to work at McKinsey, right? It’s the M in MBB, which stands for a-Mazing. Master. McDaddy. Maestro. The largest and oldest premier firm in the biz has an aura of legacy, power, and prestige.

MCKINSEY & COMPANY KEY STATS

McKinsey & Company Website:www.mckinsey.com
McKinsey & Company Headquarters: New York, NY
McKinsey & Company Employees: 9,000+ consultants
McKinsey & Company Locations: 104 offices, 50+ countries
McKinsey & Company Chief Executive: Dominic Barton (CEO)
McKinsey & Company Revenue: $7.8B
McKinsey & Company Engagement Cost: $500K

MCKINSEY & COMPANY HISTORY

In 1926, James McKinsey (“Mac”) left his career as a professor of accounting at University of Chicago to build a firm that provided finance and budgeting services. In 1933 Marvin Bower joined forces with McKinsey. He came with a JD and an MBA from Harvard, setting the tone for the firm’s well-known preference for candidates with impressive academic credentials. Following Mac’s early death, Bower reigned for the next two decades, growing the firm into a legitimate force and institutionalizing the management consulting profession. Expansion across the U.S. in the 40s gave way to McKinsey’s first international offices in the 50s, and further globalization and the first McKinsey Quarterly in the 60s. The next leap in numbers for McKinsey occurred in the 90s under Rajat Gupta, the firm’s first non-American-born managing director. It also marked Marvin Bower’s retirement and the establishment of the McKinsey Global Institute. In recent years, the firm has been focusing more on expansion in Asia and developing their public sector and social sector practices.

Early McKinsey leaders like Bower were extremely successful in establishing relationships with C-level executives and convincing business owners of the value of their management consulting services (initially termed management engineering). It’s paid off. Today, the firm boasts the A-list leaders of the largest companies and governments in the world among their clientele.

MCKINSEY & COMPANY ORGANIZATION

McKinsey is a bit like an academic organization. Senior partners are like tenured faculty, and new hires are the bright, eager students. The firm has about 100 performance cells that are all autonomous, categorized by geographic office, industry practice, or functional practice. Beyond that, there’s no hierarchical structure that defines reporting lines. Like most management consulting firms, McKinsey operates on an “up or out” basis – consultants must either advance in their careers within a pre-defined timeframe (usually two years) or exit the firm.

Practice Areas

McKinsey works in a wide array of industries, just as you’d expect. However, the firm reigns as undisputed king in a few specific areas, like the public sector and education advisory practices.

You can read McKinsey case studies (not interview studies, but project overviews) within each functional practice at their website – we’ve linked to them directly below.

Industries

Here’s a full list of all the industries McKinsey works in…is there anything they don’t cover?!

Office Locations

Like all the MBB firms, McKinsey has offices worldwide, but their presence in Germany, Dubai, and China overpowers their competitors both in numbers and in the range of expertise offered.

Career Path

If you’re applying as an undergrad or non-MBA, you’ll be competing for a position as a Business Analyst. Only advanced degree professionals can move directly into an Associate role – otherwise, you need to go train up (get your Stanford MBA or Harvard JD). McKinsey sponsors graduate programs for top performers, and they trade year-for-year – 1 year of academic work to 1 year of indentured servitude (paid at really nice salaries – see our Salaries Post for details). After coming back or breaking in from grad school, and then spending 2-3 years at the Associate level, you’ll be evaluated for a promotion to Engagement Manager. Once you’ve proved yourself as Manager and put in 3-5 years of service, you’ll be on your way to Associate Principal and then finally Principal/Partner.

Sounds easy, right? It’s not that simple! Even current CEO Dominic Barton didn’t get there in a straight shot. It took him three tries before he was elected as Partner!

Here’s the progression in table form:

If you got our free MC Consulting Roadmap when you subscribed, then this might look familiar to you–we included MBB career paths in our section on job categories. (If you want the FREE Consulting Roadmap, subscribe now!) Of course, we’ll be expanding on what’s in the roadmap in these Firm Profile posts as we cover each of the firms in turn.

Exit Opportunities

What are your prospects when you leave McKinsey? Infinite! With a McKinsey background, you’re bound to be successful landing a traditional job as an analyst at traditional firms–in fact, you’ll be highly desirable. You’ll leave the firm with an amazing analytical toolset, an unparalleled perspective on business, and access to a vast global network.

Also, you can start your own business – like Kevin Gao, our founder, or hundreds of other impressive McKinsey alums in different sectors.

Notable Alumni

We thought it would be fun to include a list of famous McKinsey alum–to give you an idea of what’s in store for you. Some of the most prominent include:

  • Sheryl Sandberg, COO at Facebook
  • Jane Fraser, CEO of Citi’s Global Private Bank
  • Jonathan Schwartz, former CEO of Sun Microsystems
  • Kevin Sharer, CEO of Amgen
  • Tom Leppert, President and COO of Kaplan
  • Harvey Golub, former CEO of American Express and former Chairman of American International Group
  • Louis V. Gerstner, Jr., former chairman and CEO of IBM and chairman of The Carlyle Group
  • James P. Gorman, President and CEO of Morgan Stanley
  • Stephen Green, Chairman of HSBC
  • Bobby Jindal, current Governor of Louisiana
  • James McNerney, Chairman and CEO of Boeing
  • Helmut Panke, former Chairman and CEO of BMW AG
  • Chelsea Clinton

MCKINSEY & COMPANY CULTURE

There’s no doubt you’ll be surrounded by intelligent, interesting people at McKinsey. Read any blog, and you’ll see people rave about their “incredibly smart colleagues” and “very smart people all around.” As a young professional just out of school you’ll enjoy unparalleled exposure to business processes and resources, high-impact client projects, and diverse industries. You’ll have the opportunity to travel a LOT if you want to, and your social calendar will fill up quickly with happy hours, retreats, and the like. You’ll have access to some of the best training and development opportunities in the consulting industry, as well as perks that will make your friends drool.

Sounds amazing, right? Is there anything not fabulously great about McKinsey? Depends. Like any top consulting firm, you’re going to be working long hours, so that isn’t really a differentiator. The projects you’re assigned to aren’t always the most interesting things out there, but again, you can run into that anywhere, and most likely will at some point in your career no matter where you work. But what makes people choose Bain over McKinsey, for instance? Or BCG over McKinsey?

You’ll find that McKinsey consultants are very smart and business-like, but they’re not very collegial. They’re known for engaging in long legacy client relationships (including some in-house strategy offices) and completing even longer final reports that are very academic, weigh a ton, and gather dust on CEO bookshelves. In general, McKinsey plays it safe – they don’t work for the same profile of private equity firms that Bain does, and aren’t known for being as creative as BCG.

We’ll put it this way–you’ll never regret going to McKinsey, but as a consultant, you’ll have more fun at Bain!

One thing you can count on in any McKinsey consultant – they’re trained to attack a problem in a certain way. The firm is diligent about preserving a certain set of values and code of behavior among consultants – it’s like an underlying software program they’ve all downloaded into their brains. It’s what defines the culture at McKinsey. It’s also what consultants like former McKinsey & Co. partner Betsy Ziegler-turned-Kellogg Dean of Students say they miss the most when they leave.

McKinsey boasts that their consultants excel in 4 main areas. We’ve listed them below, and included our take on what each means.

Problem-solving – You can break any problem into its component parts (read: structure-freaks), including and not limited to everything from how to restructure Delta Airlines to which vacuum you should buy. On the job, you rely on lots and lots of best practice work (the same report, but for a different company/industry) to get the job done.

Achieving – If you compete, you win. If you run, you are elected. If you start a company, you succeed. You’re polished, Type A and highly accomplished. 

Personal impact – You make your mark. You’re a world changer – the next Bill Clinton, Bill Gates, or Oprah – and you usually have a variety of interests that mean that you are uniquely you.

Leadership – Put a McKinsey person in any room of people, and they’ll become a de-facto leader within the hour. Leadership through ideas is emphasized at McKinsey – solve the problem to lead the way – but interpersonal finesse is also critical.

All firms have their buzzwords. McKinsey’s are structure, credibility, and credentials – the McKinsey badge is a badge of honor, and McKinsey’s structured communication style is almost cult-ish.

Long hours and early mornings are part of the package when you sign on with McKinsey, but there are also some really cool opportunities that you’ll have access to like pro bono work, office transfers, dynamic externships, and amazing mentorships. Bain has the best creative options to keep folks engaged, but because of McKinsey’s staffing model, the world is at your fingertips – so if you want to move to be with a SO (significant other), or make a life change, you have lots of options within the firm.

Speaking of staffing, McKinsey staffs globally, which means that you’ll work on project engagements with 5-6 member teams pulled from locations around the world. As such, sign up for your favorite frequent flyer programs and expect to travel 100% – even if a client doesn’t demand your presence on-site, you’ll need to fly to connect with your team.

And yes, McKinsey people are fun and dynamic, but definitely not in a fraternal way – the firm is more structured and formal than its counterparts. It’s definitely a work hard, work hard culture with a little play thrown in.

As mentioned before, if you join the firm as an undergrad, you’ll be expected to get your MBA after ~2 years. McKinsey is a big feeder into HBS, one of the most prestigious MBA programs available. If you stay with the company for 2 years afterward, you could get your 2 years of higher education paid for – but you do have to work your butt off for 2 more years upon return.

MCKINSEY & COMPANY INTERVIEW TIPS & RECRUITING

Who does McKinsey like to hire? They love new grads from the Ivies, of course, as well as Teach for America alum and Rhodes and Fulbright scholars. They’re also a strong recruiter of candidates with APDs (advanced professional degrees) – JD, Ph.D., MD, etc. – the top amongst the MBB firms.

For those of you wondering how to break in, we have a few key suggestions.

1. Even if you’re from a target school, don’t ignore the power of networking – McKinsey still only takes the best of Harvard’s best, so just being from Harvard is not good enough. If you’re not from a target school, you can still break in, but your chances are significantly higher if you have a sponsor – the more senior, the better – to flag your application and coach you through the office selection and case interview process. For everything, you need to know, check out Networking for Consulting.

2. Perfect your resume, cover letter, and essay. Or, you could make the mistake of thinking that good is good enough. A McKinsey partner, in his sales pitch, is famous for saying that “most firms have pools of mediocrity surrounded by pockets of excellence. But at McKinsey, we just do excellence.” If you haven’t prepared an absurdly excellent application, DO NOT waste your time applying. For more tips, check out our Resume/Cover Letter Editing service.

3. Get in the door early. For example, if you’re a healthcare professional, apply to attend McKinsey’s Insight weekend – a swanky, 2-day informational conference for hot target prospective consultants, held at a Ritz-Carlton near you. Interested candidates submit a rigorous application and have a chance to get up close and personal with the McKinsey community. And if you’re a student, don’t wait for info sessions to network – connect with McKinsey folk 4-6 months before your target resume drop date (networking how-to).

The selection process at McKinsey is highly competitive, which is why networking and a 100% perfect resume, personalized cover letter and compelling leadership essay (where required) are really critical. Under 10% of those who submit applications are invited to interviews. Compound that with the low percentage of interview candidates who receive an offer, and you get an idea of what your chances are for landing a position with The Firm (yes, capital “F”). They allow employees to endorse applicants, so making a good impression is really important.

The McKinsey interview process is held in 3 phases:

  • MC Round 0 (McKinsey Round 1) – PST and 1-2 group interviews and/or 1-case phone screen
  • MC Round 1 (McKinsey Round 2) – 1-2 1:1 case interviews with ~5 minutes of fit
  • MC Round 2 (McKinsey Round 3) – 2 1:1 case interviews with ~15 minutes of fit and 1 1:1 deep-dive fit interview

McKinsey differentiated their recruiting process when they introduced the McKinsey PST – a 26-question numerical and business reasoning test that they give you a fast-paced hour to crush. (By the way, BCG claims that McKinsey stole the idea from them – but consultants always “borrow” best practices, so it’s tough to say what the real story is.) They offer practice tests and even sometimes optional workshops prior to taking the PST. We have more practice tests in our Case Bank, in case you’re wondering.

McKinsey also offers 1-2 group cases in the first round – you should be more prepared for them than they suggest, because even though they are “non-evaluative,” you can certainly make a bad impression. Why do you think they don’t share your PST scores?

It’s imperative to prepare extensively for rounds 2 and 3 – you should plan to do 30-60 practice cases and at least 5-10 with a professional or current consultant. Practice case studies from McKinsey’s website to give you an intro to the type of work you’ll be expected to do. Especially as an APD, and once you’ve passed the PST, most folks are given a “McKinsey Buddy” – someone to help you through the process and even do a practice case with you. Hint: they won’t directly weigh into your interview assessment, but you shouldn’t bomb this practice – it should be a final test to confirm you’re prepared before your interview.

Historically, case interviews at the firm were more candidate led, but in recent years McKinsey offices are moving towards a standard interviewer-led system with firm-produced and vetted cases and a standardized 4-point scoring system. Interviewees that practice both styles of interviews (interviewer- and interviewee-led) are generally the most successful because even in interviewer-led cases, your assessor wants to see leadership and initiative. The final round of interviews at McKinsey usually includes a full formal fit interview (30-45 minutes) with a deep-dive into your personal experience. Lots of McKinsey candidates get tripped up here because they don’t prepare as well for the fit interview as they do for the case interview – see our Consulting Bible for 52 questions you can use to prepare.

McKinsey First Round and McKinsey Final Round cases are similar – but Final Round cases can be longer, more creative, and trend toward interviewee-led options. Some are completely open-ended (1 question, no background, go) and others are pressure-tests with the interviewer playing devil’s advocate to whatever you say. As with all of the top firms, teams of McKinsey interviewers may take on good-cop, bad-cop role plays to test you in different situations.

McKinsey & Company Salaries

Are you an undergrad, MBA or intern who’s interested in working at McKinsey, but you don’t know how much you’ll make? Check out our latest Management Consulting Salaries post to find out!

Target Schools

McKinsey does most of its U.S. recruiting out of top schools.

Undergrad Level:

  • Brown
  • Northwestern
  • Columbia
  • Dartmouth
  • Duke
  • Harvard
  • Penn
  • Princeton
  • Stanford
  • UC Berkeley
  • UVA
  • Yale

Post Graduate Level:

  • Chicago Booth
  • Harvard
  • Michigan Ross
  • MIT Sloan
  • Northwestern Kellogg
  • Stanford GSB
  • UC Berkeley’s Haas
  • UVA Darden
  • Wharton (Penn)
  • Yale SOM

If you’re not sure whether or not you’re at a McKinsey target school (or if you’re curious about international target schools), check their website here.

McKinsey offers informational sessions at many of these schools – key opportunities for networking (see our post on networking at info sessions) – but don’t put all your eggs in that basket. If you go (and we’d recommend that you do), go prepared, armed with some great questions to ask (not lame ones, but personal questions about someone’s experience). Consultants hate info sessions, so make your questions engaging and you’ll be memorable.

Diversity Programs

In addition, Diversity Groups are a great way to engage with McKinsey consultants. Here are a few:

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