A month to my McKinsey start, what to buy in preparation

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New answer on Feb 09, 2021
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Rami asked on Feb 07, 2021

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Content Creator
replied on Feb 08, 2021
#1 rated McKinsey Case and PEI Coach | 5 years at McKinsey | Mentorship Approach | 120+ McK offers in 18 months

Hey there,

If you are interested in physical things

  • Business attire
  • A proper suitcase
  • Travel essentials

If you are interested in preparing for your new role, I'd suggest the following:

When I got the offer some years ago I did the same. I reached out to people I knew in McKinsey and people who interviewed me to ask: what can I do to make the start easier? how can I prepare?

The answer from everyone was: Relax! Enjoy your time before you start and don't think about it. You will figure it out on the job. I followed that advice and it made sense to me once I joined.

When you start at McKinsey there are 2 ways to learn:

  1. Formal training. The formal training sessions/ weeks/ days in the beginning, are nice, however, they are more for networking and meeting your peers. You learn some interesting concepts and get some useful tips from more experienced consultants BUT
  2. Constant and implicit learning on the job is where it's at. No matter if you are a newcomer or a veteran after 2 years, you will always find yourself on a steep learning curve. As soon as you barely mastered one skill or the skills needed for one level in the hierarchy, you will take care of things, which are expected from a more senior colleague. This cycle never ends. You are expected to learn on the job, learn from your colleagues, your mentors, sometimes even the client. So basically a newly promoted Engagement Manager has the same 'struggle' as a new-hire Business Analyst. They both need to work in a completely new environment and role.

Knowing that, if we now go back to square one in your McKinsey journey it makes perfect sense to enter the firm with a blank slate with a lot of curiosity and eagerness to soak it all up and quickly learn the ropes.

No book, no training, no coach can prepare you for your first day, your first week, your first engagement. Nothing matches the experience and the learning and this is a good thing (also the reason why ex-McKinsey are valued highly on the job market).

You will learn everything you need to master while doing it. You will be thrown in the cold water and need to swim. However, your colleagues will always be happy to help you and mentor you. And for the rest, you will figure everything out along the way. The key here is always to ask for tips, shortcuts, feedback, etc. Don't be quiet if you get stuck.

Also, for every technical problem (IT, Excel question, etc) McKinsey has a Global Helpdesk and the rule is to call them for every problem you can't solve within 5 minutes. They will fix your computer, guide you through Excel formulas, etc.

Lastly, if you have no domain knowledge about a certain industry or topic, read through the internal library of documentation (which is endless) and call some of the firm experts on the topic. Usually, they are happy to offer you a short call to get you up to speed.

Don't sweat the small stuff and enjoy the ride!


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Content Creator
replied on Feb 08, 2021
#1 Coach for Sessions (4.000+) | 1.400+ 5-Star Reviews | Proven Success (➡ InterviewOffers.com) | Ex BCG | 9Y+ Coaching
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Content Creator
replied on Feb 08, 2021
Ex-McKinsey London final round interviewer

I feel Florian has covered it well. Considering you will be starting remotely, I would be most concious of making sure you have a comfortable work environment. Back when remote working became the norm last year, McKinsey had an allowance for remote working expenses (e.g., screen, desk, chair, etc.) and so it's worth asking before you spend too much of your sign on bonus! :)

Good luck!

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replied on Feb 08, 2021
Bain | passed >15 MBB interviews as a candidate

You don't need to buy anything. Make sure you have proper business attire, but I assume you have that. Everything else is provided by the firm.

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Content Creator
replied on Feb 08, 2021
McKinsey | MBA professor for consulting interviews

Hi Rami, congrats on the offer! The physical thinks have been extensively covered by other coaches. Regarding the skills, I would only deep dive excel and ppt: you are supposed to quickly grow for all the rest on the job


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replied on Feb 08, 2021
Ex-Bain 5 yrs | Goldman Sachs Investment Banker NYC | MBA Chicago Booth | Passed > 13 MBB > 20 IB interviews

Here my suggestions to make your life easier and come across more professional. This list does not describe the basics or what you can get by, but what I recommend to be productive and have fun:

  • A nice suitcase - there are different high-quality brands, incl. Samsonite and Rimowa. There are also special versions of suitcases I use from Samsonite that do not simply flap open but can be expanded into a garment bag (type in Samsonite Garment Bag in google). I.e. my shirts do not get folded in my suitcase but rather rolled and I have never wrinkles in my shirts or suits.
  • Noise-Cancelling - get the best silencers you can afford - Bang Olufsen, Bose etc. You will thank me later after you realize that people always speak way too loudly on their phones or have discussions in the office or in the team room without paying attention to ppl around them. Airplanes, Taxi, Train too. Productivity boost guaranteed!
  • Get Spotify account to run on your laptop
  • Get a little assortment of a travel pharmacy - everything you may need as a consulting in a typical week (meds, pills, bandaid etc) DM me for more info on that. You d be surprised how many times I used that stuff not for myself but gave it away to colleagues.
  • Get a super compact 2nd screen that is mobile (basically size and weight of a notebook's screen, just portable and can be used anywhere). Productivity boost again.
  • Consider getting a high-quality mouse (I love Razers, 2000 DPI Gaming Mouse). This will turn you into a slide machine. Although everyone overfocuses on certain hot keys, truth is you will use your mouth every single day and it will be key to be fast - of course no need for mouses once you make it to a more senior level in 5 yrs or so. Or at least that is how I perceived it.)
  • Make sure to get enough DRESS SHIRTS, SUITS, TIES, SHOES, BELTS (you dont want to be the person running around 5 days straight with one suit, totally wrinkled up and messy shoes). You cannot count on ging to the dry cleaner every week, I d have at last 2 or 3 weeks (i.e. 15 business days) worth of business attire
  • Along the same line, make sure to have a nice PROFESSIONAL coat for winter (i.e. no fancy montcler skiing jacket) and a nice TRENCHCOAT (navy, dark beige) for spring, autumn, summer. Dont be the person with wrinkles, stains, fluff on your suit. Get a nice pair of black or dark brown leather gloves as well.
  • Bluetooth earphones for convenient conference calls please!
  • Nice pens, fineliners, highlighters (Faber Castell, Parker, Mont Blanc). Why? Because this is one of your. main tools and life is too short to use cheap BIC biros.
  • Kindle / Tablet of your choice (I use reMarkable) - for those post-covid times you try to relax on the plane or in the hotel reading ebooks or watching the latest series on your streaming service of choice. reMarkable is a pad I use to draft slides or take notes - no videos etc, feels like writing in paper, in fact you have to replace the tip of the pen that comes with it - I d never want to miss that thing again. Reduced my paper consumption by 95%. Reading slides on that thing and drawing comments is just awesome.
  • Watch Videos on how to best self-manage when it comes to ToDos etc. I love using OUTLOOK efficiently as well as Microsoft ONENOTE (will all be installed on your MBB laptop)


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Content Creator
replied on Feb 09, 2021
Ex-Mckinsey|Certified Career Coach |Placed 500+ candidates at MBB & other consultancies

Hi Rami,


I think the other coaches have mentioned a lot of good points.

I'd like to add:

  • finish your pending tasks as doctor appointments / change of internet provider / basically everything that you've been postponing for some time. The reason: starting at McKinsey will probably be stressful.
  • for the first couple of weeks, create a routine and follow it

It's a small piece of advice but I hope it helps. I have been also successfully training people for the first 100 days in consulting, which is considered the most important but the toughest time in one’s consulting career. Write me if that interests you:)



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Content Creator
updated an answer on Feb 08, 2021
McKinsey / Accenture Alum / Got all BIG3 offers / Harvard Business School


It's still remote in almost all countries, so I would not bother about it too much now. Make sure you have a separate room and desk. Of course, you should have proper business attire even for some of the video conferences



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Content Creator
replied on Feb 08, 2021
MBB | 100% personal interview success rate (8/8) and 95% candidate success rate | Personalized interview prep

Hi Rami,

Congratulations on the offer! Now, in terms of physical things I agree with the others. You pretty much just need 1) A few suits (plus shirts, shoes, etc.) and 2) Travel gear (both a cary-on suitcase and a backpack).


In terms of preparing for the role....

MOST IMPORTANTLY: Know that no-one can perfectly prepare for the job and that's the point: You will mess up, you will learn, you will be trained and supported. That's OK!


First: Read the 25 tips in my consulting handbook here: https://www.spencertom.com/2018/01/14/consulting-survival-guide/


Second: Attend an academy

There are so many great training programs that prepare new graduates for the consulting world! I'm part of a few myself. Feel free to shoot me a message and I can point you in the right direction!


Third: In terms of things you can learn/do to prepare beforehand:

1) Daily Reading

  • The Economist, The Financial Times, BCG/Mskinsey Insights

2) Industry deep-dives

  • Learn, in-depth, how the industries/companies your office advises, work. (PM me for an industry overview template)

3) Analytics tools

  • Alteryx, Tableau, etc.

4) Excel

  • https://www.preplounge.com/en/consulting-forum/free-online-resources-to-learn-excel-basics-6946
  • Pivottables
  • Working with data
  • Key fuctions (vlookup, Index match, count and sum if/ifs, sumproduct, concat, etc.)
  • Hotkeys (i.e. use keyboard more than your mouse)
  • Financial modeling

5) Powerpoint

  • https://www.preplounge.com/en/consulting-forum/powerpoint-skills-4072
  • Wireframing
  • Lead-in titles
  • Best practices/standards
  • Different layouts
  • Quickly editing/updating slides
  • Thinking in PowerPoint

6) Presentation skills / sharp communication

  • There are some great online/virtual classes for this (including the academies meantioned above


Fourth: In terms of doing well in your role when you're there:

1) Understand the context/prompt (what role are you in, what company, who's watching, etc.)

2) Understand the objective (what, specifically, is expected from you...both day to day, and in your overall career progression)

3) Quickly process information, and focus on what's important - Take a lot of information and the unknown, find the most logical path, and focus on that.

4) Be comfortable with the unknown, and learn to brainstorm - think/speak like an expert without being one

In summary, there will always be a flood of information, expectations, competition etc. and not enough time. Find out which ones matter when. (i.e. be visibile and focus efforts on the things that people care about)


Fifth: Here are some great prior Q&As for you!





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Content Creator
replied on Feb 08, 2021
McKinsey | Awarded professor at Master in Management @ IE | MBA at MIT |+180 students coached | Integrated FIT Guide aut


Congrats of that offer!

Honestly, other than business clothes and a suitcase, which your probably have, you don´t need much. Most is going to be provided.

However, in terms of how to use your best time, you can indeed get as ready as you can. If there is one thing I wish I had done before joining McKinsey, that would have been Excel. It can really be a game changer, so I would really focus on that (more than pptx, industry knowledge, etc., that are nice-to-have, but not deal breakers).

Excel skills are part of the core skill-set of consultants, and it´s great that you want to practice them. PFB a list of the most popular commands:

Basic operations: SUM, SUMPRODUCT

Text transformations: CONCATENATE, LEFT, RIGHT, & operator,

Connecting different datasets: VLOOKUP, HLOOKUP, INDEX(MATCH(),MATCH())

Conditional-based operations: SUMIF, COUNTIF, SUMIFS, COUNTIFS, COUNTA

Learn how to analyze data using Pivot Tables

There are plenty of online materials:

Microsoft Support: https://support.office.com/en-us/excel

Kubicle: https://kubicle.com/personal (go for the 7 days free trial - Excel for Business Analytics)

Hope it helps!



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