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Advise Needed - Phone Call with Engagement Manager at Mckinsey

Someone asked on Jan 30, 2018 - 10 answers

Hello prep lounge community,

So I managed to arrange a 15 mins phone chat with an engagement manager who works for Mckinsey.

Any tips and advice on how to conduct this conversation and ultimately influence a referral?

Thanks !

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Francesco replied on Feb 01, 2018
#1 Expert for coaching sessions (2.000+) | Ex BCG | 1.000+ reviews with 100% recommendation rate

Hi Anonymous,

as for my experience:

  • You should prepare three main things before the call:
    • Your own pitch, highlighting who you are in 3-4 key sentences. Previous internship/experience with relevant brands/companies would be great to show you are qualified
    • 3-4 questions, focused on the personal experiences of the person (and not on the company only). Ideally you should try to learn as much as possible about the contact before. Relevant information will come out also from the first questions. Your goal here is to have a conversation and not a Q&A session.
    • Closing question for referral. You can definitely ask for a referral, but in an indirect way – eg “Your answers really confirmed me this company would be a fantastic place to start my career. What do you think I could do to maximize my chances to be invited for an interview”? If you did a good job with the questions before and you have something in common (eg former alumnus, common connection…) the consultant will likely offer to refer you. If you don’t ask for a referral, most of the time he/she will not volunteer to offer one. When you organize such calls, the consultant knows you are having the call because you are interested in a referral, and since he/she accepted to have it, if you perform well and ask indirectly you can definitely receive one.
  • Most of the time a 15 min call will become a 30-40 min call if you ask the right questions and create thus a strong enough connection with the person
  • You can ask for a referral, but, as explained before, not in a direct way. I always asked for referrals when networking for consulting interviews and that was critical to end with six invitations out of the six applications I did.

You can find more about the referral process at the following link:




Someone replied on Jan 31, 2018


I would like to second Vlad's point below: asking for a referral after a simple 15min call can be very dangerous. Personally I've faced several situations like those (both at Business School and via LinkedIn) and never accepted to provide such references without being sure that the person would indeed be a good fit for McKinsey.

Best option is to finish the call and try to ask for a follow up mock up interview meeting. After such meeting, and if you shine on it, the consultant can then support a refferal!



replied on Jan 31, 2018
Former BCG decision round interviewer with 300+ real interviews in 8 years

Agree with all suggested in other answers. Would stress the importance of the "elevator pitch.

Another thing very important is to highlight that you haven't applied yet or haven't been to company events or more in general that the company doesn't have your resume. This because "the candidate being previously unknown to the company" is usually the condition to be met for the person on the inside to count you as a "referral" and get their referral monetary incentive in case you get hired.

Finally I would be quite open about next steps and the (potential) role of the person on the phone in your application process.

At the end of the day the call is more of a mere courtesy, the ask should be polite and respectful but clear.

Hope it helps,


replied on Jan 31, 2018
Former BCG decision round interviewer with 300+ real interviews in 8 years

I would respectfully disagree with what Vlad suggested on this one. Asking for a case is a good follow up. Asking for a case upfront with a cold call email will result with way lower yield.


Vlad replied on Jan 31, 2018
McKinsey / Accenture / Got all BIG3 offers / More than 300 real MBB cases / Harvard Business School


I would not recommend asking for a referral on a 15 min call. It may play against you. Noone gives the referral after a 15 min talk. Ask for a meeting to solve a case if that is possible.


Anonymous B replied on Jan 31, 2018


I was in a similar spot as you a couple of weeks ago so I can tell you what I did and what happened next. However, I have no actual experience from the inside of those firms so this is purely informational.

Before the call, I made sure to do some research on the engagement manager to get a feel of the kind person I'd be speaking to. Then, I prepared a couple questions about the firm, the process and the industry in general. It's always nice to develop further during the call to have a conversation, this shouldn't feel like an interrogation.

During the call, I tried to show a genuine interest and motivation for both consulting and the firm. The rest usually follows by itself! I feel like if the person wants to help you, they will without you having to ask!

Good luck!

Vlad updated his answer on Feb 01, 2018
McKinsey / Accenture / Got all BIG3 offers / More than 300 real MBB cases / Harvard Business School

I would not recommend messing with referrals for money, etc. Referrals not only work to increase the chances of your resume to pass through (and it's not guaranteed by the way).

A good contact in the Firm will help you to get some extra informal feedback, renegotiate the interview dates, etc. For example, a person who made me a referral negotiated a faster second round for me since I already had 2 other offers. He also helped me later a lot with onboarding and became my DGL (Career counselor).



updated his answer on Jan 31, 2018
Former BCG decision round interviewer with 300+ real interviews in 8 years

I would say it depends. I believe that the odds of someone refusing to do a referral are roughly equivalent to the odds of someone insvedting a marginal hour to give a mock case to someone they do not know.

That said I think is very important to develop a sensitivity and understand who you are talking with. There are people, like Bruno, who want to vet throughly candidates before referring them. There are several others who are willing to sell referrals for money (see on fishbowl). Not that that is a behavior that is acceptable, but that's the reality of the referral market.



Dan updated his answer on Jan 31, 2018

I'll echo what the previous poster said - do a bit of background research on the Manager, on the particular McKinsey office they work in, and come prepared with a few good questions. Make sure those questions are important to you; in other words, ask sincere questions where you care about the answer. If culture is important to you, ask questions about that. If the types of clients served (e.g. particular industry, Fortune 500, etc) is important, ask about that. If you care about work/life balance, inquire about that. I could go on, but I think you get the picture.

One other thing: come prepared with some form of "elevator speech" of your background, why want to be a consultant, and why McKinsey interests you. It doesn't necessarily have to be highly polished, but you should at least be ready to tell the Engagement Manager what skills you bring and why you're interested.

As an important caveat, I'm in the same boat as you: on the outside, networking to get in. I do not have a view from inside a consulting firm, but based on my experience those two things (list of questions + background material on yourself) have worked well.


Kassem replied on Jun 27, 2018

Hello Guys

I have a similar situation now, but I guess you got a better chance speaking with one of the engagement managers, I emailed the managing partner and he passed my email directly to the recruiter and she will call me. It is meant to be an introductory call to McKinsey, Any advsises? How was your call witht he engagement manager?

Thank you.

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