Any advice for new joiner in McKinsey?

Consulting skills McKinsey New Joiner training US
Anonymous A asked on Jan 17, 2021


As an experienced hire from the industry (not consulting), I will be starting at a Mckinsey US office soon.

Since I still have some time before joining, I wonder what else I should do now to prepare myself to excel in the firm?

I wonder if the McKinsey onboarding training will be sufficient for someone like me to pick up all the consulting needed? What would be the gaps, such that I can find some resources to focus on those areas now? Any resource recommended would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks in advance!

on Jan 20, 2021
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on Jan 20, 2021
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Hi there,

Congratulations on the offer! If you want to prepare in advance before you start, I recommend to work on technical and communication skills and a proper mindset.

  • On the technical side, Excel will be the most important technical thing to master at the beginning, in particular for VLOOKUPs and Pivot tables; you could also review PowerPoint if needed. You will likely receive training on this once you start anyway.
    • Tip for Excel: learn how to use as much as possible the keyword and relegate the touchpad to the minimum – this will skyrocket your productivity in the long term. Some computer programs such as KeyRocket provide tips to improve on this.
  • For better communication, two great books are:
    • How to Win Friends and Influence People - Dale Carnegie (classical on how to manage relationships)
    • Never Split The Difference - Chris Voss (great negotiation book)
  • For mindset, some great books are:
    • The Compound Effect - Darren Hardy (great book on long-term planning)
    • Tiny Habits – BJ Fogg (excellent, science-based book on habits formation)
    • The Mediations – Marcus Aurelius (written ~ 2000 years ago but incredibly actual – the personal diary of the most powerful man in the world at the time)
    • The 80–20 Principle - Richard Koch (very smart life tips from one of the founders of LEK)
    • Peaks and Valleys – Spencer Johnson (crisis management tale – from the same author of the famous “Who moved my Cheese”, I personally found this book a lot more interesting and applicable)

Below you can also find a list of things that could be useful to practice during your first weeks:

  1. Take notes when your manager tells you something – this will help you to remember details and will show you care about them to the team.
  2. Always double-check. The first impression is very important in consulting: if you show you are reliable from the beginning, you create a reputation of a reliable person. Double checks should be done on expectations for your job, your Excel analysis, your slides – basically everything.
  3. Define priorities before starting any set of tasks. The majority of the results usually come from a subset of activities – this is true also for your tasks in consulting. You have to identify which they are and prioritize them – the application of the so-called 80-20 rule or Pareto Principle. Alignment on priorities and expectations is particularly important with your manager at the beginning of the project.
  4. Socialize with your colleagues and start to build a network. Consulting is a people business and you should build a good network both within and outside the company. A good start is key to develop good relationships long-term
  5. Organize your private life activities. You want to organize your calendar to leave some space for personal activities (sport/ friends/ family). This is not easy but can be managed if you organize well, and long-term will be critical to keep a balance between work and private life. Also, it is better to align with your manager/teammates from the beginning on your core needs, so that there are no surprises later­ on.
  6. Ask for feedback every two-three weeks – this will show you are proactive and willing to learn.
  7. Ask for help when you don't know what to do – better to let know you are in trouble with meeting a deadline then missing the deadline.
  8. Be social and respectful with the support staff – these people are great and influential as well in the company.

Hope this helps,


Was this answer helpful? 21

Congratulations! Great question...shows you're thinking ahead :)

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:


Second: 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

5) Powerpoint

  • Best practices/standards
  • Different layouts
  • Quickly editing/updating slides
  • Thinking in PowerPoint

6) Presentation skills / sharp communication

  • There are some online/virtual classes for this


Third: 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)


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

Was this answer helpful? 21


Please don't rely on McKinsey training - it'll be useless. In many cases, you start working even before the training if there is such a need.

As for the prep:

1) Excel and Financial modeling - the best course I know is Training The Street. Take Financial Modeling, Valuation, Maybe LBO. They have amazing templates that you have to reproduce to be able to do that fast.

The key thing - throw away your mouse and put some tape on your touchpad. Do everything with your keyboard!

2) Power Point

  • First, read "Say it with charts" and "Pyramid Principle".
  • As a next step Google for MBB presentations on SlideShare and try to replicate them in PPT.

And finally - take a long vacation before starting your job;)

In addition, pls find below the criteria for success in a role:

The most important thing you need to understand is that consulting is a client business and client is always first. Here is my subjective view of what's needed to succeed on different levels of hierarchy. Pls take into account that it's the ideal state and getting these skills is a journey.

Analyst / associate level

  • Having a good DGL / career counselor, etc. (Each company has different names). This is a person who guides your development in the company, collects the feedbacks on you, and presents your case to a promotion committee. Make sure to have a person who is organized enough to collect the feedbacks in time, who is a nice person in general and who has enough authority in the company (i.e. Senior partner - the more power he has - the better)
  • Choosing the project you work on smartly (i.e. collect the feedbacks on each and everyone prior to accepting the project)
  • Perfect technical skills (Excel, PPT, Problem Solving)
  • Good feedbacks on you from the client. Thus try to make friends with your clients (Both senior and non-senior role. Even a bad feedback from a blue-collar can ruin your career)
  • Ability to manage your own standalone workstream with minimum supervision. TOP performers bring the end products that impress others
  • Being proactive - helping the team with daily routine, scheduling, etc. Participating in the office initiatives
  • Establishing relationships with your managers and partners. Ideally, you should have multiple senior partners to be excited about you and to support you)
  • Being lucky!

Manager level

A lot of the above, plus:

  • Having your client happy - this is the most important! If the client is happy - everything else will work
  • Managing multiple partners who have different opinions. Since partners have a busy schedule it becomes very tricky to synchronize them and to align the viewpoints
  • Good feedbacks from your team - having a happy team is important. Unfortunately, sometimes it's a trade-off between having your client and partner happy
  • Telling about your success on projects to others - I'm personally not a fan of this kind of selling, but I know many people who made a career using this skill

Principal level

A lot from the above, plus:

  • Having multiple clients happy
  • Having a long list of partners supporting you (More than 10)
  • Contributions to the development of the company (Knowledge, office ops, etc)
  • Selling the projects. If you manage to sell to existing clients or even bring the new clients - you are the champion.

Partner level

A lot of the above, plus:

  • Sales, sales, sales


Was this answer helpful? 20

Hi A,

there will be an onboarding but in my honest opinion, the actual learning is on the job. No one will retain the gazillion frameworks and the bulk of training content in the very short onboarding process. Here are some points to consider:

  • Talk to ex or current MBB / McK people and simply ask them "If you were to join again, how would you prepare?" Best thing you can probably do. I would, with my current knowledge, prep very specific things and also not prep certain things if I had to start Day 1 over again. I am doing the same process, finding out how to prep best, for my upcoming new job as Investment Banker and the amount of time I have already saved myself and the knowledge I received is gold. However, has taken me a lot of time too networking with ppl and finding that stuff out.
  • When it comes do working on the job: be open - i.e. many things will feel "weird" because you will feel quite quickly that you are pushed out of your comfort zone. Embrace that!
  • Mentoring: I am not talking about those Buddy / Mentoring programs MBB firms offers - I am talking about you finding on your own one or more human beings that care about you and you care about them. Make sure you have mir junior mentors and more senior mentors. Different mentors for different purposes. Best way to learn is simply to copy paste characteristics from the best performers on the job. Consulting is an apprenticeship model - so leverage it. Investment Banking again: Have already started screening for potential mentors and already started networking in that direction.
  • Reading:
    • Industry knowledge: Make a habit of keeping up to date on the industry you will be working in. E.g. if staffed on a healthcare case, set your google alerts and make a habit of becoming the expert on your client and the industry the client is operating in (incl. regulations, the competition etc). Share that knowledge with your case mates, e.g. in weekly mails or just in Case Team Events, Meetings etc.
    • Skills: Make sure to develop your skills. There are no musts, just things you would like to be better in. Could be macro programming in Excel, becoming expert in data modelling apps you will use at McK, reading Harvard Business Review, books on certain topics (e.g. high-frequency trends etc). Book: Pyramid Principle. Networking bible: Keith Ferazzi - Never Eat Alone (!! Best and practical book out there, much better than Carnegie's book from the 1930s !!)
    • Languages: Depends on you country and this is not a must. But imaging you being able to speak 1 or 2 more languages. McK particularly would be happy at some point to send you internationally to certain places. I did the same for Bain and could feel getting certain opportunities that the average joe would not receive.


Was this answer helpful? 19


First of all, congratulations on your Mck offer. I would give you three kinds of advice.

1) Enjoy some free time
Working at McKinsey will be super cool and interesting, but also long hours. Therefore I would recommend that you enjoy some free time so that you can charge up your batteries.

2) PowerPoint and Excel Preparation
If you want to prepare something I would suggest that you could work your PowerPoint and Excel skills (depending on your existing level).
You can sign up to Skillshare or Coursera and do a course there. For PowerPoint I can recommend this short course: For Excel I would focus on building Dashboards, this is always a good skill to have, a free video course here:

3) On your first day Dress for the occasion:
Men: Formal suits, tie, business shirt, leather shoes Keep accessories subtle
Woman: Skirt suits or pantsuits with formal business blouses or tops, closed-toe leather shoes. Keep accessories subtle
Bring your material: Pen, paper pad
Control your stress: Have a good night sleep, and arrive early

I hope that helps. Please let me know if you have further questions.
Kind regards,


Was this answer helpful? 19

Listen to feedback. McKinsey has a very strong feedback culture which is related to your development and progression. During the new joiner training (EMBARK) you will learn about the feedback model as well as framing your strengths and development areas. How you leaverage your strengths and work on your development goals heavily influences your performance and profession. As a new joiner with no consulting experience, there is no expectation of directly transferable skills and so I wouldn't be too worried. McKinsey has successful onboarded non-consultants from all walks of life (e.g., Olympic athlete, Broadway actor, London police detective, professional cellist, ex veteran, etc.) to become successful consultants and so you will be no exception. Good luck!

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Hey there,

Congrats on your offer!

Since there is already some good advice posted by my fellow experts I thought I'd give you my perspective as well.

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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Congrats of that offer!

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:

Kubicle: (go for the 7 days free trial - Excel for Business Analytics)

Hope it helps!



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Hi A,

Congratulations on getting into McKinsey! Do follow the advice that the other coaches have given in earlier answers. I know it can be overwhelming (both the advice and first few days in McKinsey :)).

First 100 days in consulting are crucial because, as a professional, you are in new environment (new colleagues, different rules of the game, new way of doing things etc.) and you want to maximise the honeymoon period (everyone is making opinion, I want to create best first impression etc.). It is natural to get overwhelmed and feel alone, especially given the hyper-competitive environment in MBBs.

In case you are looking for a coach/transition expert to be your guide, friend, sounding board, best practice advisor, feel free to get in touch with me. I have been a coach during the 'First 100 days in consulting role' for several candidates from PrepLounge who have made it to MBB. Happy to support you as well.



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Great advice given by the other coaches already!

A couple of other key (and very advanced) skills to develop: 1) manage expectations with your colleagues, managers, and clients; 2) apply the 80-20 principle to effectively manage your time.

Good luck,


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Francesco gave the best answer


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