Does McKinsey stress-test in round 1 (putting time pressure/acting annoyed or combative on purpose)?

MBB McKinsey mckinsey 1st round interview
New answer on Nov 04, 2020
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Anonymous A asked on Nov 01, 2020

Just wondering what to expect. Round 1 interview with McKinsey scheduled for tomorrow and throughout the recruiting process was told everyone is friendly etc. However I heard from someone who interviewed with a different office a year ago that McKinsey like to stress-test candidates and put pressure on purpose (essentially being a douchebag interviewer).

I am confident I can handle the pressure, but was wondering if this is a common part of McKinsey's interview style?

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updated an answer on Nov 06, 2020
Ex-McKinsey final round interviewer | Executive Coach

It's the first time I have ever heard of this being done as part of the formal recruiting process. Some interviewers, out of personal choice, will adopt a more stressful approach to push candidates but the general thesis of a good experienced interviewer is that they are able to draw out the best of that candidate. I wouldn't assume a 'friendly' interviewer but I wouldn't worry about it too much either - the interview is already a stressful enough experience! If you feel the interviewer behaves in a hostile way throughout the interviewer then it's worth flagging to the recruitment team as that is not in line with how McKinsey approaches recruiting.

Good luck!


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Content Creator
replied on Nov 02, 2020
McKinsey | Awarded professor at Master in Management @ IE | MBA at MIT |+180 students coached | Integrated FIT Guide aut

Hello !

usually is the opposite, and interviewers try to give u a fair chance to shine and show your best.

However, there is a higly human component here, and each human is unique and different, so you cannot completly discard it.

Hope it helps!



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Content Creator
replied on Nov 02, 2020
MBB | 100% personal interview success rate (8/8) and 95% candidate success rate | Personalized interview prep

Hi there

It is not an active, conscious tactic used by McKinsey.

However, fundamentally you should be prepared for anything in interviews.

This scenario may still happen. You may just get an interviewer who's a bit of a jerk, who's having a tough day, who just doesn't have time for you, who's sick of their job, etc. etc.

You never know!

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Content Creator
replied on Nov 01, 2020
Ex-Mckinsey|Certified Career Coach |Placed 500+ candidates at MBB & other consultancies

Hi there,

I guess there was a misunderstanding about the story of putting a candidate under intended pressure or acting annoyed. It is not at all a part of McKinsey's style - on the contrary, the interviewer is meant to act professionally and contribute to your performance.

Feeling confident is an important skill to do your best and succeed in the interview because it is already a stressful experience. Therefore, do not worry that your interviewer's going to act inappropriately.

Do you need any further help?

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Content Creator
replied on Nov 01, 2020
Top rated McKinsey Case & PEI coach/Multiple real offers/McKinsey EM in New York /6 years McKinsey recruiting experience

Nope - the entire point of a McKinsey interview is to give you the platform to put your best foot forward. There is explicitly no place to stress test anyone in the 1st round.

Even in the partner interview you will not get someone purposely being a douchebag - the only times I have heard of strange reactions is when the candidate says things that are inappropriate or unnecessarily challenges the partner.

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Content Creator
replied on Nov 01, 2020
Accenture, Deloitte | Precision Case Prep | Experienced Interviewer & Career Coach | 15 years professional experience


Very unlikely they will act that way throughout the interview process. If they do, then thats a problem. Raise that with HR.

Its very much possible that they could test and challenge you on one or two occasions during the interview. This happens a lot in real life client situations. So here's how to deal with it:

  1. Ask a simple clarifying question to buy some extra seconds to get your thoughts together. E.g. you could say - Thanks for raising that point. Just wanted to clarify...or Fair challenge. Whats the thought behind that question if you dont mind clarifying please
  2. Slow down your breathing, breathe deeply. A LOT of people get nervous due to short breaths. Fill those lungs up with air. This will calm you down
  3. Gain empathy by saying something like...Will it be ridiculous if I pursue such and such line of thinking or Bear with me, dont shoot me down but am thinking xyz..
  4. If you are completely stuck, take a risk and say, Can I please take 5 seconds to gather my thoughts before I respond to you. I don't want to jump in too quickly or Please can we come back to this later as my mind has gone blank right now. But am sure I can come up an approach/answer/idea later on

The key thing about human behaviour is this- we end up mirroring the person in front of us. If they are happy, we automatically feel it. If they are angry we feel that too. So in stressful situations if you are rock solid calm the interviewer will mellow down, even if its an act. Practice this a lot please.

Read this book Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss and learn the strategies to negotiate and remain super calm -

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replied on Nov 04, 2020
FREE 1st session in November | From Lawyer to MBB | Top in FIT | 10x your structuring skills | Message to get Free Prep Checklist


McK may use good cop/ bad cop tactics during the interviews.

In terms of cases:

  • they will challenge the correct assumptions as well so you have to be prepared to defend your opinion
  • they will rush you to speed up with your conclusions/ calculations

In terms of Fit:

  • they will interrupt your PEI stories and ask for more details
  • they will challenge your actions/ choices
  • they will ask additional stress related questions

Here is the list of additional stress related questions:

Can you describe your most difficult client/ colleague and how you were able to handle their needs?

Can you tell me about a time when you were more than halfway through a project and had to pivot quickly due to an unexpected change? How did you handle it?

If one of your close work colleagues stole a $1 item, what would you do?

When given an unfamiliar task, how do you ensure you handle it properly?

If you are given two conflicting priorities from two separate managers, how do you figure out how to proceed?

Give me an example of when you received criticism. How did you respond to the information?

Tell me about a time when you were handling a project that went outside of your scope of work. How did you handle it?

Describe a situation where you had to deal with ambiguity when making a decision.

If a team member wasn’t pulling their weight, what would you do?

How do you handle a missed deadline / productivity target?

Tell me about a time when you failed to meet expectations. What did you do to recover?

Describe an instance where you were overwhelmed while on the job. How did you handle it?

What qualities do you possess that will help you succeed with McK/ BCG/ Bain?



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Ken gave the best answer


Ex-McKinsey final round interviewer | Executive Coach
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