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[Experienced Hire] - Why MBB?

Bain & Company MBB McKinsey & Company preplounge
Edited on Mar 18, 2024
5 Answers
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Philip asked on Mar 17, 2024

Hi all,

It is my first post here in PrepLounge and would like to share my recent interview experience and seek your insights/opinions.

 

1. My Background

 I graduated from a university in Singapore with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering with specialization in energy and sustainability. Until today, for 7 years of my work experience, I intentionally joined engineering consulting firms (the first one, Danish, the next/present one, British) working on energy and sustainability field like green building and infrastructure, and renewable energy (offshore wind and solar PV).

Unlike typical EPC, R&D, or ‘real’ engineering companies, I worked and am working as ‘generalist’ acting as mostly project/interface manager, client liaison, business development and with some technical expertise. This technical expertise is unlike those mechanical, electrical or structural but more of permit/license & regulatory review, feasibility study analysis from both technical and env.& social aspects (not heavy engineering I believe).

 

2. My Career Goal

Since my university years, I have been very careful with what kind of work I would like to do and how I would like to eventually land onto consulting like MBB. I believe this is why I tried to join the industry that is ever-growing, building on my capabilities in the area that I am interested, have technical knowledge (tip of the iceberg) and kind of “consulting”.

Also, I have 3 principles since 20s to choose my career and that is 1) to work to deliver positive aspects/results to the society, 2) to work in the area that I am interested in (sustainability and energy) and lastly 3) at least make money.

 

3. Recent McKinsey Interviews

I made through all the way to the final interview for which I had an interview with a senior partner. I had 30-min long FIT and short case study. For 30-min FIT, with questions posed by the partner, I explained from what engineering consulting is, introduction myself, what I want to do in the future, an experience in persuading the client and others.  As there was also a question on my career goal and thus, I described that in the future, I would like to lead the company to work on decarbonization plan and etc.

I explained those described above as well as why I applied.

“With over 7 years of technical consulting experience, I have delivered due diligence works to lenders, developers and PEs. Though the project is attractive (in terms of technical aspects) from my perspective, there are times where eventually, the project is not acquired by the clients. I believe and understand that it is not always this technical side that is important but there are political, commercial/financial, etc aspects that are also considered and perhaps considered more when it comes to full acquisition. I would like to explore more on the broader aspects/considerations on these and therefore, applied to McKinsey to learn from the perspective of the client.”

The paragraph above is what I explained during my 2-2 interview but at this time, the senior partner noted to me that there seems to be a weak link between what I want to do/learn/grow to Why McKinsey (at least this is how I understood). The senior partner mentioned that for this explanation, if I applied for BA, yes acceptable, but with my experience and application to experienced consultant, not strong enough.

In retrospect, I think I kind of understand what the partner meant as this can be something that I can learn from Big 4 or other BB? Maybe I did not explain enough that why it has to be McKinsey to convince the partner. I did not mention that McKinsey pays well, has great team, etc as I believe those are quite junior-level answers. I should have shared my first-ever McKinsey live presentation that I attended and found out the extensive information, data and insights that McKinsey has delivered end of last year. (more personal link to Why McKinsey?)

 

I did prepare long for McKinsey and the result did not come out as what I expected. However, I do not believe this is the end and would like to apply again sooner or later.  I also applied to Bain and are expecting the first interview to take place soon.

Therefore, I would like to seek your in-depth insights on my experience and views on my experience above, what I should have explained further and also to questions below.

1)    Should the last aspect (to make money) from my three career aspects not have been explained/mentioned during the interview?

2)    During the interview, I kind of felt that although I described above as generalist under engineering consulting (but I did not really described myself as generalist but described what kind of work I supported – regulatory, E&S, etc), should I mention that I worked as generalist and more on PM?

3)    Shall I described what kind of work experience/work skills (soft, hard) that I performed in more detail and if so, what are the aspects that MBB would like to hear from “experienced” hires?

4) As an experienced consultant, would it have been a mistake to talk about my career goal out of McKinsey - McKinsey as a stepping stone and thus, need McKinsey for my personal growth? As I did not even join, the interviewer may find it 'strange' in some sense?

Thank you very much for reading above and much appreciated!

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Francesco
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Content Creator
replied on Mar 17, 2024
#1 Coach for Sessions (4.500+) | 1.500+ 5-Star Reviews | Proven Success (➡ interviewoffers.com) | Ex BCG | 10Y+ Coaching

Hi Philip,

Sorry to hear about the rejection. In terms of your questions:

1) Should the last aspect (to make money) from my three career aspects not have been explained/mentioned during the interview?

I would not recommend mentioning money in any interview as a reason to join (even if it is an important factor for you). This could make the decision to join appear as transactional and might give the impression that you would be ready to jump ship when another company offers more money. Additionally, the interviewer might think you are not really interested in the job itself and thus you would not perform well once under pressure/have a lot of work to do.

2) Should I mention that I worked as generalist and more on PM?

Depending on what the question is, you might explain that. Ideally, you want to show that (i) you found some elements present in consulting in your previous work experience and (ii) you want to do more of that, which is why you want to work in consulting.

3) Shall I described what kind of work experience/work skills (soft, hard) that I performed in more detail and if so, what are the aspects that MBB would like to hear from “experienced” hires?

Depending on the question, you might have to provide details for that. The aspect/level of detail depend on the exact question, so it is difficult to comment. Most questions are about showing your skills in terms of leadership, influencing others, achieving major results in a challenging situation and problem-solving.

4) As an experienced consultant, would it have been a mistake to talk about my career goal out of McKinsey - McKinsey as a stepping stone and thus, need McKinsey for my personal growth? As I did not even join, the interviewer may find it 'strange' in some sense?

I would not recommend presenting McKinsey (or any company) as a temporary step to do something else later. Ideally, you want to show commitment to joining the company for the long term. It is true that many people leave after a few years to do something else, but I don’t see the need to emphasize it in an interview. You can say that in the short term, your focus is to stay in consulting and learn as much as possible, and ideally, you would love to stay long term as well, given the opportunity (assuming that's true).

Best,

Francesco

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Alberto
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updated an answer on Mar 18, 2024
Ex-McKinsey Associate Partner | +15 years in consulting | +200 McKinsey 1st & 2nd round interviews

I put myself on the interviewer's shoes and I wouldn't like to hear that speech. It sounds pre-made and un-natural. During the interview I want to get to know you and decide if I want to work with you. I am not check if you can memorize your own story.

Don't bring the money topic into the interview. It will make you look to short-term oriented. Leave that to the negotiation phase once you get the offer.

Don't label yourself during the interview. Talk about your skills and achievements. Positions and roles are no that important since each company defines them differently.

Be honest about your intentions of joining McKinsey. People leave in average after 2 years. That is perfectly normal.

Alberto

Check out my latest case based on a real MBB interview: Sierra Springs

(edited)

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Cristian
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replied on Mar 17, 2024
#1 rated MBB & McKinsey Coach

Thanks for sharing your situation. 

Basically, there's a very important thing to bear in mind for how MBBs hire people - they want people that they could see turning into Partners. 

That means. people who have both the skills and the interest in the industry. 

If you signal that your time in that firm is only meant as a stop on your career journey, it doesn't help you. 

Similarly, if you bring up financials as being part of the motivation, once again, that doesn't help. 

So I would rather stick to signalling through examples what makes you qualified for the job and when you have proven this in the past. 

Best,
Cristian

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Pedro
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replied on Mar 17, 2024
Bain | Roland Berger | EY-Parthenon | Mentoring Approach | 30% off first 10 sessions in May| Market Sizing | DARDEN MBA

I am afraid to say that by reading your answer I understand why a partner would have concerns.

You are applying to Mckinsey to “explore broader aspects” on why specifically due diligence projects are ultimately not acquired by clients. And want to learn from the perspective of the client.

There's nothing in your answer that sounds like you know what a strategy consultant does, why you want to be a strategy consultant, why you would be a good fit for strategy consulting, why Mckinsey specifically, and why at this moment in your career.

Quite the opposite, it “feels” like you don't know very well what the job is, why you want it, and are rather looking to explore and test the waters. Like the partner said, fine for a Business Analyist, not ok from someone with 7 years of work experience. 

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Ian
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replied on Mar 18, 2024
#1 BCG coach | MBB | Tier 2 | Digital, Tech, Platinion | 100% personal success rate (8/8) | 95% candidate success rate

Hi there,

One critical thing to add: Please don't write an essay.

Interviewers can tell when you've memorized an answer. Just like you wouldn't memorize a powerpoint presentation, you shouldn't memorize your fit/behavioral answer.

Please be a human being. Not a robot.

Have light notes and bullet points for your story. Then, and most importantly practice saying it out loud. It needs to sound natural, genuine, real.

Tell Me About Yourself – Interview Questions

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Francesco gave the best answer

Francesco

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