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Final Round Questions

Anonymous A asked on Feb 16, 2018 - 6 answers


I just passed my first round interviews at an MBB firm and am currently preparing for the final round. In the feedback I received, I was advised to go about my final round case interviews more conversationally and to bring in more business sense. I was also told to give myself some time to prepare. So my 2 questions here are:

- What are the most important differences between the 1st round and the final round interviews?

- Do the final round interviewers usually receive feedback from their 1st round counterparts concerning incoming candidates?

Thank you!

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replied on Feb 17, 2018
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To your first question, as other said, final round interviewers focus a lot on your fit with company culture and thus potential to stick around long term in the firm. We also focus a lot on the personality and whether you will work well with personalities in our office.

in terms of business sense, I would suggest to have a more targeted approach than to try to learn the basics of all industries out there which is time consuming and borderline unfeasible (for example in the list proposed some major ones were forgotten: healthcare, industrial goods, private equity and venture capital, telecom, media, travel and tourism). My suggestion to be more targeted would be the folllowing: if you are interviewing in the office that you will be joining, learn the office industry mix and prioritize according to it. If interviews are held on campus, ask if final round interviewers coming to campus will be from your target office or not. Sometimes firms share interviewer names in advance, but I would advise against asking for them if not provided. As per sources, agree with others: industry newsletters and, especially, annual reports.

to your second question feedback from first round is not shared beforehand. If your performance was a clear pass is not even read afterwards. If we are in doubt between you and another candidate, then we read both candidates first round performance.

hope it helps,


replied on Feb 17, 2018
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First of all, they don't share the feedback before the final round.

Secondly, in the final round, I would expect a bit more structured and demanding approach to the fit part. The partners in the last round are more experienced and they will challenge every single detail of your story. So make sure that you have a couple of backup stories.

Third both in Mck and BCG I would expect some partners to give interviewee-led cases, so you need to be prepared for that approach

For all the companies "your questions to the interviewer" is an important part. Basically, it is a chance to ask questions at the end of the interview after the case. The last impression is always important. It's a free chance to demonstrate your smartness and curiosity to the partner of the company. It is also an opportunity to express your interests and mention extra-curricular activities beyond the fit interview topics.

Here are some recommendations on how to build a business sense since you got that feedback:

Building Business Sense is actually about building industry and functional knowledge.

Focus on the most common industries in the following priority (sorted by probability of getting a case): 1-retail and CPG; 2-airlines; 3-Telecom; 4-banking; 5-natural resources; 6-tech

There are several sources of info to develop business sense:

1) Cases - you simply solve 50-70 cases and get a broad knowledge of different industries, common pitfalls and questions. The key here - find good partners who already had case interviews with MBB companies

2) Company reports, equity reports, IB roadshow docs - usually have a good overview of company and industries. One of the best sources to prepare

3) HBS cases - quite useful, but not sure if lot's of them available publically. Probably worth buying

4) Books - one good book about airlines with numbers and industry analysis can give you all needed industry knowledge

5) News, Industry blogs

For each industry, you should understand:

  • Revenue streams
  • Cost structure
  • Margins
  • Key performance indicators
  • Key revenue drivers
  • Industry trends

I strongly recommend practice drawing structures for each industry - profitability, value chain, etc

Then I will switch to getting functional knowledge and key concepts in:

  • Marketing (Brand and trade marketing tools, etc)
  • Supply chain (Ops metrics like cycle time and throughput time, distribution and delivery specifics, etc)
  • Finance (Basic Accounting and Valuation)

Good Luck

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updated his answer on Feb 17, 2018
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Hi Anonymous

please find below the answers to your questions

1) What are the most important differences between the 1st round and the final round interviews?

The structure of the rounds is the same (fit + case+ your questions); however there is far more emphasis on communication and fit.

Specifically, the main difference you will find in a final round with partners is that at that stage they:

  1. spend more time on fit questions and your alignment with the company
  2. check more closely your communication (eg how you react to challenging questions)
  3. may not have a “proper” structured case to present – during my final at BCG I had one interview which was made by two market sizing questions and a brainteaser, without any business case. That's because at the final they know you can structure and crack a case (you passed 1 or 2 rounds already) and are more interested in your logic, personality and fit with the company

So in order to prepare I would concentrate on:

  • Review in details your PEI stories – they will matter more than in the first round. In some finals I had almost exclusively behavioural questions
  • Work on your communication (reaction under pressure, how gain time when you do not have a structure ready, connect with the interviewer, etc) This is something you can do almost exclusively in interviews with peers. Your communication will be far more important for the final compared to the first
  • Prepare on cases as you did for the first round. More market sizing practice could be useful to think out of the box if you get unusual questions.

2) Do the final round interviewers usually receive feedback from their 1st round counterparts concerning incoming candidates?

To my knowledge, it depends by the firm, in some cases they do so, in others they don’t. Whether they do so or not, you should definitely work on the selected areas they mentioned.

Vlad mentioned several good sources, but probably you don’t have time to read books and company reports for 5-10 different sectors. Best thing to do would be probably to concentrate on reading cases – just find a good MBA handbook and go through it. If you feel week on a specific topic or sector (eg M&A, digital), you can filter for that particular topic/sector to speed up learning. In my experience this was the most time-efficient method to improve business acumen.




Anonymous replied on Feb 16, 2018


I believe the first point was already well address by others here.

Regarding the second point, it may vary from firm to firm, but from my experience feedback is not shared upfront in order to guarantee that Partners run 2nd round interviews without any conscious bias; feedback is discussed afterwards in a meeting involving everyone who was involved in the interview (both 1st and 2nd rounds!). At that point, you are indeed expected not to repeat the same mistakes/show improvement!



replied on Feb 16, 2018
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To answer your questions:
1. The main difference is that final round interviews assess in a lot more detail how you would fit in the firm - aside from how good you are, how you think, etc. It is important for the firm to be sure that you will fit with their company culture, as if your values clash that could mean that you would represent a 'loss' as the training provided is very expensive as well as time consuming, but more importantly they would be missing out on someone who could have a better fit.

2. There is definitely an expectation for you to have tackled the issues they raise. This shows that you are capable of taking advice on board rapidly, as you will need to do this once you are on a project - where the stakes can be very high. However, no one will expect for you to be an expert in those issues just because they were brought to your attention last week - but improvement should be noticeable.



Anonymous B replied on Feb 16, 2018

My perspective to your two questions:

1) Less robotic cases, maybe a few curveballs in the way that a partner will ask you to dig deeper and test your answer...but mostly they expect more of a human-human interaction rather than a robotic case performance...Questions to think to yourself.."What do these numbers REALLY mean?...what does the client really want? does this conclusion really effect this company?" more human in your thinking

2) Yes. I believe they will look to see if you've improved in certain areas