General Interview Tips for Final Round

McKinsey
New answer on Nov 04, 2020
7 Answers
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Anonymous A asked on Nov 03, 2020

Hi,

Just curious what general tips you guys might have for a final round consulting interview. I know some common ones are find humble confidence, be funny, and find similarity with the interviewer. Any other tips you guys might sprinkle in there?

Thanks a lot!

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Sidi
Expert
replied on Nov 03, 2020
McKinsey Senior EM & BCG Consultant | Interviewer at McK & BCG for 7 years | Coached 350+ candidates secure MBB offers

Hi!

Let me try and compile the most frequent observations with candidates who failed to get an offer in their final round interviews. Avoiding these mistakes will massively improve your chances.

1. PEI (McKinsey only)

  • Failure to cope with the extreme deep dives and follow-up questions related to their PEI stories --> interviewers often go to extreme depth in order to really understand the motives and reasons, WHY you did or said certain things. Many candidates did not understand that the core is not WHAT they did, but WHY they did it! Having no strong answers to these questions was a frequent source of doubt the oftentimes led to a rejection

  • Failure to show empathy in the stories (especially in "Personal Impact") --> Very often, candidates' stories concentrated too much on analysis and how they provided evidence for the superiority of their ideas in order to convince others; however, what the Firm is really looking for are persons who are able to look at a problem through the eyes of others! So a good story of convincing others should show how the candidate tried to understand the REASONS why the other person was against the his/her ideas, and then how he/she addressed these concerns in order to get buy-in.

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2. Fit

  • Failure to outline own career objectives, and how consulting in general, and the firm in particular, would by a great platform to achieve these objectives

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3. Case

  • Failure to derive structural elements from a clear logic and missing link to the core question (weak conceptual thinking) --> Very often, candidates misunderstand that structuring a case does not just mean to come up with buckets and sub-aspects, but that they have to make clear how they will answer the question that has been asked. This is very important in order to avoid coming across as a "weak conceptual thinker"

  • Failure to take the interviewer along --> candidates frequently made the mistake of expecting interviewers to read their mind, i.e., when doing some analysis, they just went silent, did the calculation, and then presented the result. This is a weak performance, completely independent of whether the result is correct or not! The interviewer needs to be treated as a client. Hence, you have to walk him through your logic an align on this logic. Then you perform the calculations while TAKING ALONG the interviewer. This is how you would also ensure buy-in from a client (walking him through the analytical steps instead of just presenting a result), and this is what interviewers are testing for!

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4. General

  • Failure to show progress on previous round feedback --> if a particular area was singled out as an improvement need after round one, then it is absolutely crucial to get this right for the final round! Interviewers will scrutinize this critically, and only if they see clear progress they will give the candidate the thumbs up.

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Anton
Expert
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

Hi,

I would agree with Sidi and Francesco!

Also note that it’s highly likely that you may receive more sophisticated PEI questions during the final round. Here are some examples:

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
Expert
updated an answer on Nov 03, 2020
Ex-McKinsey final round interviewer | Executive Coach

Make sure you are able to show meaningful improvement on the feedback you were provided from First Round. Although it's not THE deciding factor, your first round interview scores will be part of the consideration for whether to extend an offer or not.

(edited)

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Francesco
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Nov 03, 2020
#1 Coach for Sessions (4.000+) | 1.500+ 5-Star Reviews | Proven Success (➡ InterviewOffers.com) | Ex BCG | 9Y+ Coaching

Hi there,

I don't think “being funny” is an appropriate tip for a final round. You want of course to connect with the interviewer, but the interview is still a formal setting and you want to appear professional.

In general, the structure of the rounds is the same (fit + case+ your questions); however in finals there is usually more emphasis on communication and fit.

Specifically, the main differences you may 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 one of my MBB finals I had one interview which was made by two market sizing questions and a brainteaser, without any business case. That's because during 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 the following:

  • Review in detail your fit stories – they will matter more than in the first round. In some finals I had almost exclusively behavioral questions
  • Work on your communication (reaction under pressure, how to 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
  • Prepare cases as you did for the first round. If you got feedback on a specific area, focus more on that part

Best,

Francesco

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Clara
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Nov 04, 2020
McKinsey | Awarded professor at Master in Management @ IE | MBA at MIT |+180 students coached | Integrated FIT Guide aut

Hello!

2nd round interviews (with high tenure stakeholders) are indeed very similar, but with higher enphasis in the FIT part.

If you want to deepen you knowledge on it, the "Integrated FIT guide for MBB" has been recently published in PrepLounge´s shop (https://www.preplounge.com/en/shop/tests-2/integrated-fit-guide-for-mbb-34)

It provides an end-to-end preparation for all three MBB interviews, tackling each firms particularities and combining key concepts review and a hands-on methodology. Following the book, the candidate will prepare his/her stories by practicing with over 50 real questions and leveraging special frameworks and worksheets that guide step-by-step, developed by the author and her experience as a Master in Management professor and coach. Finally, as further guidance, the guide encompasses over 20 examples from real candidates.

Furthermore, you can find 2 free cases in the PrepL case regarding FIT preparation:

Feel free to PM me for disccount codes for the Integrated FIT Guide, since we still have some left from the launch!

Integrated FIT Guide for MBB

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Gaurav
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Nov 03, 2020
Ex-Mckinsey|Certified Career Coach |Placed 500+ candidates at MBB & other consultancies

Hi,

I have broad experience in preparing candidates specifically to the final round, so I want to say the following:

. Final round is about 'depth' and not about 'breadth'. Initial round interviews are broad. Several fit questions, cases with multiple analysis etc. Because the intention is to test the candiate on as many aspects as the interviewer can. Final round is different. It is about testing the depth. Partners typically ask very few quetions but probe every answer to a great depth.

• Candidate needs thorough preparation to tackle 'why-how-translatability' probing questions by partners. Candidates need to be ready to justify their answer in a consulting compliant way.

• Final round is 'unpredictbale'. Final round interviewers, Partners, are known to throw curve balls. There have been interviews where Partners have just taken fit questions and business discussion, on the other hand there have been interviews where Partners have given detailed cases to the candidates. You never know what Partners can pull out of their hat.

Candidates need to be extra prepared. Especially, for question formats that they have not encountered in earlier rounds viz. Partner converting project from candidate's CV into a case, partner starting discusion on recent business event, advice seeking on business issue that the Partner says he is facing. Through all these variety of discussions, Partners try and test the candidature thoroughly.

Was it helpful for you?

If you need any further help, feel free to reach out.

GB

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Ian
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Nov 03, 2020
MBB | 100% personal interview success rate (8/8) and 95% candidate success rate | Personalized interview prep

The company has likely made a note of areas you showed strengths/weaknesses in. Look for them to test you weaknesses to see if they're 1) A fluk or 2) Workable.

So, focus on improving in areas you know you underperformed in - at the end of the day, same preparation as you should have been doing before!

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Sidi gave the best answer

Sidi

McKinsey Senior EM & BCG Consultant | Interviewer at McK & BCG for 7 years | Coached 350+ candidates secure MBB offers
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