Going to McK 2nd round - Exp hire

brainstorming creativity Experienced Hire McKinsey McKinsey 2nd Round
New answer on Jul 06, 2022
5 Answers
Jose asked on Jul 05, 2022

Hi, and good day to everyone

In big part because of all the information in this site, I passed the McK 1st round. I've got a call from the recruiter with the following feedback:

- Regarding PEI: No negative feedback, good job overall. Among other sources, I used Florian's article in this site to prepare (I used the STAR method, though). 

- Regarding business case: 

  1. Need to be more broad in analysis. Be more creative when brainstorming or giving recommendations. What do you think would be the best way to work on this?
  2. Need to work on the “analitical” part. Here, the recruiter was not able to give more details. My guess is that this is coming from my first interview, where I feel I did a mediocre job with the opening of the case (very long introduction, several questions/objectives in the middle, I think I lost focus somewhere… fortunately I closed strongly). Do you know what could this feedback mean?

It seems I have at least a couple of weeks now before my next interview to prepare for the 2nd round (something happening in the background, no details given).

Any experience with the McKinsey 2nd round? How would you recomend spending my preparation time?


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Content Creator
updated an answer on Jul 05, 2022
Unearth your spike & get the offer |ex-McKinsey | 120+ coachings & interviews @ McKinsey | ESADE MBA | Transition Expert

Hi there,

Well done on clearing the 1st round!

Feedback 1 & 2 are essentially the same i.e. you need to work on your analytical skills, which refers to your ability to identify a long list of relevant and creative drivers and package them up neatly in a MECE structure, ideally communicated top-down.

Drivers is a placeholder word that you can substitute for ideas, reasons, factors, risks, etc., depending on the specific question you're being asked. Here's some typical examples (must always be considered in the specific context presented in the case prompt):

  • "What do you think might be some of the underlying reasons that company x may have lost market share?"
  • “What factors do you think will determine the economic success of merging company A & A?”
  • “What might be some creative ideas to accelerate the timeline until launch of product X?"

The principle for answering these questions successfully is always the same, irrespective of the type of driver you're being asked for: go broad and deep at the same time:

  • Broad: Make sure you cover a wide spectrum of possible drivers in the absence of concrete information that would warrant a more focused approach
  • Deep: Every driver must be specific and relevant to the specific question/problem, which is where 80% of candidates go wrong because they stop themselves short and don't push their thinking

As for 2nd round, prepare to be (potentially) surprised! This will get you in the right mindset. Partners can take the interview in any direction they want and you'll just have to run with it! For example, they could:

  • Do a standard case and fit, by the book
  • Non-standard case that will really throw you off
  • Drill down on a singular testing dimension (e.g. quant) through any means they can think of
  • No case at all, just a random conversation about your experiences and expectations
  • Random talk about random stuff that will leave you wondering what the hell just happened

There's a lot more to be said about each of the above, which is my focus as a McKinsey coach. If you'd like to run a targeted preparation before second round, let me know!

Best of luck!


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Content Creator
replied on Jul 05, 2022
#1 rated McKinsey Case and PEI Coach | 5 years at McKinsey | Mentorship Approach | 120+ McK offers in 18 months

Dear Jose,

Thanks for the kind words and congrats on passing!

Now to your questions:

95% of partner rounds are just as standardized as the first round. The reason why you read about freestyle partner experiences is that they deviate from what people expect, hence they post about it more frequently online, hence giving others the impression it is much more common.

Additionally, partner rounds are often perceived as more challenging, just because it's a partner sitting across the table rather than a more junior colleague. It is purely based on the impression and not on the content. :-)

If there are any deviations from the standard McKinsey interviewer guidelines, expect them to be in the following realm:

  • Focus on one or two areas where you were perceived as not as strong in round one, which sounds like in your case is mostly related to the opening of the case
  • Only doing a case, only doing PEI instead of both (PEI is unlikely in your case)
  • Doing two shorter cases in quick succession
  • Challenging your answers more
  • Not providing any time for you to think about the answer, making it more conversational
  • Asking standard fit questions besides PEI (could be relevant in your case since the PEI went so well)


In any case, the most important thing is not to be startled by this and just keep working on the case or the PEI in a calm manner. In order to do that, have a look at the following article as well, which discusses frameworks for McKinsey interviews in more detail. In short, it is all about

  • Breadth
  • Depth
  • Insightfulness

Read more about these here: https://www.preplounge.com/en/mckinsey-interview

All the best for your second round!



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Content Creator
replied on Jul 05, 2022
Top rated McKinsey Case & PEI coach/Multiple real offers/McKinsey EM in New York /6 years McKinsey recruiting experience

You have some great answers here.

To add, when it comes to brainstorming, I like to do the following

  • Try to aim for a lot more points and don't restrict yourself
  • Have buckets that are practical and more easy to implement
  • Also have space for ideas that are more out of the box and you can state that these are some out of the box ideas before you speak about them

The first part of your question seems to be all about structuring. In my opinion it would be good to work with a coach specifically on that is structuring is the most important part of a McK interview.



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Content Creator
replied on Jul 05, 2022
Ex-McKinsey London final round interviewer


1. Creativity:  it's difficult to generalise but my own experience is where one finds themself not being exhaustive enough with different ideas.  My best tip on this is to take a matrix approach:  take two axes which can have 2+ components and use the matrix to fill out different ideas which might be a blind spot.  For example, you are asked to improve profitability of a train operation,  first axis could be revenue/cost and the second could be 3-5 aspects of the operations (e.g., pre-boarding, onboard, post-journey, etc.) 

2. Analytical:  this should be referring to the structuring section of the case which McKinsey calls “Analytical Thinking”.  To me, this sounds related to your first point where it seems like your interviewers are keen for you to go more broad (and likely deep) in your thinking  

Working on your feedback is definitely priority number 1.  I would also continue to polish/rehearse your PEI stories.  Good luck!

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Content Creator
replied on Jul 06, 2022
MBB | 100% personal interview success rate (8/8) and 95% candidate success rate | Personalized interview prep

Hi there,

Congrats on passing the first round and glad to hear the site resources were so helpful!

You should essentially expect more of the same. At the same time, always expect the unexpected :)

Continue training to solve any case type, any PEI question variation, etc. The key here is flexibility.

Additionally, focus on any weaknesses identified by yourself and them in the 1st round.

Finally, it never hurts to hire a coach! If a coach just improves your chances by 1% that's an ROI of $1,000+!

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Moritz gave the best answer


Content Creator
Unearth your spike & get the offer |ex-McKinsey | 120+ coachings & interviews @ McKinsey | ESADE MBA | Transition Expert
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