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Do I hire coach before or after interview invitation?

application process Case Interview Cases coach coaching interview process MBB Practice cases
New answer on Sep 13, 2020
6 Answers
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Anonymous A asked on Jan 03, 2019

Hello. I am student with not much money, but I know to do my best in case interview I must hire help from coach. I have done networking and some nice people refer me. But I know this does not mean I have interview yet and still wait to hear. I do not know cases. I read a lot and try a few times, but I am lost. I know I must invest in my future with help from coach, but I do not know when. Do I hire coach now so I start to prepare? Or do I wait until I have interview invitation? Like I say before, I have very small salary but I need a lot of time to prepare. But if I do not receive invitation it will feel like waste of money. If you are student too or maybe coach could you please give me some advices? I hope you understand my English, writing for me is not easy. Thank you.


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updated an answer on Jan 03, 2019
Ex-McKinsey Engagement Manager / Ex-Diplomat - Perfect choice for non-traditional candidates. Let's get you an offer!


First of all, let me stress that case interviews are no rocket science - there is no need to be nervous!

Secondly, I would recommend to start reading books like "case in point" or "Case Interview Secrets". Then, try to do a couple of cases with friends or other students to get the basics right. Then, try to do cases with (ex-)consultants in your network or alumni from your school. If you are stilll not confident about your case skills, book a coaching session - but don't be mistaken: The coaching is by no means necessary to pass the case interviews. I have seen many people be succesful without spending money on a case coach. Don't feel the pressure to book a session if you can't afford it!


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updated an answer on Jan 03, 2019
Ex-McKinsey EM | Experienced interview coach (1,000+ sessions) | Discount on 1st session | LBS MBA

Hi there,

I fully agree with Mathias here, however from my experience coaching hundreds of candidates, I would suggest that getting a coaching session early on (after reading on case interviews and doing a few sessions with peers) could be highly beneficial. The goals of this session would be:

  1. Understand the current performance vs the "bar" and develop a clear and achievable plan to close the gap
  2. Identify and acquire "best practice" case interview habits, before the "bad habits" settle in
  3. Discuss and select the most suitable set of frameworks for structuring the case

This can be done in 1-2 sessions, would save you a ton of time and set you up for success. Beyond that, I agree with Mathias that no more sessions would be necessary, unless you have no suitable peer network to practice with (aim for ~30 live cases before the interview), or have the budget to spend on professional advice.

Best of luck,



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replied on Jan 03, 2019
Ex-MBB, Experienced Hire; I will teach you not only the how, but also the why of case interviews

Please don't waste your time with "Case In Point", at least not with the case cracking section -> the ~15 frameworks given are overly specific, not MECE, and you won't be able to reuse them. Victor Cheng's material is much better (a good starting point are his ~6 hours of free YouTube videos btw).

As for hiring a coach... up to you obviously, but remember that the field is extremely competitive (there are literally dozens of qualified applicants for every open spot) and the financial and professional upsides are phenomenal.

Whatever you decide though, make sure to start the actual prep long before you apply. It takes most of us well over 100 hours of focused, dedicated prep time to figure out this case thingy. I prepped after my MBA but didn't know what I was supposed to do, and went nowhere. Years later, I prepped again and made it - but that second time, I had the benefit of a few BCG friends giving me personalized feedback + leveraged Victor Cheng's material enormously. PrepLounge didn't exist then, or I would have used it as well. In spite of all of this, I studied for ~120 hours that second time again. No way I'd have been ready if I had waited until I applied to prepare myself.

PS: Let's say you hire a coach & spend significant time to prepare, but don't get an interview. Did you waste this money and time? I'd argue no actually, these skills will be reusable in other interviews (many former consultants in every industry, they will pretty much all give you a case or test your thought process) and even in your future job (can you be hypothesis driven?)

tl;dr: You can succeed without a coach, but (1) it takes a lot of time, and (2) the field is so competitive that I recommend you let others help you when possible. Even if it doesn't work, that case cracking skill will be useful to you later in other interviews and 'real jobs'

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Anonymous replied on Sep 13, 2020

Hi Anonymous!

Although a few expectional situations exist, my bias is towards working with a coach once you have your interview confirmed - knowing that this will put me at odds with a few other coaches here. Let me explain:

  • Think of your route to an offer as a funnel. The first filter is the written application, the second (optional one) is a written test (PST and the like) and the third and fourth are the two interview stages.
  • Written application:
    • You mentioned you have met a number of people that have told you they have referred you. This referral should clear the path to the interview, assuming your CV matches some basic table stakes. If it doesn't, hiring a coach is a waste of money, if it does, you should get the interview through these referrals.
    • A coach can help you brush up your CV, optimize your cover letter, think about which offices to apply to, etc... Is this a massive value proposition? No. If you're a smart cookie (assuming you are), you'll figure this out yourself.
  • Written test:
    • There are countless free examples and free or cheap courses on how to prepare for these tests. You hardly need a paid coach for them.
  • Interviews:
    • Here is where the value of an experienced interviewer plays out. You can either work with friends that are just that, or revert to finding a coach that works with you to improve your interviewing skills.
    • Having said that: Also for this stage, you don't need to work with a coach for 10+ hours. Do free case practice with your peers and work with a coach for the last 3-5 interviews to really hone your skills. If you're on a tight budget, this is the most cost-effective way to get to the required skill level.

After all, keep in mind: Case interviews are no rockey science - even if some coaches try to tell you just that.

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Anonymous replied on Sep 12, 2020

Dear A!

I would recommend you to hire a coach before to work on cases and create your own strategy. Besides, a coach can help you with networking and creating your own application roadmap, polishing your CV and Cover letter, also arranging your interviews, and preparing for them.

So I think it can be a good investment for your future job offer.

Hope it helps,



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Joseph replied on Jan 11, 2019

Hey, time flies when you’re pursuing a goal. So, you have to start now. If you have time then you can choose the best coach for your interview. There are a lot of firms that are based on promises only. But I recommend you to take the free consultation so that you will choose the perfect one for you. Because it is important that you understand the different stages of your interview process with McKinsey and your chances at each step. I would like to recommend you some experts/coaches who have extensive interviewing AND coaching experience from McKinsey and will go the extra mile to ensure your success. Get directly in touch with them and ask any questions.

Here’s are the references:

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Mathias gave the best answer


Ex-McKinsey Engagement Manager / Ex-Diplomat - Perfect choice for non-traditional candidates. Let's get you an offer!
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