How long should a candidate prepare for interviews?

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New answer on Oct 25, 2020
5 Answers
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aa asked on Oct 01, 2020

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Henning
Expert
replied on Oct 02, 2020
Bain | passed >15 MBB interviews as a candidate

In my experience it is less a question of time, more about the number and quality of cases that you are doing in preparation. Depending on your available time (e.g next to a 60h job) this can take anywhere between one and 3 months I would say. Here's my best practice for how to plan cases:

In my experience, practicing 12-15 cases is sufficient, if you do it strategically. My recommendation is as follows:

  • Read up on the typical approaches and standard frameworks to get the concept.
  • Then, do 3-4 cases to get a practical feeling for what a case is like. Start with easier ones - e.g. market size mini cases, simple profit tree cases, etc. This will help you develop a rudementary sense for how cases work
  • The next 5-6 cases should cover cases from all major types and help you gain the experience and comfort with standard frameworks and the thinking required for solving the cases.
  • Lastly, you will want to do 4-5 cases to hone your skills. Practice with people who understand what they are doing - experienced interviewers, coaches, etc. that can give you 1-2 main items of feedback after each case that you can then practice to apply and improve on in the next case. During this time, you should also practice to move away from off-the-shelf frameworks and tailor, or - even better - develop your frameworks specifically during the case.

Keep in mind that if you prepare with peers here on preplounge only the cases that you do as candidate count, not the ones that you do as interviewer. But: Doing cases as interviewer of course also has a learning effect as you see what behavior works and what doesn't, so I definitely also recommend doing a few of those.

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Anonymous A on Oct 03, 2020

One thing to add here is what experience you are comming in with. For example, an undergraduate student with a degree in history is not going to have the same knowledge as an MBA who worked in industry for 6 years. Thanks

Robert
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Oct 02, 2020
McKinsey offers w/o final round interviews - 100% risk-free - 10+ years MBB coaching experience - Multiple book author

Hi aa,

Couple of points to your question(s):

  • Quantity is not quality, so throwing out a number does not mean that much - have an experienced interviewer and coach to give you clear and actionable feedback to improve quickly over time (practicing with peers in between is essential, but typically the steak doesn't know if it was a good butcher)
  • A certain number of practice cases is needed - most candidates start feeling comfortable with this interview format after 20-30 cases.

Hope that helps - if so, please be so kind to give it a thumbs-up with the green upvote button below!

Robert

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Clara
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Oct 03, 2020
McKinsey | Awarded professor at Master in Management @ IE | MBA at MIT |+180 students coached | Integrated FIT Guide aut

Hello!

This question is too wide, since it depends on so so many factors:

  • Education
  • Past experience
  • Available time that you have
  • How much of that time is actually quality time
  • etc.

Cheers,

Clara

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Gaurav
Expert
Content Creator
updated an answer on Oct 25, 2020
Ex-Mckinsey|Certified Career Coach |Placed 500+ candidates at MBB & other consultancies

Hi A,

It is hardly possible to tell a certain number because every person and situation is specific.

Before making a plan for preparation, you should always consider:

  • your background: education, relevant work experience;
  • how much time you actually have before the interviews;
  • be ready to practice different types of cases, at least 15;
  • do not forget to prepare the answers for the fit part;
  • self-confidence training also plays an important role because it is hard to overcome the pressure for some candidates.

In general, do not count on less than 1,5 months. 3 months would be really great to get the most of the preparation process.

Do you need any further help?

GB

(edited)

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

Hi there,

In general, I find candidates need 2-3 months to feel ready (some need more, some need fewer).

Of course, it depends person to person. But I have a few "baseline" suggestions:

  • Aim for a few hours a day
  • Start "heavy" on fast math, and background knowledge/reading (building industry knowledge, reading case books, reading The Economist/FT/BCG insights)
  • Always go steady with actual casing (aim for a minimum 25 cases by the time you're done)
  • Work on fit/behavioural questions just 2-3 weeks before
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Henning gave the best answer

Henning

Bain | passed >15 MBB interviews as a candidate
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