How to prepare for starting at McKinsey

BCG McKinsey and Bain business analyst currently preparing for MBB McKinsey McKinsey & Company
New answer on Jan 14, 2022
6 Answers
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Anonymous A asked on Jan 12, 2022

I will be starting at the McKinsey London office in a few months as an entry level BA. This will be my first full time job out of university and I have 0 experience in consulting (apart from case prep). I am just wondering what I can do during this time to better prepare myself for the role. 

Also, can anyone who has worked in the London office shed some light on the average working hours per week for each type of project? (e.g. DD, transformation, strategy) Are weekends protected?

Thank you!

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Clara
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Jan 12, 2022
McKinsey | Awarded professor at Master in Management @ IE | MBA at MIT |+180 students coached | Integrated FIT Guide aut

Hello!

Congrats of that offer! McKinsey was also my first job, with no consulting experience! :) It´s gonna be a memorable ride

If there is one thing I wish I had done before joining McKinsey, that would have been Excel. It can really be a game changer, so I would really focus on that (more than pptx, industry knowledge, etc., that are nice-to-have, but not deal breakers).

Excel skills are part of the core skill-set of consultants, and it´s great that you want to practice them. PFB a list of the most popular commands:

Basic operations: SUM, SUMPRODUCT

Text transformations: CONCATENATE, LEFT, RIGHT, & operator,

Connecting different datasets: VLOOKUP, HLOOKUP, INDEX(MATCH(),MATCH())

Conditional-based operations: SUMIF, COUNTIF, SUMIFS, COUNTIFS, COUNTA

Learn how to analyze data using Pivot Tables

There are plenty of online materials -unfortunately now we cannot post the adress but you can find them easily-

Microsoft Support: support.office.com/en-us/excel

Kubicle: kubicle.com/personal (go for the 7 days free trial - Excel for Business Analytics)

Hope it helps!

Cheers,

Clara

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Florian
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replied on Jan 13, 2022
#1 rated McKinsey Case and PEI Coach | 5 years at McKinsey | Mentorship Approach | 530+ McK interviews in 2021

Hey there,

If you are interested in preparing for your new role, I'd suggest the following:

When I got the offer some years ago I did the same. I reached out to people I knew in McKinsey and people who interviewed me to ask: what can I do to make the start easier? how can I prepare?

The answer from everyone was: Relax! Enjoy your time before you start and don't think about it. You will figure it out on the job. I followed that advice and it made sense to me once I joined.

When you start at McKinsey there are 2 ways to learn:

  1. Formal training. The formal training sessions/ weeks/ days in the beginning, are nice, however, they are more for networking and meeting your peers. You learn some interesting concepts and get some useful tips from more experienced consultants BUT
  2. Constant and implicit learning on the job is where it's at. No matter if you are a newcomer or a veteran after 2 years, you will always find yourself on a steep learning curve. As soon as you barely mastered one skill or the skills needed for one level in the hierarchy, you will take care of things, which are expected from a more senior colleague. This cycle never ends. You are expected to learn on the job, learn from your colleagues, your mentors, sometimes even the client. So basically a newly promoted Engagement Manager has the same 'struggle' as a new-hire Business Analyst. They both need to work in a completely new environment and role.

Knowing that, if we now go back to square one in your McKinsey journey it makes perfect sense to enter the firm with a blank slate with a lot of curiosity and eagerness to soak it all up and quickly learn the ropes.

No book, no training, no coach can prepare you for your first day, your first week, your first engagement. Nothing matches the experience and the learning and this is a good thing (also the reason why ex-McKinsey are valued highly on the job market).

You will learn everything you need to master while doing it. You will be thrown in the cold water and need to swim. However, your colleagues will always be happy to help you and mentor you. And for the rest, you will figure everything out along the way. The key here is always to ask for tips, shortcuts, feedback, etc. Don't be quiet if you get stuck.

Also, for every technical problem (IT, Excel question, etc) McKinsey has a Global Helpdesk and the rule is to call them for every problem you can't solve within 5 minutes. They will fix your computer, guide you through Excel formulas, etc.

Lastly, if you have no domain knowledge about a certain industry or topic, read through the internal library of documentation (which is endless) and call some of the firm experts on the topic. Usually, they are happy to offer you a short call to get you up to speed.

Don't sweat the small stuff and enjoy the ride!

Florian

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Ian
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replied on Jan 13, 2022
BCG | 100% personal interview success rate (8/8) and 95% candidate success rate | Personalized interview prep

Hi there,

MOST IMPORTANTLY: Know that no-one can perfectly prepare for the job and that's the point: You will mess up, you will learn, you will be trained and supported. That's OK!

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

First: I have a consulting survival guide handbook with 25 key tips for surviving the consulting world. Feel free to message me for it!

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Second: In terms of things you can learn/do to prepare beforehand:

1) Daily Reading

  • The Economist, The Financial Times, BCG/Mskinsey Insights

2) Industry deep-dives

  • Learn, in-depth, how the industries/companies your office advises, work. (PM me for an industry overview template)

3) Analytics tools

  • Alteryx, Tableau, etc.

4) Excel

5) Powerpoint

  • Best practices/standards
  • Different layouts
  • Quickly editing/updating slides
  • Thinking in PowerPoint

6) Presentation skills / sharp communication

  • There are some online/virtual classes for this

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Third: In terms of doing well in your role when you're there:

1) Understand the context/prompt (what role are you in, what company, who's watching, etc.)

2) Understand the objective (what, specifically, is expected from you...both day to day, and in your overall career progression)

3) Quickly process information, and focus on what's important - Take a lot of information and the unknown, find the most logical path, and focus on that.

4) Be comfortable with the unknown, and learn to brainstorm - think/speak like an expert without being one

In summary, there will always be a flood of information, expectations, competition etc. and not enough timeFind out which ones matter when. (i.e. be visibile and focus efforts on the things that people care about)

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Fourth: Here are some great prior Q&As for you!

https://www.preplounge.com/en/consulting-forum/what-makes-a-good-consultant-how-to-get-a-good-review-6790

https://www.preplounge.com/en/consulting-forum/how-hard-is-it-to-excel-in-top-consulting-firms-6762

https://www.preplounge.com/en/consulting-forum/how-to-become-an-engagement-manager-and-partner-quickly-6722

https://www.preplounge.com/en/consulting-forum/need-to-learn-skills-in-the-ample-free-time-before-starting-at-an-mbb-what-should-i-do-6774

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Rafaella
Expert
replied on Jan 12, 2022
Ex McKinsey | Tech Entrepreneur | Coached 50+ candidates | 1st session for free

Congratulations on your offer!

I completely agree with what was said about excel, it is great to have kick start on this before your first project. 

In addition to that, thinking about the McKinsey experience and how things works there I would also suggest you read a little bit about the McKinsey Way, there is a book on that with this exact name. 

If you think you can improve on communication, specially top down (most of us needs to improve on this after joining McKinsey) there is also a book called The Pyramid Principle, written by a Ex-McKinsey as well. 

If you are really eager to develop skills on new tools and have the time to do it, I would say to go for Alteryx (tool that helps analyzing large data bases) and Tableau (visualization tool).

Lastly, take also advantage of this time to rest and relax, once you join McKinsey there will be a full range of training and material at your disposal and you will have intense days ahead of you, so take your time.

Best of luck!

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Lucie
CoachingPlus Expert
replied on Jan 12, 2022
10+years of recruiting & top BCG trainer & BCG Project leader & experienced hire

Hi there, 


congrats on your job offer!


You will get all the training once you enter (not on Excel though, so if you don't know formulas, pivot... probably good to learn, it will serve you forever :-)), hence I wouldn't stress out much... you will work really hard, take advantage now to enjoy yourself!

What I would, however, recommend is:
- Think well what are your goals once you start (e.g. what type of cases to do, learn xxx)
- Read some great books that can help you in your work (e.g. Talk like Ted: storytelling)
- Network with current/former McKinsey peers, get in touch with them and ask all questions you may have to help you orient faster once in

Wishing you all the best in your new career chapter!


Lucie


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Pedro
CoachingPlus Expert
replied on Jan 14, 2022
# 1 Rated Bain Coach | EY-Parthenon | Roland Berger | FIT | Former Head Recruiter | Principal

Unless you are really bad with MS Office tools (powerpoint and excel), just don't! 

And I mean really bad, i.e., not knowing the very basic functions. If that's the case, take a short course on both. If not, just don't.

The reason is very simple. You will be working ~60h/week and most of the time you will be either learning or practicing what you learned. And learning with the “real work”, with great team mates that will support you, and will top-notch learning tools.

So whatever preparation you do beforehand will be soooo less effective than your first few days in Mckinsey. You are very likely to spend your last few weeks of vacation/school/etc. geting tired just to get to the same level you will get after a SINGLE week at Mckinsey.

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Clara gave the best answer

Clara

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McKinsey | Awarded professor at Master in Management @ IE | MBA at MIT |+180 students coached | Integrated FIT Guide aut
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