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How to prepare in 1.5 months?

Case preparation
New answer on Jul 25, 2023
4 Answers
516 Views
Alex Gomez asked on Jul 24, 2023

Hi peers and respected experts. 

I just got an invitation for a 1st round interview for BA position at McK in 1.5 months and got a couple of questions. I am stuck at the moment on how to prepare and sharpen my skills for the interview in particular the case interview. Also coming from family with no luxury of money, I know hiring coaches would be impossible. Assuming I can allocate up to 4 hours a day for studying until the interview, what steps should I take? Generally:

1) I am already familiar with the structuring of the case interview, frameworks etc. What I recognize is my weakness in the quant problem or math. I'm somewhat already good with numerical calculation, mental math etc. My main problem is how to approach or where do I even start to calculate the answer to that question. Steps that should I take to solve it etc. Are they some resources or exercises out there for me to improve this?

2) I already downloaded most of the MBA clubs casebooks and already tried some of the cases but I feel like the case specifically for the quant problem, they are difficult.

 

3) Is practising for 4 hours a day for 1.5 months enough? How many cases should I crack at my level?

Also coming from engineering background, I had no formal training with business or finance knowledge. Plus, I just recently graduated. Any advices given would be really appreciated.

Thank you!

 

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Best answer
Emily
Expert
replied on Jul 24, 2023
300+ coached cases | Former McKinsey interviewer + recruiting lead| End-to-end prep in 2 weeks

Congratulations on securing an invitation for a 1st round interview with McKinsey! It's great to see your dedication to preparation and your commitment to making the most of this opportunity. I understand your concerns about the case interview, particularly the quantitative aspects, and I'm here to provide some guidance to help you succeed.

  1. Improving Quantitative Problem-Solving: a) Start with fundamentals: Brush up on basic math concepts, including algebra, percentages, ratios, and data interpretation. Ensure you are comfortable with these concepts as they form the basis of many case interview calculations.

b) Practice mental math: Since you mentioned being good with numerical calculations, continue honing your mental math skills. The faster and more accurate you are with mental math, the more time you'll have to analyze the problem and formulate your approach.

c) Tackle case math strategically: In case interviews, focus on the big picture before diving into detailed calculations. Understand what the problem is asking and think about the key data needed to solve it. Approach the math step-by-step and communicate your thought process clearly to the interviewer.

d) Practice, practice, practice: Work through quantitative case problems from various sources, including MBA casebooks, online resources, and case interview books. As you tackle each case, pay attention to the specific quantitative aspects and work on improving your approach to solving them.

  1. Challenging Case Practice: a) Seek diverse case resources: While MBA casebooks are a great starting point, don't limit yourself to them. Look for case interview examples from different industries, functions, and difficulty levels. This exposure will help you handle a wide range of cases during your actual interview.

b) Learn from solutions: After attempting a case, review the solution thoroughly, even for the quantitative parts. Understand the reasoning and calculations provided by experienced interviewers. This will enhance your ability to approach similar problems in future cases.

  1. Practice Intensity and Quantity: a) 4 hours a day is commendable dedication to preparation. Consistency and focused practice are essential. Ensure you use your study time effectively by simulating the actual interview environment and time constraints.

b) Quality over quantity: While the number of cases you practice is important, prioritize learning from each case you attempt. Focus on refining your problem-solving approach, identifying areas for improvement, and applying those lessons to subsequent cases.

c) Seek feedback: Whenever possible, practice with a partner or in a case practice group. Feedback from others can be invaluable in identifying blind spots and providing fresh perspectives on your performance.

Given your engineering background and limited formal business or finance knowledge, don't be disheartened. Many successful consultants come from non-business backgrounds. McKinsey values problem-solving abilities, analytical thinking, and adaptability. Emphasize these skills during your interview.

Lastly, consider exploring additional resources online. There are numerous blogs, YouTube channels, and forums where experienced consultants share tips and advice for case interviews.

Remember, preparation is the key to success. Practice diligently, stay positive, and believe in your abilities. Wishing you all the best for your McKinsey interview! You have what it takes to excel, so go in with confidence and showcase your potential. Good luck!

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Sophia
Expert
replied on Jul 25, 2023
Top-Ranked Coach on PrepLounge for 3 years| 6+ years of coaching

Hello,

Congratulations on getting an interview invitation! The time needed for preparation varies by individual, but 4 hours / day for 1.5 months would be more than enough for most candidates.

It's great that you've familiarized yourself with case interviews, frameworks, and downloaded some case books - that's the first step! I also recommend looking at some of the cases on McK's website. Now that you're past this first step, the key is going to be lots and lots of live practice! Have someone (case partner, family, friend, or coach) run mock interviews with you. This is going to be the best way for you to improve at case interviews - reading cases or doing them by yourself yields diminishing returns very quickly.

Regarding your question about the math, if you haven't practiced much yet, chances are you will get the hang of case math and improve with practice. If you feel like you are still having difficulties with the math, I recommend doing some focused drills on it. After you've worked through a case, revisit the math part and work through it to make sure you understand it. Pull out a couple of math questions from cases and just work on them (rather than doing the case in its entirety), giving yourself the time to really figure out the question and steps all by yourself. Practice reading exhibits, if that's what causes you confusion.

Don't worry about not having a finance or business background - plenty of candidates don't. They are looking to assess your problem solving skills and quantitative aptitudes in the interview, not any sort of technical knowledge.

Lastly, make sure you also spend some time preparing for the fit interview! 

Best of luck!

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Cristian
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Jul 25, 2023
#1 rated MBB & McKinsey Coach

Hi Alex!

Great to hear you were invited for the interview!

Regarding calcultions specifically, reach out to me directly so I send you a guide on how to approach calculation questions. 

This will explain the methodology that I teach to all my candidates around how to best break down calculation problems into steps. 

Best,
Cristian

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Ian
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Jul 25, 2023
#1 BCG coach | MBB | Tier 2 | Digital, Tech, Platinion | 100% personal success rate (8/8) | 95% candidate success rate

Hi there,

First of all, good work giving yourself a good runway here.

1) I am already familiar with the structuring of the case interview, frameworks etc. What I recognize is my weakness in the quant problem or math. I'm somewhat already good with numerical calculation, mental math etc. My main problem is how to approach or where do I even start to calculate the answer to that question. Steps that should I take to solve it etc. Are they some resources or exercises out there for me to improve this?

Math-drills dot com and RocketBlocks are the best resources in my opinion for this!

2) I already downloaded most of the MBA clubs casebooks and already tried some of the cases but I feel like the case specifically for the quant problem, they are difficult.

Well, remember, you want to case with other people. Get them to give you a wide variety of cases.

3) Is practising for 4 hours a day for 1.5 months enough? How many cases should I crack at my level?

For many people it would be. This is a good level of prep. Can't say whether it is 100% enough, but it's a good pace. Make sure to take a full day off frequently enough to recharge!

People generally get the right flow/idea around the 20-30 case mark. You made need fewer. You may need more.

Also coming from engineering background, I had no formal training with business or finance knowledge. Plus, I just recently graduated. Any advices given would be really appreciated.

Daily reading and industry deep-dives!

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Emily gave the best answer

Emily

300+ coached cases | Former McKinsey interviewer + recruiting lead| End-to-end prep in 2 weeks
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