If case interviews are given by project leaders and above, then how do coaches who are not project leaders coach?

Case Interview coach coaching
New answer on Aug 02, 2021
6 Answers
Anonymous A asked on Aug 01, 2021

Hi, sorry if my question sounded rude.

I was wondering if project leaders and above usually give case interviews, then what gives validity to the coaches who have not worked in a similar role before to coach potential candidates?

Appreciate any answers to build my understanding of this topic.

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replied on Aug 02, 2021
McKinsey San Francisco | Harvard graduate | 5+ years of coaching | >90% candidate success rate | Personalized approach

Hello! This is absolutely a fair question. While it is true that case interviews are conducted by senior consultants (project leader/engagement manager level and above) with the rare exception, junior consultants at most firms are also able to get heavily involved in the recruiting process, which gives them experience in preparing candidates and a deep understanding of the interview specifics.

From my personal experience at McKinsey's office in San Francisco, junior consultants would often get involved in running mock interviews with candidates which the firm offered as part of the recruiting process, facilitating case prep workshops, and becoming a point person for recruiting at their alma mater university. There was even a special "West Coast Ambassador" role for junior consultants to work in recruiting as a full-time project for several months, whereby they planned and ran many case workshops and mock interviews (and occasionally a few first round interviews). When I was a candidate interviewing with McKinsey, I was also assigned a McKinsey mentor after I passed my first round interviews, who was a junior consultant specifically tasked with running a few cases with me and answering any questions I had about McKinsey's interview process. Other consulting firms also have similar programs.

So, while junior consultants will rarely have had experience of running the official case interviews, they will often have had opportunities to get involved with the recruiting process, becoming very familiar with their firm's interviewing methods as a result. In addition, junior consultants bring the added bonus of having gone through the interview process more recently, so their preparation and what they did to be successful is likely to be more fresh in their minds.

However, how this information should pertain to your decision to work with a junior consultant as a coach is an entirely personal matter. In my experience as a candidate, some of the most helpful coaches I worked with were ex-junior consultants doing their MBAs. My approach was to place less emphasis on the seniority of the coach, and more emphasis on trying to get more case prep in with a coach who could offer me any useful advice, so I was more than happy to work with junior consultant coaches, particularly as they frequently charged less per session. I believe I benefitted from this approach - but your cost-benefit analysis might be different, so it is totally up to you! 

Please feel free to DM me if you'd like more details on any of this, and best of luck in your case prep and in picking a good coach!

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replied on Aug 01, 2021
McKinsey Senior EM & BCG Consultant | Interviewer at McK & BCG for 7 years | Coached 300+ candidates secure MBB offers


I agree with the underlying premise of your question, but your facts are not entirely correct. Usually, you can start interviewing after about 2 years tenure (there are rare exceptions when MBB interviewers are more junior, but it's really pretty rare). And then it usually takes several months until an interviewer is fully trained and can even start interviewing. 

So yes - if you want to ensure that your coach was actually an experienced interviewer, check the tenure and search for people who stayed at MBB for several years.

Cheers, Sidi

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Content Creator
replied on Aug 01, 2021
BCG | 100% personal interview success rate (8/8) and 95% candidate success rate | Personalized interview prep

Hi there,

Perfectly fair question! It's important to clarify consultants also give case interviews. Additionally, there's a lot more that goes into coaching than just having interviewed!

  1. Did the coach nail their own interviews (or did they interview at 10 places and get lucky with just one?) - as in, can they walk the walk?
  2. Is the coach a teacher - Elon Musk may be a genius and know his rockets, but I'd be shocked if he were a good teacher
  3. Does the coach understand struturing - they can survive at MBB but still not be experts in this
  4. Does the coach have a wide range of project/case experience as well as industry knowledge? - They could have worked in a very narrow range of projects and have limited exposure

Fundamentally, would you rather be taught by someone who nailed all of their interviews, has the teacher DNA, and thrived at their consulting job, or would you just say "Oh, well, they interviewed, so that's all that's needed"?

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CoachingPlus Expert
Content Creator
updated an answer on Aug 01, 2021
Accenture, Deloitte | Precision Case Prep | Experienced Interviewer & Career Coach | 15 years professional experience

If I was a candidate, I would like to get coached by someone who has had plenty of interview experience and has witnessed hiring situations of various shapes & forms- totally my personal choice. So your question is very valid and its a matter of personal choice- whether you go for more junior/less experienced coaches or those with more experience. Perhaps an idea could be to mix and match to get diversity of opinion & practice.

Most big consulting companies start interview training after 2-3 years stint but it really takes 5-7 yrs+ of total consulting work experience and at least 3 yrs of interviewing to become seasoned at this. Obviously, the more the better!


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Anonymous B replied on Aug 01, 2021

The reality is that there are many coaches who have not been interviewers and have only coached a candidate. To me, that's the same as getting coaching from a current consultant at that firm, which you can get for free. There are many junior consultants who are super keen to get involved with recruiting and coach candidates.

On the other hand, consultants who have been trained as an interviewer can not coach candidates which is why getting access with them through PrepLounge makes a lot of sense.

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Anonymous B on Aug 02, 2021
Lot's of interesting perspectives from various coaches. Only thing I would add is that considering the amount you are paying for a coach, I think it should be about AND. You ideally want an experienced interviewer who is ALSO a good coach. Worth pointing out an experienced coach is not necessarily a good coach - just like in school where you probably had dinosaur aged teachers who weren't very good at teaching...
CoachingPlus Expert
replied on Aug 02, 2021
ex-BCG Dubai PL | 100% Personalised Coaching | 2021 Real Cases only | 6+ years in Consulting

Short answer to your question - coaching and interviewing are not necessarily interdependent skills. Somebody who has not taken an interview can also be a good coach - and vice versa.

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Sofia gave the best answer


McKinsey San Francisco | Harvard graduate | 5+ years of coaching | >90% candidate success rate | Personalized approach
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