Industry knowledge required in interview (experienced hire)

Industry experience
New answer on Apr 30, 2020
9 Answers
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Anonymous A asked on Feb 18, 2020

Hello! As I am preparing for an experienced hire role, I am wondering how much industry knowledge is required in the last round interview? Case in point mentioned that industry knowledge won't be a focus of discussion/testing since these companies want to test your ability to apply your skills also to other industries. So my question is, how to prepare for industry knowledge? (For instance, reading industry trends and know some key figures of the industry maybe?) How detailed and how much time should I spend in this area? Is it important to use industry insight / knowledge to "impress" the partner/principals?

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Vlad
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replied on Feb 18, 2020
McKinsey / Accenture Alum / Got all BIG3 offers / Harvard Business School

Hi,

I do not agree with Case in Point here. Although MBB companies will tell you that industry knowledge is not required, in reality, it will help you solve the case and impress the interviewer.

Business Acumen is all about building proper industry and functional knowledge. Here is how you can do that:

  1. Practice more cases with the other candidates. Try to start with the most common industries - Retail, Consumer Goods, Airlines, Banking

  2. Study the annual reports of the public companies in each industry. They have a good overview of the company and the industry.

  3. Get the industry information from relevant books, magazines, etc.

  4. Study MBA cases. They have a good industry overview. You can purchase HBS cases here: https://hbr.org/store/case-studies

For each industry, you should understand:

  • Revenue streams

  • Cost structure

  • Average margins

  • Key Performance Indicators

  • Industry trends

Best

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Daniel
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replied on Feb 20, 2020
McKinsey / ex-Interviewer at McKinsey / I will coach you to rock those interviews

In my experience EH interviews are no different than any other interviews, at least at McKinsey. They already invited you for EH role, so they are already interested in whatever industry experience and knowledge you are bringing with you, I don't see any value on preparing anything on top of that.

Just focus your preparation on cases and personal fit – that's a much better use of your time.

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Clara
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replied on Feb 19, 2020
McKinsey | Awarded professor at Master in Management @ IE | MBA at MIT |+180 students coached | Integrated FIT Guide aut

Hello!

Overall, I would agree with Case in Point: in consulting interviews you are not measuring you industry knowledge, but the quality of your structuring and thinking.

However, your case is a very particular one, since you are an experienced hire who is supposed to be very knowledgeable about the industry (if not, why would they hire you in the specialized path instead of the general one?)

However, precisely for the fact that you arrived until there, I don´t think there should be much more preparation to be done for you! You knowledge your suffice!

Hope it helps!

Cheers,

Clara

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Anonymous replied on Apr 30, 2020

Indrustry knowledge is not that important as general case interview skills, so focus more on PEI and cases.

Good luck!

André

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Nathaniel
Expert
replied on Feb 20, 2020
McKinsey | BCG | CERN| University of Cambridge

Hello there,

Given that you are recruited as experienced hire, the industry knowledge would benefits you a lot in showcasing your experiences and expertise. As and experienced hire, the firm would like to recruit you due to your domain-specific knowledge.

Case in Point suggestions are primarily geared towards fresh grads without any prior professional experiences.

Hope it helps.

Kind regards,
Nathan

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Sidi
Expert
replied on Feb 18, 2020
McKinsey Senior EM & BCG Consultant | Interviewer at McK & BCG for 7 years | Coached 350+ candidates secure MBB offers

Hi!

It depends on the role you are actually applying for.

  • If you are applying for a focused position as an industry expert or if you are applying to join an industry practice at the firm, than your sector expertise will of course be part of the scrutiny.
  • However, if you are applying for a generalist role, then industry expertise is not of any relevance for how your performance is rated. What IS relevant though is your ability to identify what you need to understand in order to address the client's question! This is a methodical skill which emerges on the grounds of top-down thinking and understanding that a structure is a logic. Once acquired and internalized, this makes industry knowledge irrelevant for the quality of your case performance.

Cheers, Sidi

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Antonello
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replied on Feb 29, 2020
McKinsey | MBA professor for consulting interviews

In cases no expertise will be tested. However, if you have 5+ years of experience in a sector, your expertise will be assessed with a broad discussion about the main trends, transformation and last projects you managed.

Best,
Antonello

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Ian
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replied on Feb 23, 2020
MBB | 100% personal interview success rate (8/8) and 95% candidate success rate | Personalized interview prep

Hi,

To confirm, you're coming in as a specialist, not a generalist?

If so, you need to deeply understand your current function, which would be a many years situation (i.e. your career)...so no prep required there.

However, if your role can be applied in the context of many industries, industry prep can indeed help. I have an industry template that you can use to research them and/or already filled out tempaltes for 20 industries (just PM me for them). Additionally, reading The Economist, BCG Insights and McKinsey Insights will help you build an understanding of various industries.

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Francesco
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replied on Feb 19, 2020
#1 Coach for Sessions (4.000+) | 1.500+ 5-Star Reviews | Proven Success (➡ InterviewOffers.com) | Ex BCG | 9Y+ Coaching

Hi Anonymous,

industry knowledge is usually not tested for entry level positions for generalists, however in final rounds it can be tested for experienced hire roles. The standard question you may expect from a partner is “give me a helicopter-view of your industry” – I helped more than a few experienced-hire candidates that got that question in their final.

I would recommend to know:

  • Current situationsnapshot of what is happening right now
  • Future evolutionexpectations on future trends, that is what would change in the next 3-5 years

If you can find resources that cover the previous two points on your industry you should be fine. Unlike for general case prep, I would target specific resources to cover it - eg research reports on the current status of industry XYZ.

Best,

Francesco

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Vlad gave the best answer

Vlad

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McKinsey / Accenture Alum / Got all BIG3 offers / Harvard Business School
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