Informal call with a McKinsey Senior Partner

McKinsey & Company networking Referral Senior Partner
New answer on Jun 24, 2021
5 Answers
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Anonymous A asked on Jun 22, 2021

In 2 weeks, I have an informal call with a McK Senior Partner. I have been trying to get a chance to speak to him for a while and he finally replied last week.

To be completely honest, the reason I reached out to him is because I know that he is the "Michael Jordan" of Senior Partners in the office I am targeting but now that I have the opportunity to speak to him, I don't want to waste it by asking un-insightful questions. 

Ideally my goal is to stay in contact with this person and have 2-3 calls before trying to get a referral (would be a dream if I get a referral from this call but I strongly doubt it) which I think is the correct way to approach this; however, since SP expect people to ask for referrals, should I indirectly ask for it if I feel the opportunity presents itself or should I wait for him to suggest this?

Here's a quick list of questions I am thinking of asking (after the 30 secs pitch and the call structuring at the beginning); appreciate any comment/help:

  • What are some qualities that you wish more people had joining as an associate? In other words - what is it that is required to succeed in this job but most people do not have enough of?
  • Making it to Senior Partner at McKinsey is no easy feat especially given the up or out policy (not sure if I should say this though), what is the single most important thing looking back that helped you make it to where you are today?
  • Leading the "XXX" practice puts you at the forefront of the investments big companies are making at the moment to prepare for the post-pandemic world, where do you think the business landscape in the region could shift 5-10 years from now? Besides digital, what do you think are the most important trends that will shape the way companies do business in the region?
  • Last question is more of a McKinsey-internal question; how does the Firm invest in training and preparing associates to succeed on the job, how are evaluations being done and what impacts promotions the most?

Let me know if I come across as pretentious instead of interested in the job/company. Appreciate any tip to improve on these questions or come up with completely new ones.

Thanks

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Ken
Expert
replied on Jun 22, 2021
Ex-McKinsey London final round interviewer

Great initiative and congrats for securing the contact. I'm not sure how much time you have with him but I would try to keep it simple and more open-ended. Since you asked for feedback, here are some thoughts you might want to consider for each of your questions:

1. This question makes it sound like McK is hiring consultants who lack a certain quality. I would spin more postively around: "what allows certaint consultants to thrive more than others at McKinsey? what were some of the early lessons you had when you joined?"

2. Up or out is one of those things that people outside talk about more than people in the inside and I'm not sure you need to tell him how impressive it is that he is a senior partner (he probably already knows...). At the same time, a prospective candidate asking about senior partnership feels like a bit of a stretch. I personally would ask questions that come across as relevant to you and not just random questions. People always like to talk about themselves and give advice.

3. This one feels super generic. I would make the question more personable based on your actual interests - e.g., having studied overseas, I am particularly passionate about returning and helping the x region grow, what do you see as some of the important trends and opportunities?

4. I'm not sure this one needs to be discussed with a senior partner. You could ask a recruiter or any relatively junior consultant and get as much insight. I think an important filter for you when developing questions is, "how can i build rapport" and "what are questions that only he can answer"

Good luck!

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Ian
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Content Creator
replied on Jun 23, 2021
BCG | 100% personal interview success rate (8/8) and 95% candidate success rate | Personalized interview prep

Hi there,

I actually have a few other thoughts. First and foremost, I think your questions are great. You should trust your instincts here and be inquisitive, thoughtful, polite, and personable.

  1. Please don't try to get 2-3 calls out of this individual. They're extremely busy and you're going to annoy them/burn the bridge. You get the one call, that's it (sorry)
  2. To ask for a referral, basically say the following at the end of the say "Thank you so much for your time, I know how busy you are. You've really solidified my thinking that this would be a fantastic place for me and I'm excited to submit my application in the near future. Do you happen to have any tips for me as I embark on this process?"
  3. Don't forget to have your "Resume Walkthrough", "Why Consulting" and "Why McKinsey" short pitches ready...the Partner may ask!

Good luck with the call!

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Bain on Jun 23, 2021
These are great tips by Ian.
Florian
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Jun 23, 2021
#1 rated McKinsey Case and PEI Coach | 5 years at McKinsey | Mentorship Approach | Imbellus Expert

Hey there,

I would not ask for more calls. Sr. Partners calendars are usually triple-booked for every given time slot of the day, so giving you the time already once is quite a stretch. Be prepared that the call gets cancelled on short notice.

I would keep your questions honest about what you are actually interested in rather than trying to impress them by asking things you think sound interesting to them. Don't try too hard!

I like your questions 1 and 2. Question 3 sounds too rehearsed and almost like an internal expert call; question 4 is something that can be discussed with HR or more junior consultants, who are also much closer to the topic than someone who is not involved in early-stage training and that passed through all this training 20 years ago.

You could also ask about how the work and travel changed pre-COVID vs. now and what their outlook is on the future regarding these things.

Other than that, prepare for

  • Why consulting
  • Why McKinsey --> keep highlighting this aspect throughout the call
  • Resume walkthrough (most important steps only)
  • Skill match previous experience <> McKinsey consultant

Get the referral within the call and then apply.

Fingers crossed!

Cheers,

Florian

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Bain
Proficient
replied on Jun 23, 2021

Definitely don't try for more calls. This is your one call. Consider yourself lucky because it is very difficult for most BAs/Asc within McKinsey to internally get 10-15m calls with Senior Partners. 

You're likely going to get 10-15 minutes. I'd say incorporate the changes others have recommended and just give off a great vibe. Ask for the referral indirectly in the end using the line Ian mentioned. You'll do great. 
 

The last thing is to remember that consulting isn't like finance - referrals don't go that far. They can help you get a interview but most people with decent resumes get interviews anyways. After that you're at square 0 again. So this isn't make / break. 

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Clara
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Jun 24, 2021
McKinsey | Awarded professor at Master in Management @ IE | MBA at MIT |+180 students coached | Integrated FIT Guide aut

Hello!

Congrats, already having time with a senior partner is an achievement, they are usually double and triple booked!

There is no way you will cover all that, one would already be a victory. 

To close up, just thank them for their itme and express your interest in following his/her steps. They know you are after a referral and will let you know about the next steps

Hope it helps!

Cheers, 

Clara

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Ken gave the best answer

Ken

Ex-McKinsey London final round interviewer
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