McKinsey is trying really hard to create an objective and standardized interview experience for all candidates, across offices, practices, and interviewers. As a result, you should expect exactly the same interviewing format as in the first round
- 25 minutes PEI
- 25 minutes case
- 5 minutes for your questions at the end of the interview
You will be evaluated on the same criteria, and metrics, with the same types of cases and questions, regardless of who your interviewer might be (first or second round).
Now, that's the theory. :-)
Quick reality check!
That being said, partners sometimes employ their own way of doing interviews based on their personal preferences, which means that sometimes the final round with them can be less predictable.
Some focus on the case, others focus solely on the fit part (and deviate from the traditional PEI to ask other personal fit questions), and some stick to the standard format. I had a client last year who had to go through two cases and one of them was made up on the spot, which made it very tricky.
In general, the more senior the partner, the more likely are they to deviate from the standard interview format because they a. can b. have their own way of doing things. :-)
So now you know the practice.
What does this mean for you and your preparation?
Continue with your preparation, meaning
- Rehearse and finetune your PEI answers with a coach or peers who know what they are talking about
- Hone your case interview skills that are relevant for McKinsey (structuring, math, exhibit interpretation) with coaches and drills
- Prepare for some traditional fit questions (Why consulting, why McKinsey, etc.)
During the interview
- Stay cognitively flexible
- Do not be surprised if the format deviates from what you expect
- Stay calm and collected no matter what happens
- Stay enthusiastic, engaged and portray the impression that you are happy to be here (partners love that...)
Fingers crossed and let me know if you need some help with McKinsey!
For more on the two interview components, check out these two articles that I wrote: