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Interviewing with MBB - candidate with priori Tier-2 consulting internship

Anonymous A

Hey there,

I am interviewing soon with McKinsey and have a prior internship experience in a Tier-2 consulting firm. (where I received an offer)

I am curious about how this experience can affect the fit questions I will receive as much as my interviewers' expectations regarding my answers or the case.

Should I focus on this experience in my PEI answers or should I try to leverage other experiences that bring something different instead ?

Has anyone been in a similar situation ? How should I prepare best ?

Thank you in advance,

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Matthew
Expert
replied on 10/20/2017
Only ex-McKinsey Partner on PrepLounge and only available until 12/15

First of all, the bar for your performance on the PEI and the case sections will be the same, regardless of whether you have experience at another consulting firm or not. The only time that could vary is if you were an experienced hire / expert hire with many years of experience. In that case, the fit / behavioral bar would likely be higher and the case interview bar could be a bit lower.

In terms of using your previous consulting experience for your PEI answers, the answer is “it depends”. In general, you should be looking for the best answers / stories / situations that answer the question the interviewer is asking. Almost any experience can be successful during the PEI portion of the interview as long as it addresses some of the following attributes:

  • Influencing: Does the candidate accurately anticipate or react to the need for various influencing tactics and deploy them appropriately
  • Drive / Achieving: Has the candidate demonstrated a passion for setting challenging goals and achieving them in a practical way?
  • Leadership: Has the candidate demonstrated inspiring leadership, sensitivity to others and an ability to help teams succeed in the face of challenge?
  • Teamwork: Has the candidate shown deep insight into the whole team effectiveness and taken action to improve it (e.g., actively coaches, resolves conflict)
  • Empathy: Does the candidates behaviors, plans and actions demonstrate an awareness and understanding of the thoughts and feelings of others?
  • Learning: Does the candidate show an sufficient level of intellectual curiosity and extract learnings from experiences?

I find it most helpful when candidates try to mix in a non-work experience into a least one of your PEI interviews. By using a non-work situation, you are able to:

  • Stand-out: Remember that there is a decision meeting about whether you pass to the next round (if it’s a first round interview) or get an offer (if it’s a final round interview) and the more you stand out as a candidate, the easier it is to “make the case” for you during that meeting. I can remember to this day dozens of non-work PEI experiences that didn’t involve work, but not a single one that did involve work.
  • Add humor: You can tell your story and add a twist of humor to it. Interviewers have long, mundane days of interviewing and like to have the mood lightened.
  • Add personal depth: Show that you have skills and interests outside of work. If you happen to hit upon a story that resonates with the interviewers past experiences or interests, that’s a home run!

Having led many decision meetings (1st and final rounds) as a Partner at McKinsey, let me give you a little insight into how the meetings actually happen. A tired group of interviewers convene at the end of the day with all of their notes. The decision meeting leader begins pulling up the candidates info one by one. The interviewers are trying to think back to the candidate and looking at their notes (which are not very detailed). The interviews give a recap of what they taught and actually oftentimes playback a PEI story if, and only if, it was interesting before a final decision is made. This is why it is key to pick the right stories and often times, a non-work story or two.

Going back to the case interview, there is really going to be no difference. If anything, the interviewer may think that you should be more polished on the case than other candidates since you have previously worked in consulting.

Francesco replied on 10/21/2017
Ex BCG | MBB Specialist | #1 Expert for meetings done (1000+) and recommendation rate (100%)

Hi Anonymous,

I have replied below to your questions in your follow-up post:

Do you recommend to systematically provide new stories everytime a different interviewer asks the same question?

Ideally yes, at least for the most common types; as a general rule, it would be good to have three different examples for each question. Keep in mind that you could also have to use all in a single question like “Tell me three examples of a time that you lead a team” or “Which are your three top weaknesses”.

Should I try to put forward the most convincing stories first?

Yes, as you don’t know if they will ever ask later for them, thus better to use them at the beginning when needed; consider though that all your stories should be convincing at a similar level. If you feel that’s not the case, you should work reinforcing/changing them till when they are solid.

Should I reuse them in the afternoon if I pass to the second round or keep providing new ones instead?

If you have prepared three strong examples and are asked for a forth one in the afternoon, in case you do not have other strong examples it would be ok to reuse them (it would be even better of course if you could have further stories of equivalent level).

Best,
Francesco

Francesco replied on 10/20/2017
Ex BCG | MBB Specialist | #1 Expert for meetings done (1000+) and recommendation rate (100%)

Hi Anonymous,

I agree with Matthew, in terms of the expectations they will not be impacted in a relevant way from your previous experience.

In terms of the stories to use, besides the traditional questions common to all the firms (“Tell me about yourself”, “Why McKinsey”, “Why should I hire you”), as you probably know you should focus on three main areas for McKinsey: personal impact, entrepreneurial drive, and leadership. I have described them in details at the link below:

https://www.preplounge.com/en/consulting-forum/mckinsey-pei-difference-drive-and-personal-impact-918

In short:

  1. Personal Impact is mainly based on persuading someone about doing/not doing something.
  2. Entrepreneurial Drive is about implementing something overcoming major difficulties.
  3. Leadership is about leading a whole team in challenging situation and team management skills

So far that your previous consulting experience helps you to show these skills, it would be a good example; having said that, you probably want to have multiple stories for the same question, in case you get the same one asked by different interviewers. For this reason, I would recommend to use both your consulting experience AND additional ones, focused on the previous three areas.

Best,

Francesco

(edited)

Eric
Expert
replied on 10/21/2017
Interview coach with detailed, actionable feedback (McKinsey & Google)

This is not an uncommon background for people at MBB to have done internships at other firms before. It will not affect you negatively. Focus on preparing well just as if you come from any other backgrounds.

Anonymous A replied on 10/21/2017

Hi Matthew, Francesco and Eric,

Many thanks for your very helpfull answers, I will indeed prepare multiple stories for each of McK core values.

Do you recommend to systematically provide new stories everytime a different interviewer asks the same question ?

I will have an assesment day with all round and potentially 5 interviews in one day, therefore it is very likely that I will receive the same questions multiple times. Should I try to put forward the most convincing stories first ? Should I reuse them in the afternoon if I pass to the second round or keep providing new ones instead ?

Many thanks for your help,

A.

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