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Last chance at MBB - failed 2 already. How can I maximize my chances at the last MBB?

Anonymous A asked on Sep 26, 2018 - 4 answers

Hi all, I need all the expert opinion I can get. I don't want to sound like a sob, but I've been feeling a lot like consulting isn't for me (after dreaming to be in the consulting industry for x years since undergrad).

I've already failed two first interviews (at Bain and at BCG). I have a standing application to McKinsey (passed the PST, waiting to be scheduled for the first interview in the next few months). I have a feeling that chances are, I'll be failing this one too. Let me describe my experiences in the first two interviews:


- totally bombed the first case (unusual case problem - setting a goal for a PE firm)

- aced second case (profitability problem at a telecom)

Bain (after 4 months):

- aced first case (growth strategy at an insurance company)

- did okay on the second case (acquisition, consumer goods)

I did not receive feedback from BCG, but I asked feedback from Bain and what they said was that I though I had good energy and am insightful, I lacked in structure and in driving the case. To be honest, I was a little bit surprised by the interviewer-led format at Bain. How do I work on these weaknesses (structure, drive), given that McKinsey will also use an interviewer-led case style?

I'm also planning on paying for practice sessions here on Preplounge, and on asking my Mckinsey acquiantances for practice (both of which I haven't done before - and again to be honest, I haven't done live case practices for the first two interviews). What else can I do, and how do my chances look?

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replied on Sep 26, 2018
Ex-MBB, Experienced Hire; I will teach you not only the how, but also the why of case interviews
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"Acing" a case isn't only about actually cracking it. We want structure, we want to be convinced you will crack today's case, and the one after, and the one after. Failing a case happens, but that should still remain the exception. Your Bain feedback suggests to me that you weren't properly prepared after all. You admitting you hadn't done live case practices before the first two interviews is further proof of that. At BCG Dallas, there used to be 1 position for 60 applicants back when I interviewed - and I have no reason to believe it is materially different now in any of the MBB offices anywhere; honestly, what made you think you could succeed by practicing like a dilettante? Tough words, but you need to stare reality in the face here.

Just saying "perhaps it wasn't for me" now just because you didn't succeed is intellectual dishonesty. There are countless great career paths outside of consulting, and Tier2 companies can also be amazing choices - but you need to really look inside yourself, decide what you want and figure out obvjectively what you could have done better to prepare + commit to doing better next time.

You still have a shot at McK, don't give up. You should instead give yourself all the tools to maximize your chances. There is a ton of material available on the web (Victor Cheng, 6h of free YouTube videos) and obviously here on PrepLounge; you have access to dozens of coaches (yes, I am one of them - conflict of interest), you may still have access to your school resources... if MBB is what you truly want, go all in and invest your time, energy and yes money - at least that way you won't have regrets.

To your question on how you get prepared specifically for McK:

- First, doing a little bit of interviewer-led practice isn't going to hurt

- Second, it is true that this specific area (structuring) is probably a little less important for your 1st McK round. Ultimately though, these skills are portable so someone who aces Bain/BCG will succeed at McK and vice-versa

- You MUST do live cases, no two ways around this. Don't start tomorrow, start TODAY!

- You may want to reach out to McK and ask if you can postpone a little bit, you are clearly not ready right now

- If MBB is really what you want (only you can answer this one), give yourself the tool you need and invest a little money in expert coaching

Good luck!

replied on Sep 26, 2018
McKinsey / Accenture / Got all BIG3 offers / More than 300 real MBB cases / Harvard Business School
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Answering your first question - at McKinsey you may have both candidate and interviewer led cases. I believe that if you are good with the cases - it's not a problem. Thus just practice more cases of both formats with the other candidates.

Here is a list of things you can do to boost your progress:

  1. Take a session with an expert here / current MBB consultants to get some feedback
  2. Take some FIT interview coaching. Over 150+ candidates that I've coached only a couple really experienced ones were great with the FIT part
  3. Work on the social / economic / non-profit and other non-traditional cases. I've noticed that most of the candidates are struggling with them. More on these cases here:
  4. Work on the operational cases - most of the candidates completely miss them. More about them here;
  5. Continue working on fast and accurate math - you can always do better. Details here:
  6. Work on your business acumen. I strongly recommend developing the proper industry knowledge. More details here:
  7. Make sure everything is fine with your communication:
  8. Do more cases!!!!


updated his answer on Sep 26, 2018
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Also, this is first and foremost a head game. If you believe you will fail, you will fail. If you even doubt that you may succeed, you will fail. Make it your conviction that you are cut out for that job at McKinsey and that never, ever in a million years you will fail this interview. Eliminate all disempowering beliefs (like "maybe this isn't for me") from your belief system.

(If I sound like Tony Robbins, that may be because this are basically the first 5 chapters or so of his book "Awaken the Giant within", which may be a good read for you...)


Anonymous B replied on Sep 26, 2018

Hi! I’m a fellow candidate however to be honest I think you stated your problem already: for your first two interviews you didn’t do any live case preparation. That’s key! Without live prep, it doesn’t matter how much you’ve read or know about cases—there’s a high probability that you’ll fail simply because you’re unprepared. You wouldn’t enter a bike race having only ever watched the Tour de France and read about bicycle mechanics, would you? This is the same thing! Get in that practice, especially with your McKinsey contacts, and your odds will improve greatly. Best of luck!

best of luck — Jeri on Sep 26, 2018 (edited)