MBB first round interview formats?

currently preparing for MBB MBB
New answer on Jul 23, 2022
3 Answers
Chelsi asked on Jul 08, 2022

Hoping people could provide some insight for what the first rounds look like for undergrads recruiting for FT (business analysts, associate consultants, and associates) at these firms. For example, how many interviews, whether it's back-to-back, what the breakdown is of behavioural, and how many cases?

Overview of answers

  • Upvotes
  • Date ascending
  • Date descending
Best answer
Content Creator
replied on Jul 08, 2022
MBB | 100% personal interview success rate (8/8) and 95% candidate success rate | Personalized interview prep

Hi Chelsi,

I understand the desire for “control” here, but try to resist that! Rather, learn how to adjust/react to any interview situation. Period!

In general, interviews are 2 rounds with 2 interviews in each round. They are a combination of fit and case (normally split within each interview).

That said, none of the above matters. You will have cases. You will have behavioral. You are likely to have market sizing. and you could have “brainstorming” or unstructured cases. Prepare for all of it to occur in any order to any degree/level!

Anecdotally, I just had a candidate tell me his entire series of interviews didn't have a single case and were just brainstorming questions. Furthermore, 80% of those brainstorming questions were completely unconventional (i.e. not typical profitability, market entry etc.)

He did well because I trained him to be prepared for anything! Unfortunately, most people try to memorize.

Here's some reading for cases: https://www.preplounge.com/en/articles/how-to-shift-your-mindset-to-ace-the-case

And some reading for fit: https://www.preplounge.com/en/articles/tell-me-about-yourself-interview-question


Was this answer helpful?
Content Creator
replied on Jul 08, 2022
Unearth your spike & get the offer |ex-McKinsey | 120+ coachings & interviews @ McKinsey | ESADE MBA | Transition Expert

Hi there,

You need to get to a point where this doesn't matter at all i.e. mastery of cases and personality/fit questions. If this actually matters to you, you're not in the right mindset yet. However, let me answer your question regarding 1st round MBB format:

  • Typically 2-3 interviews with integrated case + fit (except Bain recently adapted their format in some offices and separated case from fit interviews)
  • Can be back to back or spread out - depending on office and candidate profile (e.g. intern recruitment from uni is often done in one day whereas interviews for experienced hires are typically spread out)

What you should spend your time and energy doing is getting really good at the interviews themselves and understand how the format differs between the firms (basically McKinsey vs. the rest of the world). 

Once you have confidence based on actual competence, you'll be unstoppable - irrespective of the format!

Best of luck!

Was this answer helpful?
Chelsi on Jul 09, 2022

Understood, there may have been a miscommunication here in terms of what I'm asking about. I was rather thinking about what the first round interviews look like at the firms I'm applying to so that I could get prepared for how they would fit in my work schedule and whether I'd need to take time off.

replied on Jul 23, 2022
McKinsey San Francisco | Harvard graduate | 5+ years of coaching | DISCOUNTED SESSIONS Sep 2022 | Free 15 min intro call


This will be different by firm, geography, recruiting cycle and whether you are applying from a target school or not, so it's hard to give a detailed answer that will be true universally. Most generally, first rounds typically involve 2 interviews (sometimes back-to-back, sometimes not). Usually, each will involve one case and some behavioral questions. Hope that helps!

Was this answer helpful?
Ian gave the best answer


Content Creator
MBB | 100% personal interview success rate (8/8) and 95% candidate success rate | Personalized interview prep
Q&A Upvotes
94 Reviews