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McK Interview Process

Anonymous A asked on Feb 05, 2018 - 5 answers


I was wondering why actually the McK Interviews are perceived as the toughest interviews among all consulting firms? I mean, you have a clear structure in every interview having 4 questions consisting of structure, calculation, chart analysis and creativity question. In other consulting interviews you are not that prepared of what you can expect. What makes McK so hard then?


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replied on Feb 06, 2018
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I believe there is a number of reasons for that:

  1. In most of the locations McKinsey is the first choice for the candidates, so it creates a bias that it is tougher to get there. And if you don't get a McKinsey offer, you switch to the 2nd choice. In reality, it's all about being smart, prepared and lucky.
  2. Indeed, McKinsey interviews are more structure, though not always interviewer-led. I would prepare for interviewee-led cases in order to be able to approach both types successfully
  3. While McKinsey cases are more structured, McKinsey has a lot of unusual, social type cases (e.g. How will you approach developing a Bankruptcy Law?) and a lot of candidates get stuck
  4. McKinsey FIT interview part is the hardest among all the BIG3 companies. Personal Impact, Achievement / entrepreneurial drive, and even leadership stories create a lot of confusion for the candidates.

Hope it helps,


replied on Feb 06, 2018
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Absolutely fair point which you are making!

I usually tell my case interview coaching candidates (a bit jokingly though) that McKinsey is actually one of the most easiest firms on this planet to get in.

Why do I say this? To make fun of my coaching candidates? No, for sure not - I say this because I want to let them know one of the key issues on consulting interview prep, and it probably holds true in many many other occasions:

It's not always the smartest, brightest, best people landing offers at McKinsey.

It is actually those candidates who know how to prepare correctly.

Or in other words: mastering the McKinsey interview process is more a matter of diligent preparation, than being a genius (for sure you will need good business acumen and a logical way of thinking [a.k.a. being client friendly] - but this is far away from being a genius).

I specifically say that McKinsey is one of the most easiest firms to get in because there is hardly any other firm where you know in that much detail what exactly will happen in the recruiting process (as opposed to many other firms outside the consulting industry). There is no magic in solving case interviews and preparing for the McKinsey PEI (Personal Experience Interview) in a surefire way - it is mainly hard, highly disciplined work and lots, lots, lots of practice. (Or as someone else used to say: it is 10% inspiration and 90% transpiration, and not the other way round!)

Therefore, you have the opportunity to prepare for your McKinsey interviews accordingly - it is up to you to use it, but at least you have the opportunity. There really is more than enough prep material available to do all this, starting from basic knowledge like Victor Cheng, more focused material like my own for the McKinsey PEI as well as interview practice partners here at PrepLounge.

Most definitely McKinsey is a highly regarded brand not only from the client's perspective, but also on the job market. Therefore lot's of strong candidates apply at McKinsey, and they can choose quite freely amoung a very large pool of strong candidates, which makes the whole recruiting process really competitive (in conjunction with the general recruiting mindset that they rather like to err on false negatives than false positives) - but given all the opportunities for in-depth interview prep, I can't except a lot of excuses for not getting at least extremely close to getting an offer from McKinsey (yes, as with everything in life, there is no 100% guarantee whatever you will do in your prep).

replied on Feb 07, 2018
Current partner @ Andreessen Horowitz (VC firm). Ex-Mckinsey, ex- strategy guy at Google.
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Few points to add:

- Mckinsey is NOT the hardest. They often seem the easier ones between BCG and Bain.

- Mckinsey cares a LOT more about "the mckinsey way". It's just a set of ambiguous soft skills (executive presence, charisma, etc) that you can't fake/learn overnight.

- Mckinsey also cares a LOT more (or pretends to at least) about the "soft issues". Look for Mckinsey 7S framework and use it to evaluate your solutions. Example, if your soln leads to people firing and you miss out stating a 'workforce job-hunting training' program as part of your response they'll not like that.

- they like to go very deep into the behavioral stuff. You'll be asked to take them into the very room a debate happened, explain who said what, analyze why s/he said it, your responses, your feelings, why, etc. Be ready for that - most fail here.


replied on Feb 05, 2018
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This is a very interesting point of view and I heard it only a few times before (as I've actually heard that Deloitte interviews are the hardest after an article came out working out the math that it's easier to get into Harvard than Deloitte...).

that said, I think is a false myth and all top tier consulting firms are equally hard. Please mind that this doesn't translate to the fact that the recruiting and thus interview selection process is equally hard across firms. I think the perception of the latter gets confused with the former.


Anonymous replied on Feb 05, 2018

Hey anonymous,

I think it's just an overall perception issue (I often compare with the generalized perception of McKinsey being more competitive and more arrogant people when compared with BCG and especially with Bain), rather than a given fact. Personally, I both prefer and find McKinsey style interviews easier to crack (disclaimer: I might be highly biased because in Pt both McK and BCG interviews tend to be interviewer led) because you just need to answer to questions, but I know several people which find exactly the opposite as they can have much more liberty and creativity in candidate led ones (in interviewer led, if you don't know the answer to a specific question there's no way you can try to go through a different path, you really need to address it!).

All in all, I believe it's just a big perception issue and easier/harder depends on the personal preferences



PS: not all McKinsey interviews have 4 questions though ;)

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