McKinsey 2nd Round. No offer. What now?

McKinsey 2nd Round
New answer on Nov 02, 2020
8 Answers
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Anonymous A asked on Oct 31, 2020


Ivy League MBA here. Went through McK first round, neither interviewer had any feedback, they told me everything was perfect. Kept casing and practicing my PEIs. Yesterday had my second round but got no offer. Again, I was given no feedback, they told me I was a very strong candidate, had all the intrinsic qualities, was an inspirational leader, but that the numbers now do not allow to extend an offer. He told me to join their "keep in touch" program, as I could be called back if there is a surge in demand later this year.

Cannot tell you how painful that was. I feel it would have been better to be told that there was something not good enough and that I should work on it. Feelings aside.


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Anonymous replied on Nov 01, 2020

Good day,

Sorry to hear about your 2nd round result. To be quite frank and honest, getting an interview at MBB is quite an accomplishment in its own way and the unfortunate reality is that all consulting firms, irrespective of Strategy or Big 4, are really toning down the hiring for the first half of 2021.

The fact is there is a lot of business uncertainty at the moment (yes, the stock market doesn't show it). Generally all consulting firms hire with a view that demand exists and the hired Associates/ Consultants can be drafted onto engagements immediately, but in this COVID normal environment, Partners are being told to have a sold pipeline of work and then hire to meet the demand.

Nonethess, I was rejected after McKinsey's 2nd round too. From my full-time MBA class, each MBB firm extended ONE offer only!!! Anyhow, I believe the options you can consider are (assuming you want to target consulting and nothing else):

  • Other strategy firms - Bain, BCG, LEK, Strategy&, Roland Berger (not in many geographies though)
  • Big 4 consulting firms - note that each Big 4 is very aggressively building out its consulting practice that can be both industry and strategy focused.
  • Boutique and local consulting firms
  • If your heart is set on McK, I think its an 18-month waiting period before you can re-apply. So you could try the options above and then 1.5 years later, reapply to McK.
  • Dependig on pre-MBA background, a lot of people are preferring to get more experience in industry and then applying to consulting, but this time targeting McKinsey Operations, McKinsey Implementation etc., where experience is given more value.

Hope this helps! Please feel free to drop me a line if you'd like to privately discuss any of the options.

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Content Creator
replied on Oct 31, 2020
McKinsey | Awarded professor at Master in Management @ IE | MBA at MIT |+180 students coached | Integrated FIT Guide aut


Sorry to hear about that. It happens, and when it does to you, it´s very frustrating.

Upside: when they tell you they would keep in touch they do, and you skip steps in future interviews. Also, I know many people who went thorugh this and ended up hired in MBB -coz it means you were very close, almost there-.

Don´t give up!

What about the other consulting firms? Are you in their pipelines? Would be great to interview asap not to loose momentum.



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Content Creator
replied on Oct 31, 2020
Ex-Mckinsey|Certified Career Coach |Placed 500+ candidates at MBB & other consultancies

Hi Anonymous,

Sorry to hear that! I can imagine how frustrating that might be without even getting decent feedback on your performance.

However, what's done is done, try to focus on positive things now. You are a strong candidate, that's what they said. Even if you haven't succeeded this time, you'll still have other opportunities to take.

You will have your chance to get the offer from McK. Think of how you can spend the time you have now - have you applied somewhere else? You can gain relevant experience, improve networking, and work on your profile upgrade. Get back on track as soon as possible so they can't say no to you next time.

Is there anything I can help you with?


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replied on Oct 31, 2020
Bain | passed >15 MBB interviews as a candidate

Hi Anonymous!

I'm sorry to hear and I can imagine how painful that must be! And also frustrating to hear that you didn't get any more practical feedback than that.

Of course there is nothing you can do about it at this point, but continue your jouney and focus on the other interviews to come.

Good luck!

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Content Creator
replied on Nov 02, 2020
MBB | 100% personal interview success rate (8/8) and 95% candidate success rate | Personalized interview prep

A few lessons here:

  1. Don't put all your eggs in one basket
  2. The greatest accomplishments come from temporary defeat

Surely you weren't completely banking on McKinsey?

Seriously, don't worry...there are a million opportunities awaiting you as an Ivy Leaguer.

Figure out what else you like. Apply to other companies (ahem...Bain, BCG, Deloitte, etc.). This is not the end of the world. Not even close!

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replied on Oct 31, 2020
Ex-McKinsey final round interviewer | Executive Coach

Really sorry to hear. It's hard to say not knowing specifics (incl. which office) and what your actual performance was like. However, it sounds like you are looking for some "answers" and so a few speculations having conducted 100+ final round McKinsey interviews.

My guess would be that you were a "calibration case" where you were on the fence and got calibrated down to a 'turn down'. This could be due to a number of factors including overall candidate scores being high on average, target headcount being reduced, lack of clear 'spikes' where you were a strong candidate overall but there was no read that was 'distinctive', etc.

I've not heard of "keep in touch" program but I'm assuming they mean a Turn Down See Later case which means they may follow up in the future for you to re-apply with an expedited invitation to final rounds. I would try to get an insider view of how the office is doing and the likelihood of increased demand later in the year. McKinsey overall is still proactively hiring to avoid compromising a future class of partners but there is conservatism in many offices where you don't want to hold out on something that may not happen.

[Separately, a piece of advice for future McKinsey candidates. If your first round interviews do not give any tangible feedback, push them to go through the details as well as asking for where they felt you were particularly strong. McKinsey is a strenghts based organisation where beyond a hygiene-level, your distinctive strenghts will be what will set you up for success. If you don't feel you are getting meanigful feedback on the call, ask for follow-up time in the future (e.g., "15 min coaching session") so that your interviewer actually has some feedback ready for you. The unfortunate reality is that your interviewer may not remember much about your specific interview and will give you generic feedback to compensate.]

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Anonymous updated the answer on Oct 31, 2020

Hi ,

Let me give you more insight on how it works internally. I led a practice in Accenture Strategy and hence quite familiar with how the demand-supply scenario is worked out and believe it would be no different in other consulting firms.

Every week, I run a forecast scenario with the Lead Partner taking into consideration the projects we are chasing. Some are at proposal stage, some are at advanced stage of discussion, some about to start etc etc. So we have different probability assigned to different stages of projects based on which we arrive at tentative new FTEs we would need factoring the bench strength, staggered roll-off of existing FTEs staffed on current projects and attrition. At the same time we are also looking at the supply side in terms of how many are as different stages of selection process, tentative joining dates etc etc.

But lots of factors are fluid. Tentative start dates of projects shift. We lose out on few proposals, some strong ones are delayed due to obvious reasons. Hence this is a dynamic exercise done every week based on which we take decision on whether we speed up the recruitment process, start rolling out offers letters, or keep the pipeline on hold. So not a perfect situation at times.

So given the feedback you got, its a classic case of demand-supply dynamics that you are embroiled in. I would say hang on given that you got a strong feedback. Once the demand side looks encouraging they would call you most likely.



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Content Creator
replied on Oct 31, 2020
Accenture, Deloitte | Precision Case Prep | Experienced Interviewer & Career Coach | 15 years professional experience


Sorry to hear and I know how upsetting this must be! They definitely could have done much better with the feedback they gave. But its always so iffy with big companies giving specific feedback. Any number of things could have happened in the background which you have no visibility and control over. But trust me, their screening process is pretty thorough. This sounds like a case of demand falling short to bring you in and that there could be an option in future.

Dont get disheartened. Rejections/disapointements are part of this process. Dont sulk for long and get back in there. Take some time, do something creative for a few days and get that energy back. There are so many other options and you will navigate yourself to the right place. Sometimes things dont work out all for the right reasons- this will make sense in future when you look back.

See what can you learn from this and make those tweaks in the way you go through the interview process. Bounce this off with a coach of your choice and see if anything can be picked.

Keep going!

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