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McKinsey Experienced Hire - required to choose specific "track" preference?

McKinsey & Company
New answer on May 19, 2020
7 Answers
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Anonymous A asked on May 17, 2020

I remember when I applied to McKinsey (experienced hire), there's a section that asked me to choose my preference of different tracks. I'm curious whether experienced hires enter only as a specialist and don't have a chance to do the generalist track like fresh MBAs?

I am interested in the "Private Equity Practice" and "Strategy & Corporate Finance" track. Could anyone share some views on the candidates McKinsey would prefer for these two tracks? Are they usually from private equity or investment banking?

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Content Creator
replied on May 18, 2020
#1 Coach for Sessions (4.500+) | 1.500+ 5-Star Reviews | Proven Success (➡ | Ex BCG | 10Y+ Coaching

Hi there,

as for your first question, it really depends on which position you are applying for. If you start as Associate (which could happen even after few years of work experience after an MBA), you normally start as a generalist, unless you apply for a specific practice (eg Implementation or Digital). If you have several years of experience in one sector instead you could be considered already with specialization for a higher position as an Expert.

In terms of an experienced hire application for the PE practice, you should have previous experience in the field – when I helped people to do a transition from other companies to an MBB PE they all worked in consulting and specialized in due diligence. I won’t expect people working in PE funds to apply for that role though as the flow is normally the other way round (from consulting to PE funds).



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updated an answer on May 17, 2020
McKinsey / Accenture Alum / Got all BIG3 offers / Harvard Business School


It really depends on which role you are applying to:

  • Usually experienced hires are applying as a generalist similarly to fresh MBAs
  • You can apply for a specific experienced hire practice if you have the relevant experience (E.g. Private Equity). You should monitor the websites for those roles or select them in the drop-down list via a general application
  • I strongly do not recommend applying for specific roles if you don't have the relevant background



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Anonymous replied on May 17, 2020


I am not sure how senior a position are you applying to? At MBB, generally, by the time you become an engagement manager, you are expected to align to a practice area. So if you are entering as an experienced associate/consultant, you have a good chance to stay on the generalist track. However, if entering as an engagement manager or senior, it will be expected that you align with a practice area at the earliest.

I work with the private equity-focused practice of BCG and experienced hires generally have a background in consulting PE clients with other consulting firms, or in finance (moving from Investment banks/VC/PEs to consult)

Best wishes,

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Anonymous B on May 18, 2020

Thanks for your suggestion

Content Creator
replied on May 18, 2020
McKinsey | Awarded professor at Master in Management @ IE | MBA at MIT |+180 students coached | Integrated FIT Guide aut


Yes, indeed.

Experienced hire for McK means that you have relevant experience in one field, which is part of your value proposition.

Hence, it´s not so much about "what you are interested in doing for Mck", but where do you have relevant experience to add to the team in terms of knowledge, network, similar engagements, etc.

Hence, do you have indeed these past experiences in the "Private Equity Practice" and "Strategy & Corporate Finance" tracks? This is the key question.

Hope it helps!



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Anonymous replied on May 18, 2020

Dear A,

In general yes, if you are experienced hire, most probably you will join a specific track, not the generalist one. Because generalist track is designed for younger consultancy.



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Content Creator
replied on May 17, 2020
#1 BCG coach | MBB | Tier 2 | Digital, Tech, Platinion | 100% personal success rate (8/8) | 95% candidate success rate

Hi there,

Can you tell us what role you're joining as? If you're coming in as an Associate, you should be a Generalist initially. Engagement manager and higher, you're more likely to be expected to have a specific expertise/track.

Have a think about your 2nd question about PE+Finance...what do you think! (Yes, they prefer that background, but if you show aptitude - i.e. through a related degree like Math, by doing well on finance-related projects, or demonstrating affinity with the practice - then of course you can go down those tracks!)

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Samuel updated an answer on May 19, 2020

What you will do at MBB depends on what track you choose to apply through. Your prior experience determines which track you are suitable for, even though you can still apply to other tracks. But once you choose to settle for one track, it becomes the single biggest determinant of the work you will do at these firms. "Private Equity Practice" and "Strategy & Corporate Finance" are NOT tracks, they are functions. A track can have different functions and sectors you can specialise in within that track.

The following are the different broad tracks you can recruit for:

  1. Generalist
  2. Specialist
  3. BTO (IT Strategy and Digital in BCG)
  4. Implementation

Now to provide details for the areas I mentioned:

Generalist Path:

  • Power bases of the firm, traditional track for running the firm
  • You can’t specialise here at the early stages. In fact, you don’t wasn't to specialise here until you have gotten to the EM level.
  • Relatively hard to get into as most people apply to this path
  • You will spend a significant amount of time here breaking down problems, collecting data to conduct analysis, interacting with client’s representatives or the client themselves(depending on your level) and also putting the problem back together to make a recommendation(mostly at the senior level).

Specialist Path:

  • As the name implies, you are specialist—hired to do one thing that you have been historically known to do well.
  • It is not one role but a catchphrase for many roles the firm has where specialization is required.
  • It is not a track to partnership - you cannot be an equity partner (at least in Mckinsey and BCG)
  • You are not stuck on one engagement at a time. An engagement runs into some issues or they need your expertise, you get called in to help them identify the issue. And once you are done, you get kicked out in a nice way. Back to whatever it is you were doing before.
  • You don’t maintain or manage the client relationship. You are behind the scene. And like Micheal Boricki would say “You are that cousin no one wants at the party.”
  • And ohhh, you are most likely stuck in this track for life. Switching is nearly impossible at the time of this writing and to the best of my knowledge.

BTO (IT Strategy and Digital in BCG) Path:

  • A close cousin of the generalist track. You learned everything the generalist learn and more.
  • IT is the future of the world and you will be focused on solving problems of that nature.
  • Understanding data and technology is important for this role.

Implementation Path:

  • Founded in Australia
  • Newest of all tracks/paths so many stuff are relatively experimental
  • A lot of its capability sits in Australia, you may want to go to Australia
  • The skillset required for this path is radically different from the rest of the track. You are not going to learn the problem-solving skillset of a generalist
  • Your focus is on executing recommendations made by the generalist or other consulting firms
  • You have nothing to do with operations. Operations consultants are a highly trained specialist at Mckinsey. Don’t mix up the two
  • Lowest salary across board/region
  • It is about building trust and getting people to understand what is to be done.
  • You don’t set the pace, the employees of your client generally do.
  • Experience is key here. You must have a track record of implementing/executing plans.

I hope these provide you with the clarity you need.



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Francesco gave the best answer


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