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Robert

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6

McKinsey Final round. What to focus on?

Hello,

I am in the final round for an Associate position at one of McKinsey's American offices.

From the feedback I was given, the only thing I have to pay attention to is that my structures are always MECE, but everything else was good.

I am happy but it also makes it harder to study while waiting for the final round. Any advice?

Also, any advanced readings on how to make your structures really MECE?

Thanks!

Hello,

I am in the final round for an Associate position at one of McKinsey's American offices.

From the feedback I was given, the only thing I have to pay attention to is that my structures are always MECE, but everything else was good.

I am happy but it also makes it harder to study while waiting for the final round. Any advice?

Also, any advanced readings on how to make your structures really MECE?

Thanks!

6 answers

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Hi Anonymous,

First of all congratulations to reach final round interviews!

While first round interviews are highly standardized especially at McKinsey, in second-round interviewers bascially everything can happen.

The main idea of second/final round interviews is to ensure your performance in those areas in which you did not convince McKinsey in the first round interviews. This can be either the case interview or the McKinsey PEI, or both (in any case you need to have also some additional PEI examples prepared for that). Whatever it is, your weak points from first round interviews are where you can expect a strong focus in the second/final round interviews.

So in your case they will put a strong focus on structuring issues - so make sure to focus on that in your practice, ideally with a professional coach to ensure that you are really living up to the high McKinsey standards.

Hope that helps - if so, please give it a thumbs-up with the upvote button!

Robert

Hi Anonymous,

First of all congratulations to reach final round interviews!

While first round interviews are highly standardized especially at McKinsey, in second-round interviewers bascially everything can happen.

The main idea of second/final round interviews is to ensure your performance in those areas in which you did not convince McKinsey in the first round interviews. This can be either the case interview or the McKinsey PEI, or both (in any case you need to have also some additional PEI examples prepared for that). Whatever it is, your weak points from first round interviews are where you can expect a strong focus in the second/final round interviews.

So in your case they will put a strong focus on structuring issues - so make sure to focus on that in your practice, ideally with a professional coach to ensure that you are really living up to the high McKinsey standards.

Hope that helps - if so, please give it a thumbs-up with the upvote button!

Robert

Hi Robert. Do you mind elaborating on your point regarding first round interviews being highly standradized at Mckinsey? — Anonymous B on Oct 22, 2020

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Congratulations! It's hard to say without knowing more about your actual structuring but the feedback is also quite generic and so I wouldn't worry too much about it. It's one that interviewers often use when they don't have much else to say... :)

Two suggestions that I often make to candidates when I have given the same feedback:

1. Structuring more ambiguous problems: it sounds like you have worked through most case types where doing more profitability, market entry, etc. wilk not helping you. Instead pick up an article in the news about a business problem and try to build a structure around how you would take that problem or the key drivers behind the issue. It really forces you to think which helps with being more 'collectively exhaustive'

2. Adopting the consulting workplan mindset: the underlying skill behind structuring is when you are given a business problem by a CEO, after a few clarification questions, you are able to develop a project plan around how you can help solve that problem for them. It needs to be exhaustive enough that you are able to provide enough facts/insights behind your recommendation but discrete/'mutually exclusive' that you can tailor the approach based on what the client feels needs to be explored or not, and how much. Additionally, you want to be able to prioritise the discrete branches so that your structure is also actionable where the consulting team can work independently but also start to deprioritise certain areas as soon as you deem a branch to be less important. Lastly, it's important for the consulting team to be aware of the interdependencies amongst workstreams. Adopting this mindset can make a huge difference from being perceived as "just a candidate" who has been practicing loads of cases to a "first year associate" that a Partner wants to have immediately on their project.

Good luck!

Congratulations! It's hard to say without knowing more about your actual structuring but the feedback is also quite generic and so I wouldn't worry too much about it. It's one that interviewers often use when they don't have much else to say... :)

Two suggestions that I often make to candidates when I have given the same feedback:

1. Structuring more ambiguous problems: it sounds like you have worked through most case types where doing more profitability, market entry, etc. wilk not helping you. Instead pick up an article in the news about a business problem and try to build a structure around how you would take that problem or the key drivers behind the issue. It really forces you to think which helps with being more 'collectively exhaustive'

2. Adopting the consulting workplan mindset: the underlying skill behind structuring is when you are given a business problem by a CEO, after a few clarification questions, you are able to develop a project plan around how you can help solve that problem for them. It needs to be exhaustive enough that you are able to provide enough facts/insights behind your recommendation but discrete/'mutually exclusive' that you can tailor the approach based on what the client feels needs to be explored or not, and how much. Additionally, you want to be able to prioritise the discrete branches so that your structure is also actionable where the consulting team can work independently but also start to deprioritise certain areas as soon as you deem a branch to be less important. Lastly, it's important for the consulting team to be aware of the interdependencies amongst workstreams. Adopting this mindset can make a huge difference from being perceived as "just a candidate" who has been practicing loads of cases to a "first year associate" that a Partner wants to have immediately on their project.

Good luck!

I am very interested about the first part of your answer. Could you share an article that you think would be fit for this kind of practice? Thanks! — Anonymous A on Oct 27, 2020

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In terms of being MECE, try out a wide range of "unique" questions to test your MECE structure!

For example, if you were a farmer and had to pick between buying a cow, chicken, or pig, how would you think about which to buy?

Or, if you were a thief, which store between a, b, c would you rob?

Practice breaking these down into MECE structures so that the concept really hits home.

In terms of being MECE, try out a wide range of "unique" questions to test your MECE structure!

For example, if you were a farmer and had to pick between buying a cow, chicken, or pig, how would you think about which to buy?

Or, if you were a thief, which store between a, b, c would you rob?

Practice breaking these down into MECE structures so that the concept really hits home.

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As an ex-Mckinsey consultant and part of recruiting team, here is my perspective:

How do these interviews with the partners differ from the first round interviews?

Every partner discussion is different and the direction the conversation takes depends on role that you are interviewing for, feedback that the partner has got from earlier rounds and of course the Partner’s personality.

However, generally it is advisable to keep the following things in mind.

1) Are the cases delivered with the same style of precision and structure as the first round?

- A lot of times, the Partner round case discussions are less structured. Partners tend to give real life case from their experience or sometimes they can also pick a situation from the candidate’s CV, make a few changes and turn it into a case.

2) Is the Fit format consistent with the PEI, or do the partners take these conversations in different directions?

- Generally, Partners will hit fewer topics but will go much deeper. So they will ask you about something and then you should expect a lot of follow on questions. They really want to understand the full story

3) Generally, what portion of the hour-long session is dedicated to the case study?

- approx. 30-40 minutes

3) What personality traits are most important to demonstrate with the partners?

See the answer below.

Keep the following things in mind while preparing for the Partner interview:

Better synthesis – Your analytical mindset has already been tested in earlier rounds. Partners would like to test your client readiness. Partners pay more attention to how you draw your conclusions, communicate your conclusions, how you synthesis etc.

Comfort with less structured case discussion – Partners love to test your creativity, out of the box thinking. Multiple times in the discussion they can ask you your opinion on the data point/clarification that you had asked, to check your business acumen e.g. you asked, what is the growth rate of our client; partner responds what number would you want to assume? or open ended questions e.g. tell me more, is there anything else?

Consistent stories and deep dives – Partners would want to know your story. They want to see whether your decision to join McKinsey is consistent with your career story. Whether the achievements you have mentioned on the CV are consistent with your project stories. Partners will drill down into your experiences and achievements to the extreme. They want to understand how you react to challenges and how you think and communicate about your past work.

Feel free to get in touch with me in case of further clarification/advise on this topic.

All the best!

As an ex-Mckinsey consultant and part of recruiting team, here is my perspective:

How do these interviews with the partners differ from the first round interviews?

Every partner discussion is different and the direction the conversation takes depends on role that you are interviewing for, feedback that the partner has got from earlier rounds and of course the Partner’s personality.

However, generally it is advisable to keep the following things in mind.

1) Are the cases delivered with the same style of precision and structure as the first round?

- A lot of times, the Partner round case discussions are less structured. Partners tend to give real life case from their experience or sometimes they can also pick a situation from the candidate’s CV, make a few changes and turn it into a case.

2) Is the Fit format consistent with the PEI, or do the partners take these conversations in different directions?

- Generally, Partners will hit fewer topics but will go much deeper. So they will ask you about something and then you should expect a lot of follow on questions. They really want to understand the full story

3) Generally, what portion of the hour-long session is dedicated to the case study?

- approx. 30-40 minutes

3) What personality traits are most important to demonstrate with the partners?

See the answer below.

Keep the following things in mind while preparing for the Partner interview:

Better synthesis – Your analytical mindset has already been tested in earlier rounds. Partners would like to test your client readiness. Partners pay more attention to how you draw your conclusions, communicate your conclusions, how you synthesis etc.

Comfort with less structured case discussion – Partners love to test your creativity, out of the box thinking. Multiple times in the discussion they can ask you your opinion on the data point/clarification that you had asked, to check your business acumen e.g. you asked, what is the growth rate of our client; partner responds what number would you want to assume? or open ended questions e.g. tell me more, is there anything else?

Consistent stories and deep dives – Partners would want to know your story. They want to see whether your decision to join McKinsey is consistent with your career story. Whether the achievements you have mentioned on the CV are consistent with your project stories. Partners will drill down into your experiences and achievements to the extreme. They want to understand how you react to challenges and how you think and communicate about your past work.

Feel free to get in touch with me in case of further clarification/advise on this topic.

All the best!

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Hi there,

Final round interviews are similar than the ones of the first round in format. The only minor difference is that Partners tend to give more importance to the fit part, so make sure your personal experience stories are compelling & well-tailored!

When it comes to making your structures MECE, make sure you list exhaustively the different case drivers at the beginning and you classify them to have exclusive segments/categories.

I will be happy to discuss this further with you if you want!

All the best,

Mehdi

Hi there,

Final round interviews are similar than the ones of the first round in format. The only minor difference is that Partners tend to give more importance to the fit part, so make sure your personal experience stories are compelling & well-tailored!

When it comes to making your structures MECE, make sure you list exhaustively the different case drivers at the beginning and you classify them to have exclusive segments/categories.

I will be happy to discuss this further with you if you want!

All the best,

Mehdi

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Hi there,

In general, the structure of the rounds is the same (fit + case+ your questions); however in finals there is usually more emphasis on communication and fit.

Specifically, the main differences you may find in a final round with partners is that at that stage they:

  1. Spend more time on fit questions and your alignment with the company
  2. Check more closely your communication (eg how you react to challenging questions)
  3. May not have a “proper” structured case to present – during one of my MBB finals I had one interview which was made by two market sizing questions and a brainteaser, without any business case. That's because during the final they know you can structure and crack a case (you passed 1 or 2 rounds already) and are more interested in your logic, personality and fit with the company

So in order to prepare I would concentrate on the following:

  • Review in detail your fit stories – they will matter more than in the first round. In some finals I had almost exclusively behavioral questions
  • Work on your communication (reaction under pressure, how to gain time when you do not have a structure ready, connect with the interviewer, etc). This is something you can do almost exclusively in interviews with peers.
  • Prepare cases as you did for the first round. If you got feedback on a specific area, focus more on that part.

In terms of how to be MECE: it is really difficult to answer without knowing how you are currently structuring cases. I do a session that is exactly on how to structure in a MECE way, in case you are interested please feel free to PM me.

Best,

Francesco

Hi there,

In general, the structure of the rounds is the same (fit + case+ your questions); however in finals there is usually more emphasis on communication and fit.

Specifically, the main differences you may find in a final round with partners is that at that stage they:

  1. Spend more time on fit questions and your alignment with the company
  2. Check more closely your communication (eg how you react to challenging questions)
  3. May not have a “proper” structured case to present – during one of my MBB finals I had one interview which was made by two market sizing questions and a brainteaser, without any business case. That's because during the final they know you can structure and crack a case (you passed 1 or 2 rounds already) and are more interested in your logic, personality and fit with the company

So in order to prepare I would concentrate on the following:

  • Review in detail your fit stories – they will matter more than in the first round. In some finals I had almost exclusively behavioral questions
  • Work on your communication (reaction under pressure, how to gain time when you do not have a structure ready, connect with the interviewer, etc). This is something you can do almost exclusively in interviews with peers.
  • Prepare cases as you did for the first round. If you got feedback on a specific area, focus more on that part.

In terms of how to be MECE: it is really difficult to answer without knowing how you are currently structuring cases. I do a session that is exactly on how to structure in a MECE way, in case you are interested please feel free to PM me.

Best,

Francesco

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