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McKinsey first round in 1 week

New answer on Oct 11, 2019
4 Answers
3.7 k Views
Anonymous A asked on Oct 10, 2019

Hello all,

I am new to the site and have a question. I've applied to a McKinsey office in an Eastern European country (my home country/city). I recieved 1st round interview request a week after my application, which I thought was quick. I am a senior in a good (Top 20 Global) American University, but my GPA is not well, under 3.0. After reading and doing research on the recruitment process, I found that that is very low for McKinsey.

My questions are:

Why did they let me past the CV screening and sent a interview this fast (in one week) and with a low GPA? Can this be due to the fact that the office I've applied to did not recieve applications from good colleges (maybe received applications mainly from local uni's?), and I am one of the more qualified applicants? Would this affect their expectation for the interview? (meaning even though I dont do excellent in the cases, they would still consider me for the job, assuming I am more qualified than the rest of the applicants based on my education)

Also, I have one week to my first round of interviews, which are scheduled on different days. (one interview on one day, the other one on the other). They are going to be virtual conference interviews since I am abroad, studying. I have a hectic week with 4 exams on top of the interview so that affects the amount of time I can practice. I can't reschedule my interviews because I already confirmed them (big mistake). And lastly, they informed me about the interviews just one week prior to the interview itself. So, how should I use this time (1 week) to practice?

Thanks a lot in advance,


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Content Creator
replied on Oct 11, 2019
#1 Coach for Sessions (4.500+) | 1.500+ 5-Star Reviews | Proven Success (➡ | Ex BCG | 10Y+ Coaching

Hi Anonymous,

in terms of your first question, you don’t need to worry, once you are invited what matters is only your performance in the interview (although the interviewer may challenge your GPA performance).

In terms of your second question, I agree with the previous comments and I would reschedule. This is a lifetime opportunity and you want to be 100% prepared. You can contact HR and mention that unfortunately for personal reasons you cannot attend the interview and ask to postpone (in defining the new date keep in mind many people dedicate 100+ hours to the preparation).

In terms of the preparation, I would recommend the following:

  1. Define a calendar for your preparation. Identify how many hours you have before your expected interviews, then allocate a time slot for preparation in your calendar for each day, working on the following points.
  2. Read Case In Point or Case Interview Secrets for a general understanding of what a consulting interview is. Don’t focus on the structures proposed in the books though, as they are not good enough nowadays.
  3. Start reading good MBA Consulting Handbooks – you can find several for free online (Insead is a good one to start). Read the cases and try to apply your structure. Whenever you see there is something missing, upgrade your structure with the new insides. Try to read at least a new case per day – in this way you will absorb a lot better the information with constant learning. Structure your remaining daily preparation with at least 5-10 minutes per day for each of the following: market sizing, fit questions and mental math.
  4. After you have read the first 10 cases in books/handbooks and basic theory, start to practice live. There is a relevant part of the interview score that is based on your communication, which you cannot practice at all if you read cases only. Keep track of your mistakes and see if you repeat them. If so, try to identify the source of the mistake (feedback of experienced partners would be particularly useful for this). Be sure to focus on both fit and case.
  5. Once you feel you are not improving anymore, if you have a tight time constraint or if you want a realistic assessment of your level, consider using support from experts to strengthen your performance
  6. Before the interview, be sure to prepare your questions for the interviewer –great way to show you prepare in advance and to connect more with the interviewer for a good final impression.



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updated an answer on Oct 10, 2019
McKinsey / Accenture Alum / Got all BIG3 offers / Harvard Business School


1. Your first question is irrelevant and it's not productive to contemplate about that. They already invited you, pls stop thinking about that. MBBs don't care as much about the grades as people think

2. You SHOULD reschedule. Even if you confirmed - that's totally fine to reschedule! There is absolutely no penalty for that. Your interviewers won't even know that you've rescheduled. Moreover - you can mention openly that you need more time to prepare and ask for 4 weeks.


I recommend the following approach:

1) Start with "Case in point" book - you can download this book for free everywhere. It's not the best guide on how you should approach the cases, however, it will give you the basic understanding.

2) Start practicing cases with partners here or find them locally. !!! Find experienced partners or coaches who can provide a good feedback!!!

3) Purchase and read Viktor Cheng Book (Amazon Kindle store) and listen to LOMS (his website).

4) Start with the following cases (relevant for ATK) and apply some high-level recommendations on structuring:

  1. Market sizing - structuring from the supply or demand side. Structuring using a formula or using an issue tree
  2. Profitability - basic profitability framework. Remember about different revenue streams and product mix
  3. Market context cases (Market Entry, New product, Acquisition, etc). Always start with the big picture "market". Finish with something specific to the case (e.g. How to enter?"). Structure it as if you are defining the work streams for the real project.
  4. Operational math problem (e.g. Should we increase the speed of an elevator or just buy a second one? How should we reduce the queues? Etc.) - Structuring as a process / value chain, with inflows, operations, and outflow

Here is a good list of articles regarding the different parts of the case:

1) Start with clarifying questions:

2) Communicating while structuring. Here is a long post by me on how to communicate the structure during the case study:

3) Using hypothesis. I made a post about hypothesis here:

4) Communicating while making calculations:

  • Always tell the interviewer your approach
  • Check with the interviewer that your approach is correct
  • Come to the interviewer with some preliminary answers
  • Check your assumptions with the interviewer

5) Communicating during the analysis of graphs / tables

  • Take a minute to look at the graph. Read the graph title. Look at the graph type and define the type (pie chart, line chart, etc). Look at the legend (ask for clarifying questions if necessary). Identify whats going on on the graph. Look for: Trends, % structures. Look for unusual things - correlations, outliers,
  • Make 3-4 conclusions from the graph. Think out loud on potential hypothesis on what could be the root cause / what are the consequences
  • Prioritize the most important for your current analysis and move forward with the case

6) Communicating while having questions on creativity

  • Ask an interview for a minute to think
  • Think of several buckets of ideas (e.g. organic growth / non-organic growth / differentiation). Remember to think as big as possible
  • Narrow down to each bucket and generate as many ideas as possible
  • Present the structure (buckets) and then your ideas

7) Communicating your conclusion. You can find a good example I've posted here:

8) Communicating your FIT stories

Use the top-down approach while communicating your stories. "The Pyramid Principle" is the must-read by ex McKinsey on this topic.

I recommend using the STAR framework:

  • In Situation, you should briefly provide the context, usually in 1 or 2 sentences
  • Task usually includes 2 or 3 sentences describing the problem and your objective.
  • Then you provide a list of specific actions you took to achieve the goal. It should take 1 or 2 sentences per action (Usually 3-4 actions). Note that the interviewer can stop you any minute and ask for more details.
  • The results part should have 1 or 2 sentences describing the outcomes. This part is finalizing your story - make sure it can impress the interviewer and stay in the memory.



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Raquel updated an answer on Oct 10, 2019

Hi! I'm not an expert, however I can relate to not having the most impressive GPA.

The truth is, counsulting firms are not just looking for extraordinary academic performance. They want somebody who has an interesting way of thinking and/or is interesting in general, and that can be demonstrated in several other ways!

You point out that you are studying in an American University. McKinsey appreciates, and actually seeks, international experience from their applicants and business analysts. If, on top of that, you have exciting extracurriculars on your CV (volunteering, horseback riding, something interesting!) your CV jumps to the top! Studying a target degree can also impact your CV's chances of being chosen, so maybe that could also factor into their choice of interviewing you. Also, a lower GPA in a "harder" degree such as Engineering is not going to hurt your chances that much (unless we are talking of several years of C's)

About the second part of your message, I would for sure ask for more time. One week is not enough to prepare, especially with four exams! Tell them you are very sorry, they will be annoyed but will surely understand when you explain our extraordinary circumstances.

I wish you the best of luck on your interviews!


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updated an answer on Oct 10, 2019
Senior Consultant @ Google | McKinsey, BCG, Bain exp. as Client | 100+ REAL MBB cases


I believe you still can reschedule, if you explain your personal situation with exams. In terms of prep, happy to advise you (free of charge). Feel free to message me.

Best, Aws


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Francesco gave the best answer


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#1 Coach for Sessions (4.500+) | 1.500+ 5-Star Reviews | Proven Success (➡ | Ex BCG | 10Y+ Coaching
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