McKinsey - From who to get referral, HR or consultants?

Application McKinsey Referral
New answer on Feb 28, 2021
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Anonymous A asked on Oct 29, 2018

Hi guys I'm wondering who is it better to get referral from McKinsey, HRs or Engagement Managers (I don't know any Parners). My purpose is to secure an interview through referral because I heard it's very likely get no response through online application.

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replied on Oct 29, 2018
McKinsey / Accenture Alum / Got all BIG3 offers / Harvard Business School


In short - any consultant, not the HR.

There are certain criteria for the referral:

  1. The consultant makes you a reference in the system and uploads your resume. Usually, he has to indicate why he thinks you are a good candidate
  2. You skip some steps in the recruiting process (CV screening at McK, Test at Bain)
  3. The consultant gets a referral bonus ($) if you get a job offer

As you can see simply mentioning a person in your CL does not change the process at all.

The conversion to reference will be higher among consultant / manager level people who are still interested in the referral bonus. The basic idea is to ask these people for a mock interview.

Here are some tips on how you can do that:

1) Leverage your own network - find friends or friends of friends who can practice cases with you or make you a reference.

2) Attend company events. Consulting companies do a lot of events both for graduates and experienced hires. Find the social network groups related to consulting or websites, subscribe to newsletters and stay tuned. Also, check if they have events in your University since you are a PHD.

While some of the events will be open to everyone, others will require a resume and a cover letter, so make sure to prep.

3) Talk to people on the events and send Thank You notes. After each event, there is a Q&A session where you can talk to consultants 1 on 1 or in a group. Ask for contact info or send a thank you note after the event ("I just wanted to thank you for visiting our University... It was especially interesting to hear about... Would be happy to keep in touch and apply in the nearest future.). Alternatively, you may use linkedin for that. If you are an experienced hire I strongly suggest to ask for a 1 on 1 meeting in a thank you note.

4) 1 on 1 meetings. All people like giving an advice. So don't hesitate to ask consultants for a career advice. Tell your story and ask how consulting fits into it

5) Mock interview Depending on where you are in your prep process you may ask a consultant for a mock interview. Consultants are very much opened to help even if it is a cold call e-mail. The main problem is a lack of time on their side. So don't be afraid to remind about yourself if the consultant has already committed but finds it hard to find the time

6) Talking to partners If you are an experienced hire I suggest to talk directly to the partners in your industry or the partner responsible for experienced hires (in consulting partners also have additional roles). Get an intro from the HR or from your friends working there. Partners care a lot about experienced hires with relevant industry expertise. Chances to get referral are much lower though. They also will not be interested in giving mock interviews.

7) If you are an MBA graduate Just talk to your section mates and ask for a reference or a mock interview - they will be happy to help. Make sure you attend all the consulting events.

Good luck!

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Anonymous B on Oct 20, 2021

If I get a referral for McK, I can definitely pass the CV screening, correct? Do i still need to take the PSG, or I get directly to interviews?

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replied on Feb 28, 2021
Ex-Mckinsey|Certified Career Coach |Placed 500+ candidates at MBB & other consultancies

Hi there,

I would definitely recommend you get a referral from the consultants. The higher position of the consultant the higher chances you would have. Don`t ask HR about it!

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Anonymous replied on Oct 30, 2018

I agree with everyone below, but just wanted to state: don't underestimate HRs influence in a process.

I have been to a recruiting event where some candidates came across as rude/unprofessional with HR, and HR "red flagged" them. Even if those candidates had received a referral from an manager, there is no way they would have gotten the interview.

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replied on Oct 29, 2018
Ex-MBB, Experienced Hire; I will teach you not only the how, but also the why of case interviews

Agree with Elias - the Consulting staff drives the whole process and owns the decision in the end. Within the consulting folks, the more tenured the better generally speaking; exception would be if someone has actually worked with you and can vouch for the quality of your output.

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Anonymous replied on Oct 29, 2018

Engagement Managers, hands down.

The interview process is driven by the "professionals" and they are the decision makers. HR has "just" a facilitating role.



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Anonymous replied on Aug 19, 2020

Dear A,

My answer is consultances, the higher (manager, partner) the better. Not HR.

If you need any help with networking, feel free to reach me out.


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Vlad gave the best answer


McKinsey / Accenture Alum / Got all BIG3 offers / Harvard Business School
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