McKinsey Interview

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New answer on Jul 05, 2022
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asked on Jul 03, 2022

Hi all,
I have an upcoming McKinsey interview, which is interviewer-led. I am wondering what is the ‘structure’ to use for an interviewer-led case? Ex, where should I fit in my framework, ask clarifying questions, etc. I'm wondering what the flow of it should look like, as I have only had experience doing interviewee led cases such as BCG and Bain.

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Florian
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replied on Jul 04, 2022
#1 rated McKinsey Case and PEI Coach | 5 years at McKinsey | Mentorship Approach | 120+ McK offers in 18 months

Hi Alice,

McKinsey interviews are a sequence of related questions, asked by the interviewer. Instead of answering the whole case, figuring out where to go, etc., you have to answer every individual question exhaustively. The need for clarification questions is much lower than in candidate-led interviews.

The biggest difference is at the beginning when you are tasked to create an initial issue tree.

At the core, McKinsey wants to see creative ideas communicated in a structured manner, the more exhaustive the better.

Your goal should be to come up with a tailored and creative answer that fits the question. The framework should - broadly speaking - follow these three characteristics:

  • Broad
  • Deep
  • Insightful

You would need to go into more detail and qualify your answer with practical examples and details.

In a McKinsey interview, you can take up to 6-8 minutes to present your structure, your qualification, and hypotheses. This is due to the interviewer-led format that McK employs. The interviewer will only ask 'what else' if you 

  • haven't gone broad or deep enough
  • did not explain your ideas well enough for them to stand out (again, you have time here)

The firm wants to see exhaustive and creative approaches to specific problems, which more often than not do not fit into the classic case interview frameworks that were en vogue 10 years ago...

Again, this only applies if everything you say

  • adds value to the problem analysis
  • is MECE
  • is well qualified
  • includes a detailed discussion of your hypotheses at the end

The difference in format and way of answering a question is the reason why I recommend preparing very differently for McK interviews vs. other consultancies.

I have also written a detailed article on PrepLounge about it: https://www.preplounge.com/en/articles/mckinsey-interview

Keep in mind that it's not only about the structure and flow of the interview, but also about the specific evaluation criteria that McK interviewers look for.

Reach out if you want to go through a real McKinsey case

  • with the actual flow
  • the same questions and question types
  • the evaluation metrics that are associated with it
  • tailored preparation exercises and a plan

All the best!

Cheers,

Florian

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Francesco
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replied on Jul 03, 2022
#1 Coach for Sessions (4.000+) | 1.400+ 5-Star Reviews | Proven Success (➡ InterviewOffers.com) | Ex BCG | 9Y+ Coaching

Hi Alice,

As you said, McKinsey follows an interviewer-led approach in most cases:

  • This means that after presenting the answer to a question, the interviewer will ask you the following question he/she planned, irrespectively of where you want to move the analysis.
  • When a company uses a candidate-led approach, instead, you have to propose a plan of action and the interviewer will leave to you to follow that approach, only occasionally correcting you (meaning you have to lead the case).
  • The interviewer-led approach is easier to follow for most candidates, meaning that if you know how to manage a candidate-led case you should not have issues with it (the opposite instead is not true - if you only know how to navigate interviewer-led cases you may have issues driving a case in a candidate-led case).
  • In final rounds, you may occasionally get candidate-led cases also at McKinsey.

Q: Where should I fit in my framework, ask clarifying questions, etc.

  • Structure: They will ask you an initial question, then you have to present your structure for it. At McKinsey your structure should have several levels and expand all the possible drivers to answer the question.
  • Clarifying questions: You can ask so after the initial prompt. Usually at McKinsey the prompt is pretty complete and provides most information already but you can still ask in case anything is missing.

You can find more on the differences between McKinsey and BCG/Bain interviews below:

▶ How a McKinsey Interview is Different from the Rest 

Hope this helps,

Francesco

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Ian
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updated an answer on Jul 03, 2022
MBB | 100% personal interview success rate (8/8) and 95% candidate success rate | Personalized interview prep

Hi Alice,

Congrats on the interview!

How soon is it? If it's within a week I would highly recommend a coach to get you ramped up quickly.

That said, here's a few pointers:

  1. Think of this like riding a bike. With candidate-led you have no training wheels. With interviewer-led, you have training wheels but they push you down a hill really fast and throw rocks at you
  2. In general, they will drive “everything” for you and tell you what you need to do next
  3. The general flow still applies (i.e. prompt, clarifying questions, framework, then the case i.e. charts/exhibits/math)

Here's some general reading on fit interviews: https://www.preplounge.com/en/tell-me-about-yourself-interview-question

And some about casing: https://www.preplounge.com/en/articles/how-to-shift-your-mindset-to-ace-the-case

 

(edited)

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Clara
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replied on Jul 05, 2022
McKinsey | Awarded professor at Master in Management @ IE | MBA at MIT |+180 students coached | Integrated FIT Guide aut

Hello Alice, 

This is a question that turns many people crazy, and I understand why, since there are so many places where the interviewer and interviewee led cases are described like parallel universes. 

I deeply disagree with this and always give my coachees the same advice: you are in front of a business problem that you need to help with. Forget about who is leading and find the solution proactively and collaborating with the interviewer, this is the only thing that matters. 

Hope it helps!

Cheers, 

Clara

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Florian gave the best answer

Florian

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