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McKinsey Interview preperation

Anonymous A asked on Jun 28, 2019 - 3 answers

Dear community,

I am currently troubled by a tough decision: I have received a call from McKinsey today as they want to schedule a first case interview via phone before deciding if they want to invite me to the interview day.

Unfortunately, I have very little experience with cases and had no time to prep myself due to an unplanned event (my girlfriend is stationed in a hospital for 6 weeks) and exams are coming up soon. The consultant that little preparation is necessary for the first phone interview. This seemed odd to me as it's still supposed to be a case interview?

The consultant told me that they would prefer to schedule the first call interview in the next 1-2 weeks and are way more flexible for the interview day that would come after that.

Should I try to reschedule the phone interview to a later date? If when, how far would be appropriate? And what interview prep plan would you advise me to go for? I am interested in the P4S-Program, does it make sense to schedule coaching lessons early on or at the earliest once I have a fairly good idea of how to handle cases?

Thank you very much!!

(edited)

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Vlad
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replied on Jun 28, 2019
McKinsey / Accenture / Got all BIG3 offers / More than 300 real MBB cases / Harvard Business School
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Hi,

In most of the cases, the phone interview contains a mini case led by the HR person. However, I heard the stories when it was just a fit interview.

If you have 0 case experience - try to get at least 2-3 weeks to prepare, otherwise, the chances of failure are high.

Re coaching question - depends on how many sessions you want to take. If just one - honestly, it makes sense to practice on your own first and after that take a coaching session.

If you are up to many session - get the basics in a couple of days and then go for professional prep. You can check my program in my profile - I usually follow it with my candidates.

Best!

Francesco
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replied on Jun 29, 2019
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Hi Anonymous,

if you are not confident in term of your level of preparation it is far better to reschedule the interview – there is no penalty for that. The day when you should reschedule depends on your level of current preparation, the hours you can put to prepare per day and how you are going to prepare – many people need 100-150 hours to properly prepare to land an offer, less with proper coach support/good partners.

In terms of the timeline for coaching, I personally recommend to do a minimum of 5 cases before the first session. I would not recommend to do it too late though, since otherwise you won’t have time to apply the learning – the majority of the mainstream frameworks from Cosentino and Victor Cheng are simply not good anymore.

In terms of general preparation, I usually recommend the following approach:

  1. Define a calendar for your preparation. Identify how many hours you have before 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 5-10 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.

Best,

Francesco

Anonymous B updated her answer on Jun 29, 2019

Hi,

I actually just experienced similar situation. HR reached out to me for interview on May 20th and I interviewed May 22nd. Since I work during the day, I have less than 2 days to prep first round.

For my virtual first round, I was asked fit questions and market sizing. Could be different for you. Generally speaking, I finished 3 rounds of interview in a span of 1 month. It was quite rushed given I have not prepare previously.

Firstly, McKinsey is very explicit in what kind of qualities they're looking for and how the case interview format is going to be (interviewer led, so I find it straightforward). For fit stories, you should focus on 3 things: leadership, entreprenurial drive, and personal impact. For cases if you have limited time, I'd focus on going through LOMS, framework, and doing a few mock interviews through preplounge or with friends.

Obviously if you can push the virtual interview, it'll be better. But if not, do your best to prep (priotize on things to do since you have limited time). I received the offer from McKinsey a couple days ago when I didn't think it was possible. So I'm assuring you to stay focused and confident despite hectic situations and time pressure.

Goodluck!

(edited)

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