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McKinsey Interviews

Anonymous A asked on Sep 23, 2018 - 4 answers

Having done practices with some coaches on this platform, and looking at the materials available, I noticed that they are very "economics" focused. However, from talking to a few McKinsey consultants in my country, I noticed that a lot of them had interview experiences where the case was focused on non-profits, education, government etc.

I was wondering where can I find materials or coaches who specialize in this area? Or know how to tackle such cases?

Also, I wanted to find out if it is true that the cases in Round 1 McK are more "economics" focused, and Round 2 more experimental (like the above)?

Thanks in advance!!! :)

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replied on Sep 23, 2018
Ex-MBB, Experienced Hire; I will teach you not only the how, but also the why of case interviews
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Caveat: I did some education pro-bono work while at MBB, have been Strategy Committee Chair at a non-profit for the past few years, but all my interviews were "economics focused" as you put it.

1. McK, like Bain and BCG obviously, does a lot of work in the non-profit sector. One of the things we bring to these sectors in a professional/profit-focused angle to help them become more efficient & effective

2. Most interview cases are probably 'economics' focused indeed, just like most actual projects are. They don't make for cool stories necessarily, so consultants are likely to tell you about that one time they did something "different" instead. Don't fall for this sampling biais.

3. Applicants put too much focus on doing cases from a specific industry vs. learning to understand and crack cases in general. Once you know how to do a case in a repeatable, structured and MECE way, you will know how to do the next case no matter the industry

4. I bet all of us here have a few non-profit/education cases available, even if they are not our go-tos. If that's really what you want, we can give such cases to you. Again though, I highly suggest you focus on the mechanics of the case first, second and third

5.. Your last question, with 1st round more 'economics' and 2nd round more 'experimental', probably has a kernal of truth: 1st round interviews are led by Consultants and EMs, while 2nd round are led by Partners or APs who may not feel as constrained by the general guidelines, and want to test your creativity and personality a little more

Hope this helps; let me know if you have more questions on the above.

replied on Sep 24, 2018
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These types of cases are actually pretty traditional, especially for McKinsey. The reason why people think that they are rare is that the casebooks (that are in general not a good source of cases) almost don't have them

Feel free to reach me if you need a prep on them.

To provide a bit of structure, there are several types of non-profit cases:

  1. Factors influencing the price (What are the factors influencing the price of oil? Factors influencing the price of real estate?)
  2. Macroeconomic cases (How will you improve life expectancy in a particular city? How will you decrease the unemployment?)
  3. Public sector non-profits (Increasing the revenues of a museum; increasing the revenues from tourism in a city)
  4. Redesigning the processes (How will you develop a new anti-monopoly regulation?)
  5. Non-profit investments (A billionaire is building a new school. What are the factors to look at?)
  6. Ops and cost-cutting (How to reduce the traffic jams on a bridge? A garbage processing facility is out of capacity, what should they do?) - I personally consider them as a separate type of cases that is pretty traditional in the offices performing a lot of ops projects.


Anonymous replied on Sep 24, 2018

I wonder if you meant "experiential" instead of "experimental". I agree with Guennael that the second round is very different. First round interviewers have had a lot of interview training whereas in the second round the Partners usually have bypassed the training and makeup their own cases, usually based on projects from the past or current projects they are working on.

Economic cases tend to lend themselves to more structure and allowing the interviewer to more easily judge your ability to structure problems and assess your quantitative skills. However, you can ask any of the coaches on PrepLounge and they can give you government cases (more prevalent in offices in Europe and especially the Middle East) or non-profit cases.

replied on Sep 24, 2018
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Hi A,

I agree with Guennael - practice the approach to a case in the first place. As long as you know the mechanics of the case, it is easier for you to solve any cases. If you do not know how non-profits or any other businesses work, suggest your own MECE approach and defend it during a case. It would be acceptable.

  1. If you apply for a mid/senior position, managers or principals will interview you in the 1st round; partners - in the second round (up to 6 interviews altogether).
  2. If you apply for intern - associates and managers interview you (3 interviews altogether).

It is highly likely that you get at least 1 case with non-profit (the 1st round) and 1 with government (second round) during your interviews.
Economics-realted questions are not typical for the Firm.

All the best,


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