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McKinsey interviews (reasons to fail)

Victoria Christine asked on Aug 31, 2019 - 3 answers

Hello! Is there anybody here, who has not managed to pass McKinsey's interviews, and feels comfortable to discuss the reasons?

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replied on Sep 12, 2019
ex-McKinsey Senior Associate / officially interviewed for McKinsey recruiting / I will coach you to rock those interviews
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There were many right things already named here, so I wouldn't repeat, but I want to name one more thing you need to keep in mind. Be authentic during the interview. What do I mean by that? Many people come into the interview with a Mr/Ms Perfect attitude, trying to say everything "right" and not to say anything "wrong". The problem with that is that some candidates give away a bit of a robotic impression and may appear dishonest. This gives an uneasy feeling to an interviewer and sometimes leads to an overall negative impression.

So, my advice would be: relax and try to be yourself (as much as it is possible during the interview marathon). Meaning, own things you don’t like, own your weaknesses, admit your mistakes, laugh about your screw-ups. E.g. if you don’t like golf but the interviewer likes it, you don’t need to say that you like golf :) In general, McKinsey is looking for strong personalities, who can lead and inspire, who younger colleagues and clients can eventually look up to. So, don’t be afraid to show your personality.

Anonymous A updated his answer on Aug 31, 2019

Hi Victoria Christine,

I failed my McKinsey 1st round interviews around one year ago for German offices. The reason was simply very bad preparation for the case part (I probably underestimated the PEI part as well because I didn't have a very good feeling there, but the interviewer's feedback was very short: "You have an amazing CV and the discussions with you were very interesting and enjoyable, but your case-performance was not enough.")

I used one extremely badly written German case book as well as one mock interview with a classmate as my only prep resources. Obviously this was not enough. How I would handle it (and handling it right now for my upcoming interviews) if I had the chance again: skim Case-In-Point or Victor Cheng's book, do 5-10 mock case interviews here with peers, and then book a coach who (very important!!!) not only used to be an MBB consultant, but also explicitly states in the profile that he/she used to interview multiple candidates as part of the recruiting team of one MBB. After my rejection I practiced with over 60 peers here and was still bad, but after taking coaching sessions not only do I feel confident, but I also enjoy the case process.

Write a comment and I can PM you if you need more specific information, would prefer to preserve my anonymity here tbh :)


PM — Anonymous on Sep 04, 2019 (edited)

replied on Aug 31, 2019
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Hi Victoria,

Obviously there can be numerous reasons for failing in a McKinsey interview. The 2 most common issues for failing are

  1. Case interview: being unstructured / not having a top-down view - McKinsey is definitely most picky when it comes to being structured and has coined the term "MECE"
  2. PEI (Personal Experience Interview): not having a clear understanding of the 3 PEI dimensions, not structuring the PEI top-down, not focussing on the correct aspects within one's examples, not going deep enough and not covering the underlying decision-making rationale

Hope that helps as an overview!


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