McKinsey new hire - how to improve performance on problem solving sessions?

New answer on Oct 19, 2019
2 Answers
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Maria asked on Oct 18, 2019
I'm preparing for McK interview (PST passed).

Dear All,

I recently joined McK and after first weeks of project received feedback to speak up more during problem solving sessions.

Main reason for being silent was that each PSS were highly paced, involved numerous abstract models and terminology and I was intimidated by wit of other consultants and was not convinced that I can contribute much.

Do you have any tips how to improve performance on problem solving sessions?

I would love to hear your opinions what makes a person a distinctive problem solver.


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Jamie replied on Oct 18, 2019
Former Tier 2, now MBB in Dubai. Here to chill :)

Hi Maria,

First of all, congratulations joining McK.

This lack of participation is usually linked to 2 points:

1) Lack of knowledge

2) Peer pressure (e.g. introvert)

From your point I guess this is 1) that is affecting you.

Lack of knowledge can again be due to 2 things:

1.1) Lack of prepation

1.2) Lack of basic concepts

Assuming you have as good education as anyone at McK I would say that lack of preparation is affecting your participation level in the meetings.

One way to test this is seeing for example if you are preparing a charter to any problem you are trying to address at your job. Starting by clearly defining your objective function, scope and so on. If you dont have a clear understanding on what problem you are solving, (1) you wont be able to see the drivers afecting the problem, (2) you wont be able to prioritize the most important ones, (4) create hypothesis to those main drivers and finaly (5) see what analyses you need to come up to test those same hypothesis (this in a nutshell is pretty much what you need to do as a consultant).

Ways to solve it I would say 2:

1) Read books on problem solving. I recently read Bullet proof problem solving by 2 former McK partners that I recommend

2) You can do courses that will allow you to speed up. StrategyTV and StrategyTraining will help you. I'm currently watching 90 days consulting that explains the points I addressed here and much more

I'm more than happy to discuss these points 1 on 1 if you want

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Anonymous replied on Oct 19, 2019

Dear Maria,

you're not the first one receiving that feedback! :)

From my experience at McKinsey, I have understood that sometimes you need to speak up more even if you do not feel 100% confident of your thoughts...expecially do it during a team problem solving session, that is usually a safer environment than a meeting with clients for example.

Again, even if you are not 100% sure of your toughts, try to express your point of view as a proposal/suggestion and be open to discussion/challenge from other team members. You need to participate into the discussion in order to give your contribution and being appreciated, so "force" yourself jumping into the discussion even if when you don't have a clear idea in mind or even for a question. Once you start speaking up more, it will become more natural.

Hope it helps! :)


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