McKinsey Phone Assessment: Any tips?

Case Interview Interview Experience McKinsey networking Phone case Phone interview
New answer on Sep 26, 2020
13 Answers
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Ana Flavia asked on Nov 09, 2017

Hi guys,

I am invited for a phone interview with McKinsey. Does anybody have any experience with this phone interview? Kind regards, Ana

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Sidi
Expert
replied on Mar 21, 2018
McKinsey Senior EM & BCG Consultant | Interviewer at McK & BCG for 7 years | Coached 300+ candidates secure MBB offers

Hi Anonymous,

this indeed seems to be a preliminary phone screening and not a full-blown phone interview. So couple of points for you to consider:

  • Put together a quick 2-minute "elevator pitch" on your background and why you are in the conversation with McKinsey; flesh out highlights specific to the exact position you (intend to) apply for (functional focus? sector focus? etc.)
  • Establish natural rapport (don't do anything "special"!) and just project a professional, well-rounded, and positive picture of yourself
  • Prepare for a "Why McKinsey vs other options?" question and have a strong answer prepared!
  • Spend some time beforehand to think about what is unclear to you regarding how the Firm can help you achieve your career (and maybe personal) objectives; then distill this into one or two clear questions, asking for a senior perspective

​Best of success!

Sidi

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Anonymous replied on Nov 09, 2017

Hi!

First question would be to ask whether this is a "phone screening" or a "phone interview."

Phone Screen:

-Practice your quick 2-minute resume/background elevator speech while pointing out highlights specific to the exact position you applied for (strategy, implentation, operations emphasis and similarities)

- Establish rapport and demonstrate positive professional but (airport test) enjoyable personality. Be yourself!

-Prepare for potential or possible fit questions. Mckinsey's fit criteria is clearly displayed on their website

Phone Interview:

-If a case interview, prepare for a 30 min interviewer-led case interview in which there are a number of different resources on this site for that

-If a technical interview, prepare to answer in heavy detail about experiences on your resume using either a STAR, PARADE, or CAR technique

Good luck!

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Anonymous E replied on Feb 09, 2017

Yes. The case has the same kind of structure as a normal McK interview, but without graphs since it’s via phone. So the interviewer will give you the case problem (in my case it was market entry) and you have to approach it like you would a normal case, so first of all elaborate your structure how to approach it (issue tree). You will have to do some calculations, but they are really not so difficult. And then at the end you have to give the recommendation and support it with the arguments as the closing statement, also including risks. As you see it’s really like the normal kind of case but simpler I would say. It is a bit weird not being face to face to the person, so maybe practice as well such kind of setting to get used to it. Hope it goes well!

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7
Neil on Feb 09, 2017

Thank you very much! This is very helpful.

Francesco
Expert
Content Creator
updated an answer on Nov 03, 2017
#1 Coach for Sessions (3.700+) | 1.300+ 5-Star Reviews | Proven Success (www.case.tools/results) | Ex BCG | 8Y+ Coaching

Hi Julian

phone interviews indeed are a bit different from face-to-face ones on the communication side; below you can find some tips that may be useful for them:

# 1. Put all the material that may be interesting for you to look during the interview (structures, tips for fit part, etc) attached to the wall in front of you – in this way you do not have to look for information on the go

# 2. Go the extra mile in the case when presenting what you think. This is important in face-to-face interview, but even more in phone interviews where the interviewer cannot see you or your notes. In short, this implies:

  1. Explain clearly upfront why you need some information. Eg don’t say “do we have information on price?”. Rather “In order to understand where the problem is on revenues, I would need to analyse price and volume for this segment. Do we have any information on how price and volume changed in the last year?”
  2. Present with numbers in a structured way each area you want to introduce. I would suggest to do that in two steps:
  • STEP 1: mention first the macro areas of your framework. “In order to help our client, I would like to focus on three main areas. Number 1 we may work on [FIRST TOPIC], Number 2 on [SECOND TOPIC], Number 3 on [THIRD TOPIC]. If this is fine for you, let me go deeper in each of them”
  • STEP 2: provide details for each macro point. “In area Number 1, this is what I would analyse. First, I would like to cover [FIRST STEP OF FIRST TOPIC]; second, I would like to focus on [SECOND STEP OF FIRST TOPIC]; next, I would like to work on [THIRD STEP OF FIRST TOPIC]. In area Number 2, this is what I would analyse. First,(…)”

# 3. Smile – although you are over the phone, it is shown that smiles are perceived by people also in this way, and show positive attitude

Fit part and cases are similar to the standard ones. For the case, it may be slightly easier to get a market sizing, as this is simpler to deliver and follow over the phone.

Best,

Francesco

(edited)

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Ben
Certified
replied on Feb 15, 2017

its cake. it will be given by a mckinsey alum, and is typically going to be one of the simplest cases you'll ever do... probably simpler and quicker than any of the ones here. its simply there to weed out people who aren't going to advance early in the process without going through the trouble of flying them out, having current managers talk to him/her, etc.

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Neil on Feb 16, 2017

Thanks! You are right, it wasn't difficult. One just needs to make sure that he/she don't over-analyze the case since it is really straightforward. I passed it & now I have the 1st round interviews coming up!

(edited)

Anonymous replied on Nov 03, 2017

Phone interviews can be both easier and tougher than in-person interviews. As you point out, you don’t have the opportunity to read the body language or watch what the interviewer is doing (e.g., taking notes). From the interviewer standpoint, I find it much harder to do phone interviews because I can’t:

  • Read your body language: Just as you can’t read the interviewers body language, the interviewer likes to read your body language and can’t do that over the phone
  • Watch your note taking / quant solving approach: It’s one thing to listen to a candidate talk through a structure or solve a quant exercise, but being able to see how organized they are or the actual equations they write down is very helpful
  • Judge your overall confidence / demeanor: This is slightly different than body language. On the phone, I can judge the overall confidence that a candidate projects and can often times get a “false positive” read

I give you the interviewer point-of-view so that you can try to work backwards on what you should and should not do on the phone interview. Here are a few tipos:

  • Don’t interrupt: Shows impatience and anxiousness
  • Don’t be nervous about pauses from the interviewer: The interviewer needs to take notes and is often taking notes after you finish speaking. Finish your conclusion / statement confidently and then wait for the interviewer to speak
  • Don’t have a bad connection / noisy background: Calls from airports / mobile phones with bad connections are not acceptable. I want to really stress this point. A lot of candidates make calls from the airport explaining they are waiting for a flight. This is NOT acceptable under almost any circumstance (except for something like traveling to a funeral). Just because you are not in the firm’s office for an interview does not give you an excuse to not be in a dedicated quiet place with a quality phone connection
  • Do give short answers: Long answers do not work as well over the phone
  • Do talk at a deliberate pace: Confidence is exuded this way
  • Do ask questions: Words get lost over the phone. Know exactly what was said
  • Do talk out loud: The interviewer can’t see your notes. Over communicate

Hope that helps!

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Vlad
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Mar 21, 2018
McKinsey / Accenture Alum / Got all BIG3 offers / Harvard Business School

Hi,

I would recommend being prepared in the same way as if you will be prepared for the full FIT interview with Mckinsey (Story about yourself, why consulting, why McKinsey, PEI stories, etc).

It's fine not to have the backup stories and not to be fully prepared for the additional questions to the PEI stories.

Also, think of your questions to the interviewer. Pls don't ask the information you should learn before the interview (e.g. typical career path) or Questions that may show that you are unfamiliar with consulting work (Like are you specialized in strategy or operations?).

Ask questions about the particular office and the topics you are genuinely interested in ​

Be prepared and good luck!

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Originally answered question:

McKinsey Phone Interview

Anonymous D replied on Jun 22, 2016

Hi there,

to also shed some light for following readers: I recently had something quite similar. In my case, it was an invitation to do participate in a "trial case interview" at McKinsey & Company.

I was being told that this is a possibility for me to assess what to expect in the real interview, but I also heard from a lot of friends that this might be a pre-assessment of your skills in order for them to assess whether you are "worth the consultant's time" in the real one, or not.

I suppose that you are applying in Germany? I heard from a couple of friends that they had a phone interview like yours, and I also talked to a Recruiter of McKinsey & Company in Germany. They told me that this is a "real round 1 interview" and you will be invited to the in-person interviews, if you can perform as expected.

So I can recommend to learn and act, as if this is the real one.

However, in any case: Relax and sit back, since this one will be in a comfortable atmosphere.

Sincerely, B

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Anonymous updated the answer on Sep 26, 2020

Dear Ana!

Below you can find some tips for the call:
● Prepare the place for the call. A quiet environment is a must-have. Pay
attention to what the interviewer will see in the background (sometimes when I do
coaching via Skype with you I can see really strange stuff;) )
● Prepare on the wall in front of you the material you might need (structures,
tips for a fit part, etc) so you won't have to look for it during the interview
● Prepare your own questions. Relevant questions at the end are a great way to
show your interest in the company and get additional points. This is particularly
important in a phone/video interview, as the interviewer will naturally connect less
with you.

● Smile during the call. Even if they cannot see you it's a good way to show
energy
● Use numbers when communicating your structure. This applies to both face-
to-face and video interviews, but it is particularly important for the video ones.
Good communication will make easier for the interviewer to follow you, since
he/she cannot see you. As an example:“In order to help our client, I would like to
focus on three main areas. First, I would like to focus on [FIRST TOPIC],
secondly on [SECOND TOPIC], finally on [THIRD TOPIC]. Let me start with the
first one."
Hope this helps and speak soon,

Best,
André

(edited)

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Daniel
Proficient
replied on Jul 12, 2017
Current Accenture Mgmt Consultant

Hi Neil,

Wondering if you could please share your experience regarding the phone case interview? Key questions I would be interested in would be:

- Type of case you got (Market entry, profitability, etc)

- Level of difficulty relative to the sample cases on the McKinsey website

- Best practice advice and tips on preparation

Thanks,

Daniel

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Originally answered question:

McKinsey Phone Interview

Oleksandr (Alex)
Expert
replied on Jun 21, 2016
Very experienced ex-McKinsey consultant with cross-country expertise

Hey Lisa,

I know a lot about phone interviews @ McK.

Pls let me know if you want my help.

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Sidi gave the best answer

Sidi

McKinsey Senior EM & BCG Consultant | Interviewer at McK & BCG for 7 years | Coached 300+ candidates secure MBB offers
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