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Moved onto Bain Final Round: Feedback was that I was too stiff/rehearsed

Bain Final Round
New answer on Oct 28, 2020
11 Answers
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Anonymous A asked on Sep 26, 2020

So I just got the call that I moved on to the final round for Bain (undergrad ACI), and while my case performance was good enough, I was told that especially in the beginning of the interview (FIT + beginning of case) it felt mechanical. Apparently partners could have doubts about my authenticity and thus my fit for the firm.

I have a few questions about this:

- While I didn't directly memorize a script, I did rehearse a few phrases/transitions with my fit portion and opening of the case. Should I get rid of these in order to seem more authentic?

- Since the partners/principals in final round interviews are more senior, I assumed that they would consequently require more professionalism, which seems contradictory towards being more conversational and authentic. How should I reconcile my feedback with this new class of interviewers?

- If cases will be more conversational and less structured (which I've heard they often are for final rounds), should I still retain my structure (ex. "Before I go into approaching this, I'd like to do 2 things...") or should I lessen this in order to match the more conversational tone?

Essentially, this seems like the worst piece of feedback I could receive since none of it is actionable. I, of course, will "be myself" during the interview, though I was myself in the last one too, even if I conveyedit in a more rehearsed way.

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Robert
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updated an answer on Sep 30, 2020
McKinsey offers w/o final round interviews - 100% risk-free - 10+ years MBB coaching experience - Multiple book author

Hi Anonymous,

I'll try to keep it short. When reading your summary it looks as if the root cause is a perceived lack of authenticity.

The biggest and most common mistake I see candidates making when trying to answer fit question is that they talk a lot of BS and I only hear bla bla bla as an interviewer.

One additional aspect might indeed be the pure "delivery" - i.e. how exaclty you communicate your answer (including voice level and intonation, body language, ...) which makes it not 100% authentic.

However, based on more than 10 years experience this is mostly only the symptom and not the underlying root cause. The real issue behind is that candidates are not able to draw a clear connection between them and the firm, and thus only talk about generic things that any candidate can say (like it's a great brand and intellectually challenging environment with top-notch C-level clients, bla bla bla bla).

The trick here is to establish a clear connection to yourself, how exactly you fit in into this picture (e.g. what's your proof to be able and enjoy working in such an intellectually challenging environment, etc.)?

Concerning cases - ABS! (always be structured). Even if the case is more conversational in tone, it's still a case interview in which you need to have a rigidly structured approach.

Hope this helps - if so, please be so kind to give it a thumbs-up with the green upvote button below!

Robert

(edited)

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Ken
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replied on Sep 27, 2020
Ex-McKinsey final round interviewer | Executive Coach

First of all congratulations! Agree the feedback isn't very tangible but clearly you are meeting the bar and so you should try to take some weight of your shoulders which might already make a difference :)

Based on your question, I get the impression you are thinking of the various dimensions in a binary way when it's more of an AND. I believe the underlying feedback you're getting is that they want you to come across as somone that is agile, spontaneous and flexible with different types of problems/situations and has the RQ to develop meaingful client relationships.

Your approach seems normal but perhaps you're forgetting that the interview is more of a conversation than a one-way presentation. Conversational and authentic doesn't mean less sturctured or less professional. For example, I would definitely maintain structure as that is one of the major components they are testing for but would soften the language - "before I go into approaching this" alone sounds very stiff and even redundant.

I was an undergraduate intern myself and have interviewed over a 100 undergrad intern candiates during my time at McKinsey. There is a big focus on your instrinsics and personality (incl. maturity) as there is no expectation that you have transferable experience but need to be someone who is able to handle different situations. As a project manager, I volunteered to take an undergrad summer intern on my team, not because I needed one but because I knew it would make the team more fun!

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Udayan
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replied on Sep 28, 2020
Top rated Case & PEI coach/Multiple real offers/McKinsey EM in New York /12 years recruiting experience

To add to the answers here - do not be afraid to engage in the conversation that the partners are trying to have. One piece of advice you can use is that treat partners as your peers - respect them for their knowledge but also be honest and engage with them meaningfully. Final rounds can seem almost too casual because they are largely conversation based. In a coversation you don't want to come across as stiff and rehearsed.

What would I do differently?

- Answer questions less formally while maintaining a narrative/storyline

- Be present - do not think of other things in the interview but focus solely on the interview itself

- Treat partners as your equal - respect them but no need to be scared of them

- Use less formal structures but bring a strong narrative to every story

Best,

Udayan

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Ian
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replied on Sep 28, 2020
#1 BCG coach | MBB | Tier 2 | Digital, Tech, Platinion | 100% personal success rate (8/8) | 95% candidate success rate

Hi there,

Honestly, you need a coach! Get one for even just 1 session to point out how you can improve this.

In general (and in relation to your questions):

  1. Do not use "typical" phrases/transitions. They're tacky/corny. Yes, get rid of them
  2. Have a conversation. You're talking to them, working through the problem with them, perhaps like you would a future manager. Be normal!
  3. Being "professional" doesn't mean being vanilla. Be a human being! Show your personality! You can be professional while also being personable
  4. "Conversational" does not mean "Less Structured"! Don't mix this up
  5. Everything is actionable. Never say "None of this is actionable"...things can always be analyzed and fixed.
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Francesco
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replied on Sep 27, 2020
#1 Coach for Sessions (4.500+) | 1.500+ 5-Star Reviews | Proven Success (➡ interviewoffers.com) | Ex BCG | 10Y+ Coaching

Hi there,

Please find my answers below.

  1. Very difficult to say without seeing your live performance. You are probably not sounding genuine right now given the feedback, but just someone listening to you can comment on this
  2. You can be structured, authentic and professional at the same time. Authentic doesn’t mean unprofessional.
  3. You should always be structured, whatever the question asked by the interviewer. Don’t fall into being unstructured just because the case appears to be conversational – that’s a common mistake candidates do

Hope this helps,

Francesco

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Anonymous replied on Sep 27, 2020

Hi A,

Hard to tell whether you overdo these phrases/transitions or need to be more authentic without hearing you perform.

I don't see any contradictions between being professional and authentic. It may only seem so but what matters is what you say and how you act.

Having a structure is always good. It makes your answer more clear and easier to follow.

Best, André

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Natasha replied on Sep 27, 2020

Most people seem to think being more authentic and conversational means being less prepared. It's actually the opposite. I highly recommend preparing more thoroughly for the fit portions, so in the interview you can go "off script" and still be structured.

In my final rounds, I was structured but it was still conversational and perhaps more casual than you expect. If you've had coffee chats with consultants, you may remember how they can structure their conversation/answers to your questions while still being authentic.

It is difficult feedback to act on, but practice with others and ask them which parts felt natural and which didn't. That helped me improve a lot and led to my top tier consulting offer.

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Kobi
Expert
replied on Sep 26, 2020
McKinsey interviewer|EM @ McKinsey & Company | 100% fit interview success rate | Coached +20 candidates | Personalized interview

That's annoying feedback to get. I would go with authencity! You can still be structured and clear in your answer without using phrases. In the fit part especially it is key that it will feel authenctic as they are trying to get who you are.

I would suggest practicing the fit interview with couple of people that can give you a candid feedback on how it "feels" to them.

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Gaurav
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Content Creator
replied on Oct 28, 2020
#1 MBB Coach(Placed 750+ in MBBs & 1250+ in Tier2)| The Only 360 coach(Ex-McKinsey + Certified Coach + Active recruiter)

Hi A,

I totally understand your feelings, but the feedback you got doesn't seem a big problem for me.

For sure, you got too stressed out and overthought the interview process. Think of it as a role play where your interviewer is your client.

You may stay authentic and conversational if the conversation is structured and on business.

For less-structured or, better to say, less standardized cases, a good structure is also needed. After getting all the necessary information, you will have to lay down a suitable structure to drive the case.

Do you need any further help?

GB

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Anonymous replied on Sep 30, 2020

When you are doing the case, by all means you can maintain your structure. I think the feedback is more on the FIT part. You can slow down a bit when you talk about FIT stories, use some pauses here and there, to give the audien chance to ask questions, and also give yourselve a chance to observe the audience' body langauge and use your observation as hints as per whether you should adjust your focus or the depth of the answers.

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Clara
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replied on Sep 29, 2020
McKinsey | Awarded professor at Master in Management @ IE | MBA at MIT |+180 students coached | Integrated FIT Guide aut

Hello!

Congrats!

To add on the previous answers, I would sugg

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Robert gave the best answer

Robert

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