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My McKinsey 1st round interview as a STEM APD from a top 3 US university

McKinsey first round
New answer on Jul 19, 2022
4 Answers
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Anonymous A asked on Jul 16, 2022

I had an interview with McKinsey yesterday, and am waiting for the call to know what's next. There seems to be only one first-round interview in several offices this year. I am sharing my experience here as there is less direct information on the APD recruiting experience out there.

The fit part of the interview went over 30 minutes. I enjoyed the fit interview - it was a very casual but focused conversation.

The case interview was very fast-paced with a lot of interruptions from the interviewer. The prompt was very very long as I already expected. I don't think I had a great structure (wasn't allowed time to make a detailed structure - I am a bit slower than average here). I was able to get the right insights from the exhibits (from what I recall) and was able to do math without any issues (my APD is in math/physics). We didn't have time to conclude the case. The interviewer told me that the math is right and my process to compute the metric asked is right, and zoomed off to the next interview.

My thoughts:
1. After several months of diligent preparation including interviewer-led casing, I know that I couldn't have prepared any more than what I had done while doing a very intense day job. So, I am at peace ✌️. 
2. This is by far the most stressful professional situation I have been in, and I thought nothing other than my research could stress me out. 
3. I know McKinsey and other firms have training programs for APDs who join them. So, I know that I am not expected to be perfect, and all they are testing is my thinking and problem-solving method. As an educator myself, I would really like to see the grading metrics and the rubrics too. 

4. I am sending love ❤️ and hugs 🤗 to everyone who is going through the recruitment cycle now.

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Content Creator
replied on Jul 19, 2022
ex-McKinsey EM & Interviewer | 7/8 offer rate for 4+ sessions | 90min sessions with FREE exercises & videos

Hi there,

Very cool post and some good reflections- thank you for sharing!

The fact that you didn't ‘conclude’ the case is very normal in McKinsey because it's not about concluding the case. Rather, it's about answering the different questions in the best way possible. This is one of the key differences to normal cases (try not concluding a case with others firms and getting away with it…)

As for point #2 and the stress you experienced, I totally feel you. If you really want this job, you'll be stressed no matter what! However, relating to your point #1 - you would have been a lot more stressed had you not put in all the hard work. So well done!

The ultimate goal of preparation is two-fold with an interesting relation to stress in both cases:

  • Competence: The more competent you are, the less you feel stressed about not knowing what to expect, because you know you can handle any situation. In return, less stress let's you see clearer and the actual competence will help you solve the case and master the fit part.
  • Personality: Consulting is 100% people business and you can't afford to not be personable or even likeable. Stress will often ‘cover up’ your real personality, which is a great shame for all those amazing people that can't control their nerves.

From what I see you have both competence and personality so well done! Fingers crossed you'll get the offer soon!

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Content Creator
replied on Jul 17, 2022
#1 BCG coach | MBB | Tier 2 | Digital, Tech, Platinion | 100% personal success rate (8/8) | 95% candidate success rate
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Content Creator
replied on Jul 17, 2022
McKinsey | Awarded professor at Master in Management @ IE | MBA at MIT |+180 students coached | Integrated FIT Guide aut


Your post is super lovely, it made me smile truly! Also sending some hugs to everyone who feels stressed in the middle of the consulting recruiting madness!

What you wrote regarding the interview sounds very promising, so fingers crossed for u!



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replied on Jul 18, 2022
Top-Ranked Coach on PrepLounge for 3 years| 6+ years of coaching


Thank you so much for sharing your experience and thoughts, it's always super helpful to get the perspective of someone who has just gone through the process!

You mentioned a few things around timing in the case portion that resonated with me, and many candidates I have worked with experienced it too. The case interviews in the first round often are quite short (20-30 mins), and so the interviewers try to get a lot in during this time which makes it very fast-paced. This can feel a little jarring if you are used to 1hr coaching sessions or just longer practice sessions in general, where you really get to dig deep into the case. Definitely something that's good to be aware of as you continue the recruiting process!

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Moritz gave the best answer


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ex-McKinsey EM & Interviewer | 7/8 offer rate for 4+ sessions | 90min sessions with FREE exercises & videos
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