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Phone interview mckinsey

Interview McKinsey
New answer on May 31, 2024
6 Answers
Anonymous A asked on May 29, 2024

Hi everyone,

I've recently been informed by HR at McKinsey that I'll be having a phone case interview as part of their recruitment process. They mentioned that this interview will be a "mini case interview" to assess my basic understanding of a case. Additionally, the initial and final rounds will consist of a Personal Experience Interview (PEI) and a case interview.

Currently, I'm focusing my preparation on the initial and final rounds, specifically the PEI and full case interviews. However, I want to ensure I'm adequately prepared for the upcoming phone screen as well.

I have a couple of questions:

  1. What exactly is a mini case interview? How does it differ from the full case interviews that are part of the initial and final rounds?
  2. How should I prepare for this mini case interview? Are there specific areas or types of questions I should focus on to demonstrate my basic understanding effectively?
  3. Should I also prepare for the PEI even though it's not mentioned for the phone interview? Is it common for PEI-type questions to come up in this stage as well?

Any tips, insights, or resources would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks in advance!

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Best answer
replied on May 29, 2024
Former McKinsey Sr Engagement Manager | Trained McKinsey interviewer (100+ interviews, 500+ coaching sessions)


Firstly, congratulations on securing an interview with McKinsey. Here’s some insight into your queries:

  1. What is a phone case/mini-case interview?
    Think of it as an initial screening tool designed to filter out candidates who may not have invested any time in preparing for case interviews. The evaluation bar for this round is somewhat lower than for later stages. An average performance here often suffices to advance you to subsequent rounds. The main difference compared to other rounds will be the number of questions (generally fewer), the degree of engagement with the case interviewer (e.g., less probing on their part)  and specifically the data questions (where data will be shared over the phone. they cant share charts over the phone). 
  2. How should I prepare?
    Your overall preparation strategy doesn’t need a major overhaul. However, two specific recommendations:
    • Practice: Engage in a couple of practice sessions with a friend to simulate the interview scenario
    • Data Handling: Pay extra attention to data questions. Since data will be shared over the phone, it’s crucial to ensure you’ve captured everything accurately. Double-check or even triple-check your data to avoid any mistakes.
  3. Should I prepare for PEI?
    Personal Experience Interviews (PEI) are typically not part of these mini-case interviews, so you might not need to prepare for this component right now. However, it’s always wise to confirm this detail with your recruiting contact to avoid any surprises.

I hope this clarifies your queries. Good luck with your preparation, and feel free to reach out with more questions, either here in the forum or via direct message.

Best wishes,


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Content Creator
replied on May 29, 2024
#1 rated MBB & McKinsey Coach

Congrats on the interview invite!

This is a format that McKinsey uses in some geographies of having a half hour phone case to see if it's worth inviting the candidate to the actual first round interview. 

This phone case can be from any industry or topic. Since it's over the phone, you won't be given an exhibit and body language matters less. Instead, you can expect a structuring question (likely the first), then a calculation and a brainstorming one. Depending on how quickly this goes, you might also get asked to provide a recommendation. 

You will likely also be given the opportunity to ask questions at the end. 

In terms of preparation, you should prepare for this phone case the same way you would prepare for the live case (minus the exhibit component as discussed). 

If you have further questions, reach out. 

Aside from this, sharing here a mini guide on structuring:

Expert Guide: Mastering Structuring & Brainstorming

And then specifically for the PEI component, I just launched a video course that covers everything you need to know and provides actual recorded examples of stories used for successful interviews. More here:

Video Course: Master the McKinsey PEI


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Content Creator
replied on May 30, 2024
1300 5-star reviews across platforms | 500+ offers | Highest-rated case book on Amazon | Uni lecturer in US, Asia, EU

Hi there,

I had several candidates go through this.

The interview is usually (not always) conducted by HR or alumni of the firm, not an active consultant and it is a bit easier and more straightforward than the actual case interviews.

It is a gatekeeper and screening device to

  1. not waste consultant's resources
  2. make sure you are prepared going forward

1. The level is similar to a normal McKinsey case. In these cases, there are usually no exhibits. You would still go through the other elements of a case (structuring, brainstorming, math - see the link below).

2. Preparation should follow the same as for any other McKinsey case. The only 100% way is with a McKinsey coach, who knows the cases and metrics in and out. Have a look at this article as it can also guide your preparation:

3. At this stage, you should have stories ready. You can follow the advice of this article to create them: Personal Experience Interview

Happy to help out!


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Content Creator
replied on May 30, 2024
#1 Coach for Sessions (4.500+) | 1.500+ 5-Star Reviews | Proven Success (➡ | Ex BCG | 10Y+ Coaching

Hi there,

1) What exactly is a mini case interview? 

Based on the candidates I helped, it is simply a shorter version of a standard case – that is, fewer questions asked.

2) How should I prepare for this mini case interview? 

You can prepare as you would do for a standard case as it is going to be a reduced version of it.

3) Should I also prepare for the PEI even though it's not mentioned for the phone interview? 

Given that they indicated that the pre-screening will be based just on the case, I don’t think they will ask PEI questions, however you might want to clarify with HR just in case. 

Good luck!


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replied on May 31, 2024
Bain | Roland Berger | EY-Parthenon | Mentoring Approach | 30% off first 10 sessions in May| Market Sizing | DARDEN MBA

It's a case, just fewer questions. 

The required preparation is exactly the same you will need for a full case. In other words, consider this as demanding as a 1st round interview (because it is).

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Content Creator
replied on May 31, 2024
Ex-McKinsey Associate Partner | +15 years in consulting | +200 McKinsey 1st & 2nd round interviews

This is normally a phone screening to check your fit to the position.

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Nilay gave the best answer


Former McKinsey Sr Engagement Manager | Trained McKinsey interviewer (100+ interviews, 500+ coaching sessions)
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