Preparing for McKinsey Operations Interview

Actively preparing for interviews with McKinsey
New answer on Feb 01, 2021
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Anonymous A asked on Jan 29, 2021

I'm currently preparing for McKinsey Operations position interview, and wondering is there any things i should prepare specifically to tackle Operations case. what sort of formula and calculation that i will prepare beforehand? i have no related experience with operations, so will need to learn from scratch.

Most of the cases available are for profitability and market strategy, very few cases talking about operations in details.

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Content Creator
replied on Jan 31, 2021
McKinsey | Awarded professor at Master in Management @ IE | MBA at MIT |+180 students coached | Integrated FIT Guide aut


Congrats on the interview, in any case it´s good news, it´s not so easy to get an interview at this point!

In Ops, more than half of the cases that you will get are the traditional ones, and once you are ready for those you have the good basis for the opps ones. Hence, overall, you have 2 main workstreams ahead:


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You don´t have any more time to the classics of Viktor Cheng, "Case in point" book, etc. You need to get hands on asap:

1. Practice cases with partners asap, as many as you can do.Find experienced partners who can provide a good feedback

2. Practice your math skills, both in your cases and with ad hoc exercisess, such as:

1. ​Multiplying double digit numbers (

2. Leveraging math tools (Mimir math for iOS), Math tool on Viktor Cheng website to practice

Furthermore, you should practice as much as you can, and ensure that you cover:

1. Profitability cases- basic profitability framework.

2. Idea generation cases: for any specif issue

3. Growth cases: market penetration, new product launch, product mix change, etc.

4. Pricing cases

5. M&A cases

6. Valuation cases

7. Value chain cases

Given you are under this much time contraint, consider working with a coach to foster speed and ensure you have a tailored plan to be very targeted. PM me interested!

Hope it helps!



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Content Creator
replied on Jan 29, 2021
#1 rated McKinsey Coach | Top MBB Coach | 5 years @ McKinsey | Author of the 1% | 120+ McK offers in 18 months

Hey there,

In general, operations cases often focus on concepts such as

Capacity issues

  • Increase / decrease capacity or move capacity from a less profitable product to a more profitable product
  • Analysis of bottlenecks

Classic profitability issues

  • Profit = Revenue - Cost :-)

Optimization problems

  • Optimize utilization of production machines
  • Optimize product mix to max out profitability

Stock issues

  • Calculation of safety stock
  • Optimization of stock

Value chain issues

  • Break down the value chain in its constituent profits and figure out where the issue is

Regarding the latter, you should be able to map out a process in an operations case, especially when you are not familiar with a certain task or system of interactions. When laying out what constitutes a certain issue, you will be able to understand it by breaking it down into its constituent parts.

This helps you to think deeper about the issue. It can also help you to get 'unstuck' if you don’t understand the situation. In sum, problem or process mapping forces you to deconstruct the interactions and increases your odds to find the segment or area in which the issue is buried in.

For instance, you might want to investigate chronological sequences. Process mapping can be used to make a chain of interactions visible and see all parts involved that produce a certain outcome. You can use it when you look into temporal events or when you want to find out which part of the process is most crucial, etc.



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Content Creator
updated an answer on Jan 29, 2021
McKinsey / Accenture Alum / Got all BIG3 offers / Harvard Business School


In terms of the cases:

  • 60% will be traditional cases
  • 40% ops

Case topics:

  • Operational math, not necessarily related to production (e.g. measuring throughput traffic in a traffic jam, etc)
  • Cost-cutting
  • Capacity optimization
  • Capex optimization

Key terms to know: Little's Law, Output rate, Capacity, Utilization, Cycle time, Throughput time, Buffer, process optimization fundamentals and approaches to bottlenecks, Labor Efficiency, Core processes and supporting processes, Idle time, etc

Feel free to reach out. In my profile, you can find a list of sessions dedicated to ops



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Content Creator
replied on Jan 29, 2021
#1 Coach for Sessions (4.000+) | 1.500+ 5-Star Reviews | Proven Success (➡ | Ex BCG | 9Y+ Coaching

Hi there,

I helped a few candidates recently to land offers from McKinsey Operations. Some of the topics they had to cover were:

  • Capacity expansion
  • Effect of automation on increasing profits
  • Effect of global sourcing and lean manufacturing on optimizing costs
  • Improvement of logistics flow

However, don’t expect only operations cases – the candidates I helped also had traditional types such as profitability.

If you need help please PM me, I know several real questions asked for that practice specifically.


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Anonymous A on Jan 29, 2021

This is great information, will look on the topic to prepare. :)

Content Creator
replied on Jan 31, 2021
Accenture, Deloitte | Precision Case Prep | Experienced Interviewer & Career Coach | 15 years professional experience

Hey, operations is my area of speclalism. Please feel free to reach out for tailor made cases & general approach to tackle operations cases.

Check out this case:

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Content Creator
replied on Jan 29, 2021
MBB | 100% personal interview success rate (8/8) and 95% candidate success rate | Personalized interview prep
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Content Creator
replied on Feb 01, 2021
BCG |NASA | SDA Bocconi & Cattolica partner | GMAT expert 780/800 score | 200+ students coached

Hello there,

Ops cases are just one cluster of the interview preparation. It means that most of the skills required are the same and I suggest to start with general preparation. After building the basis you can work on specific ops cases in order to get familiar with some basic concept (utilization rate, occupancy, value chain etc.).
Be careful because it's not a given that you will face just ops cases during your interviews.


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replied on Jan 29, 2021
Ex-McKinsey final round interviewer | Executive Coach

When I conducted interviews for entry-level McKinsey Operations candidates, I would often tailor a more traditional case (e.g., profitability) to uncover operational issues as opposed to expect a candidate to know lots of technical concepts. A few examples of things I would encourage you to consider would be:

+ Expanding on asset utilisation and availability

+ Breaking down the operational process/value chain

+ Bringing insights around how the maintenance, sourcing and supply chain could be driving the problem

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Anonymous A on Jan 29, 2021

Thanks Ken, i just had information from my colleague who just had interview that he was being asked OEE and all the operationals specific questions that throw him off balance. even though the position that he applied is for junior (BA) level.

Ken on Jan 29, 2021

I guess it comes down more to your background. If he had a manufacturing (or even engineering) background then understanding concepts like OEE, production downtime, asset utilisation, etc.) would be expected.

Clara gave the best answer


Content Creator
McKinsey | Awarded professor at Master in Management @ IE | MBA at MIT |+180 students coached | Integrated FIT Guide aut
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