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Questions on McKinsey final round

Anonymous A

Hi,

I made it to the final round at McKinsey in one of the US offices. Here are a couple of questions I have:

- What really changes now compared with the first round? Is it the intensity/complexity of the cases, is it more invoved PEI, etc.?

- Will the notes from my previous performances be shared with my interviewers for final round? In other words, will they try to test me on the specific feedback points that I received to see if I'm showing improvement on those points?

- Any other tips to keep in mind, outside of PEI and Cases?

Thanks a lot!!

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Wouter replied on 09/17/2018
Ex-BCG and top-tier MBA with 7+ years in CPG industry experience. The full package for experienced or post-MBA hires!

Hi,

Congrats on making it to the final round at McK! Quite an achievement already. With regard to your questions, please find here some elements to put you on your way:

- What really changes now compared with the first round? Is it the intensity/complexity of the cases, is it more invoved PEI, etc.?

The cases tend to change a little bit in the sense that they become a little less structured. Principals and partners interviewing for the last round have often more experience in interviewing that EMs / managers during the first round, so they stick a little bit less to a scripted case. The cases can also become a little more conversational. I don’t think this changes the preparation all that much, but you have to get comfortable to receive cases that are a little less conventional. I got one case in the last round at McKinsey that was “Where do you expect health care in Europe to be 10 to 20 years from now”. So it become more a conversation than a case. Now this might not apply to you, but the message is be a little bit more expecting of the unexpected. (ps. This doesn’t require practical knowledge of an industry or special preparation… They still evaluate your thinking process / answer structure / … more than the actual content). Actually, the case and fit blend a bit more together into one hybrid.

- Will the notes from my previous performances be shared with my interviewers for final round?

Often you receive a call of one of the first round interviewers with a summary of the feedback that came out of the first round interviews. If this doesn’t come through, don’t hesitate to contact HR or of the interviewers with a polite email requested feedback for preparing your decisive round. It also shows investment in the process and a willingness to improve!

- In other words, will they try to test me on the specific feedback points that I received to see if I'm showing improvement on those points?

The answer is – as often in consulting – “ it depends”. If there was a particular soft spot(s) during the first round interview and you receive explicit feedback on it (e.g. weak maths, structure, etc.) there might be some more focus on this. If they look for confirmation on a point of doubt, they will pay attention. Alternatively, if the interviews were generally strong, and there were no obvious weaknesses, the interviews will be a bit more balanced and nothing in particular will be tested.

- Any other tips to keep in mind, outside of PEI and Cases?

What I think is important to keep in mind is that – in the last round – the interviewers already know that you’re likely a strong case performer and generally a clever person (otherwise you wouldn’t have gotten through the earlier stages of the recruitment process). So this point of view is yours to lose, in the sense that the default is that they expect strong case performance already. However, to get all the way to a final offer, it becomes more about the assessment of fit within the culture of the company, being generally a professional with client-facing skills, etc. So my advice would be to act like a consultant already, like a professional who is at a problem-solving session with another professional (the interviewer). Don’t approach it like a student-professor exam-situation, where there is always the imbalance between how’s the grown-up and who’s the youngster (figure of speech). So act like you would in that job, with some confidence (watch out: don’t become arrogant!! Big red flag) and a certain gravitas. The more your interview looks like a nice and balanced conversation between two colleagues, the better the odds are to take it all the way!

Good luck!

Wouter*

P4S Expert

Matthew
Expert
replied on 09/17/2018
Only ex-Partner (McKinsey and Oliver Wyman) on PrepLounge

A lot of things change from the first round to the second round.

1) First round interviewers are Senior Associates and Engagement Managers that have been through interview training and they are more focused on the mechanics of the case. They are hyper focused on things like structure. In the final round, you are meeting with Associate Partners, Partners and Senior Partners and many haven't had interview training. So, the interviews can't be quite different.

2) There's a lot of focus on fit ("Why McKinsey"). You have to remember that these Partners and especially Senior Partners have been at the firm for a long time and it is a special place for them. They want to know why you want to join there special place. You have to be VERY specific and not say things like "great brand", "good people", "good diversity".

3) Your PEI stories are also weighted more heavily and are often talked about disproportionately in the final round decision meeting. Be sure to bring out your best, inteject some personal stories and don't repeat any PEI stories.

4) The first round is more formal and the final round is much more personable. Try to make a personal connection any way you can.

Vlad replied on 09/17/2018
McKinsey / Accenture / Got all BIG3 offers / More than 300 real MBB cases / Harvard Business School

Hi,

In the final round, I would expect a bit more structured and demanding approach to the fit part. The partners in the last round are more experienced and they will challenge every single detail of your story. So make sure that you have a couple of backup stories. Thus:

1) Make sure that you've prepared everything: A story about yourself, motivational questions and the main FIT stories. Also, don't forget about your questions to the interviewer - you'd rather have an interesting conversation and score some point instead of a simple Q&A session

2) Then go through each story and think of the additional questions the interviewer may ask. It’s important since additional questions will take up to 50% of the interview. Try to remember the main details and facts and make sure that you know how to explain the key concepts quickly. Test your stories with your friends, ideally consultants, and ask for their feedback. There can be multiple groups of additional questions:

  • The interviewer may be interested in details about the context
  • He may want to check whether this was your effort or more sort of a team effort.
  • “Have you faced any difficulties while implementing your solution?”- Typically an interviewer would like you to tell him how you’ve overcome those difficulties.
  • Your interviewer will check how real your story is. You should be ready to provide even more granular actions, key milestones and a breakdown of potential effects.

3) Now work on 3-6 backup stories. During your interviews, you can then use these stories or adapt these stories to the additional questions your interviewer asks you.

You may be interested, why you need to prepare several stories for each question? At the end of the day, it's not that easy to come up with all of these stories. I've answered here: Repeating Fit Interview Stories

As for the cases - Partners and Directors have their own favorite cases and may even want you to lead the case. The key difference:

  1. You ask clarifying questions in the beginning and make a structure
  2. You lead the case through the structure you've prepared a) asking questions and trying to identify the root-cause of the problem in the branch of your structure b) making a transition to the next branch c) proactively calculating the data and making data-driven conclusion from the data they give you d) Making a conclusion when they ask you to finish a case

It may seem to you that these 2 types of cases are different, however, the interviewer-led type is just a simplified version of the interviewee-led case. My advice is to always prepare in the interviewee-led format so that you could solve both easily.

Answering your 2nd question - notes are not shared

Best

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