Questions on McKinsey final round

Final Round McKinsey
New answer on Jan 31, 2021
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Anonymous A asked on Sep 17, 2018


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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Anonymous replied on Sep 17, 2018


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!


P4S Expert

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Anonymous replied on Sep 17, 2018

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.

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Content Creator
replied on Sep 17, 2018
McKinsey / Accenture Alum / Got all BIG3 offers / Harvard Business School


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


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replied on Jan 31, 2021
Ex-McKinsey final round interviewer | Executive Coach

Congratulations! Some thoughts based on your questions:

+ The assessment critieria is the same with the exception of the third PEI dimension which you weren't asked in first round. You may come across slightly more abstract cases and your interviewer will expect you to go much deeper with your insights across the case

+ First round performance is definitely included as part of the final decision on whether to extend an offer or not. McKinsey has a very strong feedback culture where that also applies to interviewing. If you had a hiccup in your first round maths and that was still a problem in final round then that would raise alarm bells whereas the opposite if you showed clear imrovement

+ Best tip outside PEI and Cases is to really build a rapport with your interviewers and make sure they can see you as someone working on one of the teams as well as a future partner at McKinsey (that is a deliberate question that is taken into consideration - do we see this candiate as a future partner of McKinsey & Company)

Good luck!

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Content Creator
replied on Jan 30, 2021
Ex-Mckinsey|Certified Career Coach |Placed 500+ candidates at MBB & other consultancies

Hi there!

  • the Partner round case discussions are less structured. Partners tend to give real-life case from their experience or sometimes they can also pick a situation from the candidate’s CV, make a few changes and turn it into a case;
  • every partner discussion is different and the direction the conversation takes depends on role that you are interviewing for, feedback that the partner has got from earlier rounds and of course the Partner’s personality;

Keep the following things in mind while preparing for the Partner interview:

Better synthesis – Your analytical mindset has already been tested in earlier rounds. Partners would like to test your client readiness. Partners pay more attention to how you draw your conclusions, communicate your conclusions, how you synthesis etc.

Comfort with less structured case discussion – Partners love to test your creativity, out of the box thinking. Multiple times in the discussion they can ask you your opinion on the data point/clarification that you had asked, to check your business acumen e.g. you asked, what is the growth rate of our client; partner responds what number would you want to assume? or open ended questions e.g. tell me more, is there anything else?

Consistent stories and deep dives – Partners would want to know your story. They want to see whether your decision to join McKinsey is consistent with your career story. Whether the achievements you have mentioned on the CV are consistent with your project stories. Partners will drill down into your experiences and achievements to the extreme. They want to understand how you react to challenges and how you think and communicate about your past work.


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Anonymous replied on Aug 14, 2020

Dear A,

My congratulations!

Specifically, the main difference you will find in a final round with partners is that at that stage they:

  1. spend more time on fit questions and your alignment with the company

  2. check more closely your communication (eg how you react to challenging questions)

  3. may not have a “proper” structured case to present – during one of my MBB finals, had one interview which was made by two market sizing questions and a brainteaser, without any business case. That's because during the final they know you can structure and crack a case (you passed 1 or 2 rounds already) and are more interested in your logic, personality and fit with the company



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Content Creator
replied on May 31, 2020
McKinsey | Awarded professor at Master in Management @ IE | MBA at MIT |+180 students coached | Integrated FIT Guide aut


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