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Second/final round interview McKinsey & BCG

Anonymous A asked on Aug 30, 2018

Does anybody have advice on how to successfully pass the second round interviews?

Will they structually be similar to the first rounds? (except for having more senior interviewers)

Thanks,

Cas

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Vlad replied on Aug 30, 2018
McKinsey / Accenture / Got all BIG3 offers / More than 300 real MBB cases / Harvard Business School
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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.

Best

Anonymous B replied on Aug 30, 2018

In my experience the second round interviews with more senior personnel are more fluid and less structured. They are more conversational than the first round.

Francesco replied on Aug 31, 2018
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Hi Anonymous,

the structure for final rounds is the same (fit + case+ your questions); however there is far more emphasis on communication and fit.

Specifically, the main difference you will find in a final round with partners is that 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, both verbally and in terms of body language. They know that if they make an offer you will soon represent the company in front of the client, so that’s critical)
  3. May not have a “proper” structured case to present – during one of my finals I had one interview which was made by two market sizing questions and one brainteaser, without any business case. That's because at the final round 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

So in order to prepare I would concentrate on:

  1. Review in details your PEI stories – they will matter more than in the first round. In some finals I had almost exclusively behavioural questions.
  2. Work on your communication (reaction under pressure, how gain time when you do not have a structure ready, connect with the interviewer, body language, etc). This is something you can do almost exclusively in interviews with peers. Your communication will be far more important in the final compared to the first.
  3. Prepare on cases as you did for the first round. More market sizing practice could be useful to think out of the box in case you get unusual questions.
  4. Bonus point: Research the partners’ background. Ask to HR if it is possible to know who are the partners you will interview with, if not disclosed. Be sure to know very well your interviewers profile and prepare questions specifically for them (eg: sectors they worked, specific career path). This can be a big differentiator from other candidates and a big plus.

Best,

Francesco

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