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Ian

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7

Should I keep at it?

I appreciate this resource, and used it during my interview prep. I learned about management consultant less than 4 months ago. Using online resources, I put together a resume and applied only to McKinsey & Company for an AC position, essentially testing my odds and applying here because a cover letter wasn't required. A few weeks had passed, where I thought I just couldn't make it to the first round.

Much to my surprise, I got a 1st round interview. I played the interactive game (which was enjoyable) before the first interview. I only had a week to prepare for case interviews and PEI. I used more resources I found online, and did about 3 case interviews (mostly with my gf who was unfamiliar with case interviews). During my 1st round - I did well on the first interview, but struggled a bit on the second one (mostly due to not hearing my interviewer well - virtual interview).

I received notification that they would pass me on to the final round, and I had a couple of weeks to prepare. The issue here was that I really didn't enjoy case interview prep, and even though I had more time to prepare, I didn't take advantage of it. My final round interviews went well (PEI, human interaction etc.) but my case interviews were tough. I did really well in my case with the Partner but could have done better with the other interviewers. I found out a day later that I wasn't offered the job. I asked for feedback and was told that my case interviews were the reason I didn't land the job.

My question is this (apologies for being long winded). Should I keep at it and apply to other firms? Especially, if I don't like the idea of a case interviews (which makes it really hard for me to effectively prepare for it). I've heard from a few different sources that if you don't enjoy case interviews, then you shouldn't even bother applying for management consultant roles. I like the idea of solving problems and interacting with C-level management at large companies. The exit opportunities and vast networks are also attractive.

Thanks for taking the time to read this message, and for any response or ideas you may have.

I appreciate this resource, and used it during my interview prep. I learned about management consultant less than 4 months ago. Using online resources, I put together a resume and applied only to McKinsey & Company for an AC position, essentially testing my odds and applying here because a cover letter wasn't required. A few weeks had passed, where I thought I just couldn't make it to the first round.

Much to my surprise, I got a 1st round interview. I played the interactive game (which was enjoyable) before the first interview. I only had a week to prepare for case interviews and PEI. I used more resources I found online, and did about 3 case interviews (mostly with my gf who was unfamiliar with case interviews). During my 1st round - I did well on the first interview, but struggled a bit on the second one (mostly due to not hearing my interviewer well - virtual interview).

I received notification that they would pass me on to the final round, and I had a couple of weeks to prepare. The issue here was that I really didn't enjoy case interview prep, and even though I had more time to prepare, I didn't take advantage of it. My final round interviews went well (PEI, human interaction etc.) but my case interviews were tough. I did really well in my case with the Partner but could have done better with the other interviewers. I found out a day later that I wasn't offered the job. I asked for feedback and was told that my case interviews were the reason I didn't land the job.

My question is this (apologies for being long winded). Should I keep at it and apply to other firms? Especially, if I don't like the idea of a case interviews (which makes it really hard for me to effectively prepare for it). I've heard from a few different sources that if you don't enjoy case interviews, then you shouldn't even bother applying for management consultant roles. I like the idea of solving problems and interacting with C-level management at large companies. The exit opportunities and vast networks are also attractive.

Thanks for taking the time to read this message, and for any response or ideas you may have.

(edited)

Hi anon, do you mind sharing which office you applied for? — Anonymous B on Nov 22, 2020

7 answers

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Hi there,

There are a few aspects here:

1) Are you capable? My answer here is it appears to be a firm "Yes". If you only had a few weeks to prepare and did as well as you did, you clearly are intellectually able to be a consultant.

2) Do you want this? I am in the camp that you need to enjoy casing to some degree if you are to enjoy consulting. That being said, it's hard to truly "enjoy" consulting regardless (long hour, lots of stress, etc.). Most people enter consulting because of ambition, drive, desire to learn/develop, etc.

3) How do you figure out if you want this?

a) Research

b) Talk to people! Seriously, have some networking calls. Break the barrier/ice and literally just ask them to be "real" with you. Dig deep and figure out what consulting looks like day-to-day, what it means for you, and what you want. Then compare it to other options. The best way to figure this out is to have open, honest, real conversations with people at these companies.

Hi there,

There are a few aspects here:

1) Are you capable? My answer here is it appears to be a firm "Yes". If you only had a few weeks to prepare and did as well as you did, you clearly are intellectually able to be a consultant.

2) Do you want this? I am in the camp that you need to enjoy casing to some degree if you are to enjoy consulting. That being said, it's hard to truly "enjoy" consulting regardless (long hour, lots of stress, etc.). Most people enter consulting because of ambition, drive, desire to learn/develop, etc.

3) How do you figure out if you want this?

a) Research

b) Talk to people! Seriously, have some networking calls. Break the barrier/ice and literally just ask them to be "real" with you. Dig deep and figure out what consulting looks like day-to-day, what it means for you, and what you want. Then compare it to other options. The best way to figure this out is to have open, honest, real conversations with people at these companies.

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I would only keep at it if you have the grit to work on your problem solving skills. Yes, the case interview is an artificial situation but the underlying skills that distinguishes someone who gets an offer vs. not are precisely the skills that you continue to refine as a consultant and will help you succeed in the job. It's also a competitive process where the majority of your peers have spent meaningful time preparing and so the difference shows, even for someone who has strong natural intrinsics. As glamourous as MBB consulting might sound, there is a decent amount of grunt work at every level where it's important that you are someone that is willing to put in the hours even though it may not be enjoyable.

I had a very similar experience to yours where I didn't do any case prep until after my first round interviews. My first round interviewer gave me great advice that as much as I had strong intrinsics, McKinsey has a strong feedback culture where my ability to listen and take on feedback would be important to succeed as a McKinsey consultant. Before my final round, I did exactly that where I spent time going through different types of cases, trying to brush up on the underlying problem solving skills outside cases, and trying to really understand what a McKinsey interviewer is looking for behind the case. My personal view is that McKinsey amongst the MBBs has a highly structured and predictable interview approach (i.e., 3 part cases) that has suited you. As a candidate, you pretty much know what to expect which allows the interviewer to really focus on your problem solving skills and create a dynamic that is very similar to how you work at McKinsey on real-life client problems. I would also keep that in mind as you consider other firms.

I would only keep at it if you have the grit to work on your problem solving skills. Yes, the case interview is an artificial situation but the underlying skills that distinguishes someone who gets an offer vs. not are precisely the skills that you continue to refine as a consultant and will help you succeed in the job. It's also a competitive process where the majority of your peers have spent meaningful time preparing and so the difference shows, even for someone who has strong natural intrinsics. As glamourous as MBB consulting might sound, there is a decent amount of grunt work at every level where it's important that you are someone that is willing to put in the hours even though it may not be enjoyable.

I had a very similar experience to yours where I didn't do any case prep until after my first round interviews. My first round interviewer gave me great advice that as much as I had strong intrinsics, McKinsey has a strong feedback culture where my ability to listen and take on feedback would be important to succeed as a McKinsey consultant. Before my final round, I did exactly that where I spent time going through different types of cases, trying to brush up on the underlying problem solving skills outside cases, and trying to really understand what a McKinsey interviewer is looking for behind the case. My personal view is that McKinsey amongst the MBBs has a highly structured and predictable interview approach (i.e., 3 part cases) that has suited you. As a candidate, you pretty much know what to expect which allows the interviewer to really focus on your problem solving skills and create a dynamic that is very similar to how you work at McKinsey on real-life client problems. I would also keep that in mind as you consider other firms.

(edited)

Thank you for your detailed response and suggestion. Can you elaborate on your point about interview structure? Are you saying that McKinsey interviews are easier to prepare for - which is why I made it passed the 1st round? And which firms should I be considering as an alternative? I read your profile and wish I would have worked with you before I had my final round interviews. Lesson learned! — Anonymous A on Nov 22, 2020 (edited)

I’m not sure I have a view on ease but I do believe it focuses more on intrinsics than your familiarity with cases which probably benefits someone like you. I personally find interviewee led cases benefit candidates who are more prepared and familiar with different cases. — Ken on Nov 22, 2020

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I'd say it depends on why you don't like interview cases. If would be great to learn why exactly you're not feeling comfortable or excited preparing for them. The fact that you made it into the final round speaks for your smarts and skill in solving problems. But it will be important for you to understand why you're not enjoying deploying these skills:

  • If it's the situation in which you're put on the spot and need to perform under pressure and battle your nervousness, I'd say: go for it! This is a skill you'll need to master for many careers in business, not just for consulting. Using the practice to get more comfortable with these kind of situations will help you not only to land a job but also to succeed throughout the rest of your career.
  • If you dislike the general approach to problem solving - developing a hypothesis, set up a framework to test it and then dive into execution, only focusing on what has the potential to be answer changing - then you might find that the consulting job is all about that and you might not enjoy what you're getting yourself into.

I'm sure there are other things you might dislike, so try to understand if what makes you not enjoy this is part of the job or not.

I'd say it depends on why you don't like interview cases. If would be great to learn why exactly you're not feeling comfortable or excited preparing for them. The fact that you made it into the final round speaks for your smarts and skill in solving problems. But it will be important for you to understand why you're not enjoying deploying these skills:

  • If it's the situation in which you're put on the spot and need to perform under pressure and battle your nervousness, I'd say: go for it! This is a skill you'll need to master for many careers in business, not just for consulting. Using the practice to get more comfortable with these kind of situations will help you not only to land a job but also to succeed throughout the rest of your career.
  • If you dislike the general approach to problem solving - developing a hypothesis, set up a framework to test it and then dive into execution, only focusing on what has the potential to be answer changing - then you might find that the consulting job is all about that and you might not enjoy what you're getting yourself into.

I'm sure there are other things you might dislike, so try to understand if what makes you not enjoy this is part of the job or not.

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Hey there, please invest your time and career in that which will make you joyful and allow you to do your best. Good things will happen. This feeling comes from your heart/that inner voice/sixth sense. Often people end up in consulting for all the wrong reasons- peer pressure, money etc etc. Its not a trial and error career if you arent a fit then each day will become a drag.

Try solving cases on subjects or topics you are very passionate about. If your enjoy it and its coming naturally then there could be a fire within you which can be ignited with coaching and practice. Otherwise go somewhere else-so many options out there! Main thing is to enjoy the work as much as you can, so invest that in something that will matter to you and people around you. Success and money will happen.

Hey there, please invest your time and career in that which will make you joyful and allow you to do your best. Good things will happen. This feeling comes from your heart/that inner voice/sixth sense. Often people end up in consulting for all the wrong reasons- peer pressure, money etc etc. Its not a trial and error career if you arent a fit then each day will become a drag.

Try solving cases on subjects or topics you are very passionate about. If your enjoy it and its coming naturally then there could be a fire within you which can be ignited with coaching and practice. Otherwise go somewhere else-so many options out there! Main thing is to enjoy the work as much as you can, so invest that in something that will matter to you and people around you. Success and money will happen.

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Hi there,

I agree with Henning and it would be important to understand why you don’t like case interview prep. You said you like the idea of problem solving, which is the core of case prep, so why is that you don’t like it? Knowing that will help to answer.

Best,

Francesco

Hi there,

I agree with Henning and it would be important to understand why you don’t like case interview prep. You said you like the idea of problem solving, which is the core of case prep, so why is that you don’t like it? Knowing that will help to answer.

Best,

Francesco

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Hi there!
I think you should understand that solving case interviews is a hard job and it takes a lot of time with preparation. However, with time it can be more easier and joyful for you. So I think you should keep at it and see your results, If your notice improvements it will be much easier for you. BTW did you think, about the reasons why you don`t like it?
All the best,

GB

Hi there!
I think you should understand that solving case interviews is a hard job and it takes a lot of time with preparation. However, with time it can be more easier and joyful for you. So I think you should keep at it and see your results, If your notice improvements it will be much easier for you. BTW did you think, about the reasons why you don`t like it?
All the best,

GB

If you're intellectually curious and willing to work hard, I think you should keep at it. When I say willing to work hard, I'd say harder than you seemed to in this story! But you should be proud, because you got very far; this means working hard can help you be more successful than you have been at the final round as of yet.

Case practice itself isn't necessarily fun. I should know, I spent 6 months on it and did way too many cases! However, if you're curious about solving the types of questions you get in cases, that's what you should focus on.

If you're intellectually curious and willing to work hard, I think you should keep at it. When I say willing to work hard, I'd say harder than you seemed to in this story! But you should be proud, because you got very far; this means working hard can help you be more successful than you have been at the final round as of yet.

Case practice itself isn't necessarily fun. I should know, I spent 6 months on it and did way too many cases! However, if you're curious about solving the types of questions you get in cases, that's what you should focus on.

Thanks for your response. How did you stay motivated for 6 months of case interview prep? That’s very impressive. — Anonymous A on Nov 22, 2020

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