Type of interviews with various consulting firms- candidate led or interviewer led?

Case Interview case interviews general
New answer on Jan 31, 2021
4 Answers
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Anonymous A asked on May 07, 2018

Hi everyone,

I have a very basic question. Are the case interviews usually candidate led or interviewer led? Which firms go for candidate led and which ones go for interviewer led case interviews? Also, are all major consulting firms now moving towards interviewer led fomat? I've asked a few people and have found varying answers, so thought will ask here.

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replied on May 07, 2018
McKinsey / Accenture Alum / Got all BIG3 offers / Harvard Business School


The general understanding is that Bain - interviewee led, Mck, BCG - interviewer-led. However, it varies with the interviewer and even at McKinsey partners in the later rounds can give you an interviewer-led case

It may seem for 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 interviewee-led format so that you could solve both easily.

What to expect:

  • Engagement managers (1st round interviews if you think of phone interview as round 0) generally use Mck casebooks and most commonly make interviewer-led interviews. In this case they ask you a) To make a structure (issue tree) b) to drill down in some branch of your structure and calculate something. Or they may even ask to analyze smth unrelated to the structure c) question on creativity (e,g, list 10 ways to increase revenues). However, you should be ready for both type of interviews at this point
  • Partners and directors have their own favorite cases and mainly want you to lead. 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


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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


The one were it´s said to really be a difference is Mckinsey being interviewer-lead. However, I believe there is so much fuzz into something that does not really make such a difference.

Once you are ready for one, you are ready for the other, and it´s important to never loose the ability to "read" your interviewer to adjust -not only in this aspect, but in all-.

Hope it helps!



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Content Creator
replied on Jan 31, 2021
Ex-Mckinsey|Certified Career Coach |Placed 500+ candidates at MBB & other consultancies

Hi there!

It mostly depends on the interviewer, tthat's why the answers vary.
Anyway, you should be prepared for both outcomes, try not to expect anything, it's more important to be just good at cases.


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Anonymous replied on May 13, 2018

Agree with above - I would prepare for interviewee led in any event. But expect a discussion and some back and forth in all firms. Back and forth discussion can often be a good signal, it means the interviewer is engaging in your framework and approach and wants to dig into it more, leverage it to create a rich discussion and deep impression!

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Vlad gave the best answer


McKinsey / Accenture Alum / Got all BIG3 offers / Harvard Business School
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