What are the differences between first round and final round at McKinsey?

Anonymous A asked on Sep 13, 2017 - 3 answers

Does anyone know how to prepare for final round? It is much different than the first round preparation? The FIT portion is more important at this round?


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Anonymous replied on Sep 14, 2017

Hi mate,

I've recently accepted an offer for McKinsey Sydney so I can give you a more recent assessment of the differences.

I'll breakdown my assessment into the Case interview and the PEI section.

The case interview differred in pace and content. Pace wise they moved quicker, didn't waste time on you rambling and will interrupt you more often. Be prepared of this, the key quote was "if it felt like I was moving quickly, it's because I felt you were doing well, so don't feel flustered as I interrupt and keep moving through the questions." The conversations are fast paced and you should feel ready to quickly outline your hypothesis and start spitballing with your Partner.

Content wise as you would know there is a large packet of case information available to the interviewers. My two Partner interviews barely touched the case information, in fact the Senior Partner just started talking in a very conversational manner, his exact words to begin the case. "Oh that's interesting, hey since you're interested in the services sector I've got this interesting problem that I hope you can help me with..." It was very fluid, the whole case lasted 15 minutes because it wasn't a structured Q1 Q2 structure.

I think the 2 key take aways from my interview experiences are that while real case practices are the gold standard, having the mental ‘muscle memory’ from talking out loud and being able to critically assess problems was also critical in my success. Furthermore being able to treat the interview as a friendly conversation helps in being more comfortable with the pacing.

Finally, the Personal Experience Interview were different in two ways, weighting and content. Firstly the PEI had more weighting than I expected during my interview rounds, especially the partner interviews. My preparation during first round for PEI was fairly light, writing down a few ‘head line stories’ on a notebook and hoping to be able to discuss the details as the interviewer asked. In reality the PEI section was literally 50% of your 60 minutes, going up to 60-70% in your partner interviews.

The feedback from my round 1 interviewers was that I should brush up on my stories to be more structured and detailed.

Secondly in the partner interviews they structured the questions differently, my final Senior Partner interview went like this:

"Talk about your leadership capabilities, but I want you to imagine you are on the front page of the newspaper, I want to see your 5 word Headline, and three dot points that are 10 words or less that described what you did."

They would ask questions such as “why did you choose to talk to X in this location?”, “what reactions were you looking for when you said that?” Unless you had really thought about your stories, these details would be hard to remember on the spot.

The key take away for the PEI section is that it is definitely a 1:1+ ratio for Case interviews to PEI, and your preparation should reflect this.

Good luck with your prep.



updated his answer on Sep 13, 2017
Current BCG Active Project Leader |Former A.T. Kearney |+8Y of consulting experience | Received 8 consulting offers in the past 2Y
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Dear future consultant,

Congratulations and all the best luck for the final round. In my experience, a firm like Mckinsey does not forgive mistakes to any applicant, so you did a good job during the first round.

- For the fit part: interviewers will go deep in other examples for leadership, analytics, conflict, teamwork, etc. So have at least three (3) different answers for each potential fit question. Do not use the same examples that you provided during the first round

- For the case part: expect the same drill

WHAT IS IMPORTANT is that the structure and dynamics of the interview might change. So, I would recommend you to read the "Consulting Q&A" the questions "First round interview with a senior director" which will give you an idea what would you expect in the final round (have in mind that senior consultants hold the final interviews (e.g., Partners) in most cases.

In case you don't find it, I have copied my answer below:

""""""""""""""""""I hope this short message finds you well and helps you in your preparation. The more senior level the interviewers are, the more creative they become during the interviews. What does it mean? That they can take the conversation wherever they want and with no specific order (they can jump from a fit question to a numerical question, then return to the fit part and finish with a small case)

However, the mechanics and gist of the interview won't change. They have to answer the following critical questions:

1) Are you a good fit for the company? This is basically the fit part of the interview in which you probably can expect a) stress interview b) going very deep into specific examples c) multiple skills assessment from previous experience

2) Do you have the skills set to become a good consultant? This is basically the case part in which the interviewer can ask you a) out of the hood numerical questions b) short interview cases c) real cases that the interviewer is currently working d) cases that the interviewer is inventing while he is speaking to you.

One final recommendation is not to feel nervous if you feel that the interview is not "structured", this is how senior level professional approach their interviews.""""""""""""""""""




Vlad replied on Sep 17, 2017
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It depends on the company:

Mckinsey is a bit more structured and demanding in its approach with the fit part that takes up to 30 minutes. They will ask all sets of questions including a story on 1 of 3 competencies: Leadership, Achievement, Personal Impact. The partners on 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.

BCG interviews are a bit shorter, a bit less structured and detailed. They will also test competencies like leadership, Impact, Teamwork. Similar to McKinsey, the partners on the last round are more experienced and they will challenge every single detail of your story.

On the contrary, Bain consultants will be less concerned about your stories and will not have strict guidelines. They will mostly check your background and motivation.

For all the companies "your questions to the interviewer" is an important part. Basically, it is a chance to ask questions at the end of the interview after the case. The last impression is always important. It's a free chance to demonstrate your smartness and curiosity to the partner of the company. It is also an opportunity to express your interests and mention extra-curricular activities beyond the fit interview topics.

Good luck!

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