Cookie and Privacy Settings

This website uses cookies to enable essential functions like the user login and sessions. We also use cookies and third-party tools to improve your surfing experience on preplounge.com. You can choose to activate only essential cookies or all cookies. You can always change your preference in the cookie and privacy settings. This link can also be found in the footer of the site. If you need more information, please visit our privacy policy.

Data processing in the USA: By clicking on "I accept", you also consent, in accordance with article 49 paragraph 1 sentence 1 lit. GDPR, to your data being processed in the USA (by Google LLC, Facebook Inc., LinkedIn Inc., Stripe, Paypal).

Manage settings individually I accept
expert
Expert with best answer

Sidi

99% Recommendation Rate

427 Meetings

4,214 Q&A Upvotes

USD 449 / Coaching

3

Why do the styles of interviewing differ between McKinsey and BCG?

Hi all!

I know that the firms are not puristic in terms of interviewer-led or candidate-led case studies, and that elements of both styles can be found both within McKinsey and BCG interviews. However, the difference between the two is still significant. I just wonder - why is this the case? Aren't these two firms searching for the same qualities? And if so - why do they focus on different capabilties (leading the analysis vs. sharply responding to questions)?

Hi all!

I know that the firms are not puristic in terms of interviewer-led or candidate-led case studies, and that elements of both styles can be found both within McKinsey and BCG interviews. However, the difference between the two is still significant. I just wonder - why is this the case? Aren't these two firms searching for the same qualities? And if so - why do they focus on different capabilties (leading the analysis vs. sharply responding to questions)?

3 answers

  • Upvotes
  • Date ascending
  • Date descending
Best Answer
Book a coaching with Sidi

99% Recommendation Rate

427 Meetings

4,214 Q&A Upvotes

USD 449 / Coaching

Hi Anonymous!

During my time at McKinsey and at BCG I have interviewed many applicants in both styles, hence I believe I can give a comment here. ;)

You are right - there is no such thing as a "pure McKinsey style" or "pure BCG style"), since in both firms the cases will vary on a continuum between the extremes. However, in the aggregate there is a systematic difference, which is essentially rooted in two different philosophies.

Candidate-led case style (BCG et. al): Here, the candidate's conceptual thinking ability, his ability to hypothesize and prioritize, as well as his leadership capacity to drive problem solving forward are under scrutiny. The interviewer will get try to get a holistic picture of the candidate! And over the course of 4-6 interviews, consistency of the candidate's process rigour is verified. Most firms have adopted this style.

Interviewer-led case style (McKinsey): McKinsey believes that a defined and limited set of qualities and abilities determine a consultant's success within the Firm. Hence, interviewers double down on these abilities in order to test them in a very focused way. This leads to the interviewer-led case style, which sometimes feels like multiple mini-cases under a common thematic umbrella. You can also see this philosphy in how McKinsey runs the fit part, which is much more focused compared to other firms: the Personal Experience Interview (PEI) at McK scrutinizes 3 defined dimensions in extreme detail (vs. more open discussion formats at other firms like BCG).

Cheers, Sidi

Hi Anonymous!

During my time at McKinsey and at BCG I have interviewed many applicants in both styles, hence I believe I can give a comment here. ;)

You are right - there is no such thing as a "pure McKinsey style" or "pure BCG style"), since in both firms the cases will vary on a continuum between the extremes. However, in the aggregate there is a systematic difference, which is essentially rooted in two different philosophies.

Candidate-led case style (BCG et. al): Here, the candidate's conceptual thinking ability, his ability to hypothesize and prioritize, as well as his leadership capacity to drive problem solving forward are under scrutiny. The interviewer will get try to get a holistic picture of the candidate! And over the course of 4-6 interviews, consistency of the candidate's process rigour is verified. Most firms have adopted this style.

Interviewer-led case style (McKinsey): McKinsey believes that a defined and limited set of qualities and abilities determine a consultant's success within the Firm. Hence, interviewers double down on these abilities in order to test them in a very focused way. This leads to the interviewer-led case style, which sometimes feels like multiple mini-cases under a common thematic umbrella. You can also see this philosphy in how McKinsey runs the fit part, which is much more focused compared to other firms: the Personal Experience Interview (PEI) at McK scrutinizes 3 defined dimensions in extreme detail (vs. more open discussion formats at other firms like BCG).

Cheers, Sidi

Book a coaching with Ian

100% Recommendation Rate

291 Meetings

25,147 Q&A Upvotes

USD 289 / Coaching

Hi Anonymous,

*Please note that this response is a generalization and differs across practices, geographies, and individuals. I also am not speaking on behalf of either organization and am presenting a viewpoint from materials I have read and my experiences.

Looking to get specific on your answer, it's because of the company cultures/values and ways of working. Cases represent what you'll do on the job, and so, the styles are adjusted to how you'll operate in each company.

Ways of Working:

BCG: Belief in taking the client through the journey. They believe in solutioning with the client to come to a conclusion/solution/implementation together. This means "bespoke" solutions that are tailored specifically to the client. They believe that, while this generally takes longer and has more roadblocks, it leads to real buy-in and committment to to end-product, which allows for a stronger result and one that lasts after BCG leaves. The negative view is that their answer is "what the client wants".

McKinsey: Belief in applying tried and true methods that they know work. They believe that solutions are better arrived at without undue influence from the bias that may come from close interaction with clients. They believe that better solutions can be achieved faster through this. The negative view is that their approach is "dust off another report"

The Result for Cases:

BCG: Creative, "out of the box" thinking desired. Candidate-led style as you'll need to drive the client and adjust to their responses AND "flatter" company structure means you need to drive your own module.

McKinsey: You better know your frameworks. Apply grounded principles to a case and be far more structured. Interview-led as more senior people as company will tell you what they want done.

I could go on, but I think you get the point :)

Hi Anonymous,

*Please note that this response is a generalization and differs across practices, geographies, and individuals. I also am not speaking on behalf of either organization and am presenting a viewpoint from materials I have read and my experiences.

Looking to get specific on your answer, it's because of the company cultures/values and ways of working. Cases represent what you'll do on the job, and so, the styles are adjusted to how you'll operate in each company.

Ways of Working:

BCG: Belief in taking the client through the journey. They believe in solutioning with the client to come to a conclusion/solution/implementation together. This means "bespoke" solutions that are tailored specifically to the client. They believe that, while this generally takes longer and has more roadblocks, it leads to real buy-in and committment to to end-product, which allows for a stronger result and one that lasts after BCG leaves. The negative view is that their answer is "what the client wants".

McKinsey: Belief in applying tried and true methods that they know work. They believe that solutions are better arrived at without undue influence from the bias that may come from close interaction with clients. They believe that better solutions can be achieved faster through this. The negative view is that their approach is "dust off another report"

The Result for Cases:

BCG: Creative, "out of the box" thinking desired. Candidate-led style as you'll need to drive the client and adjust to their responses AND "flatter" company structure means you need to drive your own module.

McKinsey: You better know your frameworks. Apply grounded principles to a case and be far more structured. Interview-led as more senior people as company will tell you what they want done.

I could go on, but I think you get the point :)

Book a coaching with Guennael

99% Recommendation Rate

284 Meetings

1,399 Q&A Upvotes

USD 319 / Coaching

Same reason that companies have different cultures, or that people behave differently in the same situations: we all want the same, but personal & cultural differences will lead to different paths being taken.

Ultimately ,someone doing great at interviewer-led will do great at interviewee-led - and vice-versa. And people who do terrible at one will also do terrible at the other. The differnce is more noticeable for people who are just ok.

I'm typically a huge proponent of the "why" do something vs. another. Here is an exception in my mind: Control what you can control. Just focus on doing interviewee-led perfectly, it will have significant carry over to interviewer-led and you'll be set for most every type of interview

Same reason that companies have different cultures, or that people behave differently in the same situations: we all want the same, but personal & cultural differences will lead to different paths being taken.

Ultimately ,someone doing great at interviewer-led will do great at interviewee-led - and vice-versa. And people who do terrible at one will also do terrible at the other. The differnce is more noticeable for people who are just ok.

I'm typically a huge proponent of the "why" do something vs. another. Here is an exception in my mind: Control what you can control. Just focus on doing interviewee-led perfectly, it will have significant carry over to interviewer-led and you'll be set for most every type of interview

Related case(s)

McKinsey Questions

Solved 39.9k times
McKinsey Questions Tell me of a situation where you had an opinion and no one seemed to agree with you. What was your goal when you decided to join university / work / clubs / a sports team? Did you have a goal that you were not able to reach? What did you do? What do you want to be remembered for and how are you achieving it? What is your typical way of dealing with conflict?
4.5 5 865
| Rating: (4.5 / 5.0) |
Difficulty: Intermediate | Style: Fit Interview | Topics: Personal fit

Tell me of a situation where you had an opinion and no one seemed to agree with you. What was your goal when you decided to join university / work / clubs / a sports team? Did you have a goal that you were not able to reach? What did you do? What do you want to be remembered for and how are you ... Open whole case

BCG Questions

Solved 27.6k times
BCG Questions What arouses your interest when you are working / studying / doing another activity (from the CV)? Tell me of a time where you had no idea what you were doing. When did you use an uncommon approach to do something? Have you ever had responsibility for other people? Tell me of a situation where you were not the official leader.
4.5 5 213
| Rating: (4.5 / 5.0) |
Difficulty: Intermediate | Style: Fit Interview | Topics: Personal fit

What arouses your interest when you are working / studying / doing another activity (from the CV)? Tell me of a time where you had no idea what you were doing. When did you use an uncommon approach to do something? Have you ever had responsibility for other people? Tell me of a situation where ... Open whole case

MBB Final Round Case - Smart Education

Solved 18.4k times
MBB Final Round Case - Smart Education Our client is SmartBridge, a nonprofit educational institution offering face-to-face tutoring services. The client operates in the US. The mission of SmartBridge is to help as many students as possible to complete studies and prevent that they drop from the school system, in particular in disadvantaged areas. The client is considering starting operations for its services in the Chicago area. They hired us to understand if that makes sense. Due to the nonprofit regulation, SmartBridge should operate on its own in the market, without any partnership. How would you help our client?
4.6 5 647
| Rating: (4.6 / 5.0)

Our client is SmartBridge, a nonprofit educational institution offering face-to-face tutoring services. The client operates in the US. The mission of SmartBridge is to help as many students as possible to complete studies and prevent that they drop from the school system, in particular in disadvant ... Open whole case

Espresso, Whatelse?

Solved 10.9k times
Espresso, Whatelse? Espresso Whatelse is an Italian company that produces coffee and espresso machines since 1908. It is the Italian market leader and has a strong presence overall in Europe. In 2019, Espresso Whatelse has increased its revenues but it has seen declining profit margin. Your client wants to understand the root causes of this 2019 trend and how to increase its profit margin again.  
4.6 5 538
| Rating: (4.6 / 5.0)

Espresso Whatelse is an Italian company that produces coffee and espresso machines since 1908. It is the Italian market leader and has a strong presence overall in Europe. In 2019, Espresso Whatelse has increased its revenues but it has seen declining profit margin. Your client wants to understand ... Open whole case

MBB Case: COVID-19 Vaccine

Solved 6.1k times
MBB Case: COVID-19 Vaccine The COVID-19 pandemic has killed millions of people worldwide and led to devastating economic impact. A vaccine is one of the biggest hopes for stopping the pandemic.  The World Health Organization (WHO) is working with multiple stakeholders to ensure groups at higher risk of becoming infected and dying (e.g. elderly people and healthcare workers) receive a safe an effective COVID-19 vaccine in the next six months. The WHO’s Director-General asked your help to build a plan to achieve this goal. What should be included in this plan?
4.6 5 294
| Rating: (4.6 / 5.0)

The COVID-19 pandemic has killed millions of people worldwide and led to devastating economic impact. A vaccine is one of the biggest hopes for stopping the pandemic. The World Health Organization (WHO) is working with multiple stakeholders to ensure groups at higher risk of becoming infected and ... Open whole case