How To Prepare For McKinsey Case Interview
Everybody has heard of McKinsey & Company. At least in the business world, everybody is familiar with the company, and they are one of the world’s leading consulting firms. Likewise, it’s the oldest consulting firm around; first established by James Mckinsey, a professor at the University of Chicago and an expert in management accounting.
To put it simply, Mckinsey is the Apple of consulting firms. If you are interested in becoming a consultant, you’ve no doubt dreamt of working in that company. Currently, the firm has 30 thousand employees working in 130 cities. They have an established reputation that still stands today, no matter how many generations have come and gone.
Their services are highly sought out by companies, NGOs, and government agencies to solve problems.
Getting a Job In Mckinsey
I’ll say it outright, getting a job in McKinsey & Company is a very tall order. Every year, thousands of applicants flock towards the company hoping to land a prestigious job there. Of all the thousands, only a measly 1% can get a job.
So understandably, competition is very fierce among applicants. It’s not enough to pass the interview, but you also need to be the best among all the candidates. They won’t be satisfied with someone who is just good enough.
That’s not all because McKinsey case interviews are likewise a tough nut to crack. McKinsey is known for one of the hardest job interviews in the world. On top of that, the interviewer can seem intimidating, and they do that to test you.
With the odds stacked against you, it’s hard to establish a beachhead. The good news is, is that we are here to help you prepare against the onslaught. With the right preparation, you can make the interview a straightforward fight rather than an incoherent assault.
Here is a guide that can help you maximize your chances of success.
Know Your Expertise
When hiring, McKinsey & Company is looking for either a specific niche or generalists. Know what niche you are good at or if you are a generalist.
Generalists are jack of all trades but masters of none. They are the staff that is tasked with helping clients in any industry and handling any type of problem. On the other hand, specialists are masters of their own specific niche. Areas of specialization include Implementation Consultant, Data Scientist, Advanced Analytics, Marketing, etc.
If you are an expert for a specific niche, your interviewer will guide you in that department. So, you will have a respective interview that is different from generalists. But since you are a specialist, you are familiar with that set of topics.
Generalists, however, will have to be familiar with business in different industries. That said, they don’t have to get in too deep. They only need to understand the basics and have problem-solving skills to solve a case. However, they can’t handle cases that need a lot more expertise.
Each category has its own strength and weaknesses. Know what you are good at and understand them to have an edge in an interview. But by far, the biggest strength in becoming a specialist is a much better salary. If you want to be a specialist, you will have to take courses.
McKinsey interviewers are very particular about knowing your structure. Your answer isn’t as important as your structures. In a case study, there can be multiple right answers to a question, and so interviewers don’t emphasize it. Your structure will reveal a lot about you. Not in a personality sense, but they reveal your thinking on how you approach a case.
When the interviewer checks your structure, they don’t only mean your structure at the start of the case. They want to inspect your note’s structure, brainstorming structure, and even a structure in your answer to the case. In every single thing, they want to see that your thoughts are precise and concise.
If you have both of these traits, then you will impress them a lot. Study different structures, and familiarize yourself with them until it comes out naturally. For each topic, there is a suitable structure for it.
Likewise, don’t get too caught up with trying to remember which structure to use in a case interview. Don’t stick to textbook structures, either. Adapt and improvise your structures as you go. Treat each case as unique and make a specific structure for it.
Know Your Math
In a McKinsey case interview, expect a lot of math. When doing your math, you need to be accurate to the one’s place. Avoid rounding off you can. Why?
Once the interview starts, the interviewer will hand you down a lot of information which includes math. Along with the information, the interviewer already has the math answers with him. They are not looking for a round-off or insights. What matters is that you got your calculations right. It’s either you got your math right or wrong.
Learn To Ask Questions
After the case information is handed, ask clarifying questions. It’s not a minus if you ask questions, and they don’t expect you to know every single topic. Likewise, if there is something you don’t understand, ask for some clarification. It’s better to know now than misunderstand the question and get the wrong answer.
McKinsey Wants Answer-First Conclusion
When it’s time to present your conclusion, it’s preferable to answer the case study first. What it means is that McKinsey wants your structures, thought processes, findings, and conclusion to be non-priority.
Answers first, and then you can explain the reason and how you got to that answer. If the firm hires you, you will be expected to face different clients. Those clients will want to hear an answer first before hearing the logic behind it.
How To Prepare For McKinsey Case Interview – Final Thoughts
If you keep these five points in mind and follow them, your chances of success increased. It’s a very competitive environment, so prepare yourself with these five points whenever you can.