What It’s Like: Interviewing with McKinsey

Despite not landing a prestigious consulting role, I still think of McKinsey’s recruitment process with fond memories because of how supportive and resourceful the process was. Today, I’ll take a trip down memory lane and recount my experience as university student interviewing with one of the Big 3 consulting firms in the world #throwback.

Simple and Straightforward ✅

Even after 3 years, the link to the Business Analyst Intern position that I applied for still works. Most of the time, job postings expire after a few months and the links are rendered useless #404Error. However, McKinsey seems to know how to reuse links for the same programs and how to redirect links properly. Overall, this simple yet rare occurrence makes it so much easier for potential candidates to revisit opportunities of interest at a later date. Also, shout out to McKinsey for its consistency and not being one of those companies that confuses everyone by changing its program and position names every year.

Upon applying, I received an email with many links that I could check out to learn more about the firm, people, and global networks.

Timely and Efficient ✅

A month after submitting my application, I received an invitation to the 1st round of interviews with 3 weeks notice as well as the dates for the final round of interviews as an FYI. Providing all of the dates up front helped me plan ahead and clear up my busy university and work schedule to accommodate. McKinsey also clearly specified how many interviews there were, how long each interview was, and the format of the interviews (for both the first and final rounds).

On the actual day of interviews, one of my interviewers called me that same evening to tell me what the decision was in my candidacy. Instead of going to bed filled with suspense and uncertainty, wondering when I would be hearing back about my future, I got my answer within hours and moved forward with my life… Fun Fact: the reason I wasn’t chosen to move forward was because of my mental math skills when it came to solving large complex problems (I am totally guilty of relying on Excel and my calculator, oops)!

Preparation Process & Resources

First, they sent us an Interview Prep package with tons of resources, including a Harvard Business School Case Interview Guide, Ivey Back-of-Envelope Math Test, and Last Minute Hints. Although overwhelming, these resources helped me get started with learning the ins and outs of a case interview.

Second, they hosted a 1 hour Interview Prep Webinar to train us on case interviewing, where McKinsey consultants provided an overview of the process, role-played an example, and shared tips and tricks on how to give successful responses. It was great to see the consultants demonstrate how a case interview actually worked.

Third, they paired us up with Interview Buddies who were McKinsey analysts and associates. We were expected to connect with our Buddies to learn more about the interview process and practice cases over the phone or in-person. Buddies can help us prepare, but have no influence on the actual interview evaluations, so we were open to ask any questions we wanted. Going through the case interview process for the first time was eye-opening and I received a lot of constructive feedback (unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to set up a 2nd practice interview because I was speaking at a conference in Toronto).

Would I Do It Again?

Preparing for the interviews felt a lot like studying for my final exams—during final exam season in December—and was quite stressful. Going through the interview, I had never felt so incompetent and unintelligent… but the entire experience was also fascinating! The problems were complex and profound, and there were so many possible approaches to take.

Overall, McKinsey really went above and beyond in preparing the candidates for the interviews. The entire process was simple, straightforward, and enjoyable. Despite the competition and intimidation, McKinsey did everything they could to set us up for success, even for someone like me who had little to no experience in this field.

Hopefully, recruiters and hiring managers around the world will take note of McKinsey’s hiring approach and make the recruitment process more enjoyable!