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McKinsey interview

#1 McKinsey interview
29/09/2006 15:13

Helper # 1


I had the first round of case studies with McK very recently, and I got lots of help from this board, so just want to help others. Semi-altruistic, anyway!

Ok, firstly, this is what happens. The consultant welcomes you. They make you feel comfy, then they ask you to demonstrate something about yourself (leadership, adaptability or whatever), so make sure you have a story for each of these and you know this story, and you can elaborate at length. My lady asked me about one story for 20 minutes. I know, exactly! Even for a chatterbox like me, it was difficult to not forget things, talk myself into a hole, repeat myself, be pushed to embellish!

Then comes the case study.

You DO have to think broadly because the case can be on any industry at all. Even things you have never thought about - i don't know, a change in design of those forceps midwives sometimes use when assisting a labour and how to launch this on the marlet. Literally, ANYTHING! NOT necessarily stuff you read about in the FT everyday. So expect something you know nothing about. That said, some people do luck out and get something they know lots about ie i knew an ex-teacher who had two case studies relating to education - but that must be quite rare (lucky?!)

They introduce you to a project they have worked on. They'll perhaps ask you a question at this point (and you will have to show wide ranging thought). I would say at this point, if you dont understand, just say. I mean, mine was on a topic I knew nothing about and not to appear stupid I proceeded, but wish i had just come clean. I mean if they didn't get the main topic of the consulting project at first, they would have been able to ask for clarification, so you should. The example I gave might be a difficult one to probe deeply on (hee hee) but do this, honestly. I wish had pushed for further explanation.

Then you will have maybe two sets of quant questions - market sizing maybe, or find an appropriate price for a product, or something. I haven't exhausted the possibilities here.

The sums are not hard. But it is unnerving if you are an arts/humanities/non-numerate degree person because you probably haven't ever really been tested on mental maths (at least not of late). So, get friends to ask you math questions on the spot, i think that is good practice. Like, what's 9% of 220,000. That's quite easy though, perhaps what 1/16 of 3.8m. It's a lot about not wanting to look an idiot, but if you do drop 0's where you shouldn't, better to mess up in front of your boyfriend, or little sister rather than Mr McK. I still tripped myself up solely through lack of confidence with numbers, rather than capability. The sums are like 35,000 x 3, then perhaps find what percentage 75 is of this number. So, not hard, and practice does it.

The case studies are quite structured if it's around a business problem (rather than a guesstimate - didn't have one of those, so can't say) and in this way it's different to those in the vault guides etc. This threw me off course a bit because they do interject and steer things. Knowing the format really matters. Typically they will ask you to think about the problem, you give them some ideas/your initial thoughts about areas to explore, then they will take you down one of those paths. If you didn't touch on one of the paths they want to go on, they will introduce it anyway. It's fine, they don't make you feel like you've failed. I did, but hey!

Mostly, have an open mind, try to consider all possibilities, state at least the most relevant ones.

There is surely more advice I can give, but I'm a bit tired at the moment.

Mostly, I think case studies are about practice. Yes, practice at home, but so far I have had two interviews - one with a boutique strat firm and one with Mc K, and honestly, I am already getting better. I can feel it. It's not the big unknown anymore - largely that's what I find intimidating about the whole process.

The case studies are not hard, it's just that they test skills etc that (it seems to me, anyway) are often the acquired type rather than innate/latent. Maybe they are latent, but you know what I mean.

Listen, I hope that helps all you McK candidates. I haven't heard from them yet, but I'm sure I've failed. On the upside, I just got a the results from my MSc today and I got a distinction from a top notch uni, so i'm not feeling SO bad. Well, I am, but this is damage limitation here :)

I have Accenture coming up very early next week - can anyone give me tips on the rounds? This will be round # 1 for me. Apparently it's a little chat and a mini case study. Please lemme know if you can help me.

Helper # 1

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#2 RE: McKinsey interview
29/09/2006 15:14

Helper to Helper # 1 (#1)

Not true about the ex-teacher, that was elsewhere.

I'm sorry, i'm knackered!

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#3 RE: McKinsey interview
30/09/2006 14:08

John to Helper # 1 (#1)

ACN Round 1 isn't too hard, I'm sure a hell of a lot less so than McKinsey anyway. Make sure you know the structure of the organisation (ie products, resources, high tech, g'ment, finance etc), examples of ACN projects (see their website) in particular UK projects, ACN culture (mention paid charity time) who competitors are, usual competencies - when have you influenced others, name time things went wrong etc, case study is literally about a paragraph long and you need to then say main priorities facing client and some recommendations and generally sound like you might one day be able to be useful in this type of situation. Interviewers are generally very friendly and really nice, obviously things get hotter for round 2.

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#4 RE: McKinsey interview
30/09/2006 15:52

Helper to John (#3)

You're a star John!

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#5 RE: McKinsey interview
01/10/2006 00:37

TdH to deleted (#0)

lets not get carried away here.

Thanks for your insight - and i presume that you were narrating an interview for a graduate placement at McK.

For Accenture, it really depends on what youre interviewing for. My interview for the strategy side was almost identical to what you just described at McK - except probably for less mental arithmitics. They wanted more creativity and less numbers.

That said, be prepared for serious estimation techniques - which acn strat is very fond of. ie. estimate the total number of light bulbs in london. There are some good websites for this - just have a search.

and lastsly, be prepared to answer questions about thier recent exit of the NHS project. Lis said it was a 'victory'. Whatever you might believe, i suggest you say the same.

good luck

Tom dick and Harry

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#6 RE: McKinsey interview
01/10/2006 10:49

Helper to TdH (#5)

Let it be said that you are a star too, TdH.

Thanks for that. H

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