How To Succeed In Your Final Round Interview At McKinsey

tapuzina12's picture
Rank: Baboon | 120

I'm especially interested in feedback from those who've had multiple final rounds at MBB and met both success and failure.

I have a final round coming up this week. I've worked my way through a prolonged and multi-stage interview process and as I've progressed, I've parlayed those into interviews at other top firms (Bain, BCG, etc.). I am an "experienced hire," having been out of school for two years.

My feedback thus far is that my case performance is strong, with some interviewers saying it could use slightly more structuring. My personal experience interview was part of what carried the day during my second round. I've actually had somewhat contradictory feedback from separate interviewers, which I attributed to the minor differences in behavioral perception - the flaws they identified were mostly just missing polish.

How To Pass A Final Round Interview

By the time you get to the final round of the interview process, you've been given valuable feedback from previous rounds (and interviews with other companies). This feedback is your best resource for getting past the final round. One of the most common items people struggle with is the structuring of case performances. Spending time practicing and mastering this will give your interview a boost. This is particularly important if you're weak in other areas. Having a strong structuring will strengthening your overall application.

A great way to do this is to go through scenarios as you go about your day.

AriZGold:

Listen to the interview feedback you got and practice structuring. You can do this all day - when you are at a restaurant, ask yourself if I received a case asking how I could increase profit here, how would I structure it (perhaps do a market sizing estimation as well for practice with that). Then, when you pick up your dry cleaning, do a hypothetical market entry structure as if the dry cleaner wanted to enter into a new part of the city.

Case Interviews Are Essential To Success

While your personal experience interview is important, it is essential that you understand the expectations exactly for the case interview. It is imperative that you are completely focused and prepared for this section. More than anything, McKinsey wants you to demonstrate that you know your stuff. The case interviews are where you get to do this. To be completely sure of what the expectations are, contact the office where you'll be interviewing ahead of time for clear requirements. At more competitive offices, there will be very little room for error.

McKinsey provides examples of potential case interview scenarios on their website.

tapuzina12:

McKinsey is fair and functional, but it is not warm, nor is it intellectual. My interviewers were less interested in hypotheticals than bare-knuckled optimization, and my theoretical questions about the future of different industries or economic sectors were politely batted away with complete boredom.

Watch this video from McKinsey to learn about their case interview guidelines.

What To Do If You Don't Get Hired

Making it to the final round of interviews does not guarantee you a job. Far from it as this is where it is the most competitive and you're at the highest scrutiny. You are literally competing with the best of the best at this stage. Even if you have interviewed well, make sure you're applying to multiple firms at the same time. Anything can happen at this stage and it is important to have multiple potentials lined up.

If you don't get hired after your final round interview, here are a few things to try:

  • Ask for feedback and follow the advice they give you.
  • Re-apply at a later date. Lots of firms will be happy to give you another chance if you previously made it to the final round.
  • Practice and improve the skills and areas where you were weak.
  • Apply these improvements to your next interviews.
  • When networking with other firms don't be afraid to mention you made it to the final round with other places. This can often demonstrate that you're a great candidate even if it didn't get you all the way.

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Comments (56)

Jun 23, 2013

Before people heap shit upon me for posting a thread on hackneyed and overmulled material, let me assure you that I have dredged the archives, and I have found that the most substantive final round advice was more than 2 years old - new perspectives from recent interviewees would therefore be highly appreciated!

And of course if you want to heap shit anyway, go right ahead.

    • 1
Jun 23, 2013

Best of luck brah

Jun 23, 2013

Idk if this helps but the final round for the Mck Sophomore program was really no different from the first round except in length.

Good luck!

Jun 23, 2013

I have since located a current McK employee who was rejected at TWO prior final round interviews, finally getting the offer at his third - I'm going to talk to him later this week, if anyone wants to hear the feedback, bump this thread and I will indulge you.

Jun 24, 2013
pennstudent11:

I have since located a current McK employee who was rejected at TWO prior final round interviews, finally getting the offer at his third - I'm going to talk to him later this week, if anyone wants to hear the feedback, bump this thread and I will indulge you.

This would be fantastic. Thanks!

Learn More

2,037 questions across 209 consulting firms. 11 Cases developed by a McKinsey Associate, 10+ hours of video. The WSO Consulting Interview Prep Course has everything you’ll ever need to ace your consulting case interviews. Learn more.

Jun 24, 2013

would be great to hear what you find out pennstudent, thanks

Jun 25, 2013

Listen to the interview feedback you got, and practice structuring (particularly in a MECE fashion).

You can do this all day - when you are at a restaurant, ask yourself if I received a case asking how I could increase profit here, how would I structure it (perhaps do a market sizing estimation as well for practice with that). Then, when you pick up your dry cleaning, do a hypothetical market entry structure as if the dry cleaner wanted to enter into a new part of the city.

Have fun with it and don't stress too much. Good luck!

(based on my/my roommates MBB/other consulting interviews)

Jun 23, 2013

I spoke to twice-interviewed McK guy, and he said the first time around he was recruited through the ADP, and he didn't quite hit one of the case interviews out of the park - he thought he understood the structure, zoned out, and as he was going through the motions at the end of the case, he'd gone completely off the rails and had to be turned around.

This probably wasn't the silver bullet anyone was looking for - just a variation of the importance of consistency in case prep. He was also a candidate for one of the most competitive offices, and this was on-season; not the best time to zone out.

    • 1
Jun 28, 2013

I'm curious to hear how this goes for you, please keep updating!

Jul 3, 2013

Sent you a pm asking you a few things.

Jun 23, 2013

I got dinged.

Why: the MD who interviewed me didn't like my formatting, and I screwed up part of the quant with one of the other interviewers. The third interview went perfectly, but that wasn't enough. I also got strangely incommensurate feedback on my PEI, which contradicted my feedback from earlier rounds and which I am chalking up to excessive scrutiny as a result of case interview weakness. The critique I got was: "They were impressed with what you did with what you had - but what you had wasn't good enough." This rings bull-shitty, since McKinsey is self-describedly interested in CAPACITY and what you as a 22-year-old could have optimally accomplished given your circumstances - which I certainly had done, and demonstrated. And had done so successfully for all the other interviewers. How this could have changed, I don't know.

Bottom line:drill your cases. Yes, you must have rock solid PEI, but this is so much more easily prepared than perfect case structuring. Of the 7 cases I ultimately completed for assessment throughout the interview process, I was dead-on ~90% of the time. This imperfect distribution CAN land you an offer, but not if the fuck ups occur primarily during your final round, and particularly not when they happen in front of the most senior interviewer.

Silver linings:
1) They still liked me enough to invite me to re-interview in several months, for a starting date 1 year following. If you get to the final round, this is not atypical treatment.
2) Final round interviews open doors. I now have interviews lined up at Bain and BCG, and hopefully Booz and (what's left of) Monitor. Despair not.

My observations:
1) Off-cycle recruiting can work out, but it is an incredibly slow and plodding process. Don't put all your eggs in one basket - you will waste months of your time. McKinsey is honest and efficient, but their work comes before their recruiting schedule.
2) McKinsey is fair and functional, but it is not warm, nor is it intellectual. My interviewers were less interested in hypotheticals than bare-knuckled optimization, and my theoretical questions about the future of different industries or economic sectors were politely batted away with complete boredom. McKinsey employees are the SEALs of the consulting world, where Bain and BCG might be the jocks and professors, respectively. The ethos is decidedly bland. But it's hard to say no them, and I'm happy I won't have to (should BCG or Bain work out).

Final word: there is a dreadful paucity of detailed rejections on this site, particularly from off-cycle MBB final round applicants. If I can enlighten anyone, I would be happy to - PM me.

Jun 28, 2013

Pennstudent, I'd PM you but i don't have the ponts. When you say "final round interviews open doors", how exactly does that process go?

Jul 7, 2013
sadface:

Pennstudent, I'd PM you but i don't have the ponts. When you say "final round interviews open doors", how exactly does that process go?

I would also be interested in knowing more about that

Jul 8, 2013
kinghongkong:
sadface:

Pennstudent, I'd PM you but i don't have the ponts. When you say "final round interviews open doors", how exactly does that process go?

I would also be interested in knowing more about that

In a lot of cases, all of the people that make it to the final round of interviews have the capacity to do the job well. Sometimes its just bad luck that a potential candidate doesn't get the offer. That being said, having a final round interview with MBB is a signalling device to the other MBBs that you have what it takes. This can be useful to get interviews with the other firms.

Jun 28, 2013
The Sour Patch Kid:

In a lot of cases, all of the people that make it to the final round of interviews have the capacity to do the job well. Sometimes its just bad luck that a potential candidate doesn't get the offer. That being said, having a final round interview with MBB is a signalling device to the other MBBs that you have what it takes. This can be useful to get interviews with the other firms.

Yeah I understand that, but how do other firms learn that you've made it to round three at a MBB? Do you drop it in conversation with a recruiter? Put it on a cover letter/resume? Do other firms find out on their own somehow?

Jun 23, 2013

You network with employees at the firm, let them know, and they'll tell HR. Or just write an e-mail to the relevant employee at HR (e.g., the staff manager assigned to your school) and tell them you're currently interviewing at a competitor and would love to learn more about opportunities at their firm.

Jul 22, 2015
tapuzina12:

You network with employees at the firm, let them know, and they'll tell HR. Or just write an e-mail to the relevant employee at HR (e.g., the staff manager assigned to your school) and tell them you're currently interviewing at a competitor and would love to learn more about opportunities at their firm.

Unless the person I'm networking with or the firm's HR asks me first, "how is your consulting recruiting going with other firms?", I somehow feel like it might be a bit awkward to mention first that you went through a Final Round interview with their competitor. Anyone have any take on this?

Aug 18, 2015

On interview day McKinsey actually has you fill in a form indicating which firms you are interviewing with, as well as what stage. BCG and Bain also directly brought it up during the interviews.

Learn More

2,037 questions across 209 consulting firms. 11 Cases developed by a McKinsey Associate, 10+ hours of video. The WSO Consulting Interview Prep Course has everything you’ll ever need to ace your consulting case interviews. Learn more.

Jun 23, 2013

Just got news that I'll be having a final ("decision") round interview at BCG in a couple weeks. Will the third MBB final round be the charm?

Aug 14, 2013

@pennstudent are you applying to the Philly office of BCG? If so, how was the recruitment process? Did you reach out directly to a recruiter?

Aug 18, 2015

well, in terms of cull, it will still be sizable but significantly smaller than the cut from 1st to final - that's the general rule. you can probably expect more fit, but i'd prepare for the worst. good luck!

Aug 18, 2015

I've got a final round interview coming up, so I'm bumping this thread as I would also like to know what the difference is between final round and the previous rounds, and what the cull is like. Raymond, did you have the interview already? What was everybody's experience like? Thanks.

Aug 18, 2015

I went through final rounds and got offers from both McK and BCG. In both cases the final rounds were with senior people (Managing Partners, Partners, Principals) and the cases were shorter and much less traditional than in the previous rounds. They dedicated much more time to my profile and let me ask a ton of questions.

An example of a non-standard case: Obama wants to sell Hawaii to Japan. What's a good price?

In theory there's no difference between theory and practice; in practice there is

Funniest
Aug 18, 2015

so that's how he plans to hide the birth certificate problems ... !! ;)

    • 2
Aug 14, 2013

Good luck and keep us posted!

Aug 18, 2015

First off - do you have any idea what summers in the Gulf are like? If not, then think again. It is terrifying.

Secondly - consultancies in Dubai are getting creamed and are knocking on the doorsteps of Abu Dhabian, Kuwaiti, Qatari and (gasp!) Saudi institutions (mainly ones with government money). The vast majority of non-gov't-funded businesses in the Gulf are family-owned conglomerates, which aren't keen on the idea of bringing in an external consultant.

PM me if you want to know more.

Aug 18, 2015

I'm not sure where you are getting your info from??
But I agree about the summers

Aug 18, 2015

.

Aug 18, 2015

.

Aug 18, 2015

In Iraq it was hitting 125-130 in the summer consistently. It sounds crazy, but you really do get used t it.

Aug 18, 2015

Is it possible to wear a suit with such a temperature?

Even with only a t-shirt on, I think I'd be drenched. Do people there have any compassion for obese American businessmen sweating to death?

Aug 18, 2015

not if they're wearing suits. make like the natives and wear a dress :) very airy and makes you stand out less.

"... then, lobbest thou thy Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch towards thy foe, who, being naughty in My sight, shall snuff it."

Aug 18, 2015

Why have any compassion when they're getting paid tax free? and given top end amenities?
Whats a little sweat going to do?

Sep 19, 2013

Hope it works out for you man, I hopefully will be going through a very similar process soon.

Aug 18, 2015

Expect the partners to ask you mostly fit / motivation questions. They might include a small case as well, but it's going to be mainly about personality and soft skills in the 3rd round.

Aug 18, 2015

Thought it was only 2 rounds?

Aug 18, 2015

It varies by office. Generally 2 rounds, but can be up to 3.

I once received an offer after a single round, but this was only because the first-round interview was basically a second-round in that it lasted an entire day (we had a dinner the night before, but no candidates were cut between dinner and the next morning's interviews).

  • movetofinance
  •  Aug 18, 2015

smu:

this was from MBB?

interesting...

Aug 18, 2015

Yes, it was at one of the Bs.

My M interviews were 2 rounds.

Aug 18, 2015

If anyone has info, it would be incredibly appreciated.

Aug 18, 2015

.

Aug 18, 2015

It REALLY depends on the office. Expect 4 to 6 interviews in the final round. In theory, you don't have to do better than in round 2; however, you are competing with all of the other people in final round, so you really should aim to do better. Each interview will include a case and an experience interview----take them VERY seriously. The percentage of people who make it to final round and who get offers is somewhere between 20 and 40 percent, depending on the office. Hope this helps. Good luck!

Aug 18, 2015

Only 1/5 for the second round? That's pretty rough.

Are the second round cases significantly more difficult/harder?
Do interviewers try to add more pressure?

Aug 18, 2015

Decisions tend to be pretty fast, most HR told me they would have decisions by Monday at the latest (though I interviewed at another office). Think it would depend on how many people interviewed that day (the fewer the people, the quicker the decision).

Aug 18, 2015

Can you share what your experience was like? Nothing too specific - but the difficulty of the cases (compared to the first round), amount of math required, intensity of people interviewing you, etc?

The office that I'm interviewing with only has 4 interviews in the final round - is that typical?

Aug 18, 2015

Sounds similar to my experience, similar amount of interviews.

Final round cases are pretty much the same as first round, in terms of difficulty, you just have more of them. Not necessarily more intense or more difficult, but your interviewers are more senior, so they have their own approaches to them. Basically, the first round interview's type of structure, amount of math, etc, are a pretty good proxy for final round cases. Did notice that final round also focused a bit more intensely on the personal experience interview.

Aug 18, 2015

thanks for the info!

Aug 18, 2015

does anyone know if you have to get a unanimous "Hire" decision by all 3 ppl you interview with in the final round? usually the seniority of interviewers increases as you go through the day, so do they weigh a Partner's decision more than that of an Engagement Manager?

Aug 18, 2015
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Aug 18, 2015
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