McKinsey Interview Process for Experienced Hires

houstonguy321's picture
Rank: Chimp | banana points 15

My interview process at McKinsey has begun. I am expecting a phone screening, a case coaching session, an interview round with Principals followed by an interview round with partners (if all goes well). Anyone has any insights on what to expect? Any form tips/suggestions are appreciated. I am going through the experienced hire route and I have applied for the associate role as a generalist.

experienced hire McKinsey interviews

Landing the initial interview with MBB as an experienced hire is just the first hurdle. However, it is usually the more difficult one to overcome. This is usually accomplished with efficient networking and a solid story.

Once you land the interview the goal is to knock it out of the park. The bar for experienced hires is usually higher. However, the core skill set for interviewing is essentially the same. The focus will be on case knowledge and fit questions.

Building Case Knowledge for Interviews

The case interview is still the most important stage of the selection process. There are many different resources when preparing for a case interview and the book "Case and Point" is a good resource for building a strong foundation for case interviews.

You can check out Case in Point below on Amazon.

Additionally, Wall Street Oasis has resources to help you ace your interview and land an offer. MBA level casebooks can also be a valuable resource for interview preparation.

Locking down your technical knowledge is one thing and communicating that knowledge in a succinct intelligible manner is another. The quality of your answers is important but delivery is equally important. For that reason, we suggest conducting as many mock interviews as you can. This will help you simulate some of that pressure you experience in an interview.

You can learn more about McKinsey case interviews with the below video from McKinsey.

Preparing for Fit Questions in Consulting Interviews

Fit questions are an inescapable part of the selection process regardless of industry. Fit questions often involve storytelling to communicate your values, principles and professional experience. Having written answers to potential fit questions is a good place to start. Again, delivery is key. So practice delivering your fit answers in a mock interview to hone those skills even further.

Here are some quick examples of common fit questions that have been asked in McKinsey interviews. These questions are from interview insight submissions from the

  • Tell me about a time where you showed leadership
  • Tell me about a time you had a conflict with a team member and how you resolved it.
  • Tell me about a time you had to convince someone of something where the outcome was very important for your career.

The interview process for an experienced hire is not significantly different than interviews for other recruiting channels. However, you may be pressured more when it comes to your resume. The interviews will still have a strong focus on fit questions and cases.

Read more about McKinsey Interviews on the Wall Street Oasis Company Database.

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Comments (29)

Sep 30, 2015

Congratulations. What is your background?

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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.

Oct 1, 2015

Can you provide more information on your background? The will likely pressure test different aspects of your candidacy based on what your experiences are to-date. Have you already started working on case prep?

Oct 2, 2015

I have eight years of experience in technology consulting.... serving oil and gas industry.


Oct 2, 2015

Likely very similar to post MBA/PhD interview -- fit questions followed by case.

If you're applying to a certain area, expect to interview with more people from that area. Although coming in as a generalist maybe not.

FYI, principals are partners.

  • Anonymous Monkey
  •  Nov 4, 2015

My experience in the selection process at McKinsey...

Positive items:
They were clear on the first two selection steps and provided great material for preparation: a webex and examples in the webpage for case resolution. PST is not as difficult as people say: I got about 60% in the practice tests and was told they were impressed at how well I did in the actual tests.
I received response to every consultation on the process.

Items that can probably be enhanced:
They took weeks to call me for the first round of interviews after I passed PST. I wrote to the recruiter once a week to know if there were new news and she just politely answer every time that for differnt reasons, they were still not progressing with the process.
According to McKinsey webpage, the case resolution is very important. However, even though I was told I did great in this, it didn't actually matter for the decision not to let me advance in the process.
I was only interviewed by women: I support initiatives to give women the position they deserve within companies but I think men and women have different perspectives and they should be both equally relevant. Having only women in the recruiting process means losing a great deal of valuable input that can come from a man.
I had two interviews on the same day: the first one was kind of awckward (she was not a consultant and to picture the scene, imagine she didn't even said goodbye, nice to meet you at the end of the interview and almost ran out of the room, so I had to catch her to say thank you, goodbye). The second interview went great: she rephrased questions that weren't clear, re-ask to get what she needed from me, she kept saying "great", "wonderful", etc. In the end, it was the first interviewer that called me to tell me I didn't pass because "my energy and leadership capabilities were not up to the high standards McKinsey was looking for, even though they were impresssed by my CV, my performance at PST and by my resolution of the cases".
The second interviewer even explained to me the next steps in the recruiting process so I got false expectations, and in the end, it seems the first very awckward interviewer was the one to decide on my continuity in the selection process.
I have 10 years of experience leading multicultural, multidisciplinary teams both remotely and face to face, and we never missed to meet the expected results. I've worked 13 hours a day for weeks in a row for some projects and didn't run out of energy. This makes me think the reason for me not to pass is different from the one I was told, but want to share this so that others do not build false expectations during the recruiting process (in my case, for a fellow position, which is the entry level for experienced/ MBA graduates). I guess the decision has more to do with me not managing to make a connection with the first interviewer and not having an MBA from top 10 US universities (Even though I applied in Buenos Aires, my home city, I heard they were interviewing somebody from Philadelphia in paralell)
I did provide references but they didn't contact anyone. They decided based on less than two hours of chat, even though they liked my CV, my PST performance and my case resolution performance (which I thought mattered much more than anything else since McKinsey earns money by solving cases).
Last but not least, I agree with a comment I read: for the personal experience questios, they want fairy tales with very happy ending. They also don't like to hear you are going through a tough moment in your current job and looking for a new one because you don't find an attractive way out of the difficult situation: you don't want to say anything similar to that, even if it's true. What they want to hear? I'm not sure: if I knew, maybe I would at least passed to second round and get to know actual consultants and not just members of the recruiting crew.

Nov 6, 2015

if I knew, maybe I would at least passed to second round and get to know actual consultants and not just members of the recruiting crew.

Since you did a case interview, they both were consultants. The recruiting team doesn't do case interviews.

    • 1
Feb 21, 2018

As an experienced hire, I believe practice is really the best driver of success, after having done the basic prep, like reading Case in Point. I was a bit rusty on math and didn't know exactly what was expected. I have done some practice interviews with friends but the one that helped the most was a 1-1 coaching session with a former consultant It's a bit of money but I can really recommend it

Feb 21, 2018

Apologies for the late reply! I was told with BCG, you would get interviewee-led cases. Which means you would would be presented a problem, and you would have to ask for more information and derive conclusions from there. How did it go?

Feb 21, 2018

Hey! Thanks for the response. I knew the cases were interviewee-led, but I wasn't sure about the "case-like" questions I was told to expect. It was a very easy phone interview, purely asking about why I was interested and we only discussed a few lines on my resume. The truth will come out Monday when I hear if I move into the next round I guess!

Feb 21, 2018

have you heard back from BCG yet?

Feb 21, 2018

hey man, what ended up happening?

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Feb 21, 2018

I'm not sure how many people here will know about interviews for candidates with >10 years of experience...

Feb 21, 2018

Why don't you ask HR? It sounds as if you have a special case with a venture start up? Plus, you have a technical back drop.

So take my words with a grain of salt.

I am a recent MBB hire with 10 years experience from industry. I would expect a standard process. So read; Problem solving = Case interview... Business skills / Motivation = Fit stories. I have been told the only difference in expectation was a bit more "polish" compared to a lesser experienced candidate (avoid sweaty hands and trembling!!!)

My recruitment process was exactly the same as if I was a post MBA hire. HR was extremely helpful during the process. They even arranged a lunch with a consultant to make sure I had my questions answered and I was well prepared!

Good luck

Feb 21, 2018

there's a chance you could get into a pretty good mba program with that profile. just take the gmat, do well, work on your essays, and apply to consulting from business school. save yourself a couple of years.

Feb 21, 2018

Experienced hires almost always done through networking in my experience. I've not heard of any experienced hire applying through the website and being hired (though I'm sure someone will jump in with a story of when it's happened).

Best bet is to reach out to mid-level people who work primarily in your industry and go from there.

Feb 21, 2018

1) Entry undergrad level, maybe with a year tenure credit
2) Yes, GPA always matters. How important depends on how compelling the rest of your story is.
3) I think the McK PST is only for APD / ADC, so I don't think so. I could be wrong on this though.
4) Yes, being a partner at another consulting firm bringing your own book of business. Other than that, not really.

Feb 21, 2018

1) Entry undergrad level, maybe with a year tenure credit

3) I think the McK PST is only for APD / ADC, so I don't think so. I could be wrong on this though.

1) Can confirm. I tried to go the lateral route with 5.5 years experience. Almost no chance of coming in at a post-MBA role (A/C) on the consulting side. I was vying for a 2nd-year post-u/g role (BA2/A2/AC2), but ultimately it was just an awkward move to make. Ended up going for an MBA to get to MBB. If you want to be on the "expert" or subject-matter expert side, rather than the consultant one, you may have more options.

3) You'll have to take the PST. Almost all lateral hires (i.e. not partners) do. Most (but not all) MBA applicants have to take it as well.

5) Networking, networking, networking. Don't even think about applying online until someone at the firm tells you to. Find someone, anyone, to forward your resume to a recruiter. MBB take referrals very seriously. In my experience, even if it comes from an incoming intern, you'll get a recruiter phone screen and maybe a practice case.

Feb 21, 2018

Entry level? Well that's not encouraging at all. Thanks anyway for the insight.

Feb 21, 2018

Thanks brj. That's helpful.

Feb 21, 2018

Look for firms that let you apply for a Junior Associate or equivalent role (I think McKinsey does in the Middle East). If you perform well, you'll be promoted to a full Associate role (i.e., equivalent to MBA grads) within 1 to 1.5 years and you won't have to leave and come back to rise up the ranks further (i.e., unlike Business Analysts).

I wrote a bit more about this role here: (apologies for the plug)

The package at a Junior Associate level is closer to Associate than it is Business Analyst. In terms of gross pay, McK and BCG in the Middle East pay a bit less than in Europe (but net, the pay is obviously higher because most countries have very little tax).

I previously worked for McKinsey in London and have started a blog about consulting and how to get into it at

Feb 21, 2018

consultingcoach: thanks for the insights. I'm familiar with the different roles that management consulting firms have but not in the depth discussed in your blog post, so I'm thankful for that.

As to the pay, I care about my net pay. We don't have taxes but we do have SS contribution, and it's pretty hefty (11% of base).

I'm meeting a partner at a local office next week and I'll know what my options are.


Feb 21, 2018

I'm meeting a partner at a local office next week and I'll know what my options are.

This. Good luck!

Prepare like it's your only shot in the world.

One last piece of advice. If they ask what level you're looking it, don't commit to a "post-MBA or bust" narrative. Tell them you'd be happy with pre- or post-MBA role (Use firm-specific titles for both. Associate/Consulting for BCG, Business Analyst/Associate for McK) and want their input on where your skills can best be used. I definitely overplayed my hand in this regard when I tried to go lateral.

Feb 21, 2018

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Feb 21, 2018