McKinsey First Round Interview - Fresh perspective

AndreiulD's picture
Rank: Monkey | 41

Hy guys,

First of all i know this topic has been briefly discussed in the past, i flicked through all the posts from this section and i would like to ask for your further help on this topic, because my case is a little special.

Here's why: I am a student from Bucharest, Romania, where McKinsey recently (about a year) opened a new branch office. I major in computer science and automation as well as in international economics. Do you think they tailor their expectations for each applicant? I recently passed the PST and I have been invited to attend the first round interviews in March.

I would like to ask for some study materials and for a description of what a first round consisted of (I read a few, but they weren't very recent, maybe some of you sustained the interviews and have a fresh perspective). Also, do you think that this being a new office would set a certain standard?

Thank you in advance,


Comments (20)

Feb 27, 2009

I would read a book called Case in Point.

Feb 28, 2009

Thank you for you advice, I saw it being mentioned on previous posts, but unfortunately amazon does not ship to Romania, and I cannot find the book elsewhere.

If by any chance you could provide some info on how I could get the book I would greatly appreciate it.
Thank you !

Feb 28, 2009

First off, I think this is a pretty good resource that I wish I had found sooner prior to my first round interview:
My first round interview was with 2 interviewers, both Engagement Managers, who each gave me one PEI and one case. Both very structured (like, they had papers in front of them with a list of specific questions to go through). About 30-45 minutes each? Given that first round interviews are pretty standardized, I do not think they tailor expectations depending on the candidate.

But this was in the U.S., so your experience may well be very different.

Feb 28, 2009

Thank you for the link, i find it very useful.

This is my thought exactly, but it's very strange because I haven't graduated yet (I'm due in september ).

Mar 2, 2009

I forgot to ask : How good do you have to be when approaching a case? Because i figure you cannot be perfect when dealing with them. So, has anyone blown a case and got invited anyway to the final round?

Also, i applied for a business analyst position, but i haven't graduated yet, so i am a little worried regarding their views on this application. Do you think it is possible they are considering internships instead of a full business analyst position? What is the interview process like for that?

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Mar 4, 2009

you do not have to ace the case

but you do need to pick up their hints quickly and follow through

make sure to lay out organization

McK people like all those stuff like MECE, 80/20...

you can get stuck in a part then finish it with their help, but if you blow the whole case then you are probably done

treat it like a conversation...

(i went through final rounds for MBB)

Mar 4, 2009

What do you mean by "make sure to lay out organization, McK people like all those stuff like MECE, 80/20". I know structure is everything, but you may overlook an aspect of the problem.

Mar 5, 2009

If you're applying MECE (mutually exclusive collectively exhaustive) properly, you won't overlook an aspect.

Once you do enough cases practicing with friends from the various sources out there (case in point, vault guide, wetfeet, harvard and wharton consulting case books) you will see the patterns start to emerge.

Mar 5, 2009

decent definition of 80/20:
Basically, focus on the most important 20% of something to get 80% of the total effect... don't get bogged down in details, etc.

Mar 8, 2009

Thanks guys, i have been looking into these approaches. I started reading Ace Your Case guide by wetfeet, I also have some recommended sources from the HR contact, but are a little old. Anyway, a lot of sources out there, i am overwhelmed with information...
Can you recommend some material that is made for mckinsey? Except the one mentioned above, by Victor Cheng. Thanks

Aug 29, 2009


Due to some mix up, I will sustain my first round on the 4th of September.
I read as much as I could during the last 2 weeks, and I had a few questions before the big event :). Hope you can help me.

  1. How much guidance do the offer when discussing the case? I lay out my structure, but I can overlook a key fact by not asking a specific question. Do the offer guidance overall, or just when you are exactly on the right track?
  2. How do you end a case? Do they stop you when the time runs out or when the discussion reaches the end? Do I have to look at my watch as a timeline in order to finish in time?

That's it for now, as I will be practicing these days I may come up with a few other questions.

Thanks a lot in advance for all you help.


Aug 29, 2009
  1. McKinsey cases are significantly more structured than those for B/B in my experience. You'll typically be asked about 3-4 questions for a case - at first you set up a structure, then you do some sort of brainstorming (i.e. okay - you want to look at marketing, what ideas would you have?), then you do some sort of quantitative question, then you summarize your findings.

They're not quite as cookie cutter as that might imply... but you'll definitely get some feedback and guidance (and you should get a call before your interview from a first or second year BA to help prep).

  1. Reading body language is key - and check in with your interviewer frequently. Rambling on and on after you've already given them enough info can definitely hurt you. Because the case is broken down, I wouldnt' worry about running out of time.
Aug 29, 2009

Unfortunately, the office in my country in relatively new (in Romania since 2007) and I understand from my HR contact that they have been struggling for two years now to hire a BA but without any success. So, I am unlikely to receive any phone prep.

The cases I did as prep with a friend of mine have been pretty hard because we are new to this and we haven't really been at a case interview before, nor do we have the background. So he does not deliver any guidance, he just waits for me to ask the right questions, which can be difficult, since there are a lot of aspects of a given problem. My concern was that the interviewer will not guide the interview, he will just give me data if I ask for it.

Also, what do you mean by check in with the interviewer?



Aug 30, 2009

"checking in":
1. Reading body language - Does your interviewer seem engaged + interested in what you are saying? Or does she seem dismissive/bored/etc? Does it seem like she is waiting to try to say something (let her talk!!)?

  1. As you're providing answers, ask for feedback. i.e. "I think the three most important areas to investigate are x, y, and z. Do you agree?"
  2. Similar to #2, ask to see how deep or broad your interviewer would like you to go. i.e. "I think that it would be important to find the average revenue per store. Would you like me to conduct that analysis?" or "I see the top three levers as A, B, and C. Is that enough, or should I come up with secondary levers as well?"

Done wrong - this can make you seem like you're lacking confidence. But if done right, it makes sure you're giving your interviewer what they want to hear, not an earful of random off-topic nonsense. If you do nothing else, please try to read your interviewer's body language!

Aug 30, 2009

I thought you might be referring to that.
Thank you for all you valuable insight. If there might be anything else I will be back. :)


Sep 3, 2009

Andrei -

If you are still studying for the your McK interview, I would HIGHLY suggested checking out the following guide:

  • Walks you through both case and fit interviews
  • The author is former McK
  • The info is updated and more realistic than other case prep (e.g. WetFeet)

IMO - Best $25 investment one can spend on MC interview prep ...

Good luck!

May 27, 2010

Hello again guys,

I had my first round on friday, had 2 interviews.

All was ok, exactly how you described. Next thoughts now, how do you expect the final round to be like? ( They mentioned that they will do some coaching sessions with me these weeks.)



Nov 13, 2009


hi! How was your final interview? I am also thinking at applying in Ro and needed some insider impressions.

What about the problem solving test? How was it ? Thanks!

Jan 26, 2010

Re: the problem solving test. I took it recently. It's exactly like the practice they send you or that is online. It's just twice as long.

Most ppl found it very hard.

Only suggestion: watch your time

Jul 24, 2014