Preparing 300 hours for McKinsey and BCG offer

SkyIsTheLimit's picture
Rank: Baboon | 116

Hello everyone,

I just signed and sent out the McKinsey offer. This is something I have not even dream about 4 years ago when I first found about the world of consulting and MBB firms. It was a very long journey. I could not always see how all dots will connect but being driven by ambition was the key, I think.

In this post I would like to share a few thoughts with anyone else who's interested in recruiting with MBB companies.

  1. My story
  2. Pre-preparation
  3. Preparation
  4. Result
  5. What to keep in mind

1. My story

Starting with the very beginning, I was born in a CEE (Central and Eastern Europe) country a few days after the communist regime lost power. I grew up in a small town, struggling with the problems of the '90s (lost jobs, inflation, small wages). Once growing up, I made it to the best economics university in my country. Although I was sure that was something, soon I discovered there are much, much better universities in this world. In my 2nd year I discovered McKinsey. This is the moment when I was impressed. I realized I do not stand a chance at that time so I didn't even dare to apply.

2. Pre-preparation

What I did instead, was to compare what McKinsey, and MBB generally speaking, are looking for and what I have. Thus, I concluded what I was missing. Geez, that list was huge. Among others, I went abroad to a good university and continued my studies, I did some internships abroad and in the process I put some big brands on my CV. There was also a lot of community involvement and participation in corporate events of my target companies. I did all of those without ever knowing if they will ever land me a MBB job or not. But I enjoyed all of them and this was the key. I never knew if dots will ever be connected, but at least I did something that I liked and was appreciated. Whenever I needed motivation I listened to this commencement speech by Steve Jobs: https://youtu.be/UF8uR6Z6KLc .

3. Preparation

Finally, 8 months ago I felt that I am ready to try it. I really wanted to work in a consulting company so I applied to Mckinsey, BCG, Roland Berger, AT Kearney, and PwC(Strategy&). The last one was my kind of my backup solution.

Here is the breakdown of my preparation, I will explain each of them.

Action # hours
Research before starting 40
Case interview 110
General 38
PST 36
LOMS 50
Resume 11
Cover letter 10
PEI 10
Grand Total 304

* Research before starting: Although I was interested in consulting for a while I did some research for materials to be used in preparation;
* Case interview: Most of it is back to back interviews with other candidates (mostly from preplounge.com) + reading Case in Point (I have up in the middle because I felt it is not for me) and Case Interview Secrets by Victor Cheng;
* General: Speaking with people working in consulting, preparing applications, reading caseinterview.com and a couple of other websites articles and emails;
* PST: Doing GMAT questions, any PST test I was able to find on the internet + math drills on caseinterviewmath.com;
* LOMS: Listening to LOMS twice (Look over my shoulder audio recordings by Victor Cheng);
* Resume + Cover letter: Looking for tips online + preparing and re-writing my Resume + Cover letter until I felt it is a good one;
* PEI: Thinking about stories and practicing with peers.

4. Result

* I received offers from McKinsey, BCG and PwC (they actually offered a quite high position given my experience, being well prepared definitely helped);
* I was rejected by Roland Berger and I stopped the recruiting process with AT Kearney when I got the BCG offer.

5. Keep in mind

* Prepare! Do not become a case robot, but do your homework (I did exactly 47 cases);
* Apply to more than one firm. I was rejected by Roland Berger but accepted by BCG and McKinsey. So probably it was not my day at Roland Berger interviews, chance might play some role here. Diminish this role by applying to more than one companies;
* Be organized! I kept a log of what I did every day, including home much time I spent on any task/activity. This helped me to keep track of my activities and realize if I can gear up or not. At some point it might look like you are preparing a lot even if it is not the case. Having a log helps a lot and it doesn't take too much time;
* If you do mistakes during the interview it is not the end of the world. It depends on what kind of mistakes you do and how you recover from them;
* Your interviewers want you to succeed (if you don't receive an offer they end up by doing some effort and getting zero effect => bad from efficiency perspective);
* Do not get frustrated if you are rejected. Keep your motivation, become better and better and that offer will come.

I am not pretending that my way of preparing is optimum or so. I just wanted to share because it might help someone. Think if it can help you and apply whatever parts would help you.

I tried to keep this debrief short, but in the end it is quite long. It seems i have to improve my summarizing skills :))

If anyone has any question, I am happy to help if I can.

Cheers guys and good luck!

Comments (24)

Jul 3, 2016

Congratulations on your job offer. Did you transfer at the end of year two or you decided to do a Masters program overseas?

Jul 3, 2016

Hi Lucas,
Thanks! I graduated and then enrolled in a Masters program abroad.

Jul 4, 2016

Might that actually be a guinness record?

Jul 5, 2016

"PST: Doing GMAT questions, any PST test I was able to find on the internet + math drills on caseinterviewmath.com;"

1) Any other resources you'd recommend?
2) How similar was the actual test to the sites you listed? (GMAT, CIM)

Congrats!

Jul 6, 2016

@Sarusse definitely not :))

@valleybandar
1.Resources to prepare for PST? If yes, I have a couple of tests similar to PST (found them on internet), I can send it to you via email. Leave it here or in private.
2.The word problems helped a lot, especially for AT Kearney and Roland Berger. Some parts of those tests were pretty similar. CIM is only to practice your math.

    • 1
Jul 6, 2016

Hi, yes, resources for PST. I don't know if you can upload files to the forum but if so can you leave them here? or if not, post the links? we can find them then.

Thanks again for the thread.

Jul 6, 2016

This is all that I have for PST: https://www.dropbox.com/s/3cdo6m6sxuep2tu/PST.rar?... Welcome and good luck ! :)

    • 1
Jul 8, 2016

Hey! Congrats on the offer and thanks for sharing your thoughts on the forum.

Just a quick question - do you happen to have a document of notes for when you did research? If so, could you possibly share that with me as I'd love to expand my current knowledge-base (I'm doing lots of research in the summer before school starts).

Thanks!

Jul 9, 2016

What kind of notes do you refer to?
When I did research my main focus was to find materials and to decide on a plan on how to prepare. The most important notes from that time are shared here in the first post.

Jul 8, 2016

Congratulations! As an intern at MBB this summer your story brings back fond (terrible) memories of preparing for case interviews.

For people interested in consulting: I prepared about 1/3-1/2 the OP. To be fair, I also didn't even get interview offers at multiple firms but don't think you have to put in 300 hours before trying. OP had a goal and clearly wanted to (and did) make sure it would happen.

Best Response
Jul 9, 2016

I totally agree with you. I met people that started to prepare 2 weeks before the 1st round interviews and they have made it. I also know people that prepared even more than me (eg: one engineer that got an offer from McKinsey did 105 back-to-back cases).

All in all, I think it depends on everyone's previous knowledge and determination. In my case, It was my main target to get the offer and I didn't want to miss the chance that was given now (being invited for interviews).

    • 3
Jul 10, 2016

Congrats. Thanks for sharing.

Jul 10, 2016

Congrats. Is this straight out of undergrad?

Jul 11, 2016

Thank you! No, School abroad was 2y masters.

Jul 11, 2016

Hey ! Congrats on the job offer!

I wanted to know where you were able to find all these case studies? Did you buy guides? Look for them on internet? etc.

Thanks!

Jul 11, 2016

There are a lot of case books on internet, for free. Will find many by searching on Google.

    • 1
Jan 19, 2017

~

Jul 26, 2016

Not very familiar with banking, but I would say there should not be very different, particularly if we speak about IB.
I put 21h because my CV was not in a good shape at that time + I tried to tailor cover letters as much as possible. Thus, those 21h include things like researching each company's website in order to find particular characteristics that would differentiate that company from others (values, clients, skills, etc.)

Jul 25, 2016

Congratulation. Thank you for your sharing. Great advice!

Jul 31, 2016

Congratulations on your job offer! it's great when all the efforts and hard work is properly rewarded! And thank you very much for sharing your PST materials.

1) Could you please share your experience with LOMs? Is it recommendable to buy them from Victor Cheng's website or is there any "second hand" market?

2) How did you prepare to so-called "estimation cases" (like: how many golf balls can fit into an airplane) and brain teasers? Any recommendations in terms of sources?

Aug 2, 2016

Thanks!

  1. I am afraid I can not encourage any second hand market publicly. ;)
  2. My only source for that was Preplounge. Usually, at some point of the day when I was bored of cases I used to do a couple of them from this website. But honestly, I got 0 questions like that during my interviews. Not saying this is the norm, but at least in my case it was much less than what is usually said on various internet websites. The only estimation questions I got were more "real-life" e.g. number of gas station in your city, number of passengers in your local airport, yearly consumption of aspirin in your country.
    • 1
Aug 2, 2016
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Sep 6, 2016