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McKinsey & Company Associate Consultant Interview Questions & Reviews

Updated Apr 21, 2014
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Very Difficult Interview

Associate Consultant Interview

Associate Consultant

The process took 5 weeks - interviewed at McKinsey & Company in October 2013.

Interview Details – There was an intro exam prior to the first and second round interviews. McKinsey matched candidates with buddies who helped prepare them for the interview. The case questions were difficult.

Interview Question – Tell me about a time you had a conflict with your boss?   Answer Question

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Positive Experience

Average Interview

Associate Consultant Interview

Associate Consultant
Hanover, NH

I applied through college or university and the process took 1+ week - interviewed at McKinsey & Company in October 2013.

Interview Details – McKinsey & Co recruited from my college. After being accepted for an interview, I was offered a number of interview prep opportunities - a conference call phone session with other applicants reviewing the process and a case, an in person group case work through with a representative, and a 30 min online Q&A session. We also had to take a written business skills test that is McKinsey-specific the night before the exam for an hour (it seemed easier than the online samples). The first round interview itself was two 45-min separate interviews with a fit scenario (about overcoming challenges, working with difficult people) and a case each. One of my interviewers prodded at my example, asking things like "what did you say?" to get more detail; the other gave much less reaction.

Interview Question – One of the cases involved a graph that was given to me half-way through and was a bit complex - it also required that we refer back to numbers given at the very beginning of the case to calculate the correct outcomes. Be aware!   Answer Question

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Associate Consultant Interview

Associate Consultant
New York, NY

I applied online and the process took 2 months - interviewed at McKinsey & Company in October 2013.

Interview Details – APD hiring process: 3 rounds of interviews. Made it to the final round and was not extended an offer. Overall, I had very pleasant experiences with HR, Consultants, EMs ... unfortunately, I found the Partners and Directors I met to be fairly rude.

Interview Question – I don't think any of the questions were all that difficult. I could have done a better job with my summary and recommendation.   Answer Question

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1 person found this helpful

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Positive Experience

Average Interview

Associate Consultant Interview

Associate Consultant
San Francisco, CA

I applied online and the process took 3 weeks - interviewed at McKinsey & Company in September 2013.

Interview Details – First round: Problem-solving test (PST). One will need to prepare for this. 2nd rd: 2 cases (interviewer led) with a different interviewer for each, with part of a half-hour set aside for 2 experience interviews. There are practice PST's online, videos, and they have a coaching session and buddy system if you get to the 2nd rd.

2nd rd cases were (paraphrased):
-Broadband access to all of Australia with 90% of population already with access. What is the right combination of technologies to give the final 10% access over the next 8-10yrs?
-Southeast Asian province school system with attendance probs. What factors to look at as to why that may be addressed?
Experience interview q's:
-Time you had a difficult time in a group, and how addressed?
-Time you had disagreement at work or in group, and how resolved?

Interview Question – Both experience interview q's. As a physician, working in a hierarchical system, these gave me little chance to shine. Not to mention I had prepared more for q's along the lines of: time you face a challenge, and how you worked it out, etc. It's hard to positively spin a q to show positive characteristics like how did you resolve a disagreement in a group, when your answer is, "I had to shut my mouth and deal with it." Also, I blew the broadband case. Couldn't come up with a good structure.   View Answer

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Positive Experience

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Associate Consultant Interview

Associate Consultant
San Francisco, CA

I applied online - interviewed at McKinsey & Company in August 2013.

Interview Details – I applied online for the associate consultant position as an advanced degree in life sciences. I went to the first round PST and did not pass the test.

Interview Question – Definitely practice as much as possible and make sure to budget your time accordingly!   Answer Question

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1 person found this helpful

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Negative Experience

Difficult Interview

Associate Consultant Interview

Associate Consultant

I applied through college or university and interviewed at McKinsey & Company.

Interview Details – Many interviews, first 2 with engagement managers then 3 with partners. Was flown to NYC and paid all expenses. I did very good in the cases but lacked structure in both my behavioral and case answers

Interview Question – none, straightforward   Answer Question

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1 person found this helpful

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Positive Experience

Average Interview

Associate Consultant Interview

Associate Consultant
Palo Alto, CA

I applied online and the process took 2 weeks - interviewed at McKinsey & Company in September 2012.

Interview Details – Applied for a position and was considered for my 4th office preference which was an international office. The recruiter was pretty efficient in getting back to me with dates and times for the IWIA and group case interview. The PST went okay I felt but the group interviews were weird. First interviewer was clearly irritated at being pulled out of his daily routine to interview us and it showed. 2nd interviewer was more upbeat and took the time to ask people personal questions before starting the case.

Interview Question – It was just a profitability case question that entailed recognizing which was the more profitable product out of the mix and increasing sales of that.   Answer Question

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3 people found this helpful

No Offer

Negative Experience

Difficult Interview

Associate Consultant Interview

Associate Consultant
Washington, DC

I applied online and the process took a day - interviewed at McKinsey & Company in February 2012.

Interview Details – The day began with an hour-long multiple choice quantitative exam. The exam is standardized, and is used heavily as a screening process. It was a difficult exam, requiring full use of the time.

Following the exam, we had a small break prior to starting two consecutive group interviews. Each interview had three applicants and one associate. Associates read a case out loud and sometimes asked us to read a section of the case on our own, and asked applicants to work through the case out loud. Some aspects required calculations.

I was displeased by the quantitative skills exam, and pleased with the group interview format. Admittedly, my perspective is biased, as my current strength lies in the latter, not the former. Nonetheless, there are skills that employees can learn on the job, with quantitative skills being one of them. Many applicants don't have a financial background, yet can nonetheless offer great skills. I am a physician with clinical experience, significant publications in the biomedical literature, completing a second residency, and obtaining master degrees in public health and business administration.

To date, I've completed advanced quantitative courses successfully, including physical chemistry, linear algebra, differential equations, multivariable calculus (and three calculus courses leading to that), and so on. This was years ago, but clearly, if I was able to master these years ago, I can learn these quantitative skills o the job. Much to my surprise, then, it seemed rather shortsighted of McKinsey--of all companies-- to use this tool to screen applicants. They do so to their own detriment. Hard skills such as these are easy to pick up on the job. What is more difficult to pick up are more right-brained, creative problem-solving skills, which is my strength. Again, I am biased, but believe this argument is valid. Suffice to say, I've written off McKinsey, as well as any other company that uses such quant skills assessments; to me, this is a marker of shortsightedness that I want to have no part in.

Interview Question – There were no personalized questions. The most difficult questions came from the quantitative exam. See online copies available for download to get a sense of this.   Answer Question

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5 people found this helpful

Accepted Offer

Positive Experience

Difficult Interview

Associate Consultant Interview

Associate Consultant
Chicago, IL

I applied online and the process took 4 months - interviewed at McKinsey & Company in December 2010.

Interview Details – Applied online through the APD (advanced professional degrees - MD, PhD, Masters, etc) channel. Passed the initial resume screen and was invited to the IWIA (Initial Workshop and Initial Assessment). This consisted of a standard assessment test which was a 26 question test based on case studies. Challenging part was the 1 hour time constraint. (Test is similar to the online sample on McK's website). The second part was two group breakout sessions (3 candidates/1 McK consultant) that's meant to give an idea of how case study interviews work. Was repeated told that the outcome of the first round interview was SOLELY based on the assessment test, but opinions differ.

The second round was held at my local office. Consisted of three 1-on-1 interviews. Each interview consisted of initial chatting, a personal experience type question (e.g. name a time in your career that you were a leader and had to resolve conflict within your group, etc) and a case interview (standard consulting cases). Prior to the second round, we were asked to give preferences for our final office. Supposedly, there is a standard bar across all of McK, which if passed, you're advanced to the final round (regardless of office preferences). Once you get thru to the final round, your office preferences and the office's needs are matched up.

I got my first preference, the Chicago office. Similar to the 2nd round with three 1-on-1 interviews, but the only difference would be these interviews tend to be more senior members/partners in the office. That being said, the case interviews in the 2nd round were more formatted (interviewers have cases in front that they reference). The 3rd round partners tend to be more off the cuff, formulating their own case information as they go and they want to see you think on your feet.

Overall, I agree with previous posters that McK makes you feel like part of the team even during the interview process. In between each round, they offer plenty of support/feedback, opportunity to meet other consultants, etc. They sincerely appear to want you to succeed. They pick up the bill for travel/lodging and you get a glimpse of the glitz/glam of working for a company with their reputation. A key part of this process appears to be your ability to interact with interviewers and have a solid approach with case interviews so live practicing with friends, consulting clubs, etc., would be helpful.

Interview Questions

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Accepted Offer

Positive Experience

Very Difficult Interview

Associate Consultant Interview

Associate Consultant
Stamford, CT

I applied through college or university and the process took 4+ weeks - interviewed at McKinsey & Company in January 2008.

Interview Details – McKinsey interviews can be a bit daunting. Luckily, I was able to get a spot, as my business school was on McK's target schools. First round interviews are 2 babk-to-back interviews that consist of a case portion (~35 minutes) and a personal experience portion (~15 minutes). The case is your standard consulting case, albeit with very structured questions. The personal experience portion, true to their website, is just an opportunity to see whether you jive with the four dimensions of leadership, personal impact, etc. Nothing too intense, but make sure you know your resume inside and out. They like to ask questions about it. In other words, don't BS too much.

Once you make it to 2nd round, it's just a long day. 4 back-to-back interviews which end up being really draining towards the end. You're tired, your brain hurts, but you gotta keep pushing.

Negotiation Details – At the associate level, there's no real negotiation on money, but you might be able to fennagle things like moving stipend, location, etc.

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