McKinsey & Company Associate Interview Questions & Reviews

Updated Jun 22, 2014
Updated Jun 22, 2014
173 interviews

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7 people found this helpful  

Associate Interview

Anonymous Interview Candidate  in  Boston, MA
Anonymous Interview Candidate in Boston, MA
Application Details

I interviewed online. The process took 4+ weeks - interviewed at McKinsey & Company in September 2011.

Interview Details

All resumes and applications must be submitted online. If resume screen is passed, candidate proceeds to interviews. For Associate candidates who do not have an MBA degree, McKinsey administers a "McKinsey Problem-Solving Test" consisting of 20+ business-related conceptual and quantitative questions to be completed within one hour. Most common mistake on the test is marking the answer for question XX on the answer sheet for question YY (e.g. answer for 16 on line for 15). The test is very challenging and most candidates either rush through it or leave questions unanswered. Immediately after the test, there are two mini practice sessions where candidates are "coached" by McKinsey interviewers on how to do a business case interview. The "coaching" is not evaluative. Coaches and buddies are usually more junior McKinsey personnel, such as Business Analysts, Associates, Senior Associates, and Engagement Managers.

Candidates who pass the test are invited to attend telephone-based coaching sessions for round 2. Candidates who pass the test are also assigned a "buddy" who is responsible for answering candidate questions, putting candidates in touch with other relevant McKinsey personnel (e.g. people who work in a particular discipline in which the candidate is interested). Before the second round, the candidates are asked to state their "office preferences", i.e. what McKinsey locations they are most interested in. Recruiters recommend selecting only 3-5 locations and locations must be ordered (i.e. can't rank three locations as 1st choice - they have to be 1,2,3). After round one, the buddy also shares some initial feedback with the candidates: what they did well and what they should work on for the next round.

Second round of interviews typically consists of 2-3 one-on-one interviews and are typically conducted by more experienced McKinsey personnel (Sr Associates, Engagement Managers, and Associate Principals). Second round of interviews is conducted at a location close to candidate's residence to minimize travel costs. Each interview contains a case, and some interviews contain a personal experience section. Cases are very typical business cases that MBA students use to prepare for interviewing, however McKinsey looks for different skill sets in MBA and non-MBA applicants. Non-MBA applicants are not expected to be familiar with business jargon or frameworks, and it is ok to ask clarifications on terms that are unfamiliar. The interviewers have a very structured set of questions to go through with the candidate, and they may jump to next question in interest of time. Business cases have questions about general thinking / framing the problem, math, and analytical thinking. The personal experience portion of the interview is also very structured, and the interviewer may ask many sub-questions to really understand the situation, outcomes, and the candidate's contributions. Whether the candidate passes or not, McKinsey tries to provide objective feedback on interview performance. Feedback consists of what the interviewers thought the candidate did well, and what should be done better.

The third round of interviews is very similar to the second. The key differences are the seniority of personnel and format of interviews. The third round interviews is conducted at the office in which the candidate hopes to work, and are typically conducted by Associate Principals, Partners, and Directors (most senior partners). The format of the interviews can remain the same as round two, or it can include group interview, a "day in life at McKinsey" interview, or focus only on personal experience without the case. There are usually 2-3 one-on-one interviews in the third round.

Interview Questions
Negotiation Details
McKinsey normally has only a standard offer for all starting associates regardless of location (salary and benefits are the same throughout the US). Starting date is negotiable. I am not aware that any other aspects of the offer are negotiable. McKinsey organizes a "new offeree" dinner, gathering, or weekend (depending on location/office).
Accepted Offer
Positive Experience
Difficult Interview

Other Interview Reviews for McKinsey & Company

  1. 1 person found this helpful  

    Associate Interview

    Anonymous Employee  in  Jersey City, NJ
    Anonymous Employee in Jersey City, NJ
    Application Details

    The process took 6+ weeks - interviewed at McKinsey & Company in September 2011.

    Interview Details

    McKinsey is very eager to spend a lot of time on attracting and interviewing their candidates. However, the interview process is very long and exhausting. The recruiters and lower management are very pleasant and engaging (however a bit clone like), the partners though are very disinterested in the interview process and are quite cold and unwelcoming.

    Interview Questions
    No Offer
    Negative Experience
    Difficult Interview
  2.  

    Associate Interview

    Anonymous Employee  in  New York, NY
    Anonymous Employee in New York, NY
    Application Details

    I interviewed online. The process took 2 days - interviewed at McKinsey & Company in October 2011.

    Interview Details

    first round is math and verbal test in office with a group case study; not too difficult, but you do need to prepare as your math, calculating, and verbal reasoning skills.
    second round is 2 1-on-1 interview with cases; each with 10-15 minutes fit questions, going into really detail. (e.g., your leadership skills examples), and a 30 minutes case discussion, (well-organized, with specific questions and numbers). only key on success if to practice.

    Interview Questions
    No Offer
    Positive Experience
    Difficult Interview
  3.  

    Associate Interview

    Anonymous Employee  in  Cleveland, OH
    Anonymous Employee in Cleveland, OH
    Application Details

    I interviewed through college or university. The process took a day - interviewed at McKinsey & Company in October 2011.

    Interview Details

    The first part of the McKinsey Interview process is not too bad. I took their test and then had two interviews. Each interview was 1/2 behavioral and 1/2 case interview

    Interview Questions
    • You are working on a project with a Major Airline running a well known frequent flyer program. The airline has been very successful. Recently you are seeing competition from a low priced airline running the same routes. What do you do?   Answer Question
    • Describe a time when you had to resolve conflict in order to accomplish a task?   Answer Question
    No Offer
    Positive Experience
    Difficult Interview
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  5. 2 people found this helpful  

    Associate Interview

    Anonymous Interview Candidate  in  New York, NY
    Anonymous Interview Candidate in New York, NY
    Application Details

    I interviewed through college or university. The process took 2 months - interviewed at McKinsey & Company in September 2011.

    Interview Details

    I went through the campus recruiting route and was put in to the early process. The first round consisted of PST and "non-evaluative" group break out. They give feedback on the group breakout so overly poor performance or obnoxious behavior could be a reason some people didn't pass on. Heard that i was being passed onto the second round the same night i took the PST and was assigned a McKinsey Buddy who gave me advice and feedback on how to prepare for the next round. We were also assigned a group case coach to practice with as well as were invited to an interview prep workshop, both of which were helpful. Also McKinsey hosted a dinner event for people going on to the second round to meet more of their consultants from various offices, which was helpful in finalizing my office choices.

    Second round was consisted of two 1:1 interviews both including a case and PEI questions. There were no surprises; get ready for public math, thinking out loud, and being asked details about the stories that you are telling. The interviewers were polite and nice. It took almost a week to hear back about whether i was passed on to the third round or not, as well as detailed feedback on what to work on. They said this (one - two week waiting period) depended on which office you were being assigned to and I think this was true because the people who were going to the same final office heard back on the same day.

    Two weeks later, I was at the NY office for my final round. This was consisted of three 1:1 interviews. Again, no surprises, polite and engaged interviewers, PEI and Cases for each interview. it's very important to have the right stories to highlight your leadership and teamwork qualities that are also structured and concise. the Cases were much more in depth and varied and long (~40 mins each). I felt that they were looking for high level thinking, creativity, analytic rigor, and insightful synthesis. Difficult to do if you haven't practiced cases but definitely not unreasonable things to look for in a candidate. They offered me a position within hours.
    Overall, great process, fun, and transparent. I felt like I was part of the team even before I signed my contract.

    Interview Questions
    Accepted Offer
    Positive Experience
    Difficult Interview
  6.  

    Associate Interview

    Anonymous Employee  in  Atlanta, GA
    Anonymous Employee in Atlanta, GA
    Application Details

    I interviewed through a recruiter. The process took 2 days - interviewed at McKinsey & Company in August 2011.

    Interview Details

    Round 1:
    You are required to take a timed (60 minute) test that goes over some basic case studies. You can't use a calculator and many of the questions are heavy with basic math. There's really no way to prepare; you just need to be comfortable looking at graphs/charts and sorting through data tables. You should also brush up on your speed-reading skills, as there is a lot of information given in each question and not much time to answer.
    You then participate in two break-out sessions with 4-5 other candidates and a relatively recent McKinsey hire as the mediator. You go over a basic case study, the type of which will be encountered during the Round 2 interview in a one-on-one setting, and the mediator basically asks pointed questions from each person in turn so that everyone has a chance to speak and practice.

    Overall, everyone was extremely nice and helpful. The atmosphere in the break-out sessions was relaxed and actually sort of fun. The test was nerve-wracking, but it always comes before the break-out sessions, so you can sort of relax afterwards and do your best to practice your case study skills.

    McKinsey told us that whether or not you were called back for Round 2 was based 90% on if you passed the test. There wasn't a score or number of answers specified which designates a pass. I felt that I did pretty mediocre on the test, but I received an e-mail at the end of the next business day inviting me for round 2 interviews. The date and location of the round 2 interviews had already been set when I received the first invitation for round 1, and it was exactly two weeks after round 1.

    Round 2:
    This interview consisted of two one-on-one case studies with relatively new McKinsey hires. I believe one of my interviewers had been there for 1 1/2 years and the other about 3 years. This was definitely a very difficult and challenging experience, especially because I come from a non-MBA advanced degree.

    My first interviewer was a friend of a friend, so things were much more relaxed. They start by telling you the basics of the case, and then attempt to have you come up with a specific solution or "basket" by guiding you through the hour-long process with specific questions. There is always a math question, sometimes two, which requires you to look at a lot of data and logically figure out a way to find the value or amount they're asking about. I had a hard time with this, because again you can't use a calculator and you're nervous, but my interviewer was very helpful in providing tips as I went through the math. Make sure you talk out loud and walk through your analysis instead of just scribbling numbers and blurting out a numeric value. In addition, before the case study started, I was asked two generic questions: "Tell me about a time you were challenged" and "Tell me about a time you showed leadership."

    My second interviewer was extremely bored, tired, and in a rush because I was his last candidate of the day. He was less interested in having me give detailed answers because I'm sure he'd already heard it all before. He asked me the same two generic questions before starting the case study, both of which I used different answers than before. The case study went much the same as the first, but I was provided as much help during my math issues.

    Afterwards, we were told we could hear back as early as that night or as late as one week away. My interview was on a Tuesday, and I was called by my second interviewer the following Wednesday morning. I expected a lot of feedback, but our conversation lasted all of two minutes. I was told that I hadn't made it to round three; they were just looking for my structure in my thinking process.

    Overall, the process is very organized, the people are friendly, and they want you to be as prepared as possible so they give you all the information you need to prepare. Be sure to go through all the interview prep information on the website; this is EXACTLY how my interview went and I was not at all surprised.

    Interview Questions
    No Offer
    Positive Experience
    Difficult Interview
  7.  

    Associate Interview

    Anonymous Employee  in  New York, NY
    Anonymous Employee in New York, NY
    Application Details

    The process took 2 months - interviewed at McKinsey & Company in September 2011.

    Interview Details

    Phase 1: Written exam. They do have a practice exam online, but if you want more, I recommend studying GRE math (to help with speed), and LSAT logical reasoning.

    Phase 2: 2 rounds of PEI + cases. Prepare unique stories that really make you stand out. They interview a lot of smart people, so you need something special. Practice lots of cases, show structure, accurate math, and synthesis.

    Phase 3: 4 rounds of PEI + cases back to back, this really tests your endurance. No surprises, no stress tests, just 4 normal "McKinsey" style cases. You really have to shine on all 4 exams, nail the math, and be creative. The PEI is also important, show your uniqueness. I did not pass this round because I did not nail all of the cases, and my math was a bit slow (I wanted to make sure I was doing it right). If you get to this stage, I recommend doing 4 cases in a row back to back.

    Interview Questions
    No Offer
    Positive Experience
    Difficult Interview
  8.  

    Associate Interview

    Anonymous Employee  in  New York, NY
    Anonymous Employee in New York, NY
    Application Details

    The process took a day - interviewed at McKinsey & Company in August 2011.

    Interview Details

    Took PST. I didn't have time to finish the last a couple of question but somehow was passed onto the next round.

    Interview Questions
    No Offer
    Positive Experience
    Difficult Interview
  9. 1 person found this helpful  

    Associate Interview

    Anonymous Employee  in  Chicago, IL
    Anonymous Employee in Chicago, IL
    Application Details

    I interviewed online. The process took 2 days - interviewed at McKinsey & Company in February 2011.

    Interview Details

    First round: a deductive reasoning test and panel discussion / case studies. The outcome of this interview is determined solely by the deductive reasoning test.

    Second round: a series of three 1:1 interviews, all involving an Experience question and a Case interview question. I found the case interview questions to be very similar to the case studies in Round 1, except that the pressure to perform is higher since it's 1:1. I found the Experience questions to be the most challenging aspect - if you don't have the right kind of story under your belt, then it's very difficult to formulate the kind of answer that they want to hear. This is particularly difficult in for PhD recruits.

    Example: one of the Experience interview questions essentially required me to describe a situation where I resolved a personality conflict in the work environment. I've been fortunate enough never to be put in that position, and so while I discussed a situation where I resolved a professional difference of opinion, there was no personality conflict, so I really didn't answer the question that the recruiter asked. I think my interview really suffered for that.

    Interview Questions
    • Describe a situation in which you resolved a personality conflict in the workplace.   View Answers (2)
    • Case interview questions regarding profit / ROI questions, projected market trends, etc.   View Answer
    No Offer
    Positive Experience
    Difficult Interview
  10.  

    Associate Interview

    Anonymous Interview Candidate  in  New York, NY
    Anonymous Interview Candidate in New York, NY
    Application Details

    I interviewed through college or university. The process took 2 weeks - interviewed at McKinsey & Company in October 2009.

    Interview Details

    You must be prepared for the case interview. the best way to do this is to practice, practice, practice. Don't say anything that is superfluous in the interview; they will jump on every statement. Also, practice doing math in your head: division, multiplication etc.

    Interview Questions
    Negotiation Details
    I didn't negotiate. They made me an offer, I accepted.
    Accepted Offer
    Positive Experience
    Difficult Interview

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