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47 case interview examples (from McKinsey, BCG, Bain, etc.)
One of the best ways to prepare for case interviews at firms like McKinsey, BCG, or Bain, is by studying case interview examples.
There are a lot of free sample cases out there, but it's really hard to know where to start. So in this article, we have listed all the best free case examples available, in one place.
The below list of resources includes interactive case interview samples provided by consulting firms, video case interview demonstrations, case books, and materials developed by the team here at IGotAnOffer. Let's continue to the list.
- McKinsey examples
- BCG examples
- Bain examples
- Deloitte examples
- Other firms' examples
- Case books from consulting clubs
- Case interview preparation
Click here to practise 1-on-1 with MBB ex-interviewers
1. mckinsey case interview examples.
- Beautify case interview (McKinsey website)
- Diconsa case interview (McKinsey website)
- Electro-light case interview (McKinsey website)
- GlobaPharm case interview (McKinsey website)
- National Education case interview (McKinsey website)
- Talbot Trucks case interview (McKinsey website)
- Shops Corporation case interview (McKinsey website)
- Conservation Forever case interview (McKinsey website)
- McKinsey case interview guide (by IGotAnOffer)
- McKinsey live case interview extract (by IGotAnOffer) - See below
2. BCG case interview examples
- Foods Inc and GenCo case samples (BCG website)
- Chateau Boomerang written case interview (BCG website)
- BCG case interview guide (by IGotAnOffer)
- Written cases guide (by IGotAnOffer)
- BCG live case interview extract (by IGotAnOffer) - See below
3. Bain case interview examples
- CoffeeCo practice case (Bain website)
- FashionCo practice case (Bain website)
- Associate Consultant mock interview video (Bain website)
- Consultant mock interview video (Bain website)
- Written case interview tips (Bain website)
- Bain case interview guide (by IGotAnOffer)
- Bain live case interview extract (by IGotAnOffer) - See above
4. Deloitte case interview examples
- Engagement Strategy practice case (Deloitte website)
- Recreation Unlimited practice case (Deloitte website)
- Strategic Vision practice case (Deloitte website)
- Retail Strategy practice case (Deloitte website)
- Finance Strategy practice case (Deloitte website)
- Talent Management practice case (Deloitte website)
- Enterprise Resource Management practice case (Deloitte website)
- Footloose written case (by Deloitte)
- Deloitte case interview guide (by IGotAnOffer)
5. Accenture case interview examples
- Case interview workbook (by Accenture)
- Accenture case interview guide (by IGotAnOffer)
6. OC&C case interview examples
- Leisure Club case example (by OC&C)
- Imported Spirits case example (by OC&C)
7. Oliver Wyman case interview examples
- Wumbleworld case sample (Oliver Wyman website)
- Aqualine case sample (Oliver Wyman website)
- Oliver Wyman case interview guide (by IGotAnOffer)
8. A.T. Kearney case interview examples
- Promotion planning case question (A.T. Kearney website)
- Consulting case book and examples (by A.T. Kearney)
- AT Kearney case interview guide (by IGotAnOffer)
9. Strategy& / PWC case interview examples
- Presentation overview with sample questions (by Strategy& / PWC)
- Strategy& / PWC case interview guide (by IGotAnOffer)
10. L.E.K. Consulting case interview examples
- Case interview example video walkthrough (L.E.K. website)
- Market sizing case example video walkthrough (L.E.K. website)
11. Roland Berger case interview examples
- Transit oriented development case webinar part 1 (Roland Berger website)
- Transit oriented development case webinar part 2 (Roland Berger website)
- 3D printed hip implants case webinar part 1 (Roland Berger website)
- 3D printed hip implants case webinar part 2 (Roland Berger website)
- Roland Berger case interview guide (by IGotAnOffer)
12. Capital One case interview examples
- Case interview example video walkthrough (Capital One website)
- Capital One case interview guide (by IGotAnOffer)
13. Consulting clubs case interview examples
- Berkeley case book (2006)
- Columbia case book (2006)
- Darden case book (2012)
- Darden case book (2018)
- Duke case book (2010)
- Duke case book (2014)
- ESADE case book (2011)
- Goizueta case book (2006)
- Illinois case book (2015)
- LBS case book (2006)
- MIT case book (2001)
- Notre Dame case book (2017)
- Ross case book (2010)
- Wharton case book (2010)
Practice with experts
Using case interview examples is a key part of your interview preparation, but it isn’t enough.
At some point you’ll want to practise with friends or family who can give some useful feedback. However, if you really want the best possible preparation for your case interview, you'll also want to work with ex-consultants who have experience running interviews at McKinsey, Bain, BCG, etc.
If you know anyone who fits that description, fantastic! But for most of us, it's tough to find the right connections to make this happen. And it might also be difficult to practice multiple hours with that person unless you know them really well.
Here's the good news. We've already made the connections for you. We’ve created a coaching service where you can do mock case interviews 1-on-1 with ex-interviewers from MBB firms . Start scheduling sessions today!
The IGotAnOffer team
- The 1%: Conquer Your Consulting Case Interview
- Consulting Career Secrets
- McKinsey Solve Game (Imbellus)
- BCG Online Case (+ Pymetrics, Spark Hire)
- Bain Aptitude Tests (SOVA, Pymetrics, HireVue)
- Kearney Recruitment Test
- Structuring & Brainstorming Drills
- Chart Interpretation Drills
- Case Math Course and Drills
- McKinsey Interview Academy
- Brainteaser Course and Drills
- Case Interview Math Drill Generator (free)
- Industry Cheat Sheets
- Cover Letter & Resume
The Ultimate Guide to Acing the McKinsey Case Interview (Problem-Solving Interview)
The McKinsey case interview, also called the Problem-Solving Interview by the firm, is a crucial and defining element of the consulting recruitment process for one of the world’s most prestigious management consulting firms. This unique type of interview assesses a candidate’s analytical, problem-solving, and communication skills, as well as their ability to think critically under pressure. With a reputation for being challenging and rigorous, the McKinsey case interview is often seen as a significant hurdle for aspiring consultants to overcome. Forbes ranked McKinsey’s interview process as the most difficult across all firms globally and the case plays a crucial role in that evaluation, besides the Personal Experience Interview .
Recognizing the importance of thorough preparation, this article aims to become the go-to resource for candidates worldwide who are seeking to excel in the McKinsey case interview and want to kickstart their McKinsey careers. By providing comprehensive insights, practical tips, and concrete examples, our goal is to equip you with the knowledge and confidence required to stand out in the competitive world of management consulting.
As former McKinsey consultants and interview experts, we have specialized in helping our candidates to effectively tackle this part of the McKinsey assessment. We found that the information on the McKinsey application process and specifically the case interviews is often wrong, outdated, or assumed to be the same as for every other consulting firm, and written by ‘experts’, who have never conducted an interview at McKinsey or even seen a McKinsey office from the inside.
As a consequence, the advice given can be detrimental to your recruiting success with the firm. In this article, we want to shed some light on this mysterious, often-talked-about, even more often misunderstood interview.
McKinsey’s Interview Process
Overview of the recruitment process.
The McKinsey recruitment process typically consists of the following stages:
- Application submission: Candidates submit their resume, cover letter, and academic transcripts online.
- Online assessments: Selected candidates may be invited to complete an online assessment, the McKinsey Solve Game (previously known as the Imbellus test, or Problem Solving Game/PSG)
- First-round interviews: Successful candidates progress to first-round interviews, which typically involve two separate interviews, each consisting of a Personal Experience Interview (PEI) and a case interview.
- Final-round interviews: Candidates who excel in the first round are invited to final-round interviews, which usually consist of two to three separate interviews with more senior McKinsey consultants or partners, again featuring a PEI and a case interview in each session.
- Offer decision: Following the final round, the firm makes a decision on whether to extend an offer to the candidate.
The Personal Experience Interview (PEI)
The Personal Experience Interview (PEI) is a critical component of McKinsey’s interview process. During the PEI, the interviewer will ask the candidate to share a specific example from their past experiences that demonstrates one of McKinsey’s core values, such as leadership, personal impact, or the ability to deal with change. Candidates should prepare concise and compelling stories that highlight their achievements, challenges faced, and the lessons learned. The PEI aims to assess the candidate’s interpersonal skills, self-awareness, and overall fit with McKinsey’s culture.
The Case Interview (Problem-Solving Interview)
The case interview is the centerpiece of McKinsey’s interview process. In this interview, the candidate is presented with a real-life or hypothetical business problem, which they must analyze and solve. The interviewer will assess the candidate’s ability to structure the problem, analyze data, generate insights, and communicate recommendations effectively. During the case interview, candidates should exhibit strong problem-solving, analytical, and communication skills, as well as the ability to think critically under pressure. Preparing for the case interview involves practicing a variety of cases, developing essential skills, and understanding the McKinsey case interview framework (more on that below).
McKinsey Interview Video Academy
Look behind the curtains and understand how to ace McKinsey Case and Personal Experience Interviews with our 40-part video academy. Curated by former McKinsey consultants and interviewers with the best track record in the industry.
Understanding the McKinsey Case Interview
What is a case interview.
A case interview is a unique type of job interview that tests a candidate’s ability to analyze, solve, and communicate complex business problems. During a case interview, the interviewer presents a real-life or hypothetical business scenario, and the candidate is expected to analyze the situation, identify the key issues, and propose a strategic solution. The case interview format allows the interviewer to evaluate a candidate’s problem-solving, analytical, and interpersonal skills, which are essential for a successful career in management consulting.
Why does McKinsey use case interviews?
McKinsey & Company uses case interviews as a key component of its recruitment process for several reasons. First, the case interview format closely simulates the work environment and tasks that consultants face daily, providing the firm with a more accurate assessment of a candidate’s potential performance. Second, case interviews allow McKinsey to evaluate a candidate’s ability to think critically, structure complex problems, and communicate effectively under pressure—skills that are crucial for consultants who must deliver high-quality solutions to clients. Lastly, case interviews serve as a consistent and objective measure of a candidate’s capabilities, enabling the firm to compare candidates from diverse backgrounds fairly and accurately.
What is different in McKinsey’s interview format?
The McKinsey Problem Solving Interview is a typical case interview as it is employed by most consulting firms to test the analytical capabilities and communication skills of applicants. However, it comes with a twist. The interview simulates a client situation, where you are tasked to solve a specific business problem that they are facing. You will have to answer a succession of several questions rather than driving the case yourself as would be the case in other consulting firms. Within the interview, which is a dialogue between you and the interviewer, you need to structure problems, propose concrete ideas, gather information, spot insights in data and charts, solve quantitative problems, and communicate in a professional and calm manner.
The case is the hardest part for most candidates since it involves a number of different skills that need to be demonstrated consistently across all questions and across multiple cases in succession. Depending on the office, applicants need to go through four to six case interviews before receiving an offer. They need to convince the interviewers in all cases to start their McKinsey careers.
Types of cases you may encounter
During a McKinsey case interview, candidates may encounter a variety of case types that cover different industries, functions, and challenges. The following is just a selection of potential case problems that you would need to solve.
- Market entry: Evaluating the attractiveness of entering a new market or launching a new product or service.
- Growth strategy: Identifying opportunities for a company to grow its revenue, market share, or profitability.
- Mergers and acquisitions: Assessing the feasibility and potential value of merging with or acquiring another company.
- Cost reduction: Identifying areas for cost savings and efficiency improvements in a company’s operations or supply chain.
- Pricing strategy: Determining the optimal pricing structure for a product or service to maximize revenue or profit.
- Organizational restructuring: Evaluating changes to a company’s organizational structure or management processes to improve performance.
- Operational improvements: Figure out and improve operational issues.
While the specifics of each case may differ, the core skills required to tackle these cases—such as structuring, data analysis, and problem-solving—remain consistent across all case types.
On top of that, McKinsey cases have become much more creative over the last couple of years, hence, using memorized and established frameworks will never serve you well . Rather it is important to approach every McKinsey case from a first-principles approach.
For instance, consider the following real McKinsey case example.
You are working with an operator of a specific type of machines. They break down at different rates at different locations. What factors can you think of why that would happen? Example of a McKinsey Case Interview Structure Questions
There is not a single memorized framework bucket that would work here. Let us look at an example answer for this prompt.
Less than 1% of candidates make it through the recruiting filters of McKinsey. You want to provide insights that the interviewer has not heard before and not be just like the other 99% that fail to impress.
What is the format of the McKinsey case?
A typical McKinsey case follows the PEI in a one-hour interview session. It lasts for 25 to 30 minutes in an interviewer-led format , meaning that the interviewer takes the lead and guides you through the case. Your role as the interviewee is to answer the questions asked by the interviewer before they will move on to the next question. While it is the interviewer’s responsibility to provide hints and move you through the different questions, you should take the lead within each question.
Depending on your performance and speed, you will be asked three to six questions . Only receiving three questions is actually a positive sign since the interviewer was happy with your answers to each question. Going above three questions usually happens when the interviewer wants to dig deeper into a specific question type to see if the quality of a previous answer to a similar question was just an outlier or can be confirmed with a second question. Most candidates need more than three questions to convince the interviewer, so don’t be scared when your case gets a little bit longer and consists of more than three questions.
Some offices also offer a McKinsey phone case interview as a first screening device, which follows the same structure as an in-person interview.
Is the McKinsey case interview different from a BCG or Bain interview?
While there are many similarities in McKinsey interviews and interviews with other firms, McKinsey interviews are interviewer-led, while other firms employ a candidate-led format .
McKinsey, BCG, and Bain cases have certain things in common:
- The elements of the cases are the same. You will have to structure problems, interpret exhibits, and work through some calculations, come up with recommendations or implications, etc.
- The skills that are assessed are the same. You need to exhibit strong problem-solving skills, creativity, ability to work under pressure, top-down communication, etc.
However, there is one key difference:
- In interviewer-led cases, you take ownership of every question and go into greater detail here, while the interviewer guides you from question to question. In the interviewee-led case, you drive the whole case and have to move along, get the correct information to work with by asking the right questions, and analyze the problem to then deduct a recommendation
In a McKinsey case, the interviewer will guide you through a series of connected questions that you need to answer, synthesize, and develop recommendations from. There are clear directions and a flow of questions, which you need to answer with a hypothesis-driven mindset . These are arguably easier to prepare for and to go through since the flow and types of questions will always be the same.
For McKinsey case interview examples, check the available interviewer-led cases here .
In a candidate-led BCG case interview or Bain case interview, due to the nature of your role as an investigator, it is much easier to get lost, walk down the wrong branch of the issue tree, and waste a ton of time. While the interviewers will try to influence you to move in the right direction (pay attention to their hints), it is still up to you what elements of the problem you would like to analyze. Each answer should lead to a new question (hypothesis-driven) on your quest to find the root cause of the problem to come up with a recommendation on how to overcome it.
What are the questions of a McKinsey case interview?
In the McKinsey interview you will have to answer three different questions types – broadly speaking:
- Structuring (includes creating frameworks and brainstorming questions)
- Exhibit Interpretation
Structuring includes both the framework creation at the beginning of a case as well as answering brainstorming questions (usually at a later stage of the case).
A case interview structure is used to break the problem you are trying to solve for the client down into smaller problems or components. It is the roadmap you establish at the beginning of the interview that will guide your problem-solving approach throughout the case. A strong initial structure should cover all elements of the situation AND allow you to understand where the problem is coming from. Read more about case interview structure and frameworks here .
A common question would be:
What factors would you look at to understand the problem better? McKinsey framework question
Brainstorming has you come up with specific ideas around a certain topic (in a structured m anner). Read more about brainstorming here .
What ideas do you have that could decrease customer check-out time? McKinsey brainstorming question
For chart or data interpretation , you are tasked to find the key insights of 1-2 PowerPoint slides and relate them back to the case question and the client situation at hand. Read more about exhibit interpretation here .
Case math questions have you analyze a problem mathematically before qualitatively investigating the particular reason for the numerical result or deriving specific recommendations from the outcome. Read more on how to ace case math here .
Now for structure and exhibit interpretation , there is no right or wrong answer in a McKinsey interview. Some answers are better than others because they are
- follow strong communication (MECE, top-down, signposted)
That being said, there is no 100% that you can reach or a one-and-only solution/ answer. It is important that your answers display the characteristics specified above and are supported well with arguments.
As for math questions , usually, there are answers which are correct (not always 100% the same since some candidates simplify or round differently – which is ok), and others that are wrong, either due to the
- calculation approach
- calculation itself
Now, for the interviewer, the overall picture counts. Mistakes in one area need to be balanced by a strong performance in other areas. McKinsey wants to see spikes in performance in certain areas and a good enough performance in other areas.
The most common example we see almost every day: You can be strong in structure and exhibit, yet make a small mistake in the math section – overall as you might consider 80% – and still pass on to the next round.
Be aware that in 99% of cases, there is no recommendation question in the end. The case just ends with the last case question. This is something many candidates are surprised by when they get out of their McKinsey interviews.
Mastering the McKinsey Case Interview Framework
In the sequence of questions that you receive, you need to demonstrate that you are able to
- identify the ask;
- structure the problem to investigate it;
- analyze data related to it;
- generate insight and recommendations;
- communicate effectively.
The first step in tackling a McKinsey case interview is to identify the core problem or question that needs to be addressed. Carefully listen to the case prompt and take notes, ensuring that you understand the client’s objectives, the scope of the problem, and any constraints. Clarify any uncertainties with the interviewer before moving forward.
Structuring the problem
Once you have identified the problem, develop a structured approach to address it. Break down the problem into smaller, more manageable components using logical frameworks. Tailor the chosen framework to the specific case, incorporating any unique factors or considerations. Present your structure to the interviewer, explaining your rationale and seeking their input or approval.
Data analysis and interpretation
As you proceed with your structured approach, you may be provided with additional data or information by the interviewer. Analyze the data, using quantitative techniques, such as calculating growth rates, market shares, or breakeven points, to draw meaningful insights. Be prepared to make assumptions or estimates if necessary but ensure they are reasonable and well-justified.
Generating insights and recommendations
Based on your data analysis, develop actionable insights and recommendations that address the client’s objectives. Consider the potential impact, feasibility, and risks associated with each recommendation. Think creatively and strategically, incorporating both qualitative and quantitative factors into your decision-making process.
Synthesis and communication
Finally, synthesize your findings and recommendations into a clear and concise conclusion. Use the “top-down” communication style, starting with your main recommendation, followed by the supporting evidence and insights. Demonstrate strong communication skills by articulating your thought process and recommendations persuasively and confidently. Be prepared to answer any follow-up questions from the interviewer and engage in a discussion to defend or refine your conclusions.
- Pyramid principle communication
- How to communicate in a case interview
In this format, McKinsey assesses in a case interview six skills that you need to demonstrate consistently in every case interview.
What skills are assessed by McKinsey?
- Problem-solving: Are you able to derive a MECE (mutually exclusive, collectively exhaustive) framework, breaking a problem down into smaller problems, and accurately covering all aspects of the problem?
- Analytical rigor and logical thinking: Can you link the structure to creative thinking? Are you using a hypothesis-driven approach to your problem solving, i.e. have a clear picture of where you think the solution of the case is buried most likely? Do you qualify your thinking, follow your structure, tackle (likely) high-impact issues first, lead the interviewer, and ask the right questions?
- Mental math and basic calculus : Are you able to structure quantitative problems and comfortably perform calculations? Can you derive the correct approach to calculate the desired outcome variable? Can you plug in the numbers and perform the calculations, relying on basic pen-and-paper math, shortcuts, and mental math?
- Creativity: Do you think about a problem holistically, offering broad, deep, and insightful perspectives? Are you able to come up with different angles to the problem (breadth) and draft rich descriptions that qualify why these areas are important to investigate (depth)?
- Communication: Are you able to communicate like a consultant? Are you following a top-down communication approach similar to the Pyramid Principle taught by Minto? Do all of your statements add value and do you guide the interviewer through your thinking?
- Maturity and presence: Are you leading the conversation or are merely getting dragged along by the interviewer? Are you confident and mature? Are you comfortable with silence while taking time to structure your thinking?
- Business sense and intuition : Are you able to quickly understand the business and the situation of the client? Can you swiftly interpret data, charts, exhibits, and statements made by the interview? Are you asking the right questions? Are you able to make sense of new information quickly and interpret it properly in the context of the case?
Now, these skills are assessed in a very specific interviewing format, which is not natural for most applicants and needs significant practice to become second nature.
Key Strategies to Excel in a McKinsey Case Interview
Using the mece principle.
MECE (Mutually Exclusive, Collectively Exhaustive) is a problem-solving principle that helps ensure your analysis is both comprehensive and well-organized. Apply the MECE principle when structuring your approach to a case by breaking down the problem into distinct, non-overlapping components while ensuring that all relevant aspects are covered. This method allows you to maintain a clear and logical structure throughout the case and reduces the likelihood of overlooking critical factors.
Applying the 80/20 rule
The 80/20 rule, also known as the Pareto Principle, suggests that 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. In the context of a case interview, this means focusing on the most critical issues or factors that will have the most significant impact on the client’s objectives. By prioritizing your analysis and recommendations, you can work more efficiently and effectively, demonstrating your ability to identify and address the most pressing concerns for the client.
Using a hypothesis-driven approach means forming an initial hypothesis or educated guess about the potential solution to the problem and then testing it using data and analysis. By starting with a hypothesis, you can guide your problem-solving process more efficiently, focusing your efforts on collecting evidence that supports or refutes your hypothesis. Throughout the case, be prepared to revise or refine your hypothesis as new information emerges.
Incorporating creativity and business intuition
While frameworks and structured approaches are essential, it’s also crucial to demonstrate creativity and business intuition during a McKinsey case interview. This means thinking beyond the standard frameworks and considering innovative solutions or unique factors that may be relevant to the specific case. Use your knowledge of industry trends, best practices, and real-world business challenges to inform your analysis and recommendations. By combining structured thinking with creative problem-solving, you can showcase your ability to deliver well-rounded, impactful solutions for clients.
Preparing for the McKinsey Case Interview
Most candidates prepare using generic frameworks. Alternatively, they are looking for a McKinsey case book PDF or a case study interview questions and answers PDF with the hope that the cases will be the same across interviewers and interviews.
Do not learn case-specific frameworks by heart , expecting them to work for every case you will encounter. There is no specific McKinsey case study framework or McKinsey case study book. It is much more important to learn the right approach that will help you tackle all types of cases. This is even more relevant for McKinsey interviews.
What you need to do is to study each individual question type and the associated skills in a case interview and learn how to approach it, regardless of the client situation, the context of the case, the industry, or function. Your goal should be to learn how to build issue trees, interpret charts, and perform math no matter the context, industry, or function of the case and follow our McKinsey case interview tips.
Many candidates ask if there is a specific McKinsey implementation case interview, McKinsey operation case interview, or McKinsey digital case interview. In fact, the cases are usually a mix of cases in a domain-relevant context as well as cases set in a completely different context to the role you are applying for.
Be aware that frameworks were applicable in the 2000 years, the era of Victor Cheng and Case in Point. McKinsey has long caught up on this and the cases you will get during the interviews are tailored in a way to test your creativity and ability to generate insights on the spot, not remember specific frameworks.
In fact, it will hurt you when you try to use a framework on a case that calls for a completely different approach. Also, it gives a false sense of security that will translate to stress once you figure out how your approach won’t work during the real interview – We have seen this way too often…
Developing the right mindset
Success in the McKinsey case interview starts with cultivating the right mindset. Being mentally prepared involves:
- Embracing a growth mindset: Recognize that your skills can improve with consistent practice and effort. Stay open to feedback and learn from your mistakes.
- Building resilience: Understand that case interviews are challenging, and you may face setbacks during your preparation. Stay persistent and maintain a positive attitude.
- Adopting a client-first perspective: Approach each case as if you were a consultant working on a real client engagement, focusing on delivering value and actionable insights.
Learning the essential skills
To excel in the McKinsey case interview, it’s crucial to develop the following skills:
- Problem structuring: Break down complex problems into smaller, more manageable components using frameworks and logical structures.
- Qualitative and quantitative analysis: Interpret and analyze data to draw meaningful insights and make informed decisions.
- Hypothesis-driven thinking: Develop and test hypotheses to guide your problem-solving approach efficiently.
- Communication: Clearly articulate your thought process, insights, and recommendations in a concise and persuasive manner.
Studying relevant materials and resources
Leverage various resources to enhance your understanding of case interviews and management consulting:
- Books: The most effective and exhaustive case interview preparation book is The 1%: Conquer Your Consulting Case Interview (shameless plug). It goes much deeper than the usual suspects which are outdated and provide faulty advice on case interviews.
- Websites and blogs : Websites like StrategyCase.com offer the latest case interview tips, practice cases, and industry insights. You can check out more free articles covering consulting applications and interviews here .
- Online courses: Enroll in case interview preparation courses to gain structured guidance and access to a wealth of practice materials. We have created several high-quality courses for all elements of the McKinsey interview (see below)
We are the highest ranked and most successful case coaches on the web and have helped 100s of candidates break into McKinsey. As former McKinsey consultants and interview experts, we have specialized in getting our candidates into the firm. We can help you by
- tailoring your resume and cover letter to meet McKinsey’s standards
- showing you how to pass the McKinsey Imbellus Solve Game
- showing you how to ace McKinsey interviews and the PEI with our video academy
- coaching you in our 1-on-1 sessions to become an excellent case solver and impress with your fit answers (90% success rate after 5 sessions)
- preparing your math to be bulletproof for every McKinsey case interview
- helping you structure creative and complex McKinsey cases
- teaching you how to interpret McKinsey charts and exhibits
- providing you with cheat sheets and overviews for 27 industries .
Reach out to us if you have any questions! We are happy to help and offer a tailored program.
Practicing with case partners
Regular practice with case partners is essential for honing your case interview skills:
- Find practice partners: Connect with fellow candidates through online forums, social media groups, or local consulting clubs.
- Set a practice schedule: Aim to practice at least a few cases per week, gradually increasing the difficulty and variety of cases.
- Seek feedback: After each practice case, discuss your performance with your partner, and identify areas for improvement.
- Alternate roles: Take turns playing the role of the interviewer and the interviewee to develop a deeper understanding of the case interview process.
Common Pitfalls and How to Avoid Them
- Insufficient structure: Failing to break down the problem into manageable components can lead to a disorganized analysis and an inability to identify key issues.
- Overlooking the big picture: Becoming too focused on the details and losing sight of the overall objective or client’s needs can hinder the development of effective recommendations.
- Ignoring qualitative factors: Relying solely on quantitative data without considering qualitative aspects may result in an incomplete understanding of the problem.
- Ineffective communication: Struggling to articulate your thought process, insights, or recommendations in a clear and persuasive manner can undermine the value of your analysis.
- Failing to adapt: Sticking to a preconceived framework or hypothesis despite conflicting evidence may indicate a lack of flexibility and critical thinking.
Tips to prevent these mistakes
- Practice structuring: Develop your ability to structure problems effectively by practicing with a wide range of cases and familiarizing yourself with common frameworks.
- Stay focused on the objective: Periodically remind yourself of the client’s goals and priorities, ensuring that your analysis remains aligned with their needs.
- Balance quantitative and qualitative factors: Recognize the importance of both quantitative data and qualitative insights in forming a well-rounded understanding of the problem.
- Hone your communication skills: Practice speaking clearly, concisely, and persuasively, ensuring that your message is easily understood and well-received.
- Embrace adaptability: Be open to revising your approach, framework, or hypothesis in response to new information or feedback, demonstrating your ability to think critically and flexibly.
McKinsey Interview Course
Unlock the Secrets to Acing McKinsey Interviews with Our Comprehensive Training Program
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We take pride in our results: an impressive 9 out of 10 candidates who complete our one-on-one Ready-for-McKinsey Interview Coaching program receive an offer. This track record has earned us consistent recognition as the best McKinsey and MBB coaches on several platforms.
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In summary, acing the McKinsey case interview requires a deep understanding of the interview process, mastery of essential skills, and the ability to apply effective problem-solving strategies. By embracing the MECE principle, applying the 80/20 rule, adopting a hypothesis-driven approach, and incorporating creativity and business intuition, you will be well-equipped to tackle any case interview challenge.
Remember to invest time in preparing for both the Personal Experience Interview and the case interview itself, using the wealth of resources and practice materials available. Focus on developing a structured approach, honing your analytical and communication skills, and staying adaptable throughout the interview process.
As you embark on your McKinsey case interview journey, stay confident and persistent in your efforts. By applying the tips and strategies shared in this article, you will be one step closer to achieving your consulting career aspirations. We wish you the best of luck in your journey toward success at McKinsey.
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Florian spent 5 years with McKinsey as a senior consultant. He is an experienced consulting interviewer and problem-solving coach, having interviewed 100s of candidates in real and mock interviews. He started StrategyCase.com with the goal to make top-tier consulting firms more accessible for top talent, using tailored and up-to-date know-how about their recruiting. He ranks as the most successful consulting case and fit interview coach, generating more than 450 offers with MBB, tier-2 firms, Big 4 consulting divisions, in-house consultancies, and boutique firms through direct coaching of his clients over the last 3 years. His books “The 1%: Conquer Your Consulting Case Interview” and “Consulting Career Secrets” are available via Amazon.
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Table of content
McKinsey Case Interview: Everything You'll Ever Need
Case interviews at McKinsey & Company are among the most challenging job interviews; they not only ask for your personal experience, but also put you in a strenuous simulation of consulting problem-solving, designed to lay bare your management consulting traits (or, the lack thereof).
Fortunately, although challenging, these interviews are also predictable. Follow me through this article – I’ll show you how to nail each of them, and land an offer at McKinsey – the world’s most prestigious management consulting firm.
McKinsey interview process & requirements
Mckinsey recruitment process.
There are three phases in the McKinsey recruitment process – resume screening , PST test , and case interview . The whole process usually takes 2-3 months to complete, for a job starting about 6-12 months after application. New offices with higher HR demands and staffing shortages can be less clear-cut, but generally faster.
I’ve written other artcles to cover the first two phases, so I won’t go through them here. Rest assured – with practice, you’ll utterly conquer them. So that leaves us with the last, most exciting part of the game: case interviews .
If you haven’t grasped the basics of case interview, I advice you to go and read this Case Interview 101 crashcourse – a “guidebook” written for both beginners and experienced case interviewees. Link is on the right.
Now, let us continue with McKinsey case interviews.
McKinsey interview process
Each McKinsey candidate will have to undergo 4-6 interviews during 4-8 weeks. The first 2-3 interviews are often conducted by Engagement Managers; later interviews are conducted by the more senior Partners or Directors. McKinsey interviews usually consist of two parts: The PEI/Personal Experience Interview (10 minutes) and the case interview (30-45 minutes).
Consistently high performance is a must.
Your performance in each interview will be graded on three levels: Strongly Hire, Hire, Fail (they could have cooler names, IMO). One “Fail” means you’re out of the game, and there’s no “Try Again” button for the next two years; you must be consistently “Hire” or more in all interviews.
Luckily, McKinsey case interviews are quite predictable, so if you use my systematic approach and practice diligently, I’m sure you’ll do well.
What does McKinsey look for?
As with other MBB firms, McKinsey looks for the three core skills and qualifications in potential employees: problem-solving skills , leadership ability and achieving mentality . Prior business background is highly advantageous although not a requirement, and technical/industry knowledge is required for certain career tracks – such as McKinsey Digital, or jobs at support centers.
Since the terms are quite ambiguous, I’ll explain them here:
- Problem-solving skills: I’m talking about the analytical aspect of problem-solving – the whole consulting industry exists on the basis that consultants can break down business problems better than anyone else.
- Leadership ability: Getting a bunch of experienced people to do something they don’t want to is never easy; additionally, consultants usually work in teams. Keep in mind, “leadership” is about influencing people, not about getting nominated as the class monitor.
- Achieving mentality: The problems are always big and difficult, while deadlines are tight; don’t even think about work-life balance here, you have to go all-out. People unwilling to work that hard are never kicked out of the industry, because they never get in!
- Business intuition: Business background isn’t a requirement for prospective consultants ; however, business knowledge is essential to excellent performance in case interviews. Luckily, it’s something you can learn, and most concepts used in consulting interviews are on basic to intermediate levels.
- Technical skills: Technical skills are indeed required for specialist positions, such as at McKinsey Digital. Precisely what kind of expertise or technical knowledge is tested will be informed to you by McKinsey, so don’t worry too much.
In McKinsey case interviews, each candidate must successfully display the following five attributes – among which the first three are crucial to consulting . In the Case Interview End-to-End Secrets Program , I’ll teach you how to demonstrate all of these attributes effectively, both in the case interview and the PEI.
McKinsey case interview format
What is a case interview.
A case interview is an interview with a business context.
In a case interview, you are given a business problem and asked to solve it – that problem, together with the whole surrounding business context, is called a case.
“The Pirate Company, based in the Caribbeans, offering assets removal services to ships in the area, is suffering from negative profits. They want you to look into the cause and solve it.”
In this case, the problem is decreasing profits. If you are the candidate, you’re supposed to find out what’s causing it, and most of the time, also how to fix it.
What are McKinsey case interviews like?
McKinsey case interviews are often interviewer-led. At the most extreme of this format, the interviewer “leads” the problem-solving process by asking separate questions related to the case context. The candidate cannot decide how to approach the problem. In actual cases, however, the candidate may be given some autonomy depending on the interviewer.
There are two extremes in terms of the autonomy you’d have in a case interview. On one end of the spectrum, in a candidate-led case , you lead the problem-solving process. On the other end, in an interviewer-led case, the interviewer tells you what to do.
If the Pirate case above were candidate-led, you’d actively break down the big profit problem and look for the root cause.
This time, however, it’s an interviewer-led case, so you’ll instead answer a series of questions coming from the interviewer.
- Interviewer-led cases consist of multiple mini-cases
In an interviewer-led case interview, the case is split into multiple small questions. Treat these questions as mini-cases, and take a structured approach to these questions, just like with a larger case. Avoid bottom-up answers as much as possible – “top-down” is still the name of the game.
Engagement Managers often decide on somewhat-structured question lists in advance, while Partners – being more senior – are more likely to make up questions on the fly.
- What factors would you consider in assessing The Pirate Company’s decreasing profits?
- The Company’s ship and crew costs have been rising due to competition with the British Royal Navy. What solutions do you suggest?
- How much additional revenue is necessary for The Pirate Company to break-even, in the face of the rising costs?
- Interviewer-led cases are more rigid
Expect to feel disconnected navigating through a predetermined set of questions.
Even if you come up with a fully-working approach, be prepared to be “dragged” back to the line if it differs from what the interviewer has in mind.
In answering the first question, you divided the costs into daily operations costs and battle costs, reasoning that battles don’t occur everyday, and their costs vary a lot.
While this may be a valid segmentation of pirate costs, the interviewer will likely redirect you to the predetermined course and have you work on ship and crew costs.
- Interviewer-led cases place more emphasis on being right
You must nail every question if you want to pass interviewer-led cases.
This difference is because in interviewer-led cases, the problem has been broken down for you through the predetermined set of questions (so you have more brainpower to focus on getting the “correct” answers). This stands in contrast to candidate-led cases where you break down the problem by yourself.
Nonetheless, never jump straight to the answer in interviewer-led cases – they still look for an “analytical mindset”, so the right result without a structured, logical approach will amount to nothing.Interested in learning about the candidate-led side of the spectrum? Wanting to know about the mechanisms of case interviews at BCG and Bain? See this extensive guide on candidate-led case interviews at BCG and Bain!
McKinsey case interview questions
McKinsey case interviews can be methodically prepared for by arranging the possible questions into the following 8 predictable categories .
- Framework/issue tree questions
- Market-sizing and guesstimate questions
- Brain teasers
- Chart insight questions
- Value proposition questions
- Information questions
- Math problems
- Solution-finding questions
I have written a detailed guide on these question types – you may want to check out that article for more insights. For each type of question, there is one example – suggestions and answers are at the end of this section, but try to answer them on your own first !
These questions apply not only to McKinsey cases, but also other interviewer-led case interviews !
Type 1 – Framework / issue tree
The issue tree is at the heart of consulting problem-solving, you cannot avoid it.
These questions are often worded as follows: “What factors would you consider in tackling this problem”, or “What are the possible factors leading to this problem?”. Don’t be tricked by listing out the factors immediately – they are in fact expecting an issue tree.
And to draw a spot-on issue tree, you need to master consulting problem-solving fundamentals , the MECE principle , and common consulting frameworks . Solid business intuition is also highly beneficial for these questions.
Gastronomia – a gourmet restaurant chain has found the turnover rate among its highly-skilled chefs increasing dramatically for the last 3 years; this has led to a noticeable decline in food quality and increased training costs, among other negative effects.
Which factors would you consider when tackling this turnover problem?
Type 2 – Market-sizing & guesstimate
These are on top of the list among popular interviewer-led case questions!
Market-sizing and guesstimate questions ask you to estimate vague (sometimes even silly) numbers such as the number of pickup trucks in the US, or how many ping pong balls you can fit into a Boeing 747.
What’s being tested here is whether you approach the question in a structured manner; the ideal way to tackle these questions is to divide the figure into small pieces, estimate each piece, then combine for a final result.
The interviewer doesn’t usually have a number in mind, so the margin of error can be quite large.
This question type is so common, we devote a whole article to it. Check out our comprehensive guide on Market-Sizing & Guesstimate Questions for more details!
E.g.: How many smartphones are sold each year, globally?
Type 3 – Brain teasers
Most people think solving brain teasers relies on “innate intelligence”, but in fact, even these questions can be trained!
Some brain teasers ask you to explain impossible situations or perform impossible tasks – the key here is to doubt your initial assumptions and challenge common sense.
Others focus on your ability to notice subtle details, so beware that your first impression is almost always inadequate – keep diving and switching angles for unobvious patterns, or pay close attention to every word.
Still others test your logical thinking with complex riddles; for these questions, visualizing the given information on scratch paper significantly eases up the process.
Read our article about Case Interview Brain Teasers for more insights on all of these exciting brain teasers!
Type 4 – Chart insights
Charts are powerful data visualization tools. Consultants love them, so if you’re a prospective consultant, mastering charts is a must – that’s why in my Case Interview End-to-End Secrets Program Case Interview End-to-End Secrets Program , the Math package includes an extensive section dedicated to chart exercises!
You can find a more detailed guide in the Charts section in our article about Consulting Math . I’ll keep it short here: the key to nailing chart questions is to examine all the labels before diving in, and when looking for insights, consider (1) the chart’s purpose, (2) your objectives, and (3) trends and abnormalities in the data.
Type 5 – Value proposition
No business can succeed without understanding what their customers want, so no candidate gets a consulting offer without fully mastering these questions!
“What will our customers like?” Business intuition is required to deliver a good answer. Again, as with the Solution-Finding questions, you should structure your analysis and presentation (for instance, “High Priority”, “Medium Priority”, and “Low Priority”).
E.g.: What will a customer consider when buying a Toyota sedan?
Type 6 – Information questions
In any problem-solving process, information is one of the overarching concerns!
You do need some business and consulting knowledge to answer these questions to know where to fetch a given piece of data from, and how to do it (e.g.: survey, financial reports, client interview, etc.).
Is there any other tip to improve your performance ? Well, do your interviewer a favor, say in advance how you can acquire necessary data, and say it in a structured manner .
E.g.: How do you assess your target customer’s preferences for sports cars?
Type 7 – Math problems
A lot of information in case interviews and consulting work comes in the quantitative form, so you won’t escape Math by joining the consulting industry!
When you have to do math, perform back-of-the-envelope calculations in a structured fashion, and say out loud what you’re writing. For one thing, it’s safe; for another, you show that you’re careful, organized, and reliable – just like actual consultants.
We have a dedicated article on Consulting Math , which you should definitely read.
Type 8 – Solution-finding
What’s the point of analyzing a problem, if not to solve it?!
These questions rely mostly on your business intuition, however, some tips can still be applied: (1) segment the solutions based on their characteristics, and (2) give at least two solutions, preferably three to five.
E.g.: A restaurant that relies solely on on-premise dining found the loss of adjacent parking space (due to termination of contract) harming their revenue. How can they fix that?
Are 8 question types enough?
Well yes, but actually no. If you study those eight question types , rest assured that you’ve covered the majority of questions in interviewer-led cases.
However, I haven’t touched the most advanced questions – combinations or variants of the basic types, or even completely unpredictable ones.
How do you tackle these harder questions?
- Master the Basics: If you’re still a beginner, don’t bother about the advanced exercises. Focus your efforts on the basics, once you’ve mastered them it’d be comfortable to move on to higher, more sophisticated levels.
- Business Intuition: You need business intuition for a business-related job, it’s simple as that. Nearly every case concerns business in one way or another – even public sector cases. This is why we also teach business intuition in our Case Interview E2E Secret Program .
McKinsey case interview tips
In an interviewer-led case, there is (1) less of a natural flow, (2) more emphasis on correctness, and (3) less time to develop an answer. How do you adapt to these challenges?
These are the seven tips I used to crack case interviews at McKinsey. In the Case Interview End-to-End Secrets Program , you can find countless such tips throughout the 10 case videos of the Tips and Techniques package.
Tip #1: Actively try to take control of the case
In the beginning, try to control the case as if it’s candidate-led .
Playback the case, clarify and break down the problem immediately at the start – most likely, the interviewer will stop you if he/she intends on the interviewer-led route. However, by that time, you’ve already scored some points.
I can give you three benefits for acting as such:
- The interviewer will acknowledge your leading and proactive personality – these characteristics are very important for a consultant-to-be .
- If the interviewer slips towards the candidate-led sides (yes, McKinsey cases can be candidate-led to a degree), you will not appear lazy and passive.
- You might actually exert influence on the case flow and drive it towards your preferred direction.
Tip #2: Ask for data as much as possible
Ask for data from the interviewer as much as you can !
The more abundant and relevant your information is, the more effective you can solve problems. It’s better to ask a little too much and deliver a good answer than to ask nothing and ruin your chances.
However, in an interviewer-led case, you’re supposed to deliver your answers in one pitch and otherwise limit interactions with the interviewer. Then, how do you convince the interviewer to give you data?
Every request you make must be purposeful , i.e. it serves the problem-solving efforts; and you have to make those purposes absolutely clear . Say these lines before you ask:
- When you receive the question, say that you need to “clarify a few key points”, so that you can be “on the same page” with the interviewer.
- If the need for additional information arises, say that you need some “background information”, in order to grasp the overall context and “deliver the best answer”.
If successful, the interviewer may even give you some leeway to be unstructured, which is very convenient for brainstorming!
Tip #3: Use insights from previous questions to answer the next
Always keep in mind the insights from previous questions.
I’ve seen quite a few candidates diverting so much attention to one question, they forget the insights from others – why waste such a useful data source?
Although questions in an interviewer-led case may feel disconnected, they are often still inter-related in some ways, belonging to the same “case universe”. That means you can use insights from the previous questions to answer the current one.
Additionally, this technique shows you are capable of seeing the big picture while working on the details. That’s an essential ability in consulting work , the interviewer will no doubt be pleased if you can demonstrate it.
Tip #4: Analyze as deep and comprehensive as possible
Try as hard as you can to be in-depth and comprehensive with your analyses.
For your answers to NOT be generic and lackluster, you must go wide and go deep with your analyses in the first place; so always ask yourself “Am I overlooking something?” and “Can I drill down further?”.
Suppose you’re tasked to evaluate the customer preferences for ASUS gaming laptops – one bad way to answer that question is to list these factors: “low price, high performance, good design” – this answer generalizes all of ASUS’s customers while leaving out a crucial aspect – customer service.
For the ASUS example, a better way to respond is to first segment the customers based on their budget (Entry-level, Mid-range, High-end), then evaluate price, performance, design and customer service for each segment. The resulting answer will be much more specific, all-round and actionable.
Be careful not to spend too much time drilling and expanding though – if you take too long, the interviewer will force you to the next question and you lose one chance to prove yourself.
Tip #5: Always follow up answers with takeaways
End your answers with takeaways, even if they’re not asked for.
To a management consultant , everything must serve a purpose – “So what?” is the question that follows any piece of data.
You demonstrate that consulting mentality in a case interview by following up each and every answer with that so-what – if ASUS entry-level customers like low price and decent performance for their gaming laptops, how can the company use that to their advantage? Spot-on takeaways also demonstrate excellent business intuition.
However, if you trip up and make bad conclusions, it will hurt your chances. Don’t go spewing out anything that comes across your mind for the sake of “So what?”.
Tip #6: Deliver concise and insightful answer pitch
Present your answer in one perfect, insightful, top-down, concise, captivating final pitch .
As I said just earlier, in an interviewer-led case, delivering answers in one pitch is important. However, I’ve seen candidates taking this too far and ended up hurting their own analysis by not asking for necessary information – this is a pitfall you should look out for.
Anyhow, content-wise, the pitch must be short, but still containing all the important points from your analysis. The contents must also be arranged in a structured fashion , or you’ll look unorganized in the interviewer’s eyes.
When making the pitch, use all available means of communication – speech, body language, even pen-and-paper to visualize the contents. Maintain eye contact, speak concretely and confidently, avoid fidgeting, or raising the tone at the end (suggesting that you’re unsure).
Tip #7: Make a personal script
Script what you intend to say in the interview, and practice a hundred times.
You have to sound professional in a case interview, the words you speak must be structured and formal. How do you do that without feeling forced and awkward? How to avoid making presentation mistakes? How do you maintain charisma in that situation?
Unless you’re a witch (in which case, use magic to charm the interviewer), I recommend practicing all the formulaic lines, such as the opening or data requests, using an interview script. With enough training, those lines will feel natural to you.
Additionally, using scripts also saves brainpower, which you’ll definitely need a lot in case interviews. Think about when you learn to drive a car – once the shift stick, the brake and the gas pedal become so natural to you they feel like parts of your body, you can focus your whole brain on the road!
How to prepare for McKinsey case interview
Step 1: familiarize with interviewer-led case examples.
I encourage you to go out there and find as many examples of interviewer-led cases as possible, to grasp how such cases “flow”. There are four such examples on the McKinsey website with suggested answers.
- Diconsa Case
- Electro-Light Case
- GlobaPharm Case
- National Education Case
Here at MConsultingPrep, we also have a few interviewer-led case examples in our Case Interview E2E Secret Program Case Interview E2E Secret Program , complete with detailed feedback on every aspect from content to presentation, all in video format.
Step 2: Practice consulting math
Like it or not, you must practice math – especially mental math. Case interviews and the consulting world are riddled with calculations.
In the beginning, consulting math can be difficult for some; nonetheless, I have a few tips for you to ease the process and still practice effectively:
- Use Your Head: Do all your daily calculations mentally unless an EXACT answer is required.
- Flatten the Learning Curve: At the start, a piece of scratch paper and a 5% margin of error really help; once you are confident, discard the paper and narrow down the margin.
- Establish a Routine: Allocate some time for daily practice this may seem hard at first, but once you’ve overcome the inertia, you can literally feel the improvement.
Step 3: Develop business intuition
Business intuition forms from your knowledge and experience of the field, and they are crucial for case interview success. You can improve your business intuition in two ways:
- Written Sources: I suggest reading business papers daily; you can also visit McKinsey , Bain and BCG websites for their excellent articles. Beware though – it’s not the pages you read that count, but the insights you draw from them.
- First-hand Experience and Observations: Don’t just come to your workplace to work; try to examine what senior managers are doing – what’s the rationale for their decision, and how has it impacted the organization?
Step 4: Learn the case interview question types
The key to conquering interviewer-led cases is in methodically mastering each and every basic question type; then you will be ready to tackle the more complex and less predictable ones.
For each type, there are always tips and techniques to deliver an ideal answer; you can refer to the previous section, or check out an even more comprehensive guide in our Case Interview Questions .
The key takeaway is to treat interviewer-led questions like mini-cases, and take a structured, MECE approach to each.
Step 5: Perform mock interviews
The best way to train on something is to do it.
Well, you CAN’T simply come to McKinsey and ask them for a case interview, but you CAN find a partner to conduct mock interviews for you. It’s better if you can find a former consultant to do it – they’ve been through countless case interviews, both mock and real.
Fortunately, MConsultingPrep’s coaching service helps you practice mock interviews with highly experienced coaches. Our coaches have tremendous consulting experiences in Mckinsey, who can draw you a comprehensive preparation plan for McKinsey case interviews. Let’s find out who your personal coach is!
Make the best of every mock interview you do by recording them, then replay again, and again, and again. You’ll realize a lot of mistakes you made, and how you can fix them.
McKinsey PEI – How to prepare
Back when I first joined McKinsey, fit interviews played a much smaller role in the consulting recruitment process. Some consultants even regarded them as “just procedure”. Now the game has changed – even though case interviews are still the key to an offer, you must also excel in PEIs, to show that you’re a good fit.
What do they ask in the McKinsey PEI?
PEI stands for Personal Experience Interview , which as you may have guessed, is about “that one time in your life” when you did something extraordinary.
In the 10-minute PEI, the interviewer will ask you to tell one story, then drill down to extract insights about your soft skills and personal traits.
- Tell me about a time when you overcame a significant challenge
- Tell me about a time when you convinced people to change their viewpoints
- Tell me about a time when you resolved an important disagreement with your teammates
- Tell me about a time when you lead your team through extraordinary hardship
- Tell me about a time when you successfully handled conflict within your team
Besides these stories, the interview might also ask you the “Why consulting/Why McKinsey?” questions. You don’t need a story for these, just give them a valid and authentic reason; do research, understand the industry, the company, and how they fit with your own values and capabilities – that’s how you get the best answers for these questions.
How to prepare for the McKinsey PEI?
Preparing on a question-answer basis means drafting 10-12 stories, 2-3 for each question type; for all that effort, you might still run into trouble if you’re asked 3-4 times for the same kind of story. Many of us don’t have THAT many stories to tell anyway.
Is it possible to use less effort to deliver even more impressive stories? Here’s my advice: Focus on the stories, not the questions My take on the PEIs is to prepare three to five stories, and make them as detailed, all-round, well-presented as possible. View them from every possible angle, each corresponding to a trait required by McKinsey , or to one of your personal values.
With such an approach, you also gain flexibility – with well-developed stories, you can respond to ANY kind of questions, even the unexpected ones, and you’ll have more stories per question type (3-5).
How can you prepare such stories? Spend your efforts on three layers of a story – the content base, the plot, and the style.
1. Lay Down the Content Base Compare your past experiences with consulting traits (leadership, achieving, problem-solving skills) as well as personal values you’re most proud of, and select the stories best reflecting those traits and values. List down as many details of your stories as possible, make sure they follow this structure: Problem, Actions, Result, Lesson.
2. Form the Story Plot Trim the unnecessary details, simplify the technical parts to help the listeners understand, then rearrange and dramatize the rest to make your accomplishments really stand out. Add the consulting spirit into the mix by emphasizing the relevant traits, telling your stories in a structured way, explaining all your actions, etc.
3. Refine Your Style Your style of story-telling should be entertaining for both you and your audience. Take time to practice and find your style – and remember, it should be natural, otherwise you won’t be able to use it in a high-stress, high-stake interview. Keep in mind that your style should be formal, because it’s a job interview we’re talking about. Don’t do your trademark sarcasms there, it’s not a stand-up comedy session.
Four common mistakes in the McKinsey PEI
- Faking stories: This is the biggest one. Fake stories have no depth and many plot holes, once the interviewer drills down you’ll be dead; so please, be as authentic as possible – you should add some spices to your stories, but don’t pour a truckload of salt and pepper into it.
- Wasting time on context: Move quickly to the results. Time is short, so is the interviewer’s attention span; you should use just enough context to build tension and make your actions and results stand out.
- Repeating stories: Vary your stories as much as possible. Giving interviewers one story five times tells them you’re inexperienced and prevents them from seeing the best of you.
- Not focusing on oneself: The story is not about the team, it’s about YOU within the team. Not attending enough to your own accomplishments will diminish your chance of getting hired.
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A Comprehensive Guide to McKinsey Case Interview Preparation
Looking to ace your McKinsey case interview? Our comprehensive guide has got you covered! From understanding the interview process to mastering case frameworks, we provide expert tips and strategies to help you prepare and succeed.
Posted June 8, 2023
Preparing for a McKinsey case interview can be a daunting task, especially if you’re not sure where to start. As one of the most prestigious consulting firms in the world, McKinsey & Company is known for its rigorous interview process, which involves a unique problem-solving approach and an emphasis on communication skills. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll take you through all the steps you need to take to prepare for the McKinsey case interview and give you the best chance of success.
Understanding the McKinsey Case Interview Process
The McKinsey case interview is a simulation of a real-world business problem. The interviewer will present you with a hypothetical scenario based on a real-life company, and ask you to analyze the situation, identify the key issues, and provide a recommendation for how the company should proceed. The objective of the case interview is to test your analytical and problem-solving skills, as well as your ability to communicate your ideas in a clear and concise manner.
It is important to note that the McKinsey case interview is not just about getting the right answer. The interviewer is also evaluating your thought process, creativity, and ability to think on your feet. Therefore, it is important to approach the case interview with an open mind and be willing to explore different solutions and perspectives.
One way to prepare for the McKinsey case interview is to practice with case studies. There are many resources available online, including sample cases and practice questions. It is also helpful to work with a partner or mentor who can provide feedback on your approach and communication skills.
Key Skills Required for a Successful McKinsey Case Interview
To succeed in a McKinsey case interview, you need to possess several key skills. First and foremost, you need to be able to think critically and strategically. You must also be able to communicate your ideas in a clear and concise manner, and be comfortable with numbers and data analysis. Additionally, you need to demonstrate the ability to manage your time effectively, remain calm under pressure, and work collaboratively with others.
Another important skill to have for a successful McKinsey case interview is the ability to ask insightful questions. You should be able to identify the key issues and ask relevant questions that will help you understand the problem at hand. This will also demonstrate your curiosity and eagerness to learn.
Lastly, it is important to have a strong business acumen. You should have a good understanding of the industry and market trends, as well as the company's goals and objectives. This will help you provide relevant and practical solutions to the case problem, and showcase your ability to think like a business leader.
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Tips to Ace McKinsey Case Interview
Preparation is key when it comes to acing a McKinsey case interview. Here are some tips to help you succeed:
- Be well-prepared: Research the firm and the industry you are interested in and practice case studies.
- Be analytical: Use a structured framework to analyze the case and identify the key issues.
- Be confident: Always articulate your thoughts and recommendations with clarity and confidence.
- Be concise: Communication is key, so make sure you get to the point and avoid unnecessary information.
- Practice: Mock interviews are essential to improving your skills and getting used to the interview process.
It's also important to remember that the interviewer is not looking for a perfect solution, but rather how you approach the problem and your ability to think critically. Don't be afraid to ask clarifying questions and take time to gather your thoughts before answering. Additionally, be sure to listen actively to the interviewer and incorporate their feedback into your analysis. By following these tips and staying calm under pressure, you can increase your chances of acing the McKinsey case interview.
The Importance of Researching the Company and Industry before the Interview
Before the interview, it’s crucial to research the company and the industry you are interested in. Knowing the company's history, values, and key clients will help you demonstrate your interest and knowledge during the interview. Additionally, understanding the industry trends, challenges, and opportunities can help you come up with more insightful and strategic recommendations.
Another reason why researching the company and industry is important is that it can help you tailor your responses to the interviewer's questions. By understanding the company's goals and challenges, you can highlight your skills and experiences that align with their needs. Moreover, knowing the industry trends and best practices can help you provide relevant examples and insights that showcase your expertise.
Furthermore, researching the company and industry can also help you assess whether the company is a good fit for you. By learning about the company culture, work environment, and values, you can determine whether they align with your own goals and values. This can help you make an informed decision about whether to accept a job offer if one is extended to you.
How to Structure Your Responses in a McKinsey Case Interview
Structuring your responses is essential to communicating your ideas effectively and showing your analytical skills. Use a structured framework such as MECE (Mutually Exclusive and Collectively Exhaustive) to break down the problem and identify the key issues. Once you have identified the issues, prioritize them and develop recommendations based on your analysis. Make sure to articulate your thought process clearly and concisely throughout the exercise.
It is also important to actively listen to the interviewer and ask clarifying questions to ensure you fully understand the problem at hand. This will help you tailor your response to the specific needs of the client and demonstrate your ability to work collaboratively. Additionally, be prepared to adapt your approach if new information is presented during the interview. Flexibility and agility are highly valued qualities in a consultant and can set you apart from other candidates.
Common Mistakes to Avoid in a McKinsey Case Interview
Common mistakes that applicants make in McKinsey case interviews include:
- Jumping to conclusions without sufficient analysis.
- Overcomplicating the problem.
- Providing vague or incomplete recommendations.
- Getting frazzled under pressure.
Avoiding these pitfalls can help you stand out and demonstrate your problem-solving skills effectively.
Another common mistake that applicants make in McKinsey case interviews is not asking enough clarifying questions. It is important to fully understand the problem and the context before jumping into analysis and recommendations. Additionally, not asking questions can make it seem like you are not engaged or interested in the problem at hand. Therefore, make sure to ask thoughtful and relevant questions throughout the interview to demonstrate your curiosity and analytical skills.
Sample McKinsey Case Interview Questions and Answers
Sample McKinsey case interview questions can range from market sizing to competitive strategies. Here are some examples:
- How would you estimate the size of the global coffee market?
- How would you advise a chain of retail stores facing declining sales?
- How would you help a software company develop a new product?
- How would you advise a hospital facing budget constraints?
Answers to these questions require a structured approach, including the identification of key issues, relevant analysis, and well-supported recommendations.
It is important to note that McKinsey case interviews are not just about finding the right answer, but also about demonstrating strong problem-solving skills and the ability to communicate effectively. Candidates are expected to ask clarifying questions, think critically, and present their ideas in a clear and concise manner.
In addition to the case interview questions, candidates may also be asked behavioral questions to assess their fit with the company culture and values. These questions may focus on leadership, teamwork, and communication skills, among others.
The Role of Creativity in Solving McKinsey Case Study Problems
Creativity is just as important as analytical skills in the McKinsey case interview. You must demonstrate creativity in identifying potential solutions and making recommendations that are both innovative and realistic. Creative problem-solvers are valued in the consulting industry, as they can offer fresh ideas and perspectives that can benefit their clients.
How to Develop a Personalized Strategy for McKinsey Case Interviews
Developing a personalized strategy for McKinsey case interviews is crucial to success. Understand your strengths and weaknesses and focus on improving your weaknesses. You should also participate in mock interviews and receive feedback from others to help you improve your performance. Consider working with a coach or mentor who can provide you with additional guidance and advice.
The Benefits of Mock Interviews in Preparing for a McKinsey Case Interview
Mock interviews are an essential tool in preparing for a McKinsey case interview. Mock interviews help you get used to the format of the interview, identify your strengths and weaknesses, and receive feedback on your performance. Practicing with different problems and cases also helps you become more comfortable with the analytical process and develop creative problem-solving skills.
The Importance of Confidence and Communication Skills in a McKinsey Case Interview
Confidence and communication skills are equally essential in a McKinsey case interview as analytical skills. You must be able to articulate your ideas in a clear and concise manner and demonstrate your confidence in your recommendations. Additionally, being comfortable with numbers and data analysis is essential in communicating your insights effectively. Practice your communication skills and prepare accordingly to increase your confidence and show your potential.
How to Follow Up After a Successful McKinsey Case Interview
Following up after a successful McKinsey case interview is an essential step that many candidates overlook. Send a thank-you note or email expressing your appreciation for the opportunity, and reiterate your interest in the position. Keep the communication positive, professional, and timely. This follow-up can help set you apart from other candidates and demonstrate your attention to detail and enthusiasm for the company.
Resources for Further Practice and Preparation for a McKinsey Case Interview
There are plenty of resources available online and offline to help you prepare for a McKinsey case interview. Some of the popular ones include:
- Case in Point: Complete Case Interview Preparation by Marc P. Cosentino
- McKinsey & Company interview preparation resources
- Victor Cheng’s Case Interview Videos
Make use of these resources, attend networking events, and seek out advice from professionals in the consulting industry to help you prepare for the interview.
Preparing for a McKinsey case interview can be challenging, but with practice and preparation, you can increase your chances of success. Keep in mind the key skills required for success and practice your communication skills, and make use of the resources available to you. Follow the tips mentioned in this guide, and put in the effort required to succeed. With hard work and dedication, you can ace your McKinsey case interview and start your career in consulting.
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