Our Guide to Preparing for Your McKinsey Interviews (2023)

Our Guide to Preparing for Your McKinsey Interviews (1)

In order to stand out as the best in a very strong field of applicants at the hiring offices of McKinsey, BCG, Bain, Deloitte, and other top firms flooded with candidates with a range of experience, thorough preparation is essential. The interviewer’s questions are designed to weed out those who very obviously haven't prepared for the interview process. My Consulting Coach knows this -- our team roster includes former consultants who conducted the interview process at top firms. Using our expertise, we catalogued some tips and suggestions to avoid the usual pitfalls, and prepare effectively to begin your career in the exciting field of consulting.

Devise a plan

First things first -- always have a plan. Too many candidates forge ahead into their preparation without considering anything to guide them. This often leads to spending time inefficiently, and an overall patchy preparation.An effective plan begins with knowing what you are preparing for. The earliest stages of your interview process will include:

  • Resume and cover-letter screening
  • A Problem Solving Test (McKinsey)
  • First Round of Interviews
  • Second Round of Interviews

When you make it past the first stages and make it to the interview rounds, you will have two sections: the fit interview and the case interview. Both are equally important; you must be successful in both for an offer.


The case interview is straightforward: crack a case. Many different systems make the empty promise to let you crack any case by selecting one of a limited number of generic frameworks. These do not work, in part because the interviewer knows about them and therefore adjusts the case presented to account for them, but mainly because consulting is not as simple as formulaic regurgitation. If it was possible to solve all business problems by applying one of 12 frameworks, why would any company pay thousands of dollars to hire McKinsey for a solution?


The fit interview assesses your character and motivation for entering consulting, to see how well you will fit not only in that particular company's working environment, but in the field of consulting. Many candidates forego a sturdy preparation for this interview and miss the mark. To help our students avoid this, My Consulting Coach offers the first specific fit interview preparation course. Our program takes you through all the steps to present yourself as a dream candidate, while not sacrificing the time needed to cover the technical information and specific skills necessary for case prep.

Nailing these interviews is a must. Global managing director of McKinsey, Dominic Barton, revealed that about 1% of the 200,000 candidates applying to the firm every year receive a job offer. We estimate given these numbers that if you succeed in the initial candidate filters (resume, PST), you will have around a 10% chance of getting an offer after your rounds of interviews. This seems disconcerting, but covering your bases and methodically going through a structured, thought-out prep course will set you ahead of the pack exponentially.

However, not all candidates are the same. Some have backgrounds in business, finance and the like, while others come from a completely different background; some have work experience, and others enter consulting immediately after graduating university. To give you a taste of where most applicants should start off, My Consulting Coach drafted a blueprint to keep track of what bases to cover.

(Video) THIS Method improved my case interview success rate by 90% | McKinsey consultant tip sharing

All of our content is self-paced, but by our estimations a candidate working part time on case interviews over 3 to 4 weeks will cover everything and complete the daily recommended practice.

Case Interviews

Case Interview preparation ultimately depends on your own needs, but there are some key things we can look at to have an idea of how to tailor your approach to your own strengths and weaknesses.

For instance, case interviews at McKinsey test three types of skills used by consultants in their daily jobs:

  • Problem Structuring and mathematics skills
  • Creativity and business sense skills
  • Communication skills

They already took the first step with their initial Problem Solving Test to gauge your mathematical ability, but the PST will reappear in your case interviews and your ability to perform mental math quickly and accurately is crucial. Your interviewer also expects you to solve the case in a structured way -- meaning in a clear, understandable step-by-step approach. In addition to this, interviewers aim to test your business sense and creativity by evaluating your ability to come up with a range of ideas and solutions for the problem. For instance, they may ask you to find innovative ideas for a restaurant to increase sales, or lower costs.

One positive aspect of the case interview is the interviewer won't assess your industry knowledge, i.e. you are not expected to have prior knowledge of the industry your case will be about. They want to see your business savvy. In the situation that you do receive a case about an industry you are unfamiliar with (e.g. the auto industry), your job is to ask poignant questions that will help you understand the industry specificities. Only your knowledge of concrete business concepts: revenues, fixed and variable costs, etc. will be expected.

Throughout the session, your interviewer will pay attention to your soft skills -- how you communicate your ideas and interact with others. Good soft skills play a big role in consultant-client relationships and a lot of candidates underestimate their importance. Simply put, behave professionally, and try to communicate your ideas in as structured and organized a way as possible.

So what can you do to prepare for these? Our team understands the rigor of preparation, and designed a system to handle each aspect of the case interview process.

The MCC Academy

Our Guide to Preparing for Your McKinsey Interviews (2)

(Video) How many unique stories do you need for your McKinsey fit interviews?

The My Consulting Coach Academy is a comprehensive package, teaching you everything you need to know about the case interview. We designed our program around a sensible suggested structure to streamline preparation. That means nothing is too complex or too complicated. We understand a candidate's needs vary by person; yes, following the structure is the simplest course of action, but you can easily adapt it to your specific needs.

What you need to focus on entirely depends on two factors: background and time frame. Depending on your background, some of the material may be more or less relevant. Those candidates from a technical background, for instance, might already be confident with charts and calculations. The time you have to prepare will decide what sections are most important to focus on. Different aspects of the course will have different degrees of relevance for you. For instance, certain parts of our course teach useful supplementary material, where others relay core concepts essential for any candidate.

The following table summarizes the content of the various sections, and rates how essential each is. Take a look to better frame our course and adapt it to your personal situation.

Our Guide to Preparing for Your McKinsey Interviews (3)

  • If you are very pressed for time you should start with our problem driven approach, then building blocks, and then examples.
    • For those with a strong business background, you can skip fundamentals and some of the building blocks -- even though reviewing them is resourceful.

Mental Math

When studying alone, practicing your mental mathematics is the best use of your time. Many applicants neglect this skill to their immediate regret when they begin their interview, so we developed a mental math tool to buttress your skills. You only need to practice for 10 minutes a day, from the onset of your preparation to the day before the interview, to sharpen your mind. Check out the My Consulting Coach Mental Math Tool to get started.

Case Bank

After moving through our Building Blocks segment in the second week, you should start integrating the My Consulting Coach case bank alongside your coursework. Start with the easier cases to build your confidence levels, work through solutions and ignore the time. As you familiarize yourself with the process, you can move on to more challenging cases, and review the previous cases and set a time limit. Practice 10 on your own, minimum, to build your confidence.

  • The crucial reason of knowing how to crack cases effectively and efficiently comes down to the sheer amount of cases you will need to crack in an interview. Your interview process will likely be split into two rounds: first and second. Each round will contain a number of interviews, usually between 2 and 4.
    • At McKinsey, for example, you will have between 4 and 8 interviews before receiving an offer.
  • The two rounds do not differ much in difficult or format, but the interviewers change from associates or managers in the first round, to partners with 10+ years of experience in the second. Although firm's take into account both rounds, impressing the partners weighs more on the firm's decision to extend an offer, and the bulk of each interview (at least 75%) will be cracking cases. Learning and following the Problem-Oriented approach we've developed will ensure consistent, efficient, and effective case solutions.

Preparing Together

Our Guide to Preparing for Your McKinsey Interviews (4)


A practical and sure-fire way to memorize the case-interview process is to practice with case partners. Finding good case partners is perhaps the single most important aspect of your preparation. My Consulting Coach offers an intuitive, user-friendly and (importantly) FREE meeting board for fellow consulting candidates from across the world to get in touch to practice case studies together. Candidates are listed along with their background and case experience, and the board has easy-to-use tools for both direct invitation, and scheduling open meetings.

  • Depending on your time frame, practice 1-3 cases per day in order to maximize your potential. You can start on cases after the second week of our academy, Building Blocks, and double down on your effort after the course is completed in the fourth week (going by our standard schedule). We have 45+ interactive cases to choose from -- you and your partners will be plenty busy, and interested!


My Consulting Coach also offers an optional premium service to work with former consultants from top firms. Although it falls outside the range of our academy's syllabus, working with an expert consultant is the most effective way to prepare for a consulting interview. Their ability to spot weaknesses and offer advice is matched by none. If the cost of this service disinterests you, consider the difference in pay over a few years at a top tier consulting firm versus a second rate firm. Thousands of dollars difference in pay between the two may change your mind. If you decide to capitalize on this golden opportunity, use My Consulting Coach's service to match with a coach with years of experience at a top firm here.

(Video) How to ask great questions in your McKinsey, BCG, and Bain interviews

Now that we have the case interview covered, let's check out the fit interview.

Fit Interview

The fit interview, called the Personal Experience Interview at McKinsey, has an equal impact on the outcome of your interview. Though the case interviews pose a perceptible threat, leading many candidates to prepare solely for cracking cases, the fit/PEI interviews are accorded equal importance by recruiters.

The bottom line is consultancy firms will not hire somebody they doubt will be a good fit at their company.

  • The fit/PEI interview is especially important if you came to consulting from a less standard route: you must give a compelling story as to why consulting is the right choice for you at this point in your career, and how your previous experiences have furnished you with the relevant skills for consulting.

Business schools offer some resources to help in this department, but beyond that there is almost no material available covering the specific demands of the fit interview. With this in mind, the team at My Consulting Coach produced the very first course specifically for the fit/PEI interview. By our measurements, we suggest approaching the course in Week 4, or right after you finish the case interview section of the course (while still following our case practice guidelines we covered above!).

After completion, we suggest you go through our question bank and flesh out a potential answer to each question. Don't memorize them -- you don't want to sound like a Stepford Wife; rather, write down the key points and summarize them. Act natural.

McKinsey: Under the Magnifying Glass

Let's take a look at McKinsey's Personal Experience Interview at length.

McKinsey's process is a little different from the typical fit interview encountered at other top firms. First -- their process is much shorter: the average PEI interview lasts about ten minutes, and the interviewer will only assess you on a single topic. The topics, according to McKinsey's website include the following:

  • Personal Impact
  • Leadership Abilities
  • Entrepreneurial Drive
  • Problem Solving Skills

The questions themselves always begin in the form, "Tell me about a time when..." and could end with, "...you had to solve an extremely difficult problem", for instance.

(Video) Case Interview 101 - Watch This Before Anything Else!

The straightforward way to nail these questions is to, like in your other fit interviews, construct a story for each of the topics, and then adapt the stories depending on the context of the exact question asked by your interviewer. A framework for crafting a story follows:

  • Context: giving necessary context at the beginning of your story
  • Problem: outlining the problem you/your team faced
  • Solution: explaining the solution you came up with to solve the problem
  • Impact: quantifying the impact you had on solving the problem
  • Lessons: finishing with any lessons you may have learned in the process

      With this in mind, there are two common mistakes to avoid when answering McKinsey's PEI questions: spending too much time setting up context, and forgetting the question is about you. A successful candidate focuses on what their impact was on the situation they are talking about.

      In addition to the novelty of their PEI, McKinsey approaches case interviews somewhat differently.

      The general idea is the same as any other consulting firm: you are presented with a problem a company is facing, and asked to come up with a resolution. However, McKinsey takes a structured, guided style to this interview. They will take you down a list, question to question, to control the pace. If they feel you may have spent too much time on one aspect, they may interrupt you and ask the next question.

      First, your interviewer will tell you the situation, provide pertinent information about the problem, possibly give you documents such as graphs and tables with figures about the company, and scrap paper. The rest can be broken down as follows:

      • Framework question
      • Quantitative question
      • Creativity question
      • Recommendation

      After covering the situation, your interviewer will ask you to identify the facets you would examine to solve the problem at hand. This is the framework question. After that, the interviewer will ask to solve one to several quantitative questions that help to further investigate the problem and draw some initial conclusions. At some points during the interview, creativity questions will arise. They are generally open-ended, e.g. what are the other areas the company could look at to increase product-compliance. At the end, the interviewer will ask you for a recommendation given what you've learned from your analysis.

      These questions will invariably arise during your McKinsey interview, regardless of order and format. Check out this article for a deeper examination of McKinsey's Problem-Solving Test.

      (Video) The storytelling framework for your McKinsey, BCG, and Bain fit interviews (part I)

      It's important to remember: McKinsey positions are sought after. The competition is extensive. Therefore, the interviewer will probably challenge the quality and logic of your answers more than an interviewer at another firm. However -- they will never try to misguide you, or trick you.

      With this guide, getting your foot in the door of interview prep is simple. Now comes the fun part: getting into the actual coursework! Get started in the My Consulting Coach academy today and start working towards your future.


      How long does it take to prepare for McKinsey interview? ›

      In order to be successful in a consulting interview, you must be thoroughly prepared, which can take anywhere between six to eight weeks. This might seem like a long time, but when managing a full-time job and other commitments, we have seen that this is the ideal amount of time.

      How hard is it to crack McKinsey interview? ›

      It's difficult to get a job offer from McKinsey. Like its top management consulting competitors, Bain and BCG, McKinsey typically hires only 1% of candidates who apply. In particular, McKinsey case interview questions tough to crack…but not impossible.

      What percentage of McKinsey applicants get interviews? ›

      Your resume, with a cover letter, is the first step to a very lucrative job at McKinsey. Yet, less than 15% of applicants receive a call for an interview. So, what McKinsey is looking for when screening your resume and cover letter?

      How many people pass McKinsey first round? ›

      Now here's the good news: if you make it to a final round interview with McKinsey, BCG or Bain your odds of receiving an offer are ~50% and therefore higher than the ~25% chance of passing a first-round interview.

      What GPA does McKinsey look for? ›

      At McKinsey, BCG or Bain, a candidate should have at least 3.6 GPA to insure against any doubts about academic achievements. However, lower GPAs do not automatically disqualify a candidate; a 3.2-GPA resume can still pass to the next round if it shows outstanding achievements elsewhere.

      Does everyone get invited to solve McKinsey? ›

      The passing rate for the McKinsey Problem Solving Game is estimated at roughly 20-30%. As more candidates are invited to take the test, the proportion of those who pass is lower than the PST. Also, McKinsey uses the PSG for the recruitment of a wide range of candidates for various positions, not just consulting track.

      Why are McKinsey interviews so hard? ›

      McKinsey interviews are considered to be some of the hardest interviews out there. This is because the interviewers know exactly what to look for, the tests are specific, the questions are hard, and the stakes are high.

      Does McKinsey negotiate salary? ›

      You have very little room to negotiate. Even if you have an offer from McKinsey, Bain, and BCG, you may not be able to leverage your other offers to negotiate for an increase in compensation at another top firm.

      Is it harder to get a job at McKinsey or Google? ›

      It will be harder to get into McKinsey after Google than into Google after McKinsey. Once working for Google, it will be hard to work in a different industry, whereas McKinsey will offer a wider choice of industries.

      What is starting salary at McKinsey? ›

      At McKinsey, the salary for entry-level consultants (Analysts) ranges from $90,000 to $110,000 per year, while the figure for MBA-level/experienced Associates can go up to $233,000. Engagement Managers typically earn around $250,000, while Partners and Directors can earn up to $1,300,000.

      What are the salary levels at McKinsey? ›

      McKinsey & Company Consultant salary in India ranges between ₹ 18.0 Lakhs to ₹ 52.0 Lakhs with an average annual salary of ₹ 32.9 Lakhs.

      Does McKinsey only hire Ivy League? ›

      While McKinsey and the other top firms are heavily represented by graduates of Ivy League universities (and their international counterparts), it is not staffed exclusively this way.

      How many people pass Imbellus? ›

      I would estimate less than 5% pass the CV screening and is invited for the next step (eg. Imbellus game). Each step then offer slightly higher chances, CV screening has the lowest chances.

      How are McKinsey interviews scored? ›

      You're Scored On Every Action You Take

      Number two. In a McKinsey case interview, it's really important that you understand you're being scored on every action you take throughout the case. This is different from a Bain interview or a BCG interview where, in contrast, you're scored mainly at the end of the case.

      Does McKinsey call to reject? ›

      1) Why do they make a rejection call? The reasons why they usually make a call after a rejection is: To provide feedback. To communicate that one additional interview is needed (sometimes they do so at McKinsey when the performance in the final is borderline) or the opportunity to apply earlier than the standard ban.

      How hard is it to get an offer at McKinsey? ›

      How Hard Is It to Land a Job at McKinsey? According to a recent interview, the firm accepts only 2,000 out of 200,000 applications. This means you only have a one percent chance of getting hired. However, this should not deter you if you feel you have the right skills and experience.

      How much PTO does McKinsey give? ›

      McKinsey & Company's PTO and Vacation policy typically gives 20-30 days off a year with 67% of employees expected to be work free while out of office. Paid Time Off is McKinsey & Company's most important benefit besides Healthcare when ranked by employees, with 50% of employees saying it is the most important benefit.

      What makes you a good candidate for McKinsey? ›

      Working on challenging and impactful projects.

      If you join a top consulting firm, you will have the opportunity to work for top-notch clients across many industries. Working for these clients results not only in interesting work but also in exposure to senior executives.

      Does McKinsey pay high? ›

      The highest-paying job at McKinsey & Company is a Senior Partner with a salary of ₹216.6 Lakhs per year. The top 10% of employees earn more than ₹45 lakhs per year. The top 1% earn more than a whopping ₹118.92 lakhs per year.

      Is McKinsey a good salary? ›

      McKinsey Partner Salary:

      The average McKinsey and Company salary for employees with the title Partner is $402,000 per year, with a very wide range of $199,000 on the low end to over $1,000,000 on the high end.

      Does McKinsey send out rejection emails? ›

      This is a pretty standard rejection email and I would not expect that they will call spontaneously in the future. However you will be able to apply again after the ban period. Hey there, Unfortunately, this is purely out of politeness.

      Does McKinsey care about referrals? ›

      Referrals are not part of the official McKinsey application process, but are a quick way to make your application stand out from the crowd. If you have a friend or colleague that works or used to work at McKinsey, ask if they would be comfortable giving you a referral.

      How do you beat McKinsey solve? ›

      9 Tips on Excelling at the McKinsey Problem Solving Game
      1. Understand the 5 cognitive skills being tested (listed above). ...
      2. Take time to understand the instructions. ...
      3. Make sure you understand the objectives of each task. ...
      4. Prioritize and don't get lost in the details. ...
      5. Do the easy math.

      Is McKinsey the hardest company to get into? ›

      McKinsey reportedly receives more than a million applications per year and hires less than 1% of them. The Top 3 consulting firms are among the ten most selective employers in the world and it is notoriously difficult to receive a job offer.

      How long will McKinsey take to make a call after the final round of an interview? ›

      Don't worry, one week is typically the standard to hear back from the interview and get validation. Timing to receive a response depends if you were interviewing at the same time as many people, and if there were strong candidates.

      Are McKinsey interviews candidate led? ›

      The McKinsey Case Interview Overview

      The biggest differentiator of the McKinsey case is that it is interviewer-led rather than interviewee-led. This means that after each piece of the case, the interviewer will tell you what to look at next (instead of you having to decide what to ask for and analyze next).

      How much are bonuses at McKinsey? ›

      Master's-level hires tend to come in at the McKinsey business analyst salary level while MBA hires come in at the McKinsey associate salary level. Two-to-three years out of an MBA program, McKinsey manager salary prospects are around $220-to-$240,000 in base salary and $100-to-$140,000 in bonuses.

      Who pays more McKinsey or Bain? ›

      While they earned the least in 2022, Bain MBA consultants now have the highest overall compensation with salaries and bonuses amounting to $285,000, a 16% increase on last year.

      How much does McKinsey match 401k? ›

      McKinsey Perks & Benefits
      401k100% match on the first 12% of base salary up to $19,500
      Accidental death and dismemberment (AD&D) InsuranceOffered by employer
      Sick TimeUnlimited
      Immigration AssistanceOffered by employer
      19 more rows

      What does McKinsey look for in interview? ›

      Overall, we look for personal impact, entrepreneurial drive, inclusive leadership, and problem solving, and we recognize there are many ways to acquire those skills. If you are interested in McKinsey careers beyond consulting, you can learn more about the assessment process for our internal roles here.

      What interview questions does McKinsey ask? ›

      Tell me about a time you had to convince someone to change their mind on something important to them. Tell me about a difficult situation where you had to rely on your communication skills. What do you want to be remembered for and how are you achieving it?

      What to expect in a McKinsey interview? ›

      All McKinsey interviews contain at least two parts – a conversation about your personal experience and a case study. I took the personal experience portion as a great opportunity to reflect on my studies, career experience, most memorable achievements, and biggest challenges.

      How hard is it to get an offer from McKinsey? ›

      Because of everything that McKinsey has to offer, McKinsey attracts the smartest people with the most impressive backgrounds. This makes McKinsey one of the most competitive consulting firms to get into. Less than 1% of people that apply to McKinsey will receive a job offer.

      What do McKinsey recruiters look for? ›

      Overall, we look for personal impact, entrepreneurial drive, inclusive leadership and problem solving, and we recognize there are many ways to acquire those skills.

      Can you fail McKinsey game? ›

      In order to pass the McKinsey Digital Assessment, you must complete all of the tasks within the allotted time limits. If you don't finish all of the tasks, then you will fail the test.

      How much bonus does McKinsey give? ›

      Master's-level hires tend to come in at the McKinsey business analyst salary level while MBA hires come in at the McKinsey associate salary level. Two-to-three years out of an MBA program, McKinsey manager salary prospects are around $220-to-$240,000 in base salary and $100-to-$140,000 in bonuses.


      1. “Why McKinsey?” - What Makes McKinsey Unique + Winning Answers to this Interview Question
      (My Consulting Offer)
      2. How to avoid common "red flags" in your McKinsey, BCG, and Bain fit interviews
      3. Two common interview mistakes (w/ former McKinsey & Co. Engagement Manager)
      4. GAME-CHANGING Interview Preparation for McKinsey, BCG, Bain!
      (Moritz Gruber)
      5. Personal Fit Interview Questions - Get into McKinsey, BCG, Bain
      (Firm Learning)
      6. ACE THE CONSULTING INTERVIEW - Interview tips from Ex-McKinsey consultant (case study etc.)
      (Firm Learning)
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