Wednesday, October 21, 2009

McKinsey 1st Round Interview-Test and Case Workshop

So I've actually just completed my 2nd McKinsey 1st round interview. It seems from talking to everyone that there is a consensus regarding the test. I've spoken a little bit about the test in earlier posts so won't expand too much here. Just a few salient points:

1) The biggest obstacle to doing well on the test was time
2) No one really thinks they did "well"

After the test had been completed by all (about 40 people), group break out sessions began. Although they don't specifically say that you can't share the cases that you were given, they do collect all of your materials and notes so I think it is implied that they don't want you giving out any specifics. So, to be respectful to them...I won't divulge too much.

While the breakout sessions are "evaluative", McKinsey states that the primary driver for whether to move a candidate forward is the test. That being said, the case workshop is meant to be a tool to help prepare you for the next round (although I still think it has to help to be a stand-out performer in the group sessions).

For all of the breakout sessions I was in a group of 4. The first case involved a private equity group that was interested in purchasing a business. It was our job to evaluate the growth potential of the company and based on that provide a valuation analysis. After the case had been presented the consultant (an engagement manager) would ask each of the 4 group members a very specific question, i.e. if product x sells for this and our profit margin is this, how many more of product x do we need to sell to meet a particular growth target. We also had some more strategy focused questions. The take away message from this first group was that it was easy to stand out if you were able to make a nice coherent structure and sketch out simple decision trees to answer the questions. It seemed like there were not many case experts in this group and so just demonstrating that you had a logical approach to problem solving was a big advantage.

The second group case was much less pleasant than the first. The consultant was a little harsh in his delivery and was very short in probing the group for answers. I'm not sure if this was by design or just his innate personality that created this dynamic (of course our group could have contributed some too). This case was a company that produced a commodity good that had experienced a recent decrease in profitability...we were supposed to identify the cause of declining profits and work towards developing a solution to return the company to the black. During the first case the consultant would always explain how he would have answered the question himself, whereas this interviewer didn't provide much critical commentary. If he wasn't satisfied he just asked "anything else, anything else, anything else." We didn't have a laundry list of questions at the end so he just had us wait until the other groups were done...not the best learning experience. All in all, I think I performed all right in this interview too, although it wasn't the best environment to really excel.

After the cases had been completed, the entire group reconvened and we learned about the next steps in the interview process. As it turns out, we will find out if we are advancing to the next round or not by tomorrow. If we do advance we will have a chance to speak with some people from the offices we are interested in joining to help us make some final decisions on office preference. The next round of interviews are scheduled for the very beginning of November.

Even if I don't move on to the next round, it was a good chance to meet some new people. I was able to sell the consulting club some to people who are really interested. I even met someone who already knew who I was from following this blog! Anyway, we'll keep our fingers crossed for of luck to all those who participated today!

1 comment:

  1. That was an excellent recount of your story at McK. I will be interviewing next week so look forward to the experience. Thanks