Friday, November 30, 2012

Recruiting coffee chats - 4 tips for McKinsey pre-interview networking events

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If you're applying for management consulting jobs, firms will provide you with opportunities to meet their consultants prior to interviews.  For McKinsey recruits, networking events usually take the form of coffee chats, office hours, cocktail events, and company presentations.

In this post, I'll go over some tips for making the most of these opportunities


These networking events are for you.  McKinsey wants you to get to know the Firm better, what our people are like, and help you decide whether or not you want to be a part of it.  The intent of the events is the same, but the formats vary:
  • Coffee chats - 1-4 candidates have coffee with a McKinsey consultant for 30-45 minutes in a coffee shop near campus.  After brief introductions, the rest of the time is for Q&A
  • Office hours - Same as coffee chats but in an office, on-campus.
  • Cocktail events - a handful of consultants will meet a larger number of candidates for drinks and hors d' oeuvres.  No specific format, just mingling and conversation.  Invitations often extended to candidates considered high potential.
  • Company presentations - often attended by hundreds of your classmates, consists of a 30-60 minute presentation followed by drinks, heavy hors d' oeuvres, mingling and conversation.  Each McKinsey office will have a designated area so you can meet and speak with consultants from the offices you're interested in



No one ever got an interview slot or job offer because they went to every networking event.  Nor has anyone gotten dinged because they didn't participate in any.  (Signing up for one and not showing up is another story - I'll deal with that in a post about 7 common mistakes at pre-interview events)

The only reason to go is to learn more about McKinsey and whether or not the job is for you.  If you follow the advice below, they are absolutely worth the time you'll invest.




Think of this as your opportunity to interview McKinsey.  Try to figure out if the Firm is a place you'd enjoy working and where you can be successful.  Also take this opportunity to think about which office you want to apply to.  Do you find yourself getting along better or worst with consultants from specific offices?


Go in with a goal in mind - for example, you might want to be able to answer the following questions by the end of this process:
  • Do you think you'd enjoy working with the consultants you're meeting?
  • Do the things they're working on sound interesting to you?
  • Do their reasons for being at the Firm resonate with you?


Especially during the larger networking events, try to have conversations at many McKinsey folks as you can.  Think of every conversation as an additional data point that will get you closer to knowing whether or not the Firm and/or specific offices are right for you.  Each consultant you meet will have a unique perspective on the Firm - the more stories you hear, the more likely that you'll find experiences you find compelling.


Preparing for these events by doing some research in advance.   This way, you won't have to waste timing asking obvious questions you can find the answers to online.  By understanding the basics of consulting and the Firm, you'll have the context you'll need to get more out of every conversation by digging deeper and getting to know more about each individual consultant you meet.


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