DISPELLING MCKINSEY RESUME REVIEW MYTHSThere's a lot of conjecture from non-McKinsey consultants about the process the Firm uses to screen job applicants. I'd like to dispel those myths by bringing some transparency to the process. During my time at McKinsey I screened over a thousand resumes during the summer and full-time hiring cycles at undergrad, MBA, and APD sources (aka schools). So, this article is based on first-hand experience and facts, not speculation or guesswork.
CAVEATSI'll be describing the process as it's applied in several US office complexes. Having reviewed resumes and participated in resume review meetings for several US office complexes, these observations are representative of how the process works in the US. However, McKinsey is a global Firm with hundreds of locations - it's likely there might be some variation from office to office and location to location, even within the US.
It's also worth noting that this process might not be used in the "experienced hire" process.
TWO COMMON MCKINSEY RESUME SCREEN MYTHSI find it interesting that the two McKinsey resume screen myths I see or hear most often polar opposites of one another. On the one hand, some people seem to believe that there's a rigid, mindless algorithm that examines then accepts or rejects resumes. On the other hand, other people believe that the process is completely subjective and determined by the whims and moods of someone in McKinsey HR.
MYTH #1 - Resume-screening softwareIn this myth, there's some sort of automated McKinsey software that filters resumes based on keyword searches or similar algorithms. This is absolutely incorrect. Every resume is read by at least one McKinsey consultant and, because they have to score the resume - and often calibrate their scores with those of another consultant who is reviewing the same resumes - they actually have to read the resumes in some detail.
MYTH #2 - Subjective HR ReviewersIn this version, candidates' fates are determined by anonymous people in HR who apply highly subjective criteria to determine who passes and who doesn't. The Firm tries to make this myth as incorrect as possible.
Although resume screens are qualitative and, as a result, prone to subjectivity, McKinsey trains consultants to review resumes using objective criteria, standardized scales, and scoring rubrics to minimize the subjectivity of the process. A typical batch consists of 50-60 resumes. In my experience, our scores for most candidates will vary by less than 10% and very rarely (1 or 2 resumes per batch) vary enough for a candidate on the fence to make the decision to extend an interview invitation unclear.
STEP 1 - Applicants drop resumesEach consulting season - fall for full-time hires and winter for summer internships - schools have deadlines for "dropping" or submitting resumes to McKinsey for consideration. At some business schools, nearly half the class will drop resumes for McKinsey and other top management consulting programs.
STEP 2 - Assign resumes to reviewersOnce the Firm receives the resumes, they are assigned in batches to consultants for review. Usually, pairs of consultants are assigned to each batch so they can score resumes independently and then compare results and calibrate.
STEP 3 - Read and score resumesResume reviewers read each resume and score them according to a standardized framework. The dimensions and characteristics being sought during the resume screen are not mysteries and are clearly defined on the McKinsey website. In addition, there are tips on how to do well on the McKinsey resume screen in a previous blog post.
Resumes are scored on several dimensions on a scale of 0-4. There is a scoring rubric that clearly defines objective criteria and examples of what it takes to receive each score on each dimension (e.g., it takes X to receive a "3" on "Leadership")