Sunday, October 13, 2013

McKinsey Interviews - 7 Tips for Interview Days

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McKinsey interviews can be challenging and stressful, so here are some tips for the day of your interview that can help you maximize your performance.  Of course, there's no replacement for good personal experience interview (PEI) and case interview prep.

Now you know how first-round and final-round interview days are structured and what to expect.  Here are some additional suggestions to go along with that knowledge...

Give yourself plenty of time

Everyone gives themselves enough time to arrive in time for their interview.  However, I'm always surprised at how many people cut it close and are clearly stressed out and flustered for their first interview because they had to rush and/or arrived just in time.  Remember, even after you arrive at the interview site, you still have to check in.  You'll also want to give yourself some extra time to hang your coat, review your interview packet, and get mentally prepared for your interviews.  In other words...

Get in the right frame of mind

What this means for optimal performance differs from person to person.  The most common forms of mental preparation are:

Read the interviewer bios

Take a moment to lean about the consultants who will be interviewing you.  Remember, they're not just assessing your performance on the case and PEI, they'll also be asking themselves what they think of you as a potential colleagueExamples of questions you might want to ask yourself as you read their bios:
  • Do you have anything in common?
  • Is there anything you can leverage to build rapport?
  • Does anything about your interviewers trigger specific questions you might want to ask?


Take water when it's offered

There are usually plenty of bottles of water around - always in the check-in area and often in the interview rooms.  Take one.  You'll be doing a lot of talking and under a lot of stress, so you can at least remove dry mouth from the list of reasons you might not perform well.

Bring a pen/pencil and plenty of paper

You'll be doing a case interview.  A writing implement and plenty of paper will come in handy as you jot down the pertinent details of the case, structure your problem solving approach and/or framework, walk the interviewer through public math, and keep track of your findings and recommendations.  You don't want to underperform on the case because you didn't bring enough paper.  Plus, you might want to take notes during any time for Q&A.

Be nice to EVERYONE

Remember, this not just about doing well on case interviews and PEI.  You're being assessed as a potential colleague and representative of the Firm.  If you are rude or cop an attitude toward anyone - a recruiter, the staff at the interview site - it's going to viewed as a reflection of your personality, professionalism, and how you might treat colleagues and clients.  No one wants to work with a jerk or risk putting one in front of a client.

Don't wait for your decision call with other candidates

It's tempting to commiserate with your fellow interview candidates while waiting for your decision calls, but consider how that will play out.  Let's suppose some of you decide to get drinks across the street after interviews - this is especially common during final rounds when candidates are on the road.  It might be great to have company and moral support until the decision calls come in.  Think about how awkward it will be to get your acceptance call while your fellow candidates are getting dinged.  Or how much more that turndown will sting when the person next to you gets called with an offer or pass to the next round.  Better to go your separate ways and be able to celebrate (or sulk) without having to worry about others.