Sunday, October 6, 2013

McKinsey Interviews - What Happens on Final-Round Interview "Batch" Days

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Final-round interview (or "Batch") days at McKinsey are, in many ways, very similar to first-round interviews.  This post is a companion piece to an earlier one on what happens on early-round interview days.  Rather than rehash those details, I'll focus on the differences between first-round and final-round interview days.

How Final-Round Interview Days Differ From Earlier Rounds


First-round interviews are typically held on-campus.  Final-round interviews are typically conducted at the McKinsey office location that would hire you.  McKinsey determines where you will interview based on your location preferences and the Firm's needs.

This means travel and McKinsey will make arrangements for you and pay for your trip.  If you have to fly to your final-round interview, McKinsey will pay for your travel expenses, one night of hotel, and meals, so you'll have to decide which option you prefer:
  • Fly in the night before, interview the next day, fly back afterward
  • Fly in the same day as your interview, interview, spend the night, fly back the next day
Batch days are typically on Fridays so you can elect to stay for the weekend, but McKinsey will only cover your expenses for one night.  If you get an offer, you'll have another opportunity - paid by McKinsey - to visit the office location again and spend an entire weekend having fun, getting wined & dines, and exploring the city.


The only major difference is that you'll be part of a much smaller "batch" of candidates than during the first round.  You've already made it pretty far!

The cavernous hotel ballroom or career center waiting room will be replaced by a McKinsey conference room and some have fantastic views of what might become your new home city.

Wait for your interviewers

Instead of being surrounded by classmates you know or at least look familiar, you'll be meeting and waiting with candidates from many different schools.

You will also be waiting to be picked up by more senior interviewers.  Your first-round interviewers were primarily Senior Associates and Engagement Managers.  Second-round interviewers are Directors (Senior Partners), Principals (aka Partners), and Associate Principals.  In a smaller office on a busier batch day you might get an Engagement Manager.

Have your interviews

You will still be asked Personal Experience Interview (PEI) and case questions, but they might feel very different from your first-round experience.  The general tendency seems to be: the more tenured your interviewer, the less structured your interview.  While first-round interviewers select from a library of carefully prepared case questions, Partners tend to favor cases based on past or current client work.  Because they're not working from a standard, pre-written case, your final round interviews might have more unexpected twists, turns, and jumps.

More senior interviewers also tend to rely less on the scoring matrices and rubrics.  In addition to asking themselves "do I want this person on my client team" they are also asking themselves "can I see this person becoming a leader in this office and/or in the Firm (a Partner) some day"?  This may or may not work in your favor, depending on the strengths and weaknesses of your interviewing style.

Transition between interviews

This tends to be more consistent in final-round interviews because the environments - McKinsey office locations - are more similar to each other than first-round interview sites.  Your interviewers will walk you back to the "batch" room, thank you, say goodbye, and pick up their next candidate.

Wrap up your McKinsey interview day

This won't be that different from first-round other than the fact that you might be on the road and have a chance to briefly explore the city.

Wait for your decision phone call

Just like after your first-round interviews, you will likely get a decision call later the same day.  The Firm aspires to let candidates know their status as soon as possible.  Since this is now a hiring decision, the stakes are higher and deliberation can take longer, but there are also fewer candidates to review and discuss.  It's uncommon, but some candidates will not hear back on the same day and/or be informed that they'll be receiving a decision on a later date.  That's certainly better than a ding and usually means they feel like they need to assess more candidates (or sometimes re-assess the candidate with follow-up interviews) before making a final decision.

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