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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
Check-inThe 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 interviewersInstead 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 interviewsYou 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.