My Journey to McKinsey & Company

Aakash Dhoundiyal
6 min readApr 25, 2021

| How to apply ?

One can apply to McKinsey & Co. through two options:

1. Through Referrals : This can be a best option to someone who knows firm members. In my case, I did not had this privilege and therefore I went the hard way (applied through the career portal).

2. McKinsey & Company’s Career Portal : This option can be a bit challenging as one should have an impressive resume which can live up (or qualifies a set bar) to the criteria of the AI-enabled internal career portal and thus a recruiter could then review your profile. So, now the question would be, how did I made an impressive resume? I followed this video and I was lucky that it got selected.

| How to prepare for McKinsey & Co. (Or BCG/Bain/Consulting firms)

I was good in numbers and calculations from my college-time as I spent too much time on solving case studies during my stint at college. I was also preparing for GMAT in 2016 (scored 740 ; Q47, V45) , so most of my time was spent with numbers and doing calculations. Additionally, during my 3.5 years work stint at Accenture, I got a nice exposure to business consulting and product management. I also use to casually solve case studies online. So, I was already in good touch with business cases, what I just needed was to brush up and enhance my skills and think how businesses work in real.

Since I was already working, therefore it was hard for me to get time for preparation on weekdays. Accenture was challenging and there were times I was working on weekends as well. Consulting is tough, but interesting. Coming back to the story, so, honestly, I could have managed some time for preparation on weekdays after 7 pm, but I was not appreciative of pressuring myself after work. However, despite working on weekends on some occasions, I was able to steal some time for preparation. Note, I was fully dedicated to the preparation during all this time; it was close to 6 hours a day (on weekends). I was effectively giving 10–12 hours a week to prepare for McKinsey.

What went well for me during the preparation was, I was always in touch with my mentor for discussing the interesting business problems I was solving, and we would also discuss other factors which could have been considered while reaching out to the final case recommendation. My mentor always motivated me and made sure I always had a positive approach throughout the preparation. This helps immensely! In my own case, this helped me in thinking out-of-the-box ideas. You certainly think better when you think positively.

| Material for preparation :

  1. Case Studies : Okay, nothing to preach here, if you’re planning for a career in consulting. This absolutely goes without saying, case studies are everything. And by everything, I seriously mean everything. Mastering this, clearly makes you a potential candidate who can enter the world of consulting. Just like what most of the consultants around the world preach, I can certainly vouch for “Case in Point” by Marc P. Cosentino — you can order yours from here. This is the “BIBLE” for you, while preparing for the business cases. Additionally, I also referred business cases from Harvard, these were more towards integrative consulting, but helped immensely. In the end, these materials teaches you how to approach a problem and in what ways one can think of a solution. This obviously, doesn’t guarantees that you would make it through interview rounds, but will help, for sure.
  2. Quizzes & Guesstimates : This has been a trend now. Quizzes are everywhere. The interviewers are expecting everyone to be good with quizzes and guesstimates these days. This is probably because, they want to check how do you approach the problem and how do you react when you are presented with a situation. Consulting requires creative thinking, problem solving abilities and curiosity. I completely relied on GeeksForGeeks. In the later stages, I was also recommended “Puzzles & Teasers — By George J. Summers”, but I never followed that recommendation, as I had little time for preparation. One can order it though, from here — Puzzle & Teasers.
  3. McKinsey & Company’s Interview Preparation Portal : It is said, that McKinsey is tough on hiring people. For instance, according to a former McKinsey managing director, the firm receives about 200,000 applications from interested candidates around the world, but only about 2,200 of them get hired. In other words, anyone applying to the firm only has 1% chance of getting hired. But what I have learned is, on the contrary, McKinsey wants you to succeed, and for this, they have built something for the candidates. A complete portal for interview preparation! One can refer to the portal for getting more information — Portal Link. During the initial stages, I wasn’t aware of this, as I was bit overwhelmed with the other aspects of the interview. But, after going through the portal, my perspective got clearer and this also helped me in getting a bit relaxed. Maybe, we always get overwhelmed while thinking of getting into consulting firms and that sometimes ends in unnecessary stress.

| Interview Process :

  1. Telephonic Round : So after applying for the position, the recruiter contacted me and asked me for my availability for a phone interview. Fortunately, a brief interview was done on the same day itself. I was asked on my experience with Accenture and what are my future aspirations. General questions like — Why McKinsey, Why Consulting etc. were asked, for which I had answers. Consulting was a dream and I was always intrigued by how businesses work. I explained why it is important for me in a very detailed and structured way.
  2. Case Studies Rounds : Fortunately, I cleared the initial telephonic interview. Subsequently, I got a positive feedback from the recruiter within few days after the telephonic interview and I was asked for my availability for further rounds. The recruiter did highlighted that the further rounds are going to be a bit challenging and would be eliminatory in nature. This generally mean, if you fail to clear a round, you cannot proceed further, and you are out of the process. I had my share of struggles with MBB’s before ( In the past year, I had my share of rejections in the very final stages of the interview — from McKinsey, BCG and Bain, all three! ) My interviews were scheduled after a week. Mostly, the interview process across the consulting firms around the world takes close to a month (If you’re fortunate enough, clearing all the rounds). I had 5 rounds in total (4 business cases related and 1 behavioral). All the interviews were close to an hour and a half each ( 90 minutes ). In every round, I was asked on my previous work experience, situation based questions, guesstimates and quizzes.
  3. Fitment Round : FIT Interviews are often used to single out candidates whose values, beliefs and behavior fit within the firm’s culture. It is important for the firm, to check if the candidate is culturally a good fit for the company. Consulting requires constant interaction with individuals at all levels of the business hierarchy. They must be able both to work as part of a team and to lead one when required. They must have the confidence to make their voice heard and the initiative to take a creative approach and make their mark on a project. That is why Fit Interviews are necessary. My fit interview was scheduled with the senior partner where I was made aware of what is being expected from me, and if I was up for it. There were many general questions related to day-to-day life, where the interviewer wanted to know how I view things or what perspective I had for things around me.

I got the confirmation on my selection, on the very same day of my Fitment Round (Fit Interview). The process was tiring but was full of excitement and learning. The utmost feeling of finally making it here, is something that cannot be explained in words. I really feel blessed to be a part of McKinsey family and cannot wait for you to join as well.

In the end, I hope this helps the potential candidates, who are preparing for MBB’s or for a career in consulting. My best wishes to anyone who is putting an effort and is not planning to give up anytime soon on the consulting dream :)

PS: Interview questions are strictly confidential and unfortunately I cannot share the same.

Incase, more information is required, I can be reached out on — LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/aakash-dhoundiyal-916453a5/

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