Job application tips for working at McKinsey & Company

10 December 2007 Consultancy.uk

Do you dream of a career in strategy consulting, but are you dreading the application process and the interviews? Consultancy.uk spoke with Sophie Conijn regarding the matter. Sophie Conijn is recruiter in the Dutch office of McKinsey & Company, one of the most renowned strategic consulting firms in the world.

What criteria should a CV meet in order to qualify for an internship or full time job at McKinsey?

"In a broad sense we search for elements that would indicate that someone has affinity with strategy consulting and would be suitable for strategy consulting. We look at grades for example, grades are a good indication of whether someone is able to analyze and solve complex problems. Experience with working in teams in different environments indicates that someone is able to work and emphasize with others in order to achieve results. In addition, we are interested in experiences which show that someone just wants to go that extra mile to achieve his/her goals.

What kind of questions can you expect during the interview for a beginner position at McKinsey?

"During the application process, consisting of six interviews divided over two rounds, you can expect questions regarding your resume and a specific business case. In the personal interview, our consultants want to hear what your specific role and contribution has been in the various activities on your resume. For example, what were your responsibilities in a specific board position, how did you handle a specific challenging situation, how did you achieve a certain result. During the interviews on the business case, you discuss a scenario where a McKinsey team has been involved with. Thereby it is expected that you can recognize the underlying problem, name it and structure it accordingly, so you can suggest creative solutions. It is not about the right solution, but about the way you "think out loud".

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As a student, how can you best prepare for a job interview?

"First of all, you can go online to practice cases. In addition, you can read books to get a better insight of interviews based on a business case. This type of book provides insights into how to structure your problem. Moreover, McKinsey offers you the opportunity to practice with a consultant at the office prior to the first round. This informal practice session is a very valuable addition to the individual practice. This appointment is scheduled approximately one week before your first round. That way you still have plenty of time to improve on the attention points. By doing a practice session you will get a better idea of ​​what to expect. That gives confidence, and of course you can ask all your last questions".

Is participating in events valuable for students?

Participation in for example business courses or in-house days can help you to get insights into the work of a consultant. This will help you to explain the reasons you're interested in strategy consulting and why you think you should be a strategic consultant. 

To what extent is McKinsey internationally focused? For example, you go much do you go abroad during your first year?

McKinsey & Company is a highly international company. Our clients are often multinational players and we strive to bring international consultant teams to those clients. Consultants who want to work abroad have many options. The first few months we would like consultants to work in the UK. This period is focused on getting you acquainted with the job. After the first months of training and working in a team it is possible to do a project abroad. What type of project depends on the several factors, but the main factor is your own personal ambition.

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