Job application tips for working at McKinsey & Company

10 December 2007

Do you dream of a career in strategy consulting, but are you dreading the application process and the interviews? 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".

Job application tips for working at McKinsey & Company

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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8 tips for successfully buying or selling a distressed business

18 April 2019

Embarking on the sale of a business is one of the most challenging experiences a management team can undertake. Even serial dealmakers acknowledge that the transaction process can be gruelling, exposing management to a level of scrutiny and challenge through due diligence that can be distinctly uncomfortable.

So, to embark on a sale process when a business is in distress is twice as challenging. While management is urgently trying to keep the business afloat, they are simultaneously required to prepare it for scrutiny by potential acquirers. Tim Wainwright, an experienced Transactions Partner with Eight Advisory, says that this dual requirement means sellers of distressed businesses must focus on presenting their business in a way that supports buyers in identifying value, whilst simultaneously being open about the causes of distress. 

According to Wainwright, sellers of distressed businesses should focus on eight key aspects to ensure they are as well prepared as possible:

  • Cash: In a distressed situation cash truly is king. Accurate forecasting and day-by-day cash balances are often required to ensure any buyer is confident that scarce cash reserves are under proper control. 
  • Equity story and turnaround plan: Any buyer is going to want to understand the proposed turnaround strategy: how is the business going to enact its recovery and what value can be created that means the distressed business is worth saving? Clear presentation of this strategy is essential.
  • The business model: Clear demonstration of how the business model generates cash is required, with analysis that shows how financial performance will respond to key changes – whether these are positive improvements (e.g., increases in revenue) or emerging risks that further damage the business.  Demonstrating the business is resilient enough to cope with these changes can go a long way to assuring investors there is a viable future.
  • Management team: As outlined above, this is a challenging process. The management team are in it together and need to be consistent in presenting the turnaround. Above all, the team needs to be open about the underlying causes that resulted in the distressed situation arising.  A defensive management team who fail to acknowledge root causes of distress are unlikely to resolve the situation.

8 tips for successfully buying or selling a distressed business

  • Financing: More than in any traditional transaction, distressed businesses need to understand the impact on working capital. The distressed situation frequently results in costs rising as credit insurance becomes more difficult to obtain or as customers and suppliers reduce credit. Understanding how these unwind will be important to the potential investors.
  • Employees: Any restructuring programme can be difficult for employees. Maintaining open communications and respecting the need for consultation is the basic requirement. In successful turnarounds, employees are often deeply engaged in designing and developing solutions. Demonstrating a supportive, flexible employee base can often support the sale process.
  • Structuring: Understanding how to structure the business for the proposed acquisition can add significant value. Where possible, asset sales may be preferred, enabling buyers to move forward with limited liabilities. However, impacts on customers, employees and other stakeholders need to be considered.
  • Off balance sheet assets: In the course of selling a distressed business, additional attention is often given to communicating the value of items that may not be fully valued in the financial statements. Brands, intellectual property and historic tax losses are all examples of items that may be of significant value to a purchaser. Highlighting these aspects can make an acquisition more appealing.

“These eight focus areas can help to sell a distressed business and are important in reaching a successful outcome, but it should be noted that it will remain a challenging process,” Wainwright explains. 

With recent studies indicating that the valuation of distressed business is trending north. With increased appetite from buyers who are accustomed to taking on these situations, it is likely that more distressed deals will be seen in the coming months. “Preparing management teams as best as possible for delivering these will be key to ensuring these businesses can pass on to new owners who can hopefully drive the restructuring required to see these succeed,” Wainwright added.