McKinsey final round interviews consist of anywhere from two to four 60-minute interviews with McKinsey Engagement Managers, Associate Partners, and Partners. There are four types of questions asked: case interview, Personal Experience Interview, “why McKinsey,” and “why consulting?”
To land a McKinsey job offer, you’ll need to nail each of your McKinsey final round interviews. Only about 20-30% of candidates pass McKinsey final round interviews.
If you are stressed-out about your McKinsey final round interview, don’t worry because we have you covered. We’ll walk you through exactly what to expect and how you can nail your interview.
In this article, we’ll cover:
- What questions are asked in a McKinsey final round interview?
- What does a McKinsey final round interview assess?
- What are the differences between McKinsey final round and first round interviews?
- McKinsey final round interview tips
- What happens after the McKinsey final round interview?
- Recommended McKinsey case interview resources
If you’re looking for a step-by-step shortcut to learn McKinsey case interviews quickly, enroll in our case interview course. These insider strategies from a former Bain interviewer helped 30,000+ land consulting offers while saving hundreds of hours of prep time.
What Questions are Asked in a McKinsey Final Round Interview?
McKinsey final round interviews consist of four questions: the case interview, the Personal Experience Interview (PEI), “why McKinsey,” and “why consulting?” More weight is given to the behavioral interview questions, though candidates must still ace their case interview to get a McKinsey job offer.
McKinsey case interview
A case interview is a 30 to 60-minute simulation of a hypothetical or real consulting project in which you will collaborate with the interviewer to solve a business problem. The typical McKinsey case interview follows these steps:
1. Introduction: The interviewer outlines the case, providing context about the client, industry, and specific issue at hand.
2. Candidate Questions: The candidate has an opportunity to seek clarifications, which is crucial for understanding the problem and gathering necessary information.
3. Structuring: The candidate establishes a structured approach to solving the case, involving dissecting the problem, setting the analysis framework, and identifying key issues.
4. Data Gathering: Additional information or exhibits related to the case may be provided. The candidate uses this to further analyze the problem.
5. Quantitative Analysis: Depending on the case's nature, the candidate may perform calculations, data analysis, or financial modeling to support recommendations.
6. Qualitative Discussion: The candidate may brainstorm ideas or provide their business opinion on specific issues.
7. Recommendation: The candidate summarizes key points and offers a brief recommendation on how the client should address the problem, supported by the analysis conducted.
One thing to note is that McKinsey's case interview approach differs from most consulting firms. While others use a candidate-led format, where the interviewee takes charge, McKinsey employs an interviewer-led approach. Here, the McKinsey interviewer actively guides the conversation and presents the business problem.
Personal Experience Interview (PEI)
The McKinsey Personal Experience Interview (PEI) assesses a candidate's alignment with McKinsey's values and consulting culture. It evaluates past experiences, focusing on leadership, teamwork, problem-solving, and client-centric qualities.
Candidates respond to behavioral questions, sharing specific examples from their McKinsey resume using the STAR method. The key is aligning these experiences with McKinsey's values: client-centeredness, excellence, entrepreneurship, and analytical rigor.
Effective PEI preparation involves reflection, identifying relevant experiences, and practicing with mentors or peers. Authenticity and a clear understanding of McKinsey's values are essential for success.
The "Why McKinsey" question gauges a candidate's alignment with the firm's culture and values. It's pivotal in assessing if the candidate appreciates McKinsey's mission.
Candidates should avoid generic answers and instead, highlight how their goals resonate uniquely with McKinsey. This could involve McKinsey's problem-solving reputation, client-centric approach, and industry impact.
Emphasizing how they can contribute to McKinsey's community is crucial. Whether through collaborative problem-solving, pursuit of excellence, or tackling business challenges, candidates should explain their natural fit.
A deep understanding of McKinsey's values, like client focus and global perspective, is key. This showcases genuine appreciation for what sets McKinsey apart. It's vital for candidates to authentically express why they are drawn to the firm.
The "why consulting?" question assesses a candidate's genuine interest and alignment with the consulting profession.
Candidates should express their passion for problem-solving, analytical thinking, and their desire to tackle diverse and challenging projects across industries. Consulting offers an environment for continuous learning and adaptability.
Candidates should also emphasize their interest in client interaction and teamwork. Consulting provides direct engagement with clients, understanding their challenges, and collaborating on impactful solutions. It fosters a collaborative work environment that encourages learning from peers.
Furthermore, candidates should highlight how consulting serves as a valuable foundation for their long-term career goals. It offers opportunities for skill development, networking, and exposure to various industries and business functions, shaping a successful career trajectory.
What Does a McKinsey Final Round Interview Assess?
Similar to McKinsey first round interviews, McKinsey final round interviews assess skills such as logical and structured thinking, analytical problem solving, business acumen, communication skills, and personality and cultural fit. However, final round interviews place heavier emphasis on personality and cultural fit.
Logical and Structured Thinking
- Ability to break down complex problems into clear, organized structures
- Proficiency in distilling vast amounts of information into key points
- Utilization of logic and reasoning for sound conclusions
Analytical Problem Solving
- Skill in reading and interpreting data effectively
- Capability to perform mathematical computations accurately and efficiently
- Aptitude for conducting appropriate analyses leading to accurate conclusions
- Demonstrated understanding of fundamental business concepts
- Ability to formulate conclusions and recommendations that align with sound business principles
- Clear and concise communication of ideas and solutions
- Articulate expression of thoughts and concepts
Personality and Cultural Fit
- Coachability and ease of collaboration with others
- Pleasant and agreeable demeanor in a team environment
To pass your McKinsey final round interview, you’ll need to demonstrate all of these competencies. A deficiency in any one of them will likely lead to rejection.
What Are the Differences Between McKinsey First Round and Final Round Interviews?
In final round interviews at McKinsey, there are several notable differences compared to the earlier rounds: more interviews, longer cases, senior interviewers, different case styles, diverse case types, and less leeway for mistakes.
1. More Interviews: Final rounds typically involve a greater number of back-to-back interviews. One of these will focus on behavioral and motivational questions to better understand you as a candidate.
2. Longer Cases: Cases in the final round tend to be slightly longer, requiring you to manage time more efficiently and cover more aspects of the case.
3. Senior Interviewers: Final round interviews are conducted by more senior consultants, often Associate Partners and Partners. They may ask questions based on their interests and choose cases they've worked on.
4. Different Case Styles: There are two slightly different case interview styles you should be prepared for: conversational cases and stress cases.
- Conversational Cases: These resemble discussions or brainstorming sessions. They are less structured and have no clear right answer. Interviewers want to see how you approach business problems and use your judgment.
- Stress Cases: Interviewers intentionally create pressure by being somewhat hostile. Remain calm, think out loud if not given time to structure, and persistently seek better solutions.
5. Diverse Case Types: Final round cases cover a wider range of topics like pricing, growth strategy, mergers, operational improvement, etc. You might even encounter cases in unfamiliar industries to test your adaptability.
6. Less Leeway for Mistakes: The standards and bar for final round case interviews are slightly higher than first round case interviews. While you may have been able to make a small math mistake or provide a mediocre framework in first round interviews, these will not be tolerated in final round interviews.
McKinsey Final Round Interview Tips
Follow these 6 tips to give yourself the best chance of passing your McKinsey final round interviews.
Tip #1: Know why you are interested in consulting
McKinsey wants to hire candidates that will work hard and stay at the firm for at least two years. They’ll ask you why you are interested in consulting to gauge how serious and passionate you are about a career in consulting.
Make sure to prepare a structured and compelling answer beforehand to remove any doubts from your interviewers’ minds that this is your top career choice.
Tip #2: Know why you are interested in McKinsey
In your consulting final round interviews, it is possible that every single one of your interviewers will ask you why you are interested in working at their firm. McKinsey only wants to give job offers to candidates that are genuinely interested in the firm.
Even if you ace your case interviews, if you show that McKinsey is your backup choice, you’ll likely not be extended a job offer.
Therefore, make sure to prepare a structured and compelling answer to why you’re interested in McKinsey. You should prepare a couple of different answers so that you are not repeating the exact same answer to each of your interviewers.
Tip #3: Research the qualities that the consulting firm is looking for
Since fit plays a significant role in deciding who gets extended offers, take the time to research the qualities that McKinsey is looking for. These are explicitly listed on McKinsey’s recruiting website.
When answering behavioral or fit interview questions, you can strategically focus on highlighting the qualities that McKinsey cares most about.
Tip #4: Be 80/20
In McKinsey final round interviews, you are more likely to face time pressure to solve the case. You won’t have time to cover all of the different parts of your framework or get answers to every question you have.
Therefore, you will need to use the 80/20 principle, which states that 80% of the outcome comes from 20% of your effort.
Focus your time on the most important questions or areas that will have the greatest impact on your answer or recommendation. The less important questions or areas of the case can be included as potential next steps in your recommendation.
Tip #5: Have a robust framework strategy
In McKinsey final round interviews, you’ll likely see atypical business situations with unusual circumstances or case objectives. You will likely not be given the standard profitability or market entry cases that you saw in your first round interview.
Therefore, make sure you have a robust framework strategy to tackle atypical or unusual cases. While you may have gotten away with using memorized frameworks in your first round interviews, memorized frameworks will not work in final round interviews.
For a complete guide on how to create tailored and unique frameworks for each case, check out our article on case interview frameworks.
Tip #6: Don’t burn yourself out
By the time you have your McKinsey final round interview scheduled, you will likely have done many practice cases and interviewed with many different consulting firms. If you already feel confident in your case interview skills, do not burn yourself out in the days leading up to your final round interviews.
Doing too many practice cases may give you case fatigue, which will negatively impact your case interview performance. Recognize when your case interview skills have reached their peak and then focus on maintaining your skills by doing no more than two or three cases per week.
What Happens After the McKinsey Final Round Interview?
After your McKinsey final round interview, you should hear back from the interviewer or from a McKinsey recruiter within a few days.
If it takes longer than a few days to hear back, you may have been put on an unofficial “waitlist.” The firm is waiting for other final round interviews to be completed before deciding who to move onto the next round.
However, for the vast majority of candidates, you’ll hear back on whether or not you will move onto the next round fairly quickly.
If McKinsey decides to extend you a job offer, one of your interviewers will be giving you call to tell you the good news. The offer letter will be sent within a few days following that call.
If McKinsey has decided to not extend you a job offer, a McKinsey recruiter will reach out to give you the bad news.
If you end up not getting the offer, you can still try reapplying and re-interviewing the following year.
For example, many McKinsey consultants were previously rejected from the internship program, but got accepted into the full-time program. Other McKinsey consultants were previously rejected from both these programs, but got an MBA and got another opportunity to apply during business school.
Don’t give up hope if this is what you want!
Recommended McKinsey Case Interview Resources
Here are the resources we recommend to learn the most robust, effective McKinsey case interview strategies in the least time-consuming way:
- Comprehensive Case Interview Course (our #1 recommendation): The only resource you need. Whether you have no business background, rusty math skills, or are short on time, this step-by-step course will transform you into a top 1% caser that lands multiple consulting offers.
- Hacking the Case Interview Book (available on Amazon): Perfect for beginners that are short on time. Transform yourself from a stressed-out case interview newbie to a confident intermediate in under a week. Some readers finish this book in a day and can already tackle tough cases.
- The Ultimate Case Interview Workbook (available on Amazon): Perfect for intermediates struggling with frameworks, case math, or generating business insights. No need to find a case partner – these drills, practice problems, and full-length cases can all be done by yourself.
- Case Interview Coaching: Personalized, one-on-one coaching with former consulting interviewers
- Behavioral & Fit Interview Course: Be prepared for 98% of behavioral and fit questions in just a few hours. We'll teach you exactly how to draft answers that will impress your interviewer
- Resume Review & Editing: Transform your resume into one that will get you multiple interviews