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Interview / case prep advice from McK and BCG alumns

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Interview / case prep advice from McK and BCG alumns [#permalink] New post 07 Aug 2013, 13:57

This thread is for interview prep questions and tips, such as what is the interview format, how important is the behavioral portion, etc.



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Intern
Intern
User avatar
Status: Alumni and Career Coaches
Affiliations: MBB
Joined: 22 Jul 2013
Posts: 34
Location: United States
Followers: 4

Kudos [?]: 40 [0], given: 0

Re: Interview / case prep advice from McK and BCG alumns [#permalink] New post 07 Aug 2013, 14:09
A common question that we hear is how important are the behavioral and case portions of the interview relative to one another?

First, let's start with an overview of a typical consulting interview format:

1. Intro, small talk: five minutes. This may include small talk or general questions about past experiences
2. Behavioral: ten minutes. This may include more specific, targeted questions about prior experiences
3. Case: twenty-five minutes. This is where the firms will rate your problem solving (and communication) skills
4. Q&A: five minutes. This is your opportunity to ask any questions, and strengthen the rapport with the interviewer

Now, let's adopt the mindset that I had while conducting interviews.

Each day typically has 8 interviews, with four in the morning and four in the afternoon, without any breaks. My first challenge was not rating the candidates, it was taking notes and remembering them! Assuming I accomplished that successfully, my next challenge was to rate them fairly and accurately. With this in mind, an applicant's biggest opportunity is to be memorable (in a good way), pithy, and well-organized throughout the entire interview. Their next challenge was to perform well on both the behavioral and case portions of the interview. While people tend to really focus on the case during their practice, both are equally important, with the behavioral often being the real differentiator.

Let's make an analogy to business school admissions. The case is the gmat, and the behavioral are the essays. You need as high of a gmat score as possible, but at the the end of the day, your essays - who you actually are - will get you in. Similarly, you need to perform well on the case, but we are looking for people, not robots. The case is par for the course, but the behavioral will get you the offer. In your practice, make sure that you are really preparing for both components of the interview and not just the case.

Feel free to post any questions!
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Re: Interview / case prep advice from McK and BCG alumns [#permalink] New post 07 Aug 2013, 14:11
Why is the framework important? (This is a general post, written using McKinsey terminology)

The framework is not merely an an academic exercise. Instead, it is designed to mirror the project management component of consulting. As a consultant, there is no one who will come along and tell you what you need to be doing. Rather, prior to a study (that's McKinsey terminology for a project), one needs to plan out the work.

When doing the case framework, put yourself in the mindset of an engagement manager (McKinsey). It is prior to the study, and you need to figure out what are the major workstreams for your Associates and Analysts (McKinsey). With this in mind, it should become more clear why "MECE" is so important.

What is "MECE"?

MECE stands for mutually exclusive and collectively exhaustive. Meaning, the framework includes everything, and there is no overlap between the branches. Going back to our example, this is important because you wouldn't want to leave anything out of your project planning and you wouldn't want two of your associates or analysts working on the same thing!

Let's look at an example:

Imagine the case prompt involves whether or not to build invest in building a hotel in Shanghai. For a framework, our interviewee identifies the following first-level buckets: (don't worry about all the second level buckets for now. Also, you may not write these out as questions. I bolded the words that one may actually write, but wrote out the questions so that we can internalize the fact that these are actually questions that need to be answered)

What are the financials of the deal?
Can we actually execute?
How much will we charge per room?
What is the market like?
What is the competition like?
Is there any relevant regulation?

So there is an obvious MECE violation here. How much will we charge per room is already included in the financial bucket. However, there is another problem with this bucket - the associate or analyst working on it would probably complete their workstream alot faster than the rest of the team. In addition to MECE, it is important for the first-level buckets to be roughly comparable in terms of importance and potential depth. Remember, we are staffing our people on these buckets for the next ~8 weeks or so (McKinsey study's tend to run shorter than some other firms). We like to call this Meaty (think - is there enough meat for the associate to spend months chewing through?) and taken together, your first-level buckets should be MECE and Meaty.

There are some other possible issues with this framework as well. Regulation could fit beneath our ability to execute, and competition could fit beneath the market, but again, the point here is twofold: MECE and Meaty.

Feel free to follow up with any questions!
Re: Interview / case prep advice from McK and BCG alumns   [#permalink] 07 Aug 2013, 14:11
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