How I got an offer from McKinsey

Consulting season is finally over and I’m walking out with an offer in my hand! I will intern for 10 weeks in summer at McKinsey Germany.

This offer was absolutely not easy to get and I had to put in tons of work to achieve it. Basically, I did nothing else than 100% consulting preparation from right after the final exams mid December until the first round interviews on campus mid January. And at that point I had already visited numerous company presentations, consulting workshops and had done around 10 mock interviews.

Preparation

To give you an idea what awaits you if you plan to shoot for the consulting industry, here a summary of what I did to prepare myself:

General preparation

I read Case Interview Secrets by Victor Cheng (my base – very helpful), Case in Point by Marc P. Cosentino (good for additional insights) and Crack the Case (good to gain yet another view) by David Ohrvall. Then I also listened to the Look Over My Shoulder series by Victor Cheng, which I found VERY helpful to understand how a natural progression through the interview should sound.

IESE and the Consulting Club provided us with four full day workshops from an ex-McKinsey trainer, and organized various spot workshops by individual consulting companies. This gave a good outline and guided us along the way. It was definitely helpful to get that gentle push in the beginning to start working.

Mock interviews

I did 45 mock interviews in total. At first with direct peers and later more and more with 2nd years who volunteered to support in the process. I also did a mock with IESE’s consulting career officer, one with a professional coach from Management Consulted, two with experienced professional interviewers via Evisors (paid by IESE) and finally one with a current McKinsey employee who offered to help me. These professional interviews are particularly important because they offer you a more realistic view that isn’t biased by the school preparation system.

Each mock interview took 45 to 60 minutes and involved the whole process from understanding, structuring, solving, and recommending.

Fit interviews

When the real interviews came closer, I shifted my focus more towards the fit part. To get my personal stories straight I sat down for hours, just reflecting upon past experiences and assessing how they would fit to the various questions out there.

Once I had the most important stories developed, I tested them on real people to a) get used to tell them b) make them more concise and c) receive feedback on content and delivery. All in all I did around 10 full fit interviews and a few short questions before the case mock interviews.

Math preparation

Math mistakes or general un-ease with numbers can break your case interview, so I practiced my mental math skills heavily. First I read on various tips and tricks to do math without a calculator more effectively and quicker, then I practiced simple addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division techniques, and later I focused on percentages, break-evens, return-on-investment, and NPV (Net Present Value) calculations.

To make it more effective, I hired a Skype math coach to drill these concepts and challenge me with calculations. I spent 10 hours with him just discussing ways of how to approach various types of math problems and getting more comfortable in solving them.

The most important benefit of all this practice was confidence – knowing that I can solve all kinds of math problems made me calm and comfortable in doing it under pressure in the interview.

Websites

These websites were helpful on my journey:

www.rocketblocks.me – sponsored by IESE; for structuring, mental math techniques and mostly for math drills

www.preplounge.com – to gain a different perspective by doing mock interviews with people outside of the school; articles, and math prep tool

www.managementconsulted.com – articles and workshops (I had full access because I paid for one coaching session)


I strongly believe that the work you put in, directly translates into a better performance in the interview. However, it is extremely important to stay yourself and not to fall into the trap of losing your natural touch by over-engineering your responses. The firms look for real persons who know how to behave in real-life situations.

Interviewing

Interviewing took place in two stages:

First round interviews on campus

The first interviews took place on campus and consisted of 2 interviews with fit and case part. I interviewed with an Irish interviewer from the London Office and a German from the Düsseldorf office. Both were extremely friendly and really made the experience enjoyable. I heard back the next day via telephone and received the message that I passed to the second round.

Second round interview at McKinsey in Munich

For the second round, McKinsey flew me from Barcelona to Munich on a Thursday, put me in a hotel for the night, and invited me to the office on Friday morning. I did 3 more interviews and was ready to continue with more after lunch. Surprisingly, when the partner sat down with me for interview number 4, he just said that they were happy with my confident and focused interviews, and that he would like to extend an offer for the internship. In that moment I was incredibly happy and relieved, knowing that all the hard work had paid off.

I accepted the offer just a few days later and am now looking forward to see what the consulting life is really all about.

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2 Months in the MBA

I can’t believe it’s 2 months already. Time flies. I still feel like this whole new reality just began, but we’re approaching the mid-term exams already. The days have become busier and busier. You thought this week was demanding? Wait for the next.

I worked on a 20-hour written case analysis for Analysis of Business Problems, spent two 6-hour-sessions on a Marketing Pricing Simulation, developed the outline for a Leadership Video,  attended Saturday Consulting preparation workshops and practiced case interviews. All of this of course in addition to the standard 3 cases / day + Spanish classes.

It’s really hard to make the time, but I hold myself to not miss out on sports. It’s way below what I would usually do, but I joined the Rugby training sessions and went for a few runs so far. Still figuring out, how I can get regular gym sessions back into my routine.

One thing hasn’t changed: I’m still amazed of how much we learn here. I really feel the transformation and the personal improvement. IESE really does a great job so far.

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Ernstjan, from our intensive spanish group, got married and invited us all
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Group shot at the Korean Dinner
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IESE library from the inside
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View from the South Campus terrace
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View from Park Güell
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Got invited to a Japanese Dinner

[Shared post] Dear Incoming Class of 2018…. (IESE MBA Blog)

I want to share an interesting post from the official IESE MBA blog with you. Achint Kaur, an MBA Class of 2016 student, writes about his 2-year experience and gives helpful advice for future students. I found it a good read, as it summarizes, what I have already been expecting from the MBA.

It really looks like life will be tough during the first year – but I’m ready! I’m thrilled to experience all of this myself.

Dear Incoming Class of 2018….

I am writing this letter to you just as I have finished packing the past 19 months of my life into two suitcases. And it suddenly dawns upon me: game over. The endless lamenting about cases and jobs, cortados on the patio, beers by the turtle pond, tapas by the beach, BoWs and team meetings are all over. It made me reflect upon my journey at IESE and I would like to share my musings with you.

Leaving the familiar and throwing yourself into a new environment requires courage. By deciding to come to IESE, you have already exhibited that you have that aplenty. I am not going to lie to you: the mental strength will come in handy. The first year is academically and socially strenuous. There are three cases to do almost everyday. You start at 8:15 am, if you are the chosen ones. You might have Spanish lessons in the afternoon, which I strongly recommend. There will be team meetings, assignments, projects and exams. Add to that the hunt for a perfect internship: networking, interview prep, multiple iterations of the same cover letter, perfecting your resume and putting your best foot forward at company events. Then add to it, social obligations.

After all, all your admissions essays were about ‘creating a global network’ for yourselves, weren’t they?  Give your loved ones a picture of yourself on a magnet to put on their fridges and tell them to forget about you for that one year! In the second year, things taper off a bit and you have more time to focus on landing your dream jobs.

Academics aside, IESE gave me the chance to form lifelong friendships. And this isn’t marketing propaganda. With friends at many top business schools in the world, I can personally certify that the spirit of collaboration and community that exists at IESE is unmatched. Any business school can teach you about 4Ps of marketing or McKinsey’s 7S framework. But at IESE, I also learnt about many different cultures, traveled the world, and developed the finer skills needed to become a truly global leader.

It is not a smooth ride. It isn’t supposed to be. The MBA is the time for you to challenge yourself, to throw yourself into the darkness of the unknown, to push the boundaries of what you think is possible, to stretch yourself to your limits, to face disappointments and after all of that, emerge stronger.

The past nineteen months have been a whirlwind and it is bittersweet to leave. IESE gave me a lot and for that, I will forever be grateful. As the youngest in the MBA, I came in with the least professional experience and thus, am leaving with the steepest learning curve. They say if you are the smartest one in the room, you are probably in the wrong room. I made sure I was in the right room at all times. I hope you will to.

For what its worth, my advice to you would be simple: keep an open mind. Whether it means discovering job opportunities, meeting people or simply trying exotic food. You never know where you find your calling.

Good luck and make this experience count!

With love from Barcelona,

Achint Kaur, IESE Class of 2016

***Achint graduated today!!!

Smart.ly

Smart.ly is my main pre-MBA preparation course. It uses a new educational technology that aims to make learning dramatically faster and more effective with highly interactive lessons conceived for the smartphone era.

The so called “Smart.ly MBA” covers a full curriculum ranging from MBA Fundamentals to a selection of individual topics.

Smart.ly core curriculum.png

The courses are short and easy to digest, and I really like the interactive learning method.

Here a screenshot from my current Dashboard:

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I will aim to complete all courses before my actual MBA starts to have the basic concepts down.

Pymetrics

I tried out Pymetrics, here is my career report:

Pymetrics Career Report

I am happy with the results, as I am aiming to switch to Consulting. However, I will also research the Finance Sector as well, as I scored quite high in Hedge Fund and Private Equity.

Operations is actually also interesting, I will have to evaluate that further on when the MBA actually started.