McKinsey Background

How was my interview experience in management consulting at McKinsey?

How does a management consultant interview look like at McKinsey, BCG and Bain? Here's a insight into my own McKinsey interview.


How it started

Over the years, I’ve helped over 2000 candidates in their career goals, including cracking consulting offers at McKinsey, BCG and Bain.

But my most memorable interview is my own consulting interview at McKinsey!

Today, I’m sharing the entire interview experience – Right from the questions, the answers, the process and the aftermath!

Getting the shortlist

I was interviewing for consulting offers as a part of the IIM Ahmedabad summer placement process.

The first hurdle to a McKinsey offer was a shortlist, and my resume building process was an interesting journey! I was shortlisted by over 25 companies with almost all consulting and investment banking shortlists. (I’ve shared more about consulting resumes here)

Once I received the shortlist, I started preparing for the interview. In consulting, the case interview is the toughest part of the prep, so I had practised a lot (and I mean A LOT) of case interviews, across all industries and types. I had also practised cases with McKinsey alums and seniors. (more about my case prep strategies here)

About the interview

My interview at McKinsey was at the IMDC placement centre on the campus. All of my dorm mates and I had a sleepless night waiting for the d-day!

IMDC at IIM Ahmedabad – The interview location

McKinsey typically has 3+ interview rounds, each with an associate partner/partner. To get an offer, you need a ‘Yes’ vote from two partners.

Scheduling for the campus process is often complicated – There is a partner mapping the recruitment team attempts to do basis candidate personality, candidate aptitude and success in the first round.

Interview 1

Interview 1

Interviewer: Partner in the petrochemicals sector

Time: 20 minutes

The partner came out of the interview room to greet me warmly. I entered the room and sat on the seat closest to the door. The partner (in a very embarrassed tone) said: “Ruchi… you’re sitting in my seat”. Hilariously embarrassing moment #1. I was beating myself up internally at my gaffe! In my defence, the two seats were identical.

After my initial faux pas, we launched into a long discussion of life at IIMA – my favourite subjects, the state of the dorms, the birthday celebration traditions et all. The partner was super excited about this topic and he mentioned that he was an alum, from the 1994 batch, and I blurted out “That was the year I was born!”. Hilariously embarrassing moment #2. Thankfully, he found my observation funny rather than offensive.

Then he asked “Do you have any knowledge of the petrochemicals space?’. I was a bit worried about this non sequitur, and I replied “No more than a layman”. He’s smiled and launched into a case on petroleum.

Instead of the typical format of interviewer laying out the case and interviewee drawing the framework, he took a sheet of paper himself and drew the petrochemical value chain and then we had a collaborative discussion of sorts.

The upside was that I didn’t have to think of a framework. The downside was that I had no time to organise my thoughts. He shot questions and ask for insights on the fly.

His questions include:

  1. What are the decision criteria for investment? (My answer was weighted average cost of capital, scale, etc)
  2. What are the important factors to analyse the high growth in the market? (My answer was understanding the geographic split of the growth, and he said “Exactly!”)
  3. What are the roles of other south-east Asian countries? (Both raw material supplier and competitor)
  4. What are the costs of the factory? Can you draw a cost curve? (Out of the blue, I dug deep and recalled my microeconomics lessons to draw long-run and short-run average cost curves. I struggled to remember the axes, but in a flash remembered – cost and quantity. Phew! He seemed pretty impressed)
  5. What are the growth prospects of the end products of petrochemicals? (I discussed how the fertilizer market would be linked to agriculture and demographics, while plastics might be vulnerable to regulation)
  6. What are the risks of forward and backward integration? (Margins and customer management were some factors of consideration)
  7. What are the porter’s five forces and how would they apply here? (Again, this was out of nowhere. But marketing courses at IIMA helped me remember the five forces and apply it to the petrochemicals value chain)

At this point, he looked pretty pleased and asked me if I had any questions. I enquired about how much of the case we discussed was real, and he said almost everything (the value chain, market size, growth potential) was taken from his actual experience.

I also asked him about his experience with McKinsey culture, and how he would characterise it. He answered that McKinsey is a caring meritocracy, and all the helpful peers define its culture. He then thanked me and I stepped out in the waiting area.


I was in the waiting area, while the interviewer stepped out from the interview room and went into the ‘War Room’.

After every interview, candidates wait to be scheduled the next interview – The better your interview, the better the feedback submitted in the War room. Once the interview deliberates on it and compares it against other candidates, the best candidates are scheduled quickly, while others are kept on hold.

Since my next interview was scheduled within a couple of minutes, I realised that my first interview must have had near-perfect feedback.

Interview 2

Interviewer: Senior Partner, and one of the first employees of McKinsey India

Time: 20 minutes

The second interview was with a senior partner – which meant I could get a direct offer/reject in the interview itself. He didn’t ask for any case – not even a mini caselet. I’m guessing the feedback on the first case was pretty good.

The senior partner joined on a video call and launched into my resume like a shark. He grilled me on every line, asking for backups stories, learnings, and experiences. There were a lot of verbal traps and sparring. There were so many twists and turns that I barely remember any specific question – I was simply trying to keep up. To add to my misery, the video call connection was patchy and my audio kept breaking.

The concluding question was regarding my team’s opinions about my leadership style, and my opinions on luck being a factor for success. I said that I would give luck 10% credit in every situation.

Then, suddenly, he said, “This conversation has been amazing, Ruchi, but before we talk more, I would like to extend an offer to you.” In the middle of the interview, he had given me the offer!

We continued to chat for five more minutes (I was much more relaxed now) before we said our goodbyes.

After the offer

My interview experience was very memorable, and when I came back to my dorm (much, much later after a lot of celebration, calls and fun), I penned down my experiences in the hope that I would read them one day, recall that day and smile. And that’s what I did today. 😊

Based on my internship (which was very memorable!) McKinsey shared a returning offer, which I accepted. I joined McKinsey as a consultant after my MBA at IIM A!

I hope you enjoyed this journey! If you’re starting your own career journey in consulting, let me share a little more below:

I’m not just an ex-McKinsey consultant – I am the founder of Mentoresult, where I’ve helped thousands of candidates crack their own consulting journeys through 1:1 mentorship and curated courses. Explore a 1:1 session with me here, or join my exclusive consulting case interview course here.

See you soon!

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About the Author

Ruchi Aggarwal

Ruchi is the founder of Mentoresult. She was a management consultant at McKinsey & Co, has an MBA from IIM Ahmedabad and has scored a 99.99%ile in CAT and a 770 in GMAT.

Through Mentoresult, she mentored over 2000 candidates in reaching their career goals. Her success stories can be found across top jobs (McKinsey, BCG, Bain, Google, Amazon), top global MBA admissions (Harvard, Wharton, Booth, Columbia, Yale) and top Indian MBA (IIM A, IIM B, IIM C, ISB).  

She’s a prolific writer, with over 10 million views and 50,000+ followers on LinkedIn. You can find her on a 1:1 session here.

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