McKinsey Interview

by Victor Cheng

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McKinsey Interview Success Story:

Hi Victor!

I have a few words on success through case interview study. I was just offered positions at both BCG and McKinsey!!

The firms are now in the process of "wining and dining" me, and for a kid who has never seen any significant amount of money, it's really exciting.

I just received an offer following my McKinsey interview. Factoring in bonuses and their generous retirement contribution, it's about $90k; my family's income right now is slightly over $25k.  I will be able to help my mother financially.

Even ten days before my first round BCG interview with, I had zero case interview preparation experience.  I read Case In Point and scoured the internet for preparation help, and thankfully I came upon your website!

Your workshop was very helpful, as were the printouts.  I brought the page detailing the Customer - Product - Competition - Company analysis everywhere I went, and studying that helped me ask the right questions during my interviews.

While Case In Point certainly helped, I honestly found it too complex and difficult to use in live cases; your "system" was more user friendly, as I was able to incorporate elements from Case In Point and my own experiences to form my own "Case Guide."

My advice to those reading this website is to study and consume all resources related to case interview preparation.

You cannot control how naturally good you are, but you can outwork and outstudy everybody else.

Thanks so much, Victor, for everything. You helped make my senior year of college more enjoyable, and the investment in my education seem (more) worthwhile.  Keep up the great work!

My Comments:

When I first read this email, I was quite moved by it.

For me case interviews, solving business problems, and the CEO coaching work I do now is like a game -- something that's a lot of fun. Whereas others play golf for fun, I like solving business puzzles.

And my original intention for sharing my case interview tips was just for fun. For some reason, it just never occurred to me that a consulting job offer or McKinsey internship could make such an impact on someone's life. So I was quite touched by the news.

From a coaching standpoint, there is one part of that story that I want to really emphasize for you -- because I completely agree with it.

"You cannot control how naturally good you are, but you can outwork and outstudy everybody else."

I couldn't agree more.

When I was interviewing with all the major firms, I really had no idea if I was any good at this stuff -- seriously.

So I worked really, really, really hard to figure out how to do these case interview questions .

I bought people lunch to ask for their advice. I begged friends to practice with me. I practiced by myself. And I'm pretty sure that I outworked and outstudied everybody at Stanford -- with the exception of one person (and he too ended up at McKinsey).

And after all that work, I was pretty certain that I would be able to perform to the maximum of my natural ability.

And as fortune would have it, my natural ability was actually quite high.

But -- and this is very important -- without the effort to practice and outwork everyone else, my natural talent would have never had the opportunity to come out.

My very first case interview, I totally bombed. For a 40 minute interview, I lasted literally three minutes before I was stuck.  Fortunately, it was only a practice interview.

Whew!

My second practice interview, I basically stunk a little less.

The third time around, I was only extremely mediocre.

But eventually I understood the underlying mechanics of how to do a case (And had to work really hard to remember what to do during a particular case situation).

And then eventually with sufficient case interview practice and experience, it became a natural skill for me -- kind of like how someone can drive a car without really thinking too much about how to do it.

Let me share with you something I have not told many other people. While you probably know that I got seven consulting job offers, before canceling the remainder of my interviews. What you probably don't know is that the year before I graduated, I applied for an internship position at Bain -- and I got rejected.

I just flat out wasn't good enough. I know in hindsight I had the raw talent back then, but I hadn't yet mastered the case interview skills.

So I decided to immediately start to practice case interviews for next year's interviews... getting a 12-month head start on the competition. So by the time interviews for full-time jobs came around, I had 15 months of practice under my belt.

My first "real" live case interview for a full-time job was in reality my 31st case. (I had done two or three practice interviews with others and about 25 cases practicing with myself).  So I got rid of all the bad habits that held me back from getting that Bain internship offer.

And it paid off.  Of the other 400 people that applied from Stanford, the vast majority were doing their second or third case ever in their life. I was doing my 31st.

And the results showed. Out of 400 people applying from Stanford, only six received offers. I was one of the six.

Was I amongst the top 1.5% at Stanford with the most talent? Maybe...

Was I amongst the top 1.5% at Stanford that worked harder than everybody else?

Absolutely - there's no doubt what-so-ever about that one.

So bottom line, you gotta study, get face-to-face practice and use simulated practice, like my Look Over My Shoulder® program, to get really good.

And in my latest analysis of who's getting offers, those that have been most successful at using my Look Over My Shoulder® Program have consistently gone through the approximately ten hours of practice materials five times before getting their offers.

That's 50 hours of practice and repetition with just that one program. Keep in mind, the program has only been publicly available for less than 30 days... you do the math.

That's 50 hours before considering the time spent watching the free videos on my site, not to mention 1:1 practice, not to mention practicing estimation questions on your own.

Your success in case interviews is not determined by your case interview skills. It is determined by your case interview habits. The two are not the same, and like everything in life, repetition builds habits.

For more resources, see my Case Interview Guide on this site, and Case Interview Tips for suggestions on using the site.

Additional Resources

If you found this post useful, I suggest becoming a registered member (it's free) to get access to the materials I used to pass 60 out of 61 case interviews, land 7 job offers, and end up working at McKinsey.

Members get access to 6 hours of video tutorials on case interviews, the actual frameworks I used to pass my interviews, and over 500 articles on case interviews.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Joseph October 18, 2012 at 8:31 am

Hi Victor,

Do you give private tutorials over Skype ? I am preparing for an interview for next week.

Joesph

Reply

Victor Cheng October 18, 2012 at 9:45 am

Hi Joseph,

We do offer case coaching sessions via Skype. While I’m not the one doing the coaches, all of our coaches are either former McKinsey, Bain, or BCG consultants.

More information can be found at:
http://www.caseinterview.com/coaching

Victor

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