Below is an email I received from a student that has final interviews with McKinsey and BCG coming up asking for advice on how to prepare for the final round and my response with the best way to prepare for MBB final round interviews.

The videos you posted on your website have been very helpful for my case interview prep. I especially like the part on case interview basics and case interviewer mindset. Thank you so much for sharing the great work!

I am having final round interviews with McKinsey and BCG in about a week. As I do not have a business background, I find it more challenging to work on cases that are qualitative and not well structured.  I consider myself lucky to have passed the early rounds, as all the cases I got so far were very well structured and quantitative and were thus relatively easy for me.

However, I would assume that the final round interviews, as they are conducted by partners, will be much less structured and more qualitative.

How should I prepare for this type of cases?  Thank you for your help!

My Response:

First off, give yourself some credit. If you got to BCG AND McKinsey final rounds, you have some skills in this area. I say this because when I was interviewing, I too thought I was lucky to have gotten so far. And while I was, in hindsight, I realized I was actually kind of good at this stuff.

My sense is you are too… but probably don’t yet realize especially in the context of how others do in these things.

Now on to your question. The questions that partners give vs. others are very similar. Occasionally you will get a weird case that doesn’t neatly fit into any of the frameworks I’ve provided. This has nothing to do with whether the interviewer is a partner or not. Sometimes you just get a weird case.

Out of the 63 cases I got as an interviewee, none of my 63 fell into this totally off the wall category. But I have heard of others who got cases that were a little weird.

So short answer, don’t worry about optimizing for the unusual case. Work on the most likely cases, be exceptional in those, and if you happen to do just okay on the one weird case… but blew away the other 4 – 5 cases, you’ll probably do just fine. And the likelihood of getting a weird case is pretty low (but not impossible).

That being said, when you get a weird case that doesn’t fit a pre-defined framework very well, you need to create a new framework on the fly. I know this sounds a bit daunting, but it’s not as crazy as it sounds.

The key is to find some organized way to organize your thoughts in a structured way (that’s what a framework is after all).

See my other post on Weird Case Interview Questions for more information on preparing for these types of questions.

Best of Luck!