I have my first round interview with McKinsey, Africa soon and unfortunately I first discovered your site just a few days ago.

I have tried to go through the entire video but this has been tough, given that I have a full time job and I spend four hours driving to and from work everyday.

I must say that your tutorials have been amazing! I am a non-MBA and work in operations so the whole case problem solving was very foreign to me. But just five days, and I know so much more!

And I also went ahead and shared it with the other candidates I met during the coaching sessions, and their reviews have been amazing.

However, I am a little nervous that because I might not be very well-prepared since everyone else with offers spent hours and hours on the materials.

Have you got any last-minute tips for me?

My Reply:

In most countries, McKinsey first round (as opposed to the later rounds) has a slightly different style to the interaction.

Rather than giving you a type of case that I call a candidate-led case, where they give you some broad question and then you take over (like the examples in my Look Over my Shoulder® Program), they use more of a Question & Answer approach.

So rather than say, “Which areas would you look at?” (e.g., framework would you use), the interviewer might say, “I’ve decided to look at X, Y, and Z areas… and here is my hypothesis that I have in mind.”

The interviewer then might ask you, “What data would you need to prove/disprove this hypothesis?”

So the overall case process is the same, but the role of the interviewer vs. candidate is shared.  In many McKinsey first rounds, the interviewer decides on the structure, and often the hypothesis, and you are asked to analyze a small section of the case, rather than the entire case.

So in my videos, I would describe the candidate-led case as consisting of say a three-step process.

In the McKinsey first round, the interviewer might do step 1 and then ask you to only solve step 2. Or they interviewer might ask you to do step 1, then they do step 2 for you, and then ask you to do step 3.

So this is newer information not yet reflected in some of my materials, so just be aware of this difference in style.

The actual skills being tested are essentially the same, but the skills are being tested at a component level rather than at an integrated level (which will take place in subsequent rounds).

I would also suggest going through the samples test I have posted on my McKinsey Problem Solving Test resource page.

The sample questions, particularly around data sufficiency, are useful to practice.  If McKinsey Africa Round 1 is similar to other countries, the style of the interview would be equivalent to a verbal version of some of those sample tests.

This way you can get used to some of the abruptness of the interaction.

Also one other nuance, at the start of the interview, the interviewer may give you a lot of data – charts, data tables, and the like. So rather than you asking for specific information, and them only giving what you ask for. They give you everything, and you have to figure out what is important.

So if you’re not expecting this, you can be caught by surprise. In general, if you have time, it is useful to get a feel for what data is available. But, when it comes time to actually analyzing things, you still want to be hypothesis driven, and then you go look for just that piece of data you need.

So the process is still the same. You say, “I’d like to see X data,” and guess what – you already have X data in front of you (Along with Y, Z, A, B and C data too…).

For more case interview preparation resources, review my free video series on Case Interview Secrets .