McKinsey Application Essay


Thanks very much for all of your helpful materials. I’m a APD (PhD from Stanford) preparing to apply for consulting jobs. It’s challenging because I don’t have any peers who are interested in the industry.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on part of the APD recruiting: the essay. McKinsey requires APD candidates to write 500 words on teamwork challenges. Do you have a feeling on what the best answer would be here?

My feeling is that they are looking for evidence that someone can put the needs of the team ahead of their own need to look smart. I can imagine a few scenarios where this essay could really hurt a candidate, but it seems hard to rise above the pack.

(McKinsey Short Essay Question)

Thanks for your thoughts.

My Reply:

This seems to be a written version of what used to be done face-to-face in a "PEI" or "Personal Experience Interview." See my articles at on the following topics: "McKinsey leadership case" ; "McKinsey personal experience interview".

Basically they want to see if you have EQ and not just IQ.... can you handle an interpersonal conflict, being respectful of other people's emotions, and yet still get the right outcome accomplished? The alternative is to tell the other person they are wrong, wrong, wrong! Imply they are a complete idiot and prove to them this is the case... If one were to do this with a client, the client would simply fire the firm because they don't like working with even one arrogant consultant.

The answer is not to let others run over you like you're a doormat. It's a balance of persisting on the right outcome, while finding ways to address the emotional undercurrent of the situation.

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1 comment… add one
  • v phani prakash Jul 3, 2012, 4:41 am

    Dear sir i amBA,PGDCA,PGDBM, MBA(HR/Marketing) from india,i have 10-years experience in field work HR and marketing/business/small scale industres in different fields-roles.
    sir, i want to join as a management cosultants in any suitable post, any country.thnks reply soon.

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