The McKinsey case interview is an interview format used to evaluate prospective management consultants.
As a former McKinsey consultant, consulting resume screener and interviewer, I thought I would share my perspective on this unusual interview format.
The first thing to realize is the Mckinsey interview is structured in a specific way to find candidates who make good consultants.
Because McKinsey is considered one of the top (if not THE top) strategy consulting firms in the world, it is very important to the firm that its consultant represent the firm well.
It is also important to realize that McKinsey charges a premium over its competitors BCG and Bain. To justify this fee premium, McKinsey goes out of its way to find the best candidates, with the best credentials, and the best people skills. They really want the best of the best.
During a case, the candidate is presented with a hypothetical business situation and asked how they would solve this problem for the client.
The candidate is permitted to ask questions, request qualitative and quantitative data, and ultimately must make a recommendation that is supported by the facts. The key words in that last sentence are "supported by the facts."
This is important because clients have plenty of well informed opinions. What they are missing is someone to go out and get the facts and to use a structured decision making process that allows people with disparate opinions to be able to agree on a fact-based decision.
There are numerous resources case interview preparation resources available to help you get ready for this interview.
The process generally starts with the McKinsey Problem Solving Test. Once someone passes the test, they need to prepare for a series of case interviews. One useful free resource is a 6 hour video tutorial session I put together called Case Interview Secrets. It outlines an overall methodology on how to tackle these kinds of case questions and is the exact same approach I used to get 7 consulting job offers when I went through the recruiting process several years ago.