Question:

I scored 710 on the GMAT after studying for about five weeks. Do you know if this is a competitive GMAT score for comparison with the brainiacs working at McKinsey? And does the firm place any value on a good GMAT score when hiring Business Associates?


My Reply:

I don’t recall the cutoffs off the top of my head, but 710 strikes me as the lower end of the range… but still within the range.
McKinsey does like looking at standardized test scores of any type – whether that be SAT, GMAT, GRE, etc… in particular they look at the math portion of the score.

So if I recall correctly, the GMAT has a math section sub-score, so if you had a 710 overall but math was much higher, that probably wouldn’t stop you from getting an interview, especially if the rest of your application was strong.  So  the GMAT or any test score is just one factor.

Keep in mind the consulting resume / consulting cover letter screening process is a human process.

If you’re recruiting on campus, it’s usually alumni from that campus who are evaluating your application. Since I graduated from Stanford, I was on the Stanford recruiting team and read through hundreds of resumes and cover letters from Stanford.

(I know I keep harping on this, but 95% of cover letters stink!  They are an obvious mail merge in Microsoft Word. It is very, very painful to read 400 mail merge cover letters in a row. It is considered absolutely refreshing to read a sincere, original cover letter from someone who has done their homework and really wants the job (and can explain with specifics why they want it).

The historical reasons for have alumni read the applications is because they could tell if say a particular award / major / class was a “joke” or if it was incredibly impressive.

There are diminishing returns to GMAT and GPA performance as it correlates to on the job performance. So beyond a certain GPA (at last check it was a 3.5), a higher GPA does not correlate with a candidate doing better on the job. The same on test scores. Verbal scores did not correlate with on the job performance, but high math scores did — to a point.

The ideal Business Associate profile was someone with a high enough GPA, a high enough standardized math test score, and a track record of leadership/ interpersonal activities. That was the right balance between analytical, practical, and client-oriented.