McKinsey Offer for Non-Traditional Candidate

This McKinsey F1Y's story reminds us how important practice and prep work are in securing an offer.

Success Story:

I wanted to shoot you an email to let you know that I just received an offer for an Associate position with McKinsey. It was the culmination of nearly three months of near-constant preparation, not only to get comfortable with case interviews, but also to prepare my "fit" stories and to scrape the rust off my math skills. I used your LOMS program and your PST prep resources throughout the process, and found both of them EXTREMELY helpful.

I really enjoyed LOMS and listened to it religiously in the car on my way into class and work. I probably listened to each case 3-4 times total, and found that the more I listened, particularly to the exemplars, the better I became at articulating my thoughts during the cases. In fact, the feedback I received after getting the offer was that I had "nailed" the cases.

I am an MA candidate from a top-ranked international relations/public policy school and am thus from a fairly non-traditional background (in that even among the APD candidates at McKinsey, most seemed to be JDs, MDs, or PhDs).

A few other students from my school are also pursuing consulting--although its quite rare, as most want to work in government or policy--and I would say that the key difference between the students that have received offers and those that did not go far in the process is PREPARATION. One word.

The students that treated these interviews like normal interviews (a few days of preparation, let's say), were almost all rejected by 2nd round. The others, who prepared for at least a month, if not more, almost all made it to the final round or secured an offer.

I probably did over 100 live cases to prepare. It was hard at the time, especially when I didn't have an offer yet, but I noticed that by the time I had done about 75 cases, I was a machine. It had become a learned skill, a habit of sorts.

My overall advice to aspiring consultants is to prepare like it's your job, and to put school on the back burner for a few months while you prepare. "Keep your eyes on the prize" was my motto when I was tempted to focus on anything other than interview preparation. I won't care if I got a B+ in a class in a year, but I will care if I have an offer from McKinsey.

Anyways, wanted to drop you a line to say thank you from a soon-to-be consulting first year. It really is a dream come true.

Additional Resources

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4 comments… add one
  • Anastasia Feb 13, 2017, 5:16 pm

    Hi Victor,

    I am in the process of preparing for interviews. I have networked extensively with MBB over the past years but am now hesitant which studying strategy to pursue. I have been listening to your videos and reading up for quite some months, but have not started preparing systematically.
    Which one of these would you say is a better strategy?
    1) Doing an internship and preparing in the evenings + weekends for 4 months
    2) Preparing full-time for 1-1,5 month
    Preparing ft for longer than 1 month is unfortunately out of question, but I am trying to make the most out of the options I have.
    Thank You!

    • Victor Cheng Feb 15, 2017, 4:51 pm


      Both options would be effective.

      A rough rule of thumb for best practices is to budget 50 – 100 hours for total preparation time. 25 hours to listen to LOMS. 25 hours to practice actual cases with other people or with a coach. If time permits, do 50 hours of each (Listen to LOMS twice).

      This presumes you’ve already read my book Case Interview Secrets.

      On option #2, doing live cases is mentally exhausting. You can certainly listen to LOMS for 8 hours in a day (but that might be too much), but doing 8 hours of cases continuously is too exhausting. 1 or 2 day consistently is a good pace.


  • Sneha Ahi Jul 28, 2016, 2:11 am

    This story is very close to home!
    I am from a non-traditional background myself from an ivy-league school and was working with the UN for a while.

    I am in the process of preparing for my interviews (hopefully, I do get them with all the networking I am attempting simultaneously!). I am using LOMS, brushing my math and reading Michael’s Competitive strategy for clearing some business concepts.

    I will use your advice to study from PST resources as well. I hope grit can surpass talent in my case!

    • Victor Cheng Aug 2, 2016, 1:39 am


      Good luck!


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