McKinsey Values and Purpose Interview

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Last Updated on January 31, 2024

McKinsey is currently experimenting with a new type of interview in several of their offices across the globe. The new McKinsey Values and Purpose Interview (VPI) is conducted on top of the case interview (as McKinsey calls it the Problem Solving Interview) and the Personal Experience Interview.

In a nutshell, the interview is a conversation about McKinsey’s values catalog where you are expected to discuss your most important values – that are in line with McKinsey’s – and how you have lived them in a certain situation.

McKinsey will let you know in advance if this new assessment is part of your interviews.

In this article, I want to answer the most common that I receive from my clients related to it and take a closer look at the McKinsey VPI and how it reflects the firm’s purpose, mission, and values. Read on to also get a glimpse of strong sample answers.

A Quick Primer on McKinsey

McKinsey & Company is a leading management consulting firm that is dedicated to helping organizations achieve lasting positive change. With a reputation for excellence, impact, and innovation, McKinsey is known for its rigorous hiring process and its commitment to finding the best and brightest talent to join its team.

What is the McKinsey Values and Purpose Interview?

It is an experimental part of McKinsey’s hiring process and is designed to assess the fit between the candidate and the firm’s purpose, mission, and values. The VPI seeks to understand the candidate’s motivations, goals, and values and how they align with those of McKinsey. The interview is typically conducted by a senior McKinsey consultant in the same slot as the PEI and the case interview.

The interviewer usually starts by telling you about one McKinsey value that is important for them and they highlight how a certain situation has made that particular value come to life for them. They then ask you to recount a situation and discuss how a certain value shapes your behavior and ideas.

Why is McKinsey Introducing this Interview?

The VPI is a reflection of the firm’s commitment to upholding its values and purpose in all aspects of its work and might help to ensure that new hires not only possess the skills and knowledge required for the role but also share McKinsey’s values and are committed to upholding them in their work. By conducting this type of interview, McKinsey is able to screen candidates who may not be fully aligned with the firm’s values, mission, and purpose, which can reduce the risk of future scandals or unethical behavior. Getting these insights into applicants is usually not possible through resume screening, case interviews, or the McKinsey Solve Game.

In light of recent scandals in the media, McKinsey has recognized the importance of reinforcing its values and purpose and has taken steps to ensure that its hiring processes align with its values and purpose. This is both important internally as well as externally as a signal to new applicants as well as clients. In fact, many of my coaching clients have expressed doubt over McKinsey’s practices and reputation over the last two years.

The Values and Purpose Interview is one such example of how McKinsey is changing its internal processes to better align with its values and purpose. This approach helps the firm identify and attract individuals who not only have the necessary skills and knowledge but also share McKinsey’s commitment to making a positive and lasting impact on the world. By implementing the MVPI, McKinsey is taking a proactive approach to preventing future scandals and maintaining its reputation as a trusted advisor to its clients.

What Are McKinsey’s Purpose and Mission That Influence Its Values?

At its core, McKinsey’s purpose is to help create positive, enduring change in the world. To achieve this goal, the firm has established a mission to help its clients make significant, lasting improvements in their performance. The VPI helps to ensure that new hires share this purpose and mission and are committed to making a positive impact through their work.

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McKinsey’s Value Catalog

The firm has outlined 3 core values with 6 sub-values each that are integral to its culture and business, including:

Adherence to the highest professional standards

  • Putting client interests ahead of the firm’s
  • Maintaining high standards and conditions for client service
  • Observing high ethical standards
  • Preserving client confidentiality
  • Maintaining an independent perspective
  • Managing client and firm resources cost-effectively

Improving clients’ performance significantly

  • Following a top-management approach
  • Using the global network to deliver the best of the firm to all clients
  • Bringing innovations in management practice to clients
  • Building client capabilities to sustain improvement
  • Building enduring relationships based on trust

Creating an unrivaled environment for exceptional people

  • Being non-hierarchical and inclusive
  • Sustaining a caring meritocracy
  • Developing one another through apprenticeship and mentoring
  • Upholding the obligations to engage and dissent
  • Embracing diverse perspectives with curiosity and respect
  • Governing ourselves as a “one firm” partnership

The VPI helps McKinsey ensure that new hires not only possess the skills and knowledge required for the role but also share the firm’s values and are committed to upholding them in their work.

To read more about these values, check them out directly on the McKinsey website here.

How to Prepare for the McKinsey Values and Purpose Interview

Preparation is key when it comes to the VPI, same as it is important for every other element of the recruiting journey with the toughest firm in the world to get in.

To maximize your chances of success and impress the interviewers, it’s important to research McKinsey’s purpose, mission, and values and to reflect on how they align with your own. Similar to the PEI, I would recommend you create a couple of short stories that highlight how you were demonstrating certain values that you hold dear. Of course, the values that you portray in these stories should align with some of the values from McKinsey’s value catalog.

For instance, if you are a student, you could tell something along the lines of this:

“During a university project, I had the opportunity to work with a diverse team of individuals from different backgrounds and skill sets. In order to ensure that we met the highest professional standards for our project, I had to prioritize putting the interests of the team ahead of my own. For example, when we faced a challenge with conflicting ideas about the direction of the project, I actively listened to each team member’s perspectives and suggestions, and worked to find a solution that would benefit the entire team. Ultimately, this resulted in a more cohesive and successful project that adhered. By putting the interests of the team ahead of my own, I was able to demonstrate my commitment to upholding high professional standards and to the well-being of those around me.”

McKinsey VPI answer of a graduate hire

For instance, if you are an experienced hire, you could tell something along the lines of this:

“In my previous role, I was tasked with helping a department that was struggling with a specific issue. I recognized that the root of the problem was a lack of effective communication and collaboration within the team. To address this, I took a two-pronged approach. Firstly, I worked on building relationships and fostering a positive work environment within the team. This involved organizing team-building activities, encouraging open and honest communication, and creating a culture of trust and respect. Secondly, I focused on developing an innovative solution to the problem. I brought in new ideas and fresh perspectives, and worked closely with the team to identify and implement a solution that would have a lasting impact. Through this combination of relationship building and innovation, we were able to successfully resolve the issue and improve the performance of the department. By demonstrating my ability to help others and drive positive change, I was able to make a meaningful contribution to my previous employer.”

McKinsey VPI answer of an experienced hire

You should also be familiar with the types of questions you may be asked during the VPI, such as those that assess your motivations, goals, and values. Practicing your answers to these questions can also help you feel more confident and prepared for the interview.

The answers I wrote above are just the starting point that your interviewer will use to ask more directed and specific questions to understand the situation better. For instance, they might ask what you felt in that particular situation or what motivated your actions (similar as in the PEI).

The McKinsey Values and Purpose Interview might become an important part of the firm’s hiring process and then play a crucial role in ensuring that new hires are aligned with McKinsey’s purpose, mission, and values.

By preparing thoroughly for it and being authentic and genuine in your responses, you can demonstrate your fit with McKinsey and increase your chances of being offered a role at the firm.

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