The consulting interview series
Our new series should give our readers an insight into how the consulting roles differ across firms and geographies. We reach into our network to talk to people from the McKinseys, BCGs, and Bains of this world and get their perspective on their jobs and the industry.
If you have any requests for particular firms or geographies and particular questions, let us know and we will reach out to our network to conduct an interview for StrategyCase.com.
Today we have interviewed one of our contributors who works as a third-year Senior Associate at McKinsey in Germany to answer the questions on What does a McKinsey consultant do, What is a McKinsey consultant salary, and How does the day of a McKinsey consultant look like. See the interview below.
The experience of a McKinsey consultant
StrategyCase.com: Where do you work? What position?
Interviewee: I work in one of McKinsey’s offices in Germany. I’ve been with the firm for three years now, currently as a Senior Associate, soon to be Engagement Manager (project leader/ manager). I first did a McKinsey internship.
StrategyCase.com: What kinds of cases do you work on?
Interviewee: I work mostly on strategy engagements in the automotive sector.
StrategyCase.com: How is the travel for McKinsey consultants in your geography? Do you travel every week? How far?
Interviewee: I travel every week, usually between Monday to Thursday to the client location. I’ve never had a project at home, but I like it since it separates work from home. Most of my clients are in Europe, so the travel times are acceptable, some cases are in Asia or North America, in which case I stay there for 3 weeks, then come back for a few days and head back again.
StrategyCase.com: What are your favorite travel hacks?
Interviewee: Since we fly business class on every flight (except flying to internal events or training), I collect Lufthansa/ Star Alliance miles. Basically, every McKinsey consultant from the German office (including Austria) is at least Lufthansa Senator/ Star Alliance Gold. Additionally, I collect a ton of hotel points with 200 nights a year spent away from home, focusing on Marriott Bonvoy and Hilton Honors.
StrategyCase.com: How does a typical day look in your consultant life? (e.g., distribution between client meetings, problem-solving, analytical work in excel, slide preparation, etc)
Interviewee: Typically, I spend 4 days per week at the client site. The days are very long but go by quickly since the deadlines are tight and the to-dos are many. I collect data from clients or other sources, analyze, visualize, discuss with the team (we call it problem-solving), play it back to the client, and so on and so forth.
StrategyCase.com: What’re the typical hours you work during the week and on Friday? How about weekend work?
Interviewee: Mondays to Wednesdays I usually work from 8.30 am to 10/11 pm, sometimes longer, Thursday I fly back and arrive home around 8.30 pm, mostly no work thereafter. Fridays are usually more relaxed from home or from our office, I’d say from around 9 am to 5 pm on average. I don’t do anything on weekends.
StrategyCase.com: How do you unwind during the week and on weekends?
Interviewee: During the week I try to hit the gym at least twice, do some team events if possible. On the weekends I spend time w family, my fiance or friends. I’ll try to spend time away from the screen then.
StrategyCase.com: What’s the best part of the job?
Interviewee: The constant travel and constant challenge – but that’s also the worst part.
StrategyCase.com: What is the worst part of the job?
Interviewee: Long hours and constant stress.
StrategyCase.com: What tip would you give applicants for your role and your firm?
Interviewee: Network to get your name out, prepare a proper application, and then prepare intensively for the case interviews and the new McKinsey Problem Solving Game or Digital Assessment. Check out the McKinsey careers website. They also prep you well for parts of the interview.
StrategyCase.com: What exit opportunities are you considering?
Interviewee: Nothing specific yet. Maybe building my own firm.
StrategyCase.com: What have you learned on the job?
Interviewee: Solving complex problems in very limited time. Being structured. Standing my ground. High resilience and tolerance for ambiguity.
StrategyCase.com: Anything else you would like to add?
Interviewee: Make sure to set your boundaries, or someone else will do it for you.
How we can help you
If you want to break into McKinsey, check out how we can help you below.
Our approach follows the stages of the consulting application life cycle.
1. Start out by reading our freely available articles on consulting applications, digital assessments, case interviews, and the consulting lifestyle to get an idea of where you’ll be heading. More info here.
2. Check out our application document guides for cover letters and resumes (including ready-to-use templates) that allow you to complete stellar consulting applications within less than 1 hour. The guides and templates are tailored to contain the right content, keywords, phrases, and stories to maximize your chances to receive the invitation to the interviews. More info here.
3. Specifically for McKinsey candidates, we have developed a detailed guide (includes several videos on gameplay and strategies) on how to prepare and ace the McKinsey Problem Solving Game developed by Imbellus. The information and strategies contained in the guide will put you on top of current McKinsey applicants. More than 1900 of our coachees have used the guide to ace their test (February 2021). The guide is constantly updated with the latest developments in the game. More info here.
4. Specifically for McKinsey, we have developed our Ready-for-McKinsey (RfM) video academy, which consists of 40 educational videos that dissect a typical McKinsey interview step by step. We cover both the business case interview including structuring, exhibit, and math questions as well as the personal experience interview with its dimensions leadership, personal impact, and entrepreneurial drive. We employ a “contrasting method” by showcasing to you how bad, good, and excellent candidates would answer the questions. Through this, we are able to demonstrate interview best-practices, the most common mistakes to avoid, and what it really takes to receive an offer. This video program is the best resource for McKinsey interviews out there. More info here.
5. Book a case interview appointment to benefit from our real MBB interviewer experience. We have successfully coached 100s of candidates on their journey of getting offers with top-tier firms such as McKinsey, BCG, and Bain. Our approach differs from the usual interview coachings and teaches you specific habits and tools to crack every case, regardless of the context or industry. We also offer behavioral and personal experience interview practice and coaching. To maximize your chances, we recommend you to book a 6-sessions program with us (3 typical MBB cases and 3 personal fit simulations). More info here.