McKinsey & Company: The 8 Most Common Problems

What are the difference between get and no get the final offer? These are the 8 critical problems to avoid in case-interviews during the Recruitment Process with McKinsey & Company

Every year in we prepare many students around the world. After each session, we try to give them detailed feedback, including their main problems. And every 3 months, we study and research what are the general trends about candidates: materials, typical mistakes, etc.


Following those studies, these are the list of the eight most common mistakes that we have detected. Which aspects?


1.Misunderstand the problem: at the beginning of the case-interview, you are asked to solve a problem. We will miss the problem, normally by a lack of clarifying questions and the verification of the main goals. It causes to solve a different problem that the desired one by the interviewer.


2.Framework-oriented rather than hypothesis oriented: along our analysis of the case, there is the temptation to use a couple of pre-created or default frameworks to solve the initial problem. This is very risky, because in these companies, the interviewers are searching for consultants that can solve always any problem, rather than a person who know how to use frameworks. In conclusion, instead of try to adapt the problem to one specific framework, we have to follow the scientific method, in which you create a hypothesis and you test the assumptions needed to detect if this initial hypothesis is true, and change it if false.


3.Analysis without prioritization: also, during the analysis there is the risk to spend too much time in aspects that are not important for the breakdown of the problem. This is produced by not thinking which aspect impacts the most in the specified problem to prioritize it.


4.Think in silence: the interviewer wants to know what and know we are thinking. So if we are in silence all the time and only giving result -caused by try to do the case alone, or fear in our mental structure-, the interviewer will be not able to evaluate your thinking and it will raise a disconnection and miscommunication with the interviewer.


5.Numbers correction/speed: if the candidate does maths incorrectly or slowly, it generates a high distrust from the interviewer point of view. It is frequently cause by a lack of training in maths operations (their correction and speed) and an extra-dose of stress.


6.Low insight or business knowledge: if we don’t understand the basic business concepts, it is going to originate: on one hand a misunderstanding of what is explaining the interviewer; on the other hand, the analysis and recommendations are going to be poor.

When applying for senior positions, if we don’t add extra value –through our analysis, or adding comments after clarifying questions- with industry/experience insights, it will shows that we are not enough experts in the field.


7.Conclude explaining the process, not the recommendation: at the end of the case-interview, you normally give a final recommendation. Conclude explaining the process, is a bad synthesis, because clients in consulting –in this case, the interviewer- want the result –the recommendation-, and not how you achieved it.


8.Argumentation without quantitative justification: when we give a recommendation without data-justification, it originates a lack of conviction from our client (interviewer), about our conclusion, because it is not enough consistent. This is produced by not analyzing the quantitative impact of the problem/solution, at the beginning of the case, and asking for numbers during the analysis.


To avoid these eight most frequent mistakes, I will explain the tips in following articles, but they key: train, train and train.



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