How I got a job at McKinsey July 09 2016

We recently helped Roshni from The Kenyan Nomad to prepare for her interviews with McKinsey. In the blog post below, she shares her experience of preparing for the PST, her case interviews and how she got a job at McKinsey. 

Learn from Roshni's experience:

"Getting into McKinsey is definitely not easy, and that’s both a bad thing and a good thing. Bad because well, it’s not easy. Good because as you make it through the different stages, you actually get an idea of what McKinsey consultants do. You get to decide whether or not it’s right for you - avoiding those awkward scenarios where you join a company after passing a series of rigorous interviews without knowing what they really do, and realise when you join that you don’t actually enjoy the work!

In my application/PST/interview process, I heard from a few people who didn’t make it through - they realised that this actually wasn’t what they wanted!

In today’s post, I’ll focus more on the PST and case interviews. I think there is already plenty of information available on how to craft a strong application and how to ace personal experience interviews. A quick note on the latter: they may be a small part of the interview, but they’re as important as the cases are, so don’t forget to prepare.

The PST

I found out I was to do the PST a week before the exam date. I rushed to do as much as I could to prepare, and started off by tackling the sample tests on the McKinsey website. I was alarmed by my low scores - after all, I’d been pretty good at maths and logic back in school and at university, so what on earth was happening here? I soon realised that having been out of practice on these skills can make it difficult (but not impossible) to do well on this test. Having been working in more creative roles over the past two years, I was DEFINITELY out of practice. Doing the sample exams available wasn’t going to cut it, and I realised I needed to go the extra step to prepare.

I stumbled across the IGAO PST programme on their website, and was initially apprehensive - human instinct I think, whenever you’re asked to pay for something. However, what sold me were the glowing reviews left by previous candidates, and their money back offer. I went ahead and got the programme, and made sure to follow all their prescribed steps. Guess what? It worked!

The maths videos and workbook were very helpful in that they helped me brush up on skills I hadn’t used in a while. The training method was very comprehensive, and I think one of the things it helped most with was learning how to manage my time. Sometimes, I felt like the exam itself wasn’t too bad, but the 60 minute time pressure made it much harder. By knowing how and where to concentrate my efforts, I was able to succeed.

In total, over the week I had, I spent about 25 hours on PST practice. When I ran out of tests, I did them again, and this was actually very helpful, because while I thought I would remember my answers from the first time I did them, I didn’t, and I was able to see how I performed. When I first started practicing for the PST, my score was about 14 or 15 out of 26. By the time I had completed the IGAO programme, this had jumped up to about 21 or 22 out of 26.

The Case Interviews

I will admit it - before I started the whole application process at McKinsey, I had no idea that case interviews even existed!

Again, having been out of this kind of thinking for a while, I knew that I needed to do more than just basic preparation for my case interviews. Since I’d had success with the IGAO PST programme, and it was very comprehensive and easy to follow, I decided to try out the IGAO case interview programme too - and I’m glad I did!

Instead of teaching you to ‘learn frameworks’ (don’t do this….) and memorise useless information, this programme actually taught me how to approach and tackle each case on its own. Not only did it teach me the ‘hard skills’ for approaching cases like how to build frameworks from scratch, but also the ‘soft skills’ like how to talk to the interviewer about the case.

In addition, this programme was great because it gave me more cases and case questions to work on. This was extremely helpful to me considering that I didn’t have too many to work with, and that I had never done case interviews before. By doing multiple cases and questions, and then revisiting them, I was able to learn more about how to tackle cases in general- and what made my approach unique.

One mistake I made in my first round that I hope you don’t - I conveniently ignored the advice about practicing out loud because I thought to myself - how much difference can it really make to work out a case on paper as opposed to working it out verbally? I was wrong. While I did pass the first round, I struggled with the awkwardness of having to work out my cases out loud, and I definitely worked on this for my second round!

So, you ask - were these programmes really worth it? Yes, I think so! It’s not that they provide you with some magical revelatory information, a formula that you can just apply and - BAM! You’re hired at McKinsey. No, you still have to work at them. Rather, they provide you with a WAY to work that makes the most sense, and provide some practical tips and tricks that are especially useful to those working under time pressure.

Whether you’ve done multiple cases before, or not even one, I encourage you to give the case interview programme a try. I really liked the fact that it eliminated the need for me to have to memorise a lot of useless information, and actually helped me to figure out how to craft my own approach to cases."

Additional resources 

Candidates from the best universities around the world use our McKinsey Case Interview Training ProgrammeFree McKinsey Case Interview PrepMcKinsey PST Training ProgrammeFree McKinsey PSTBCG Potential Test Training Programme and Free BCG Potential Test. Some races are worth the extra effort - let's get started!

Roshni & The IGotAnOffer team

Photo: Unsplash