Your McKinsey Journey: How to Get a Job and Flourish

Unlock the door to McKinsey's success with our proven strategies for landing your dream job at this prestigious consulting firm.

Founded in 1926 by University of Chicago professor and management accountant James O McKinsey, McKinsey & Company is one of the world’s largest consulting firms. They have made their presence felt across diverse sectors such as finance, healthcare, energy, and more. 

McKinsey is one of the most sought-after consulting jobs, as it guarantees job security, various benefits, and a reasonable salary. In addition to hiring some of the most promising talent, McKinsey invests heavily in their personal and professional development. 

However, if you have your sights set on the largest of the Big Three consulting firms, the first thing you need to do is ensure you get invited to an interview. According to a recent study, the firm accepts only 2,000 out of 200,000 applications. If you have the necessary skills and experience, this should not be a deterrent.

While a firm with this level of prestige is naturally selective when assessing its candidates, McKinsey is more than attainable with the right preparation and mindset.

Here, I will unravel some probing questions you may have, like the following:

  • Careers available with McKinsey
  • Job Requirements
  • Factors to consider before applying
  • Application Process
  • Interview and hiring process
  • What McKinsey values in its candidates 
  • Probability of actually getting hired

McKinsey Career Opportunities

Associate or Business Analyst

If you enjoy engaging with clients directly and assisting them with solution-oriented strategies to help their business flourish, then a business analyst is the right fit. There is no limit to what you could be doing, from analyzing the losses of an international corporation to strategizing about how to combat climate change.

Associate or Engagement Manager

Experienced professionals or those with advanced degrees will tackle problems and manage teams. You will gain unmatched exposure to a wide range of industries.

Research & Analytics Team

McKinsey offers a unique opportunity for academics to combine consulting with research. McKinsey’s Research & Analytics team relies on your expertise to develop industry insights and proprietary information, forming the basis for their consulting services.

Digital and Operations Team

This team breathes new life into the concepts by bringing their ideas to fruition.

Are you interested in technological improvement and operational transformations? This is an exciting area for those who are.

Leadership Roles

McKinsey’s leadership positions – such as Partner and Senior Partner – are where seasoned consultants dream to be – leading McKinsey’s tireless efforts to transform the global economy.

With a ‘grow-your-own’ approach, McKinsey invests in developing their people from entry-level to career advancement.

Requirements for Getting a Job at McKinsey

  1. Academic Excellence – Hires from top-tier universities with a high GPA.  Harvard graduate with a 3.8 GPA in Economics, just to name one.

  2. Relevant Professional Background/ Experience – Prefer leadership, initiative, and impact. Worked as a project manager for a Fortune 500 company or interned at a well-reputed consulting firm – optimal.
  1. Analytical Skills – Ability to handle quantitative data and leverage it for strategic decisions. Great example: Pivotal role in changing business strategy underpinned by detailed data analysis in your previous role.
  1. Exceptional Interpersonal Skills – Excellent team player and communicating with clients.  Team lead in your previous job or have experience managing client relationships will be impressive.

McKinsey seeks more than grades and elite schools. They value diverse experiences, achievements, and a passion for learning. You could be the unique candidate they’re looking for!

Factors to Consider Before Applying to McKinsey

High Expectations and Demand of the Job

As a high-performing company, McKinsey expects a lot from its employees. Are you prepared to deliver your best under such pressure? For example, you must work under strict deadlines to resolve some of the most complex business problems.

Company Culture and Values

Several of McKinsey’s core values define the firm. Among them is to “put the client’s interests first.” This often means going the extra mile to ensure the client’s needs are met. Can you align with their values? Would you thrive in this environment?

Potential Travel and Relocation

Having a career at McKinsey often means you’ll need to travel extensively or relocate, which can be either a benefit or a challenge, depending on your circumstances. Determine if you’re ready and able to handle this lifestyle. Imagine being assigned to a project in another city or country at short notice and consider your lifestyle.

McKinsey Application Preparation

Research McKinsey Thoroughly

When you have a solid understanding of McKinsey’s values, history, key clients, and sectoral interests, you can tailor your application and interview response accordingly.

Gain this knowledge from McKinsey’s published materials, website, relevant news articles, and social media platforms. I cannot emphasize this step enough!

Understand the Job Roles’ Requirements and Responsibilities

The job descriptions for McKensey are quite detailed and descriptive. Therefore, analyze them and highlight your relevant offerings accordingly. 


Network like crazy, and I do mean like crazy! Bending the ear of a former McKinsey employee could provide valuable information for securing a career with them. Attend their networking events and connect with McKinsey contacts on sites like LinkedIn. To learn about networking, see Get Connected, Get Growing: Professional Networking Defined.

Essential Elements in Your McKinsey Job Application

  • Describe your academic and professional journey in your resume. If you have an excellent GPA, showcase that prominently on your resume, making it easily visible.
  • Highlight your extensive experiences, internships, and notable projects. McKinsey values diverse experiences. Integrate past work, internships, and notable projects into your story, emphasizing leadership or pivotal roles.

  • Go beyond listing software or tools you are proficient with. The essential skills McKinsey seeks in potential consultants are leadership, problem-solving, and teamwork.
  • Let your cover letter tell your story. It should not be a duplicate of your resume. In your cover letter, explain why you are interested in McKinsey and desire a career in management consulting. Communicate your enthusiasm and commitment to the industry.

Crafting a compelling narrative about who you are will increase your chances of catching the eye of McKinsey’s meticulous recruiters.

McKinsey Interview and Hiring Process

McKinsey Problem-Solving Test (PST)

The initial challenge is a business-oriented multiple-choice test assessing data understanding, analytical, and math skills. Stay composed, time-manage, and be precise; e.g., analyze a product’s Q3 sales decline from provided data.

Personal Experience Interview (PEI)

At this stage, they want to know you personally. What do I mean? Well, for instance, the interviewer may ask you to explain a time when you led a team through a difficult situation. What was your impact? 

Case Study Interview

A simulated business problem will be presented for you to resolve. Your problem-solving skills are being surfaced in this scenario. For example, you may be asked what solutions you would provide to help a utility company figure out why its profits have decreased in the past year and what it can do to reverse this trend.

  • It’s important to mention that McKinsey favors an interviewer-led approach in their case interviews. In this style, the interviewer takes the lead in directing the case discussion, poses specific questions to you, and anticipates your requests for necessary information.
  • To maximize your chances of success, it is essential to be candid, contemplative, and thoroughly prepared. Engage in case practice sessions with a partner, communicate your thoughts clearly and coherently, and be prepared to support your responses with sound and logical reasoning.

Tips for Success in McKinsey Interviews

  • Familiarization

Fully comprehend what each stage of the interview is asking of you. For example, you must demonstrate good analytical and decision-making skills in the Problem-Solving Test (PST). To get a sense of the type and level of questions that will be asked on the PST, take online practice tests that examine your ability to solve business problems.

  • Authenticity

In your interview, the interviewer is interested in hearing about real-life situations in which you have demonstrated leadership, had an entrepreneurial spirit, solved complex problems, or impacted others. Be open and truthful, and select your career and life experiences strategically to showcase your strengths.

  • Familiarize Yourself with Standard Frameworks and Processes for Problem Solving

When participating in a case interview, familiarize yourself with standard frameworks and methodologies for breaking down such problems and practice with another person. Porter’s Five Forces framework is a good way to analyze the market structure if you are trying to increase a product’s market share.

  • Be Flexible and Adapt Quickly

Be flexible and supportive when the interviewer asks you about the business operations during the middle of your discussion about the marketing strategy of the firm.

  • Remain Calm and Composed Under Pressure

It matters most that you demonstrate humility and respect towards your interviewer and a systematic approach to problem-solving.

For examples of interview questions asked, see Cracking the Interview: Questions at McKinsey.

What McKinsey Looks For in Candidates

  1. Leadership Potential

Highlight leadership skills through successful project direction, ensuring completion and positive organizational impact, and demonstrating effective management and inspiration.

  1. Problem-Solving Skills

Solving complex problems for business is the core of McKensay’s expertise. In this regard, provide examples of past situations where you have had to analyze a challenge and develop innovative solutions.

  1. Entrepreneurial Drive

This measure assesses your capacity for risk-taking, innovation, and starting something new, like a business or project, even a small one like a fundraising event or college club, to demonstrate your ability to create, implement, and manage projects.

  1. Potential for Personal Impact

Essentially, they are looking at your interpersonal skills and how you have demonstrated the ability to achieve your goals. To be considered, you must have made an impact that is compelling and measurable on an organization, a community, or an individual. Share those experiences that left lasting positive impressions.

Probability of Getting a Job at McKinsey

Approximately 2,200 out of 200,000 applications received by McKinsey are hired, according to former managing director Dominic Barton. In other words, anyone applying to the firm only has a 1% chance of getting hired.

Impossible, you may say – not! It is important to note that the process is competitive. It is not meant to scare you but to make you aware and ready to compete at your best. 

Embrace the journey, stay resilient, and remember the bigger picture. A journey towards McKinsey is not just an attempt to secure a job – it’s a route towards personal and professional growth. 

Best of Luck!

Securing a position at McKinsey is a remarkable opportunity for those seeking a dynamic and challenging career in consulting. With a strong focus on problem-solving, innovation, and teamwork, McKinsey offers an exciting path for personal development and impact. 

By honing your skills, showcasing your passion, and effectively networking, you can increase your chances of joining this prestigious firm and embarking on endless possibilities. So, gear up, stay determined, and strive for excellence as you pursue your career at McKinsey.

Next Steps

I want to reassure you that taking the time to assess your career goals and skill set is a critical step towards a successful application to prominent companies like McKinsey. 

With our tailor-made, hands-on approach, our career coaches can help you highlight your abilities, navigate the job application process, and land at your dream company. We believe in your potential; let’s make the most out of your career journey together!

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