CQ_Consultalks | Chinmay Singh | Mckinsey & Company

Chinmay Singh
Placed at McKinsey & Company

Interviewed By: Sadhvika



Hello Chinmay! This is Sadhvika from Communiqué. Congratulations on being placed at McKinsey & Company. Shall we begin our discussion?

Thank you Sadhvika! Yeah sure, let’s have a discussion. Please go ahead.

What was the general interview process for the companies you interviewed? Please mention the number of rounds and the nature of the interview process.

This placement season I interviewed with two companies one of them was BCG and the other was McKinsey.The process started with CV shortlisting. Both of them required you to submit a one-page CV and this time the submission of cover letters were waived-off. After CV submission, they shortlisted several of us for the further rounds. I don’t remember the exact number but I guess the shortlist was about 25–26 for BCG and for McKinsey it was about 14. After the shortlist there comes the buddy round. For BCG, the buddy round went around for a week, similarly, for McKinsey, it went about for a week and a half. The buddy rounds are supposed to be non-evaluative. I don’t think they actually were non-evaluative for BCG. But for McKinsey, they were certainly non-evaluative. In the buddy round, you are assigned a buddy from the company itself and you have to practice case interviews and other components of the interviews with these buddies. They help you with sort of a mock interview and give you feedback to improve your preparation for the final day. So after the buddy round which lasts for a week and a half, I did not make it to the next shortlist at BCG, though I received very constructive reviews after the practice cases. For McKinsey, there was a written test which was kind of an online game called “problem-solving test”. It was kind of a situational test in the form of a game which was to judge your problem-solving skills. This test was non-eliminative. After this test there were interviews. The interviews were spread across two days, on the first day I had a couple of interviews and the second day I had three interviews with the partners. So that was the whole process.

Could you please list down questions were you asked in the different rounds? Puzzles, technical questions, any other discussion in general that you think will prove to be helpful for students.

So there are two days for the first day you usually interview with engagement managers or senior associates. On the first day, the interviews were mainly focused on case interviews and there was also a part called personal experience interview which is HR type questions and on the experience listed in your CV. They try to question how your prior experience links to the job you’re applying for and how are you a good fit, They might also ask certain questions which would be completely HR sort of questions like mention a scenario in which you got out of an argument using logic or when you lead a team or that typical kind of HR questions. So after these personal experience interview questions, they jump onto the case. The case is like the usual case interviews that we can find for any consulting company and the time limit for that is about 20 to 25 minutes and the time limit is a bit strict. My role specifically was Business Analyst(McKinsey digital) so this is a new program they opened for the first time to KGP students. This position is aligned with the digital vertical of Mckinsey. So there was a slight part of Data Analytics in my first two interviews, it was not anything too fundamental just simple data interpretation and deriving certain results out of those data by observing patterns. The rest of this interview was the usual case interviews and it went on for about 40–45 minutes each in total. The interviewers were very friendly and they make sure that you are at ease when you are interviewing with them. So that’s about the first day. On the second day, however, I had to interview with the partners. I had three interviews that day. The first one went about an hour and a half, the second one was about half-an-hour and the third was about for 20 minutes. So in the first interview major part was about personal experience and questions, basically trying to justify your CV and all of the things you have done previously and why do you want to join McKinsey and start a career in consulting. They try to bring out whatever good skills you have. So my experience was majorly in Data Analytics and Natural Language Processing. They tried asking me questions about it and asked me in-depth about projects and in general about this field. So as to just to judge how much dedication I have shown in the work that I did. They just want you to be really good at something. So they try to judge you if you had done what you had done with your utmost effort. Then came the case interview, with the partners the case interview was not the usual one in which you ask questions and they answer and it goes on, in my case they just gave me some information and when I tried to ask more preliminary questions they just told me to work on the information that I had. So they want to check your basic thinking skills and logic and it can be solved with a very fundamental kind of an approach. There’s nothing sci-fi that you need to know. They just asked me elementary questions. My questions with partners had some components of Data Analytics for the first two partners and for the third partner it was completely a business strategy case. There was no Data involved in that and they don’t ask the cases as usual ones like the beginning to the end, they just give you a problem statement expect you to explain your way through solving them. With the partners how it went was they gave me some information and asked a very pointed question and you just need to answer the question that they asked and in the process show that your thinking skills are well developed and you can think very logically and you can convey what you think in a very clear manner, that’s what they focused on. They didn’t ask me any puzzles in any of my interviews. Solving the case interview was much like a team effort with the interviewer and you both are involved equally. So you need to think out loud about all of your approaches and to run it by him if you are going wrong at any point. They wanted to be really concise and speak only things that really do matter.

What are some of the FAQs in most companies that you faced and think students must definitely prepare for? More specifically, in the context of HR rounds.

By my personal experience I know that some people prepare generic questions and also you will find some of the generic questions like in HR kind of questions that are asked in consulting interviews in many of the major books. You can think about the pointers as to what you would speak about the thing when the question is posed to you. But I didn’t specifically prepare any of the answers, I just tried to be truthful in my answers and they can judge you if you are being truthful or you are just giving fundas. You need to justify your motivation to join consulting and why do you think this sort of a career would be for you because it’s kind of a non-usual job. Besides that, you need to show your leadership skills. One of the things I like to suggest is to work on communicating your thoughts clearly. Some people can think very logically but they can’t convey their thoughts clearly. Another thing is to keep smiling because it maintains good air with your interviewer.

What are the things students sitting for placements next year can do from now until December to maximize their chances of getting through a company in this sector?

I think the usual way for approaching consulting interviews is that you form a case group so the case group is a bunch of people who are interested in appearing for similar interviews as you are and you can practice a bunch of cases, you can observe others solving cases. So in that way you can learn from whatever mistakes they are making, you can replay what mistakes you do and get feedback from others. You can also read some of the books that are present, there are a bunch of good books on the topic you can refer to, you can solve guesstimates and some puzzles, just to get better thinking, to get your thoughts straight in an organised fashion.

How did your preparation for technical rounds evolve once you were shortlisted?

So I didn’t do much preparation for consulting interview. After the shortlists were released, I asked for help a few of my peers as well as my seniors who had experience in interviews of such companies. I just did a few cases with them and got their feedback and I used their feedback to improve on whatever mistakes I’ve been doing. So that was very vital in improving my preparation. Also, the first company which I had appeared for which was BCG. I got very constructive and good feedback from all of the interviews that I gave. I tried to inculcate all of the suggestions they gave to me and improved on my approach. That’s basically all that I did.

Anything else that you’d want to share with the students?

o what I want to share is that I think there isn’t something very difficult when it comes to cracking such interviews, all you have to do is to be calm and composed and to organize your thoughts. Some practising with your peers and seniors will surely help but I would suggest not to aim to do all the cases because if you do too much you tend to overthink on usual things and connect them to a certain case that you had done. I would suggest everyone focus on their communication skills as well as solve simple problems and find logic in usual things, just keeping everything first principle. Just go with a clear mind and basic logic. I think that’s enough.

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