Management Consulting 101 Breaking Into The Unconsciousness of Case Interview

You may ever wonder about how interviewers think in case interview, what factors they use to access you. If you have passed the Psychology 101 course, you might be aware that what people think is often shaped by the environment. The same situation happens with interviewers. Let's break into the unconsciousness of Case Interview.

What is inside the interviewer's brain?

Consultants in McKinsey are influenced by its own culture; BCG consultants possess their unique culture. However, management consulting culture stays well-defined, consistent, and identical across organizations which is also the unconsciousness of Case Interview. By completely possessing the characteristics below, you might break into the unconsciousness of Case Interview & gain 1st great impression from the interviewer without consciousness.

The consulting industry has put responsibility into a new level, in which you are not only taking care of your job but you should be ready to solve any problems going beyond your scope of work. Literally, you treat your job like your baby and you “own” it rather than just be responsible for it.

No excuse is accepted in consulting world. You have smart enough to find a solution to your problem. For example, instead of blaming the Internet’s hotel that shut down your work, you should go to other hotels and spend the whole night there.

In McKinsey, people believe that nothing they can’t do. When the boss gives you the task, they care little/no how much resources you use, how you are going to do this. But in the end, you need to pull it off.

Look at two examples below, which do you think top-down communication?

No 1.

Hey Honey, the weather has been bad for months with all sort of rain/snow/fog. It’s finally getting nice now. Honey it is too good to see the sun today. You have been working hard. Well I’m not saying it is bad but sometimes there is something more to it. Honey I would love if you take some time and go outside

No 2.

Hey dude, get out and exercise! It’s nice outside and I see you haven’t take care of your body well lately!

No.2 represents for a short and sharp communication, which often sees in conversations among consulting firms.

If you have no idea what MECE is, click to see our youtube video devoted to explaining MECE and its application in both case interview and daily context.

In short, MECE is a standard for structure and breaking down ideas and plays an important role in the consulting industry. This is a must-understand terminology in order to know the unconsciousness of Case Interview.

One of the words you hear frequently in consulting is structure. For certain circumstances, structure means organized, sometimes logical or MECE.  It is hard to define what structure exactly is, in the end it must be something that is consulting-worthy.

A consulting firm always works like a great machine, in which every part delivers perfectly on time. Whenever you work for, you should follow their deadline requirement; however, the seriousness of deadline in consulting firms is sky-high! I really enjoy the deadline spirit in McKinsey: if someone makes a promise for a deadline, he or she will certainly meet the deadline. This helps the management easier. But not every client will bear in mind strict rules of deadline like you; it will depend on the characteristics of project and who your client is,…

For disclaimer: You may notice that I often mention about MECE or structure and wonder why the way I name each # is not MECE enough. The reason behind is that I want to cover all of the aspects and hope you will not miss any single important piece of information.

Though working as a beginner consultant, you are left with a many things to care about: from the resources to key stakeholders. All in all, successfully managing all creates a shortcut to your objective.

There are three things you should bear in mind:

  1. Always treat your client with full respect
  2. Make the workflow: make clients’ team members collaborate and do certain tasks for you.
  3. Keep a good picture of the firm you are representing

Whatever you say, or whatever you intend to ask, it should include implications. For example, giving a statement means that you should clearly know how to support your claim with evidence and proofs.

If I make a statement: “People subscribed to Management Consulting Prep have a better chance getting an offer than those who do not,” I should equip myself with data, numbers or testimonial to back-up my claim and persuade others.

This is a vital skill to seperate great performers from bad ones. You can apply 80-20 principle in dealing with your time and resources.

Everything has a key take-away. If you tell a story, people as you “so what?”. If you draw a slide, they wonder “where is the key message?”. Or if you present data, what is your key take-away. This principle is nearly similar to fact-based. In case you own these 2 notes, you are acting as a real consultant.

It is necessary to make you questions clear as possible. Your boss is not willing to answer the question like “Hello boss, how do i break down this problem?”. Instead, you should give him a hint that you have done a little research and think about it before asking for his advice “Hello boss, how do I break down this problem. Does external and internal framework sound great to you?”

From the beginning, it is advised that you should align the overall direction. If not, roaming about unrelated things in meeting will cause annoyance to your listeners. Every consultant has installed this skill into their skill set. What are you waiting for?

The consulting culture is action-oriented. No phone calls, no meeting, no random catch-ups will be closed without people explicitly knowing what to do next.

Have you got the unconsciousness of Case Interview? So what is your next step after reading this article? Comment below!


If you want to find out more about the life of a McKinsey consultant, see also Day in The Life of A Consultant.​ If you are interested in joining management consulting, see our Case Interview and McKinsey PST article today!


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Who wrote this piece? The content is good but there are so many language mistakes!

Admin MCP

Hi Kiwi, thank you for your valuable feedbacks. Sorry for causing you this inconvenience, our team would address the language error immediately! Hope this doesn’t affect your experience with us here at MCP.