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Dear Kim

Thanks for your website, it’s extremely interesting.

I met with one of the MC firms a couple weeks ago, almost not prepared but with what I read / watched here.

I received very positive feedback in general, but on the cases …

…While the approach seemed the right one, they explicitly mentioned that (on top of being a bit hasty in jumping to the solution), I too often took a “junior approach” compared to what they expected from my level.

Having 10+ years experience, mainly in business IT consulting, I am applying for a senior position. Browsing your website again, I could not find material which would help me practicing on the cases from an experienced level perspective (eg: engagement management, “lead” the case resolution rather than “executing” the resolution).

Would you have any suggestion on how to progress in that space before my next rounds?

My Reply

Hi Nicolas,

Thank you for your trust in using our materials. Phew … this is such a difficult question but let me tackle it as best as I can.

First of all, regarding “case approach”, there’s no junior vs. senior. It’s just right vs. wrong and appropriate vs inappropriate. Going into case interviews, candidates are supposed to tackle cases mainly from the engagement manager’s perspective. There’s no such thing as “since he is going to be an analyst, he is allowed to do it more like a junior than others”. I am sure that every management consultant in the world would share this view with me. This is why your question surprised me a little bit.

Why did you get that feedback from your interviewer?

 

I didn’t directly talk to your interviewer so there are so many possibilities of what could’ve happened. But my hypothesis is this:

What your interviewer was really saying was: your “business intuition” is at a junior level compared to the expectation.

If you watch several of my Youtube videos, you would know that I divided the case interview into 3 equal aspects: Consulting MathTips & Techniques, and Business intuition. For a basketball player, “Tips & Techniques” may be equivalent to dribbling skill, shooting skill, passing skill, etc. while “Business intuition” may be equivalent to athletic ability, body strength, or basketball IQ.

In a case interview, having a “junior” business intuition may cause you to:

  • Speak in a less professional and consulting-like language. And I am not talking about those cliché consulting jargon words where every other resource over-estimates their importance. I’m talking about those content terminologies that real consultants and experienced strategists use in their daily working environment, both verbal and written. I’ve put together a very nice list of those, check it out!
  • Use an over-simplified issue tree or framework (but please be careful not to use those over-complicated ones, too). To fix this, refer to our framework / issue tree resources.
  • Not effectively coming up with realistic hypotheses and only going for those often found in textbooks or schools’ case studies.
  • Not creatively proposing realistic and diversified solutions for identified root cause problems.
  • Millions of other symptoms …

Well, the best way to improve business intuition is from real experience over a period of time, but in your case, you need to get ready for the next round soon. I would recommend you to refer to the two links above for 2 simple quick-wins. Also, spend a significant amount of  time reading materials on the Big 3 websites:

This is a good way to surround yourself with deep and senior consulting content and materials. If you do that every day, your business intuition will improve a great deal.

In our Case Interview E2E program, we devote a big portion to business intuition. You may check that out as well. But if you just follow my above instructions, you will be just fine too, assuming my hypothesis is true!

I hope this answers your question!

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If you want to find out more about the McKinsey working culture, see also Breaking Into The Unconsciousness of a Case Interviewer. If you are interested in joining management consulting, see our Case Interview and McKinsey PST article today!

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