In this article, I’ve compiled the seven most common reasons why people choose consulting, three reasons why people choose McKinsey over other MBB (Big 3) firms, and how to answer the likes of “Why do you want to join us” interview questions.
Why McKinsey and management consulting?
No.1: Any background can get you into McKinsey and management consulting
McKinsey or any management consulting firms will hire candidates from every academic discipline and background – so long as they meet three key criteria – leadership, achieving, and analytical problem-solving. Successful wannabe-consultants will receive all the training they need to do the job.
Although numerate degrees like Maths, Statistics, and Finance do give you an advantage as they sharpen analytical problem-solving skills, you don’t need a degree to master this skill. With enough practice, using great materials – such as my Ultimate Management Consulting Program, anyone can make it to top consulting firms!
No.2: Glamorous lifestyle, high income
Life-style wise, while travel schedules and destinations vary depending on client industry, work scope, job titles etc, the company will ensure the highest-standard travel experiences possible for its human assets. Consultants will always stay in the nicest five-star hotels, own the most elite membership cards, access to premium gyms and pools, you name it.
No.3: A mountain of support of all kinds to take advantage of
Here’s a few examples from my McKinsey experience. No time to finalize PowerPoint designs? There’s an entire function of specialized designers to call on. Cannot afford an hour to figure out complex Excel models? Outsource it to the company’s pool of Excel experts. Need industry experts’ advice on your client’s case? Look up McKinsey’s network and help will come in two minutes.
Bottom line is, consulting firms want consultants to focus on the big content, and utilize all time-saving support they can get to take care of the rest. This is because profit-generating time outweighs all extra costs.
No.4: Reasonable work/life balance
Compare that with investment banking (known for its 100hrs/week), or the “crunch culture” of video gaming industries (average at 120hrs/week), consulting work/life balance is much more reasonable.
No.5: Fast, high-level, and well-rounded personal development
When I first got into McKinsey, I was constantly pushed to learn bunches of new things and develop new skills in a short amount of time.
I also interviewed a Vice President, trained dozens of people much older than I am, and presented to CEOs, which trained me to become a charismatic, attractive, and accountable professional.
No.6: Flexible exit options
Consultants work on projects spanning all kinds of functions and industries, giving them the transferable skills suitable for many industries and roles, and most importantly, the network that help them get into those roles later on. Industry pmckrestige also means that it’s easier for consultants to directly enter many C-level roles. This is especially true for McKinsey alumni, who went on to run the biggest companies in the world. That said, the most common consulting exit routes are:
Best Consulting Firms by Exit Opportunities (US 2020)*
McKinsey & Company
Boston Consulting Group
ClearView Healthcare Partners
Bain & Company
The Bridgespan Group
Deloitte Consulting LLP
The Chartis Group
Insight Sourcing Group
GE Healthcare Partners
Simon-Kucher & Partners
The Keystone Group
Analysis Group, Inc.
No.7: A relatively short preparation period needed
For example, to work in entry level roles in Investment Banking or Hedge funds, most people I knew typically started preparing from their first year of a Finance bachelor’s degree from top schools. That means it’ll take them 4 years to start working. Without a degree, you’ll need inside connections for a chance to prove you can do the job – which is much easier for those in schools.
By contrast, consulting average prep time is much shorter – two months to one year – that includes building connections, preparing consulting resumes, study for consulting tests, and practicing consulting case interviews. In general, consulting is much more open-armed (easy in, easy out) and less selective.
Why McKinsey over MBBs (Big 3)?
No.8: Slightly more prestigious
Why is McKinsey so prestigious, then? Short answer- they have the best people, do highest-quality work, tackle the most impactful projects, and maintain strong relationships with the C-Suite of major corporations (which gives them high influence over project decision-making).
No.9: Slightly brighter people
If you’re still in doubt, Victor Cheng also got three offers from the Big 3, and look where he opted for.
No.10: Has more offices and practices
Compared to MBB firms, McKinsey also leads the pack when it comes to the number of practices (the total number of industries plus functions).
Why McKinsey – Interview question
No.1: “Why McKinsey” – Interview question strategy
What they do care about is HOW you deliver them. Hence, the key is to implicitly show off qualifications and consulting traits, i.e: structured, fact-based, achieving (strong will to succeed).
The steps below might give you some suggestions on how to best structure your own answer version of the “Why McKinsey?” interview question.
No.2: Steps to approach “Why McKinsey” interview question
Step 2: Personalize them. The ideas above are my personal insights. You’re welcome to use them, but do modify in such a way that they highlight your character. That said, only choose the insights that resonate the most with you. That way, your answer will also sound more sincere.
Step 3: Structure them. The most important thing is to show interviewers you’re structured and MECE. If a McKinsey interviewer were to ask me a question along the lines of “Why do you want to join us?”, I would answer them the order of two parts – (1)”Why Consulting” and (2)“Why McKinsey”. For each part, I will give three among the insights above.
Step 4: Collect strong data to backup each argument. Every sentence of your answer must be backed by strong evidence. For example, if you were to say “I’d like to work for McKinsey because of the more diverse practices I get to explore”, make sure to clarify which benchmark you’re using, and list out the additional practices McKinsey has that you’re interested in.
Management consulting is an industry providing expensive and professional advice to organizations to improve their overall performance, through better “management”, which includes strategy, governance, operation, organization, finance, and marketing. The three most prestigious management consulting firms are McKinsey, BCG, and Bain (the Big Three).