Your Complete Guide to McKinsey Implementation Interviews

If you’re interviewing for the McKinsey Implementation Group, your interviews will consist of case interviews, personal experience interviews (PEIs), and other fit interview questions.

 

Typically, there are three rounds of interviews that candidates go through before receiving a McKinsey Implementation Group job offer.

  • First round: One 30- to 45-minute interview with a recruiter. Interview questions will be focused on your resume and behavioral or fit interview questions.

 

  • Second round: Two 60-minute interviews with consultants. These interviews consist of case interviews and personal experience interviews.

 

  • Third round: Two to three 60-minute interviews with more senior consultants and partners. These interviews consist of case interviews and personal experience interviews.

 

The interview process for the McKinsey Implementation Group is quite similar to that for McKinsey’s generalist consultants. The main distinction is that case interviews for the McKinsey Implementation Group may be more focused on execution, implementation, marketing, sales, or operations.

 

If you have an upcoming interview with the McKinsey Implementation Group, we have you covered. In this comprehensive article, we’ll cover:

  • The 7 steps to solve any McKinsey Implementation case interview

 

  • McKinsey Implementation case interview examples

 

  • How to ace the McKinsey Personal Experience Interview (PEI)

 

  • How to answer other common McKinsey Implementation Group fit questions

 

  • Recommended resources to prepare for your McKinsey Implementation interview

 

The 7 Steps to Solve any McKinsey Implementation Case Interview

 

Case interviews are a special type of interview that every single consulting firm uses. A case interview, also known as a “case” for short, is a 30 to 45-minute exercise in which you and the interviewer work together to develop a recommendation or answer to a business problem.

 

The McKinsey Implementation Group uses case interviews because it is the best way for them to predict which candidates will make the best consultants. Since case interviews simulate the consulting job by placing you in a hypothetical business situation, interviewers use case interviews to see how you would perform as a hypothetical consultant.

 

Although you cannot predict the exact case interview question or business situation you’ll be given, almost all case interviews follow a similar structure or flow. Therefore, you can follow these seven steps to solve any McKinsey Implementation Group case interview.

 

1. Understand the case background information

 

The case interview will start with the interviewer explaining the case background information. Make sure that you are taking notes while the interviewer is speaking. You’ll want to focus specifically on understanding the context, the company, and the objective of the case.

 

The most important part of the case interview is to make sure you understand the business issue and objective of the case. Addressing the wrong business problem is the quickest way to fail a case interview.

 

2. Ask clarifying questions

 

Once the interviewer has finished giving you the case information, you’ll have an opportunity to ask questions. 

 

While you can ask any question that you want, try to prioritize asking questions that help you better understand the situation and problem. You want to avoid asking questions that are too specific or not relevant to understanding the case situation. 

 

Most candidates ask between one to three questions. You’ll be able to ask more questions later in the case interview if you need to.

 

3. Summarize the information and verify the objective

 

Once you have finished asking your immediate questions, summarize all of the major case information and verify that you understand the objective correctly.

 

In this step, many candidates make the mistake of stating every fact of the case verbatim. Instead, you should summarize the case concisely and clearly in your own words. This demonstrates that you can synthesize information effectively.

 

4. Develop a framework

 

The next step is to structure a framework to help guide you through the case.

 

A case interview framework is a tool that helps you structure and break down a complex problem into simpler, smaller components. Think of a framework as brainstorming different ideas and organizing them into different categories.

 

To develop a framework, ask yourself what are the three to four major questions that you need to answer in order to make a confident recommendation?

 

Many candidates make the mistake of using memorized frameworks and applying them to their case interviews. Interviewers can tell when you are using a memorized framework because not all of the elements of the framework will be relevant to the case.

 

Using a memorized framework reflects poorly on your capabilities because it shows that you cannot think critically for yourself. Therefore, practice creating unique and tailored frameworks for each case that you get.

 

To learn more on how to create outstanding frameworks, check out our comprehensive case interview framework guide.

 

When creating your framework, it is acceptable to ask the interviewer for a few minutes of silence to collect your thoughts. Afterwards, present your framework to the interviewer.

 

5. Kick off the case

 

Once you have finished presenting your framework, the interviewer may agree with your approach or may provide some feedback or suggestions. Afterwards, it is time to start solving the case.

 

McKinsey Implementation Group case interviews are all interviewer-led cases. In this type of case, the interviewer will be leading the direction of the case. They will be asking you specific questions that you will answer. After each question, they’ll direct you to the next question. 

 

The interviewer will typically kick off the case by asking you a question after you finish presenting your framework.

 

6. Answer quantitative and qualitative questions

 

The majority of the interview will be spent answering a mix of quantitative and qualitative questions.

 

Quantitative questions may have you estimate the size of a particular market, perform some calculations to determine profitability, or interpret various charts and graphs.

 

When solving quantitative problems, make sure that you walk the interviewer through your approach before you begin doing any math. When performing calculations, make sure to talk through your steps out loud so that it is easy for the interviewer to follow your work.

 

Qualitative questions may ask you to brainstorm potential ideas or ask for your judgment on an open-ended business question. When answering these questions, try to structure your answer as much as possible.

 

After answering each question, make sure that you take your answer and connect it back to the overall case objective. How does your answer help you solve the case? How does your answer impact your potential recommendation?

 

7. Deliver a recommendation

 

At the end of the case, the interviewer will ask you to prepare an overall recommendation. It is acceptable to ask the interviewer for a minute to look through your notes before you give your recommendation.

 

Based on the quantitative and qualitative questions you have answered, what recommendation do they collectively support?

 

Structure your recommendation in the following way:

  • State your recommendation

 

  • Provide the two to three reasons that support your recommendation

 

  • Propose next steps that you would take if you had more time

 

After you deliver your recommendation, the interviewer will conclude the case interview. If the case interview was based on a real life project, the interviewer may explain what actually happened in the case.

 

Don’t worry if your recommendation does not match what actually happened during the project. For case interviews, you are not assessed on your answer, but on your process.

 

McKinsey Implementation Case Interview Examples

 

Although there are no McKinsey practice case interviews specific for the McKinsey Implementation Group, McKinsey’s generalist cases should give you a great idea of what to expect in your actual interview.

 

There are four official McKinsey practice cases on their website:

 

McKinsey Case #1: Should the Mexican government leverage a chain of convenience stores to deliver basic financial services to inhabitants of rural Mexico?

 


McKinsey Case #2: Should a large pharmaceutical company acquire a smaller startup?

 


McKinsey Case #3: Should a beverage company launch a new sports drink product?

 

McKinsey Case #4: How can an Eastern European country’s Department of Education improve their school system?

 

How to Ace the McKinsey Personal Experience Interview (PEI)

 

The McKinsey Implementation Group also conducts a Personal Experience Interview, or PEI for short. This takes the place of traditional behavioral questions that companies ask in interviews.

 

The interviewer will ask you to give an example or story of a time when you displayed a particular quality, such as leadership, problem solving, personal impact, and resilience.

 

Examples of potential questions include:
 

  • Tell me about a time when you went above and beyond what was required

 

  • Give me an example of a time when you had to persuade someone

 

  • Describe a situation in which you handled conflict while working on a team

 

  • Give me an example of a time when you tried to accomplish something but failed

 

  • Describe a difficult or complicated problem that you faced

 

The interviewer will then ask follow-up questions to probe deeper into your example or story. They will want to know exactly what you did, how you thought about the situation, why you did the things that you did, and what you learned from the situation.

 

The entire McKinsey Personal Experience Interview takes about 10 to 15 minutes to complete.

 

To ace the McKinsey PEI, it’ll be helpful to understand what specific qualities McKinsey looks for in candidates. Fortunately, McKinsey explicitly tells you what qualities they are looking for on their interviewing website.

 

There are four qualities that McKinsey looks for:

  • Personal impact: Working with clients on their toughest issues requires the involvement and support of many individuals. Interacting effectively with people, sometimes in challenging situations, is key to creating positive, enduring change.

 

  • Entrepreneurial drive: Overcoming obstacles and achieving goals requires an innovative mindset, an openness to new approaches, and a continuous quest for learning and growth.

 

  • Inclusive leadership: Harnessing the power of diverse thinking to drive results requires the ability to lead teams of people with different backgrounds and create a sense of belonging where everyone can be at their best.

 

  • Problem solving skills: Helping clients solve tough problems and implement solutions requires strong intellectual abilities and rigor, as well as a practical sense of what works and what does not.

 

To prepare for the McKinsey Personal Experience Interview, you’ll want to develop a list of at least four different stories or examples that cover these four qualities.

 

You should focus on selecting stories that are the most impressive and most impactful.

 

When given the PEI, select the story that is most relevant. You’ll want to tell your story or give your example using the STAR method.

 

Situation: Provide a brief overview of the situation and any context that is needed to understand the story better. Keep this section as concise as possible to make more room for the Action and Result sections, which is where you want to spend most of your time.

 

Task: Describe what you were asked or required to deliver or achieve. Again, try to keep this section concise to spend more time on the Action and Results section.

 

Action: Explain what steps you took to handle the task or to meet the goal or objective. Make sure that the actions center around what you specifically did. Do not focus too much on speaking to what your team did because it takes away from your accomplishment.

 

Result: Describe the outcome that your actions had, quantifying the impact and effect you had on the organization. Additionally, you can describe your key takeaways from this experience and how it impacted or influenced you as a person.

 

This strategy ensures that you give your answer in a clear and structured way. It also ensures that you spend most of the time talking about the specific actions that you took and the impact that you had.

 

How to Answer Other Common McKinsey Implementation Group Fit Questions

 

In addition to the McKinsey Personal Experience Interview, you’ll likely also get asked either the “why consulting?” or “why McKinsey?” question. Here’s how you should answer these questions.

 

Answering the “Why Consulting?” question

 

You’ll likely be asked why you are interested in consulting at some point during your interview. This question is asked to gauge if you are genuinely passionate and interested in a career in consulting as the job lifestyle is a tough one.

 

There are many reasons you can give for why you are interested in consulting:

  • You want to make a significant impact by working with billion-dollar companies on their most challenging business problems

 

  • You enjoy solving business problems across multiple different industries and functions

 

  • You see consulting as the quickest way to develop the skills to be a business executive

 

  • You enjoy working closely with teams on tough, challenging business problems

 

  • You value the mentorship and personal development that consulting provides

 

  • You find fulfillment in working with and servicing clients

 

  • You are excited to travel around the world for work

 

Select three compelling reasons why you are interested in consulting.

 

You can use the following simple, but effective structure while answering the “why consulting” question:

  • State that consulting is your top career choice

 

  • Provide three reasons to support this

 

  • Reiterate that consulting best fits your professional needs and goals

 

Answering the “Why McKinsey?” question

 

In addition to being asked why you are interested in consulting, one of your interviewers may also ask why you are interested in working at McKinsey. To answer this question well, you need to convince your interviewers that McKinsey is your number one choice consulting firm to work at.

 

There are many different reasons you can give:

  • You’ve really loved the people that you’ve met from McKinsey and would enjoy working with them

 

  • McKinsey has an empowering work culture where you would grow and thrive

 

  • McKinsey has deep expertise in a particular industry or function that you are passionate about

 

  • McKinsey has a strong presence in a particular country, which you are interested in working in later in your career

 

  • McKinsey places a heavy investment in mentorship and personal development, which you value tremendously

 

  • McKinsey has a global staffing model and you appreciate the opportunity to work in different countries

 

  • Several of your mentors that you respect and look up to have worked at McKinsey and they have highly recommended working there

 

Again, try to structure your answer in a clear way:

  • State that McKinsey is your top-choice consulting firm

 

  • Provide three reasons to support this

 

  • Reiterate that McKinsey best fits your professional needs and goals

 

Recommended Resources to Prepare for your McKinsey Implementation Interview

 

We hope that you found this article on McKinsey Implementation Group interviews helpful. If you are considering which resources to use in your case interview prep, we recommend the following:

  • One Week Case Interview Course: A comprehensive case interview course that condenses all of the case interview strategies, techniques, and practice you need into a 15 – 25 hour course. Learn through 50+ concise video lessons and 20 full-length practice cases with detailed solutions.

 

  • Hacking the Case Interview: In this book, learn exactly what to do and what to say in every step of the case interview. This is the perfect book for beginners that are looking to learn the basics of case interviews quickly.

 

  • The Ultimate Case Interview Workbook: In this book, hone your case interview skills through 65+ problems tailored towards each type of question asked in case interviews and 15 full-length cases based on real case interviews. This book is great for intermediates looking to get quality practice.