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We produce an extensive list of podcasts, books, videos, slides and other media. This content guide can help you navigate your way through and build your career development plan. It’s helpful to remember that a leader gets things done. Therefore, always think about how to implement your ideas.

We offer 6 services:

  1. Books—use in conjunction with video training programs to quickly grasp core skills.
    1. The Strategy Journal
    2. Succeeding as a Management Consultant
    3. The Strategy Engagement
    4. Marketing Saves the World
    5. Mavis
    6. Turquoise Eyes
  2. Slides—use our curated editable studies, tools, templates, proposals and letters to significantly reduce the time it takes to generate results, lower your costs and improve the quality of your work.
  3. Videos—gain mastery of core concepts to ensure that you solve the problem, implement the solution and bank the benefits.
  4. Coaching—to avoid roadblocks and trial-and-error, you can book 1-on-1 advice sessions in which a partner will evaluate your plan and help you develop a bespoke career strategy and solution. This is subject to availability and your admittance to the program.
  5. Coaching— Eligible to apply for 1-on-1 coaching only if referred by a prior coaching client. We do not accept applications without a referral. These are the longer coaching programs that Andrew, Amrit, Peter, Tatiana, Richard etc., participated in.
  6. Podcasts—Strategy Skills and Case Interviews & Management Consulting are routinely ranked among the top-5 career podcasts in most countries from Singapore, France to India.

While you are excited to learn please remember it is a great privilege being granted the permission – it is not your right – to advise a client on their most pressing issues. Be it external client if you are a consultant or internal clients if you work outside of consulting.

We trust that you understand and respect the great responsibility that comes with the skills you will learn and the access you will have. What you will find below is not a complete list of all our programs. We have far too many. This is simply a categorization of what we offer.

Given we have >6,300 videos, >400 podcast, books and editable slides, please visit the websites to see what is available at this time since we often make changes. Click To Tweet

You can find our video content streamed/available at the following locations:

  1. Apps
    1. StrategyTraining.com (FC Insiders)
      1. Android
      2. iOS
      3. Apple TV
      4. ROKU
    2. StrategyTV.com (Premium Members)
      1. Android
      2. iOS

Strategy, Operations, Implementation, Digital & Leadership

Strategy, Operations and Implementation studies and other advanced consulting and business skills training programs teach consultants and executives the skills of McKinsey, BCG et al partners to solve real business problems. Some programs teach you how to conduct actual studies in real situations while dealing with the messy and political nature of gaining acceptance for your recommendations from colleagues. Other programs focus on soft skills or career development.

Great care is taken to design highly realistic and detailed training programs which recreate a business environment as closely as possible. Each training program we curate takes between 1 to 2 years to plan and produce. Implementation. Building an Innovation Division was developed over 4 years as we mentored Andrew from Senior Manager to Senior Partner at one of the world’s largest professional services firms.

Descriptions of each program can be found on the StrategyTraining.com website.

As stated above, it is best to work through the step-by-step studies and other advanced programs once the core case interview program skills (especially within TCO I, III & II) are mastered, even for members who are not preparing for case interviews. This is important because TCO is designed to help develop foundational skills required to make the most of our more advanced FC programs.

As you progress further through the latest studies you will notice the concepts are more complex. You will need the foundational skills from earlier programs to understand them.

Guide to using the training

Our consulting and business skills training consists of the following sample programs. The full list of programs and episodes that are available can be found on StrategyTraining.com.

All programs teach the skills that McKinsey, BCG et al partners possess.

  1. Business Case Analysis
  2. M&A Strategy Study (The Tech Merger Study)
  3. First 90 Days in Consulting
  4. Market Entry Strategy Study
  5. Corporate Strategy & Transformation Study
  6. Building an Innovation Division
  7. Implementing an Operations Strategy
  8. Rebuilding a Consulting Practice
  9. The Start-Up. In 2 Years
  10. Partnership. Memoir
  11. McKinsey to Private Equity
  12. US/Canada/UK Immigration
  13. Life After Consulting: Daniel’s move from McKinsey to Banking
  14. Corporate Strategy & Transformation Study Partner Guide (iTunes)
  15. Big Data Study Partner Guide
  16. Implementation Study Partner Guide
  17. Turnaround Study Partner Guide
  18. IT & Digital Strategy Study Partner Guide
  19. FC Greatest Clients
  20. The Bill Matassoni Show, Season 1
  21. The Bill Matassoni Show, Season 2 (coming soon)
  22. The Bill Matassoni Show, Season 3 (coming soon)
  23. How to become a McKinsey Partner, 1st Time Revealed by Kevin P. Coyne
  24. How to be Influential & Make an Impact by Kevin P. Coyne
  25. Competitive Strategy by Kevin P. Coyne
  26. Advanced Competitive Strategy by Kevin P. Coyne
  27. Foundations of Problem Solving & Critical Thinking by Kevin P. Coyne
  28. The MasterPlan Program 21 Day Program
  29. Implementing the MasterPlan 21 Day Program
  30. US Immigration Best-Practices 21 Day Program
  31. How to Reboot a Stalled Career 21 Day Program
  32. How to Find Great Mentors 21 Day Program
  33. How to Sell Like a Partner 21 Day Program
  34. How to Develop Big Insights 21 Day Program
  35. Replacing Income with Online Freelance Consulting 21 Day Program
  36. How to Manage a Crisis 21 Day Program
  37. Getting Ahead of the Recession 21 Day Program
  38. How to Find a Job During The Recession 21 Day Program

The studies below will soon be coming to FC Insiders:

  1. Digital & IT FIG Strategy Study
  2. Wealth Management Strategy Study
  3. Operations Strategy Study
  4. Implementation Program
  5. Corporate Restructuring & Turnaround Study
  6. Infrastructure Strategy & Feasibility Study
  7. Market Entry Strategy Study
  8. Sales Force Optimization Strategy Study
  9. Investor Relations Strategy Study
  10. Risk & Pandemic Planning Strategy Study

To gain all the requisite skills of a partner you will need to focus on four areas:

  1. Hard problem-solving skills
  2. Communication skills
  3. The philosophy/values of management consulting
  4. Skills to implement all the above in your career

Implementing the skills is going to be the toughest part. For example, it is one thing to learn about value chain analyses and it is quite another to figure out the following:

  1. When should a value chain analysis be used?
  2. How do I adjust the analysis for my situation?
  3. What data do I need?
  4. How do I find the data?
  5. What must I do if a colleague will not supply the data?
  6. How do I convince peers to use the insights?
  7. How do I accomplish all steps above without alienating my co-workers?

Our training teaches the technical skills, as well as soft skills, and covers these seven steps above. Implementation. Building an Innovation Division, The Start Up, First 90 Days in Consulting with Henri St-Pierre, Rebuilding a Consulting Division and Partnership. Memoir are wholly dedicated to helping you understand how to implement the thinking we teach.

  1. The M&A Strategy Study teaches the basics of problem solving and running a study within a real environment. All studies teach the basics but this study is wholly focused on foundational skills.
  2. Building an Innovation Division shows you how we helped a client use all the skills we teach to implement his own career strategy by helping him rebuild the innovation business at one of the world’s largest professional services firms. This program explains the detailed steps taken to implement the advice offered in all the other programs.
  3. Memoir will take you through the strategy and tactics used by a partner who rose all the way from business analyst to director. This focuses both on the unusual career strategies used and the tactics to implement the career strategy.
  4. Rebuilding a Consulting Practice covers just 12 months in a consultants’ career as they lead the turnaround of a failing strategy practice at one of the firm’s key emerging markets offices.

You can start anywhere you wish, but, assuming you have the time and want to play the long game to build the skills correctly, use the order above.

The Start Up is a big new program. We have admitted clients into our program and will help them build new multi-million-dollar revenue companies. Everything we do, including the templates used, meetings held, funding, e-commerce tools, website templates will be documented so you can replicate our approach.

  1. The 1st business is a digital luxury brands business. You can follow that program on StrategyTraining.com.
  2. The 2nd business is a digital miner. That will also be coming to StrategyTraining.com.
  3. The 3rd business is an electric car company being developed in China.

Titans of Strategy

Titans of Strategy is the marque program we launched in 2017 and it still going. We invited some of the most influential partners in the history of McKinsey, BCG et al to teach you concepts in strategy, leadership, marketing etc., that they have never taught before to a broad audience. If you want to know how a partner thinks through critical issues, and follow this approach, this is the series of programs to watch.

Each program is shot in HD and, in some cases, within some of the most iconic architectural landmarks. Every concept they teach is broken down into multiple steps so you may follow their thinking and ultimately replicate their approach. We hope you like it.


SLIDES is just as the name says. You can now edit, download and use all the advanced slides we have developed for our studies. This will significantly improve your capabilities. It is probably one of the greatest competitive advantages we have offered our clients. Member also have access to full CRM and project management online tools.

This is the biggest initiative we are launching in the history of FIRMSconsulting, to give our members an unassailable competitive advantage. Click To Tweet

This is a sample of the full editable material SLIDES will have within its first year of launch:

  1. Digital & IT FIG Strategy Study
  2. Wealth Management Strategy Study
  3. Operations Strategy Study
  4. Implementation Program
  5. Corporate Restructuring & Turnaround Study
  6. Corporate Strategy & Transformation Study
  7. Infrastructure Strategy & Feasibility Study
  8. Market Entry Strategy Study
  9. Market Entry Strategy Study (2)
  10. M&A Merger Strategy Study
  11. Sales Force Optimization Strategy Study
  12. Investor Relations Strategy Study
  13. Risk & Pandemic Planning Strategy Study

Case Interviews

Case Interview training programs, primarily The Consulting Offer (TCO), are the foundational programs. They teach core skills in communication, structuring, logical problem solving, calculations, estimations and decision making that will be very useful even to those not preparing for case interviews. The strategy, operations and implementation training programs assume a grasp of these foundational skills and all clients, even senior executives, find it useful to first go through at least the main parts of TCO before learning from the more complex training programs.

Think of our case training as a bridging program for someone in industry who wants to learn strategy. You don’t need to go through the material, but it will significantly improve your critical thinking skills.

  1. TCO I, Felix, joins MBB Europe
  2. TCO I, Sanjeev, joins BCG Asia
  3. TCO I, Rafik
  4. TCO I, Samantha
  5. TCO II, Alice Qinhua Zhou, joins McKinsey NYC
  6. TCO II, Michael Klein
  7. TCO III, Jennifer Nwankwo, joins Bain Boston
  8. TCO III, Zach Steinfeld
  9. TCO IV, Sizan, MSc
  10. TCO IV, Ritika Mohan, joins McKinsey NE USA
  11. TCO IV, Haris, Big 4 National Practice Leader (currently in development)
  12. TCO IV, Dylan, Booth MBA (currently in development)
  13. TCO IV, Francisco, Accenture Consultant (currently in development)
  14. TCO IV, Assel, joins McKinsey Europe
  15. EMBA / Experienced Hire Program with Tom
  16. TCO Solution Videos
  17. Case Studies of FC’s Greatest Clients

Given the depth of the videos, it is best to watch The Consulting Offer content over approximately 12 – 18 months. The sessions should be watched in the following order:

  1. Assel joins McKinsey Europe: Covers the main concepts quickly
  2. EMBA/Experienced Hire: Covers the main concepts quickly
  3. TCO I: At least watch the episodes on estimation and brainstorm
  4. TCO III: At least watch the episodes on breakeven analyses / cost-volume-profit curves / marginal cost curves
  5. TCO II: McKinsey unstructured final round interviews with partners

Keep in mind the following:

  1. The EMBA and Assel programs cover all the concepts quickly but give you enough to understand everything very well.
  2. TCO I is the foundational program. If you really struggle with the basics and need to be taught everything slowly, start here.
  3. You could start TCO I (Felix followed by Sanjeev), then TCO III (Jen followed by Zach) and finally TCO II. It is still advised to go through the EMBA and Assel programs first.
  4. Not moving on to a subsequent session until all concepts and techniques are mastered in the previous session.
  5. It is best not to watch numerous videos back-to-back. Watching 4 to 5 videos per hour is generally not recommended. Nor is trying to watch all of TCO in one month. We rigorously track and analyze member viewing data and have determined that binge-watching does not work. We use data to make all decisions governing our programs and our advice is based on both our subscription members and having mentored over 1,000 candidates via 1-on-1 coaching.
  6. Each video teaches new skills and requires time to understand. Make careful notes and revise them regularly to ensure key techniques/concepts are internalized. Carefully follow all advice, including advice on developing/improving business judgment, communication etc.
  7. We do not teach frameworks. We teach you how to develop bespoke structures for any problem. This means you will never ever need to memorize a framework. Skipping towards frameworks in the videos is not the best way to learn and is discouraged. Moreover, you will miss the communication skills training within an episode.
  8. Distinguish between learning and practicing. They are different. Be wary of practicing when you do not understand the concepts taught or practicing with members whom have poor case interview techniques. If you do not understand a concept, it will be difficult for you to explain why you are doing it. Practicing the wrong skills reinforces the wrong skills. First learn the correct techniques and only then practice.

This is how we recommend using TCO:

  1. Resumes:
    1. Always complete your resume first despite the urge to jump into cases. Resume editing is a difficult process requiring numerous iterations done in small bursts.
    2. Only begin networking once the resume editing process is completed.
    3. The cover letter should be written after the networking process commences and is about midway done.
  2. If you can, go through all of the EMBA program and Assel programs.
  3. With TCO I, pick two candidates as your base and use these candidates’ files to prepare. Ideally, focus on Felix and then Sanjeev.
  4. Review your notes from past practice sessions and from before you joined this program, and focus on just the top 3-4 areas for improvement.
  5. While watching each session in TCO I it is useful to review additional solution videos. These were the videos used by the TCO I participants to prepare for their coaching sessions.
  6. Per session: Always start with the session where the participant is being trained by the partner. These are vital sessions and should not be skipped. They are more important than the solution videos.
  7. Per session: Watch the candidates’ case session videos and pause videos to do the cases alongside them.
  8. Per session: Watch the “perfect answer” video.
  9. Per session: Take the time to review the material, practice and ensure you can explain the main concepts from the session.
  10. Test your knowledge of each TCO I session with our quizzes.
  11. Per session: Create a new list of top 3-4 development priorities. Do not list all development areas.
  12. If you have time, review the perfect answers from TCO I for Samantha and Rafik.
  13. Never begin with TCO II. And never watch each TCO II episodes just once. They should be watched at least 3 times. In TCO II we teach partner final-round cases that cannot be solved with frameworks and they assume an understanding of the strategy approach to break-even curve analyses as taught in TCO III.
  14. While working through TCO I, simultaneously follow our iTunes podcasts series, Case Interviews & Management Consulting, by listening to useful episodes. We do not duplicate content across our programs so do not ignore the iTunes channel. This program is the #1 ranked iTunes channel for case interviews with over 350 podcasts.

When watching all the videos ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Do I understand the underlying principle taught?
  2. Could I explain the principle to a colleague?
  3. Could I apply the principle to a case?
  4. Do I recognize the interview pattern?

All members, but especially EMBAs & Experienced hires, should listen to our dedicated program for EMBAs & Experienced Hires while working through TCO I. This has turned out to be one of the most useful programs we have. Every client finds that it helps them quickly and effectively.

Enjoy learning and let us know if you will have any questions by writing to us at [email protected]

Best regards.

Kris Safarova

Presiding Partner


Many experienced-hires wrote to us about our recent piece on becoming a McKinsey Principal. While they may appear to be the same, becoming a McKinsey Director requires different skills from becoming a McKinsey Principal. This article will unpack those differences using the example below.

Let’s assume the regional CEO of a major auto company is being interviewed for the position of McKinsey Director in the Automotive & Manufacturing Practice.

Auto CEO to McKinsey Director

This regional CEO runs a region with an R&D center, manufacturing sites, and a large consumer market. In many countries, regional CEOs simply run a sales organization. This person is that rare regional leader of a Fortune 100 company who understood the entire value chain of the business and ran parts across the entire value chain.

For a variety of reasons, he wanted to do something different and given his profile, intellect, presence, and his vast network, he was being considered for a McKinsey Director position.

He was clearly smart and could command attention. He could rivet the attention of senior decision makers. McKinsey Directors need to be able to generate a book of business. If he was just smart, let’s assume very smart, but was unable to build that book of business he would be a McKinsey Principal or an expert track leader.

Stefan, let’s assume that was his name, believed he had access to a network of auto leaders that could allow him to build a practice. Let’s assume he did have access to this network. Stefan believed that by working with another McKinsey Director, they could create a significant increase in revenue for the practice and branch into new areas.

Assuming he was right, why was Stefan not hired as a McKinsey Director?

A network does not equal a McKinsey Director

Stefan makes a mistake that is common to most senior industry leaders trying to become a McKinsey Director, or even a BCG or Bain director.

Stefan confused a McKinsey Director role with a Consigliere role. A consigliere is a counselor who guides the more senior person. In the consulting world, they are used when a firm enters a new market or region and needs help to understand the local issues and especially, need introductions to the key industry and government leaders.

McKinsey, Bain etc. used them in the 1970s and 1980s as they expanded into Japan and Europe.

In this model, this is what happens:

A consigliere is valuable because they know 20 of the most powerful business leaders in India, for example.

They set up the meetings for McKinsey Director X.

They will likely attend the meetings and counsel McKinsey Director X.

McKinsey Director X explains how McKinsey works, gains the trust of a business leader, discusses the leaders’ issues etc. which ultimately leads to an engagement.

McKinsey Director X inherits the relationship with the industry leader when he gains the leaders’ trust.

As these meetings continue, there is no longer a need for the consigliere.

Once all the relationships are transferred the skill/asset the consigliere possessed is no longer useful to McKinsey.

Differences between a McKinsey Director and McKinsey Consigliere.

A McKinsey Consigliere has access to a network but cannot gain their trust to perform engagements.

A McKinsey Director can convert a relationship into revenue. That is crude but let’s call a spade a spade.

A McKinsey Consigliere only keeps his network because he is not asking much of them. He just knows them and hangs out with them.

A McKinsey Director is able to build a relationship where the firm is doing work for the client, and, this is important, the relationship does not end when the work is done.

A McKinsey Consigliere gets a finders fee. Not a share of the profits.

A McKinsey Director gains a share of the firms’ profit percentage distribution.

Once the relationships transfer to the McKinsey Director, a McKinsey Consigliere has almost no value. This scene from the Godfather captures it perfectly.

Senior vs. Junior McKinsey Director

Junior McKinsey Directors operate more like McKinsey Principals. They help a Senior McKinsey Director manage, maintain and grow his $10MM-$30MM mini-consulting business within McKinsey.

A Junior McKinsey Director is closer to the action and the teams on a consulting engagement. This means they need to understand to some degree how engagements are run, issues are structured and problems are solved.

So while it is relatively easier to become a Junior McKinsey Director, that is only true in relation to the reduced stress of sales. The stress will be high if you are interviewing for the position but either do not know how studies are conducted or the Senior McKinsey Director who is considering you for his team thinks you cannot learn enough to manage the engagement teams in an appropriate time period.

A Senior McKinsey Director is generally so far removed from the operating details of the team that they will not be assessed for this skill.

The firm will look to see if they can maintain relationships, convert those relationships to sales without alienating clients and create sales that meet the quality and style of the firm.

Does a McKinsey Director need a Consigliere?

The short answer is usually no.

There was a time when the foreign world was this tantalizing and mysterious place. It was usually an American or European going off to some land like Japan etc., to build a business. The world has opened up significantly since then.

One does not need a consigliere to navigate new countries or dark alleyways in new countries. Google Maps and Uber work just fine.

McKinsey can often send a Polish Director with Polish consultants to open the Warsaw office. I would presume they would know whom to meet, how to meet them and which alleyways of Warsaw to avoid.

In most cases, a McKinsey Director marries a foreign person (for example), eats foreign food for 10 years of the marriage, moves to his partners’ foreign country for 5 years and calls himself an expert of the country. And people believe him.  When I moved to Canada, ate Canadian food for a decade and served the top leaders, no one called me a Canadian expert. Apparently, I still needed to assimilate. This must only work when you move from the West to Everywhere Else.

Or maybe I should have married a Canadian as well.

I wonder if it is an intellectual appropriation to assume to be an expert in a country just because you served some of the business leaders? Just know when the New York Times appropriates this phrase, you heard it here first.

Generally, spouses are the new consiglieres. They may not have access to top decision makers but having a spouse from the region where you are trying to build a business is seen as an easier way to integrate.

There are very few places where McKinsey needs consiglieres these days. Maybe to meet certain government leaders or in very closed economies, but there are fewer and fewer of those.

Why was this auto CEO not appointed a McKinsey Director?

The primary reason is that he saw his main value as having access to a network versus him developing that networks into clients for the firm. He was also not such a valuable gatekeeper since the firm had other ways to reach those leaders. And even if he did have access the firm could not attain by himself, he was positioning himself to be a consigliere.

He firmly believed that he would pair up with a McKinsey Director, his work wife/husband, and they would build a happy family serving clients in the auto sector. He would go out in the morning and hunt for the prize and his work wife/husband would convert it into something worthwhile.

He wanted to be a McKinsey Director but he did not understand what the role involved. And because he could not understand there was a difference, there was no point in hiring him. It would have been a case of mismatched expectations.

You are welcome to post any comments and questions below. As you can imagine we receive many requests for help and as much as we would like to respond to them all, we just do not have the time. To ensure our responses reach as many readers/listeners as possible, questions will only be answered in our iTunes podcasts. This allows us to offer both thoughtful and meaningful answers that help improve your career. If you ask a question please offer as many details as possible. It is difficult to offer customized and valuable feedback if the details are vague or missing. It helps to provide more facts and leave out your interpretation of what happened. It is better to write “Duke MBA, graduated 2 years ago and working in Wells Fargo Technology Support,” than “a Top-10 MBA, recent graduate working for a large bank’s internal technology team.” The advice we offer would be very different for each and we would select the first type of question to answer.

The Anatomy of a McKinsey Networking Event

A client was particularly interested in the mechanics and anatomy of a McKinsey networking session, so today we’re going to discuss and focus on what to do when you network in a group setting as part of your consulting case interview recruitment process. We will primarily focus on McKinsey networking but the information is also applicable to other consulting firms’ networking events, like BCG, Bain, Deloitte, PwC, KPMG, etc.

The group type of McKinsey networking is one of the most uncomfortable situations during the case interview recruitment process. The general etiquette is not really well known or easily found on the Internet since McKinsey, as well as BCG and other top firms, host and invite only a small number of people.

McKinsey Networking management consulting

Four types of McKinsey networking events (consulting)

First, it’s important that you understand what kinds of McKinsey group networking or other consulting firm (e.g. BCG, Bain, Deloitte, etc.) networking sessions you may be attending as part of the case interview recruitment process.

There are 4 major types.

The first two are where you will not receive a personal invite.

Let’s assume that you belong to a major university like the University of Pennsylvania where McKinsey is usually going to be on-campus during the recruitment period. They’re going to have an information session where they bring across some of their partners, associates, engagement managers, principles, etc. This is generally an open invite and anyone from a certain degree program / MBA class is invited to attend. So, you do not have to get a personal invite.

The second type is where only people from a specific degree program are allowed to attend. For this type, you will not receive a personal invite either. It’s just your class group. For example, all MBAs will receive an invite.

The other two are more specific where you will receive a personal invite.

The first one is where you receive a personal invite when firms have viewed your resume in the resume book of your school. For example, a business school in the US (e.g. Harvard Business School) or Ivey business school in Canada has put together a resume book to potential recruiters, and Bain looks at that and decides to invite 20 people to their private cocktail event. You look interesting on paper and firms decide to invite you along.

The final one is where you have already submitted your application and just before the interview, one or two days before, you get invited to a cocktail event or another type of group event. Only in this last type of McKinsey networking event are you guaranteed an interview.

In the other types of McKinsey networking events are usually not guaranteed an interview.

If you would like to learn how to carry yourself during the last type of McKinsey networking event we recommend to work through the McKinsey closed-list dinner (accessible if you are a Premium or FC Insider member).

Myths about McKinsey networking events

Second, it’s also important to understand some myths about networking events so you can set the right expectation for yourself and plan accordingly.

Myth 1: If you have a weak profile you still can go to a McKinsey networking event and, most likely, significantly change things

A lot of candidates believe that if they have a weak profile, weak resume, weak background, they could go to an event, dazzle and likely change things so as to secure them an interview. It rarely happens. It is very hard to change things because the group setting makes it very difficult for you to set yourself apart and look different from the pack around you.

So, if you haven’t invested enough time in building a proper resume, thinking through how you’re going to present your image and writing a very good cover letter, you are significantly lowering your chances to be invited for interviews. Resume and cover letter play a very big role.

You can learn how to edit your resume and cover letter by working through resume and cover letter related sessions within The Consulting Offer seasons (accessible to Premium members and FC Insiders).

Myth 2: Consulting firms are primarily holding these events to find out more about you 

To some extent it’s true, but to be brutally honest, the real reason consulting firms hold these events is for firms’ own benefit. Consulting today is a lot more competitive than it was 20 years ago. Consulting firms are competing with hedge funds, private equity shops, investment banks, and even NGOs, etc. who are also trying to attract very talented people. So these events are for you to find more about firms and firms hope that those candidates who are on the fence about applying will actually apply.

Myth 3: Attending a McKinsey networking event is mandatory

Well, it’s usually not. If you don’t show up at an event, it doesn’t mean that you’re no longer getting your interview. We know plenty of candidates who we coached and advised not to attend a McKinsey networking event. In some cases we advised them not to because they’re writing an exam the next morning and they needed to be fresh for that. In other cases we advised not to because we wanted them to show firms that they are not necessarily available immediately because they are traveling for other interviews; a deliberate strategy to show firms that you’re definitely not pursuing just one firm. Consulting firms like candidates who have options.

So, attending a McKinsey networking event is not mandatory. If you don’t attend it, it doesn’t mean that you’re not getting your interview and vice versa. If you do attend that doesn’t mean you will be getting an interview, or passing the screening round and passing the cases.

If the interviewer is not enthusiastic, it doesn’t mean that they are not serious about recruiting

Firmsconsulting partners have attended/hosted consulting networking sessions many times and typically it goes the same way.

As a consulting partner, principal, engagement manager, senior associate, etc. generally we have a lot to do. For example, even if I’m at these consulting networking events, my mind is on other things like a client’s issue, a document I need to complete and send to client tomorrow, whether I will have enough time to work on my presentation tonight if I stay here until 9 o’clock, or whether I will have enough time to sleep and work on it tomorrow morning, etc.

Interviewers do have conflicting demands on their time and attention. They could have been on the road the whole week presenting to other schools. So if they’re distracted, it’s perfectly understandable. And when you have done these sessions for a few years and seen many candidates coming up to you and saying the same thing like, “I’m very interested in joining McKinsey, or Bain, or Deloitte, etc. Can you tell me more about what it is like to work for McKinsey?” You will reach a point where you’re not hearing candidates saying anything but more like a background noise. So, maybe interviewers are not enthusiastic, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re not serious about recruiting.

A good partner will size you up very quickly

The moment you’re approaching the partner they generally are able to size you up very quickly. While you’re shaking hands they make a snap decision whether they’re interested a little bit in you based on immediate first impression you created.

They’ll decide if you’re worth talking to by looking at your confidence, posture, body language, eye contact, firmness of your handshake, the way you dress, what you’re saying, how you’re saying it, whether you’re simultaneously scanning the rest of the room to look for other more interesting people to speak to etc.

As partner, or even at a lower level all the way down to an associate, they usually can size you up very quickly. Of course, if you ask them questions they will generally respond with courtesy. But if they see that the kind of preparation you put together (e.g. via your level of questions) is average, they will move on.

However, it doesn’t mean that they are not interested in you at all because at the end of the day they are still going to screen you based on your resume. So, if you want to make an introduction, it’s fine. But keep in mind that it’s very difficult to stand out from the pack during a group McKinsey networking event. So introduce yourself, make it known that you’re interested and have something interesting to talk about.

It shocks us to see how many candidates arrive at a session and really have nothing to talk about. They just know the basics and couldn’t talk about anything more than asking about the office or about projects the consultants had done.

An anatomy of a McKinsey networking session

Now, let’s talk about the anatomy of a session. You arrive wanting to talk to a partner but it’s very rare that you can talk with the partner only by yourself. Under normal circumstances, you will find yourself among four or five other people also talking with that one partner and everyone gets a more or less equal chance to speak and the partner will try to answer all questions. So it’s very difficult for you to get something in, much less to bring out something unique about you.

Do your homework. Don’t just say you are interested in joining McKinsey. Show it

When you show up at a McKinsey networking event it’s obvious that you’re interested in joining consulting firms. Otherwise, you’d not be showing up in the first place. So, never go up to a partner or anyone and say you really want to join the firm. You could instead have spent time showing the partner why you really want to join the firm. Maybe showing an in depth knowledge of some of their work done in a certain office, or you have spoken to many people and developed some very insightful questions based on what those people have said, or you have read a few reports and have some interesting point of view about them. Or you just wanted to talk about how your profile would be a good fit in terms of culture, etc.

An analogy we could use is cool people never say that they’re cool. They show it in the way they act, rest, think, speak, where they hang out, what they do, etc. It’s the same with showing your interest in consulting firms. Never say you’re really interested. When partners hear you saying that, it automatically indicates that you haven’t done your homework and just trying to convey your interest by merely saying so.

Don’t get over-excited. Be calm and confident

Do not confuse showing interest with being over-excited. We have seen in every single consulting networking event bouncing male or female bunnies who have the glimmer in their eyes and are so excited to work for McKinsey, BCG, Bain, Deloitte, PwC, etc. because for them it’s the pinnacle of their careers. Consulting firms do not want those people.

Firms want ambitious people who see McKinsey as a stepping stone to greater things, who see McKinsey or Bain or BCG or Deloitte as a finishing/business school for their consulting careers to partners of that firm, or corporate leaders leading some major corporation later on. So do not join a consulting firm just to be an associate and if you believe that being an associate is the pinnacle of your career, and you show it, then many consulting firms will not want you.

More than that, consulting firms want people who are on par with their current associates. They’re not going to hire you as an associate or analyst if you’re below the level you’re applying for. And if they see your excitement to be a distraction to clients and other associates, they’re not going to hire you either. So do not overdo the excitement. You have got to be a professional who is quiet, calm and confident.

Manage your downside and look for an opportunity for a small upside

Let’s talk about your upside and downside in a group setting. Imagine you’re in a group with your five Harvard (or Ivey, or place your school name here) buddies talking to senior partners from BCG Boston office. You don’t have to manage your upside, but you’ve got to manage your downside aggressively. Don’t talk about something that’s political, racist, religious, bias or discriminatory in any way.

With regards to your upside, look for an opportunity to find a small upside.

On the other side, we generally recommend not to reveal a big advantage in a group setting. If you have certain attributes and certain knowledge of the firm that you know sets you apart from other candidates, it is generally in your interest not to bring it up in a group setting because if you do, your colleagues who are largely under-prepared will know that this is the angle you’re taking and will build it into their stories. So we generally advise our candidates who we prepped really well not to bring out their advantages in the group setting or they lose whatever advantage they had.

Do not go for big upside because chances are very slim that you can do something to make you stand out in the group setting in the eyes of a senior partner. For example, don’t go out there saying to a senior partner at McKinsey that you have read his report and disagree with him on 5 of the 8 points he had raised. We have seen people doing that. No matter how smart they think they are they had very little knowledge and understanding of the context, so they didn’t really know the objective of the analysis, or worse they didn’t really know how the analysis was done. And even if you are right, bringing up an error of a partners’ work in a group setting will most likely not help you be liked by that partner.

Know your spike and build it into your introduction

When you get an opportunity to introduce yourself to a partner, know what you want to convey to the partner. For example, “Hi, My name is Alina and I’m a Russian student. I used to be a grandmaster pianist of the Russian Federation and before I started my Harvard MBA program I used to run my own publishing company.” In 15 seconds, the partner knew her spike. What differentiates Alina from other candidates is her artistic background, she’s an entrepreneur and she’s going to Harvard. So she drives it home very quickly in the introduction.

So, you have to know what your spike(s) are, what will make you remembered. People don’t remember that you work at Goldman Sachs or went to Harvard because now there are too many people having that background. So think very carefully about what differentiates you from the pack, then deliberately build that into your introduction in private or even in a group setting if you have the opportunity to present yourself.

It’s easy to be remembered

Now, although we said that it’s very hard to distinguish yourself in these consulting networking events, it’s easy to be remembered and that’s where your spike in the introduction comes in. Make sure to have a very clear and compelling story discussing no more than 3 things that you can deliver in 15 seconds.

Why would you want to be remembered at a McKinsey networking event? Because you’d want to start building a relationship with them after the event. You’re going to follow up with them afterward. Building the relationship is the key objective of a consulting networking event. So, your goal is to get connected with those people so that you can start building a relationship with them.

The follow up is key. People usually send out follow up notes 2 or 3 days after the networking event. Some people even don’t bother to send out a thank you note.

We know some candidates who would sit in their car after a networking event to type up a thank you note on their iPhone. We are not saying that that kind of intensity is going to set them apart but all other things being equal, the fact that you sent out such a prompt follow up note does stand out in the eyes of interviewers. We are always quite impressed when candidates do that, especially when the event ends at 11 pm or 11.30pm but the candidate still stayed up to midnight to type it up. Many McKinsey representatives would remember that.

To recap, understand the type of consulting networking event you’re attending since they are different. Understand whether your resume has been screened, whether your application has been screened, whether this is an event where they already know you and want you to go through the recruitment process or whether this is just an information sharing session.

Understand the 3 major myths about consulting networking events. Which are, it’s very rare you can change things, it’s really for the firms’ benefit to get people to apply to their offices, and these events are not mandatory.

Understand the structure of the event. Understand the consultants’ background, what they’re up against, and the kind of demand on their time. And also understand that when you introduce yourself they’ve pretty much heard everything before. So you have to really think carefully beforehand about what your spike is, what are one or two things that would differentiate you and build that into your 10 to 15 seconds introduction.

McKinsey networking is basically a dance where partners are chosen

It really is. Your job at a McKinsey networking event or another consulting firm’s networking event is to find people that you could build a strong relationship with afterwards so that when the time comes that you need to submit your resume, they could do it or could provide you guidance on the interview process. So, never forget that the key of a McKinsey networking event is what happens afterward, not the event itself.

It’s basically a dance where partners are chosen. So you’ve got to know who’s interested. It’s easy to recognize who is disinterested in you when their eyes start glazing over when you start speaking. The trick is don’t spend too much time investing in them because it just becomes awkward. Just thank them for their time and move on to another person. Consultants are different people and not all see the same value in your background. The way you dress, the way you act, the way you speak, the way you have prepared all play a big role in whether you will build some kind of chemistry with a certain person.

Don’t let yourself be awkwardly left out

Also, remember that attending a McKinsey networking event or another consulting firm’s networking event is a bit like musical chairs. You don’t want to be the guy who cannot find a chair. You want to be the person who has managed to link up with someone, or two people if you’re lucky. And after the event, you can email them and say you had a good time last night, had a few follow-up questions, and whether they’d mind if you talk about it. Then you build your relationship. I found too many people seeing the McKinsey networking event as an end in itself. Well, it’s not. It’s a mean towards an end and that end is to build relationships further beyond the McKinsey networking event.

So have a strategy when going to a McKinsey networking event or another consulting firm’s recruitment event. Know how you’re going to introduce yourself, understand the objective of networking event is to building a relationship beyond the event and hopefully everything will go well. Just remember if the McKinsey networking event or another consulting firm’s networking event does not go well, it’s okay. There will be other events and there will be other partners. People understand the pressure you’re under and don’t hold you to such a high standard. Just remember to manage the downside and exploit the upside if the opportunity presents itself.

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Cheers, Kris

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