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McKinsey Paris: Three Interviews with Sasha (Podcasts)

Sasha recently received an offer from McKinsey Paris for the Operations Practice. The three podcasts are recordings of the only two training sessions conducted with Sasha and the debrief call after he received his offer.

Sasha’s case is interesting because of the highly compressed time, about a week. It is also interesting because of his background: 38 year old native of Russia, who moved to France as an adult, he had a basic working knowledge of French and was an older candidate who had a deep operating knowledge of the metals industry.

  1. Podcast 1: Preparing for the “Final Round” with McKinsey Paris
  2. Podcast 2 Preparing for the new Final Round after McKinsey asked for an additional interview
  3. Podcast 3: Debrief with Sasha on his experiences and lessons learned

***

About 4 days before his final round interview, Sasha engaged us to prepare him for his interviews at McKinsey Paris to join the operations practice.

Given the short time available, we could only conduct 2 calls with Sasha and had to be extremely careful in judiciously using the time to only provide guidance which he could use. It is easy to end up providing redundant or generic advice which would not help Sasha much. Providing the appropriate advice is far more difficult than it appears to be. With just 120 minutes between both calls, and no time to schedule more training, we needed to diagnose his skills, select the areas to focus upon and train him in these areas. There was very little room for error.

We accepted coaching Sasha over that condensed period because we understood the McKinsey Paris partners had only one question in their mind, a question we could help him understand:

Could Sasha sufficiently understand the French business culture to make partner in an accelerated manner given his age?

As ex-partners, we felt we had a strong enough understanding to help Sasha understand how partners would view his profile and what he could do to mitigate their concerns.

McKinsey Paris

In essence, we had to position Sasha such that he could demonstrate to the McKinsey partners not only that he understood operations consulting at its essence, but that he could also behave like someone who was at least a peer to an associate principal. The reason this was important is that a 38 year old has far less time to reach partnership and must therefore already have some of these attributes in their profile. This is really the main lessons from these podcasts – how do you actually achieve that goal of demonstrating you have some of these attributes.

There are certain things you can do to demonstrate you are a peer to a McKinsey partner.

First, you need to demonstrate a mature understanding of operations and strategy. It is impossible to have a mature understanding of either as an MBA graduate. This only comes with senior experience and we needed to teach Sasha how to speak as if he had the experience.

Second, you need to weave your past experience as anecdotes into the case. This is crucial. Senior practitioners should be able to isolate and use kernels of relevant past experience without delaying the case or even sounding verbose. Concision is an art.

Third, and by far the most important, Sasha had to adapt his image, body-language and communication to demonstrate he was partner material. We focused extensively on how Sasha could do this without coming across as arrogant.

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