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McKinsey's director of recruiting explains how to get a job at McKinsey & Co.

McKinsey & Co. is to consulting what Goldman Sachs is to investment banking. The firm has come out top of the Vault's ranking of consulting firms for fourteen years. It's bigger than its two main rivals (BCG and Bain & Co.) and it's more mysterious.

So what does it take to get into McKinsey? We spoke to Brian Rolfes, McKinsey's partner in charge of global recruitment. This is what he said.

When are the 'entry points' to McKinsey? Do most of your hires join immediately after a Bachelor's degree or an MBA? When are the other opportunities for joining the firm?

In the last decade, our reach as a global firm has expanded – we now have more than 10,000 consultants in more than 100 locations in 60+ countries, with 20+ industry practices, seven functional practices and several new client service areas, including McKinsey Solutions, McKinsey Digital and McKinsey Implementation.  This expansion means we’ve expanded the educational and experiential backgrounds we look for and there are an increasing number of opportunities at and entry points into McKinsey.

Many people join after completing their undergrad degree and we also find talent from the world’s best MBA schools.  People also join with JD, MD, PhD degrees or Masters in subjects other than business.  Increasingly we look for experienced professionals – people who have experience working in a certain function or industry. Experienced professionals have diverse backgrounds: they may include someone with a business degree who has worked in operations, another who studied computer science and has a great digital background or an engineer who’s spent several years in pharmaceuticals.

Do you prefer your analysts and associates to have completed internships prior to joining full time? What percentage of your full time hires come from these respective routes?

We hire people from all walks of life and look for candidates who demonstrate curiosity, passion for tackling difficult problems, and the ability to work well with others. Hires with prior work experience often acclimate and understand work expectations and norms from day one.

Many of our new hires come from undergraduate institutions, while a significant portion hold advanced degrees with several years of work experience.

Are you open to applications from people with banking and financial services experience? 

We absolutely want people who have worked across the financial services industry to consider bringing their skills and experience to McKinsey.

How does your interview process work for junior hires? And for experienced hires? Which elements are distinct to McKinsey?

There are two parts to a McKinsey interview - the personal experience and the case study interview. In the personal experience interview candidates are asked to discuss past experiences, especially a situation where they have exhibited leadership and problem solving skills that were critical to success.

We believe the best way to assess problem-solving skills is to discuss a real McKinsey business problem with candidates to help us understand how they would structure a tough, often ambiguous, business problem, decide which issues are important to focus on, deal with facts and data, formulate conclusions and recommendations.

What's your favourite interview question, and why?

Since McKinsey interviews are consistent with the personal experience and the case interview, we don’t have any other questions candidates need to prepare for. Candidates should watch our candidate interview videos to hear from McKinsey people about how they prepared for their interviews, what they liked and what they wish they’d known…

AUTHORSarah Butcher Global Editor
  • Ch
    21 January 2017

    Unfortunately, a lot of the potentially good applicants get turned down just because they don't come from a "target" school. This is easily confirmed by experience of those who received offers from some of the top firms but were not even invited for interviews with the others.

    Sites like are good at helping you get the invitation while places list preplounge and help you get through the interviews. They require a hefty investment on your side though.

  • SN
    15 July 2016

    Very informative.
    Thank you!

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