Regarding McKinsey interview questions, I have first rounds with McKinsey coming up soon and have found your online videos to be the best resource available in terms of case interview preparation (especially when I only had one week to prepare!).

With regards to your answer on how case interviewers decide, you mentioned that the case makes up 80-90% of the decision.

I have heard that the experiential questions (the “describe a time when leadership/teamwork/team conflict”… type questions) are also important. Of course I heard this from the HR person, so I’m not sure if that’s just lip service or if that’s the truth.

With the limited time I have from now until my interview I’m trying to best allocate my time between practicing cases and refining and memorizing my “HR” stories.

If the “HR” stories are important, what are you specifically looking for as an interviewer? Are you looking for the grand large impact “save the world” type stories, or are you looking to better understand thought processes and people management skills, even if the story is unspectacular?

What are your thoughts?

Thanks for all of your help.

P.S. The daily emails are great.

My Reply:

The leadership type question typically comes up in earlier rounds (though this will sometimes vary by office and by country).  It is an important factor (increasingly so over the past few years) as it is intended to be a measure of your “client skills”.  It is worth putting some time into explaining what I call your “core stories” about your leadership skills.

Generally, the interviewer is looking for situations where there was interpersonal conflict or major obstacles to getting a project done (preferably a team project, preferably where you were “in charge”).

The interviewer wants to know how you handle working with others under less than ideal circumstances.

Most people I know don’t have an unlimited supply of these examples. So I suggest figuring out what your best examples are, practice explaining the situation concisely, and then spend the rest of the time on case preparation.

Also, how you answer these questions is important as well. Rather than just answering them in a round about way, I suggest a more organized approach like the STAR method or my own PARADE method as an answer template.

As a side note, I have found that “promote-ability” within the firm is very highly correlated with people skills, less so with “case” / analytical skills.  It’s not the smartest people that get promoted, it’s the ones with the best people skills.

The firm has shifted its interview process to try to not just hire good Associates/Analysts, but to hire good Associates/Analysts with partner potential — and that latter is almost all about people skills.