We asked Sarah, a recruiter based in London to describe the norm, although some variation exists depending on location.
“We’re excited that you’re considering joining us. To apply to McKinsey, submit a CV and optional cover letter through our website. Your application will be reviewed by the office(s) you select, and you should hear within a couple of weeks whether you have been invited to continue in the process.
Most applicants will then take our Problem Solving Test – a multiple choice evaluation of your problem solving, logic and mathematic skills. Your performance on this exam is only one component of your application and is considered in conjunction with your experience, training, test scores and other application details.
McKinsey interviews usually take place in two stages. First round interviews are held somewhere close to you – on your campus or in a local McKinsey office. During this round, you’ll have conversations with two to three different people from the office, each lasting about an hour.
Each interview will be split into two parts. During the first half of the personal experience interview – you’ll describe some of your experiences highlighting your leadership, drive, impact, and problem-solving skills (read more about what we look for). Next, the interviewer will present and lead you through a case that will show your ability to think logically and solve problems. Cases are usually based on McKinsey engagements and provide an opportunity to experience how we solve problems with clients. You can learn more about our interviews and how to prepare for them on our careers website.
The second round of interviews has a similar structure to the first, and is more closely tied to the office or practice you would like to join. For example, if you’re applying to the Marketing & Sales practice, your cases will focus on related topics and your interviewers will be members of the practice. Second round interviews usually take place in the office for which you are applying and are conducted by partners or other senior people.
After each round of interviews we strive to relay our decisions as quickly as possible (usually within a few days). The whole process, from application to final decision takes a couple of months at the most, although timing depends on your personal circumstances and university/organization’s requirements.
We are always accepting applications, and we hope you’ll consider joining us.”