CQ_ConsulTalks | Abhyudaya Nilosey | Mckinsey

Communiqué IIT KGP
7 min readOct 11, 2023
Abhyudaya Nilosey, Mckinsey

Interviewer: Hello Abhyudaya, I’m Bhavya, Secretary at communiqué. First of all congratulations on being placed at Mckinsey.

Abhyudaya: Thank you Bhavya.

Interviewer: So, let’s get started with our interview. Beginning with the most frequently asked question, What was the general interview process for the companies you interviewed? Please mention the number of rounds and the nature of the interview process.

Abhyudaya: So, I had around eight shortlists on Day-0 and Day-1 combined and I ended up giving interviews for three companies on Day-0 itself which were MCKINSEY, BAIN and FLIPKART APM. I accepted the offer from McKinsey & Company. Since my primary profile is Consulting, I would like to stick to Mckinsey and Bain. For the Flipkart apm, I’ll just give the overview of the process. It is a three-step process. First is a pitch deck submission, where they ask you to come up with a product idea. Once you are shortlisted in the deck submission and resume round, there will be a buddy process which is common between consult and apm profiles and then there are interviews. Mckinsey and Bain also follow a three step process. The first round is the resume shortlisting round. Once you upload your resume on the CDC portal, it normally takes around 7–10 days for the interview shortlists to be out. The second step includes a case workshop and buddy process where you are introduced to the process of case interviews and we go about having buddy rounds. Buddies are essentially people who are 2–3 years into the firm, normally seniors from our own college. They help you through the interview process, guide you as to how you should approach the entire preparation phase because they have been through the same. You are always advised to use the buddy process very tactfully. From my experience, Mckinsey has a completely non-evaluative buddy process. Even Bain had a non-evaluative process. However, companies like Arthur D’ Little stated explicitly that their buddy process is evaluative.

Coming to the third step, it is the interview which usually happens on Day-0 or Day-1. I sat for both Mckinsey and Bain. Both of them had two rounds each. For Mckinsey, both the rounds were partner rounds. Partners are essentially people who are at the top of the firm, who are responsible for bringing in clients and also are representatives of a consulting firm. For Bain, one round was with a senior manager and the other was with a partner. Senior managers oversee most of the case process and drive the case work on ground. This was the general process.

Interviewer: Could you please list down the questions that were asked in the different rounds? Or any discussion in general that you think will prove to be helpful for students.

Abhyudaya: Right, I’ll talk about my two Mckinsey rounds. Both of those have a typical format. In Mckinsey case interviews, there are three things that they’ll ask you -

  1. Firstly, they will focus on your personal experience interview (PEI ~ first 10 minutes)
  2. Second is about case interviews (20–25 minutes) and
  3. Third, they ask you if you have any questions for them. (3–5 minutes)

Responses to all three are highly scrutinized and hence should be taken very seriously by the candidates.

The personal experience interview is similar to the HR interview. They asked me what I considered was my biggest achievement and my biggest failure. They also asked me to narrate an incident where I was able to resolve a conflict in a work environment. These are important questions from Mckinsey’s stand point because they try to gauge two things-

  1. If you can adhere to the values that Mckinsey appreciates, and
  2. If you are an interesting person to talk to, in general. This is primarily important because consultants are normally required to take long flights with each other and hence being a person with interesting life experiences helps your candidature.

The second part was the case interview. In my first round at Mckinsey, I was given to solve a guesstimate which was on the number of houses that will be sold in India in 2022. This was a rather simple guesstimate but they grilled me a lot on two fronts — first was on the numbers I assumed, and second was on the final figure I arrived at. They made a few counter statements to see if I can defend the assumptions I made. So, you have to be very sure about the assumptions you are making. Once I reached the final figure, they asked me to sense-check. So if you come up with an answer for the guesstimate, they ask you to make sense out of that number and state if it’s a reasonable figure. You need to use your approximation skills there.

The third part is also highly evaluative. You need to prepare properly for the questions that you are asking the interviewer. Going through their website, talking to alumni, and following current affairs related to the company you’re aiming for — will help you in preparing a good set of questions.

In my Mckinsey round-2, I was given a case about a financial stock brokerage firm facing reduced profitability and I had to figure out the root cause behind this and give some recommendations.

General pointers about these companies is that, there are two things they focus on quite a lot. There is high preference given to resumes. So, your resume has to be on-point. And you have to be very structured about your approach to answer a question. A rule of thumb is to follow MECE structuring which is “Mutually exclusive and Cumulatively exhausting” structuring. You can learn more about this through various consult books that are referenced at the end of the blog.

Interviewer: What are some of the FAQs in most companies that you faced and think students must definitely prepare for? More specifically in the context of HR rounds.

Abhyudaya: They always ask general questions such as ‘Introduce yourself’, ‘Walk me through your CV.’, but the most important questions that I found specifically to Mckinsey were — ‘Identify your biggest success and biggest failure.’, ‘Tell us about a time when you were able to resolve a conflict between peers.’ This can be also asked like ‘Tell us about a time when you were able to resolve a conflict between you and a senior when you went against a senior’s opinion and proved your point.’

Interviewer: What are things students sitting for placements next year can do from now until December to maximize their chances of getting through a company in this sector?

Abhyudaya: So, for people who are sitting for placements in the coming December, I think the two things they can focus on are — resume building and developing business sense.

You need to know where your resume currently lacks, and try to fill that gap.

If it’s late to find new PORs, a great internship might help.

A great internship will either have relevant work (VCs or product interns) or a very good brand(Google/P&G/SLB). Having a CDC intern in a great brand will definitely add to your CV.

The second thing you can do is try to develop finance/business acumen by subscribing to youtube channels or news articles like ‘Economic Times’. You should extensively start practicing cases 30–40 days before your interviews.

Interviewer: How did your preparation for technical rounds evolve once you were shortlisted?

Abhyudaya: Right, once you are shortlisted you are in the end game since there are only a few people with you extensively preparing for the interviews. My strategy was to focus a lot on PEI questions (HR part) because I was told that Mckinsey values that a lot. My friends would ask me questions from various HR books or questions they could think of and I would try to answer them. In these answers, I would follow a STAR-L format which is the ‘Situation-Task-Action-Result-Learning’ format. This is a very good way to structure your HR answers and is something that should always be followed. I also used to practice at least one case a day. I was familiar with the case for quite some time so this frequency was ideal. After solving each case, you should focus on analyzing the case, updating your structure based on learnings, write down whatever you have learnt from each case into a separate excel file/your notebook and revise that file before each case you solve.

Interviewer: Anything else that you’d want to share with the students?

Abhyudaya: Yes, in my opinion, placement season is by far the most stressful time that students have to go through on campus. This is primarily because there can be a lot of variables that are just out of your control. Things such as shortlists being very random or exams being conducted at the wrong time or certain tests that don’t go so well, will happen more often than you expect. Such instances might demoralize you.

In these times, two things helped me a lot -

A) focusing on the controllables, and

B) focusing on the positive.

Whenever you are in a situation where there are things you can’t control, you should try not to worry about them, and only focus on doing as much as possible. Know your strengths and try to capitalize on them. Use them to boost your confidence. And most importantly, trust your true friends to help you out in the process. Keep your companions around, and talk to them about how you’re feeling. One good strategy, generally used in interviews, is to try to drive the interview towards your strengths. You can always talk about things that you are good at, nudging the interviewer to ask you about those topics.

Interviewer: Thank you Abhyudaya! That was a great interview. Thank you for your time.

Abhyudaya: Thank You. It was a pleasure being interviewed.