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How a McKinsey & Co. Associate prepped for consulting interviews

Rishee Bhagdia, Associate at McKinsey
Published: August 9, 2023

Background | My prep | Advice

Rishee Bhagdia is currently an Associate at McKinsey & Co. and a RocketBlocks expert.

Linkedin bio of Rishee Bhagdia

In this post, we'll hear about how Rishee prepped for his consulting interviews, what worked and what didn't, and the advice he has for candidates who are in the thick of the interview process.

Why I pursued consulting (Top)

What’s your professional background? Why did you decide to pursue Consulting?

Having spent over 5 years across asset management, management consulting, corporate finance, and financial services. I have worked across diverse projects gaining experience in top-line growth and strategy, digital transformation, investment strategy and management, product management, and inventory management.

I decided to pursue consulting as I have always been driven toward the project nature driven by work. That coupled with the ability to work across different industries while traveling is what drew me to consulting.

Lastly, the steep learning curve aligns with my professional learning and development goals.

My interview prep (Top)

What were the first steps you took as you began your interview prep?

To kick off my interview prep, I followed a structured approach starting with understanding what is a consulting case interview and how you approach a case.

I started by diving straight into it, watching consulting case videos, and doing a couple of mock case interviews with my peers to understand the modalities of a case interview and also how a case interview is structured. Getting my feet wet right off the bat, not only helped me understand the different aspects of a case interview, but also further develop my approach to preparing for the interviews.

I was now able to break it down further into components such as communication, problem-solving, structuring, and industry knowledge among other things – all of which I worked on throughout my preparation phase.

How much total time did you spend prepping for interviews? How many mock interviews did you complete?

I spent over 3 months preparing for the interviews while spending 3 hours each day.

For the first month, I decided to take it slow - focusing on getting the basics on solving a consulting case and reading about various industries and sticking to doing 2 cases a week.

In the second month, I ramped up my prep, focusing more on practicing mock interviews with my peers, doing 4-5 cases a week. And in the final months, close to interviews, I paced myself, with around 3 cases a week in order to ensure I did not burn out and thereby completed around 50-60 mock interviews.

That being said, this should not be used as a yardstick because the preparation time can vary for each person, depending on what stage of the interview process you are in and how comfortable you are with case interviews.

How did you identify areas to work on during your interview prep? How did you practice?

To identify areas of development during my interview prep, I made sure to practice different kinds of cases such as market entry, profitability, and so on, each focusing on different aspects of the case ranging from structuring to communication skills. Doing these different kinds of cases helped me identify my strengths and areas of development.

The process was an iterative one - over multiple cases, I realized the areas that I would make less errors, and would be able to solve rather quickly, essentially realizing these would be my strengths. Moreover, maintaining a log - this log was an excel spreadsheet, consisting of the case I had practiced, what parts of the case I was unable to crack, my strong areas and what areas I needed to focus on going forward. This log helped me keep track of my progress in the development of the skill set. I used this log for actively seeking feedback on my performance in each case and then iterating it with every case hence.

Further to practice, I made sure to practice drills for individual aspects of the case such for example, on structuring on external sources. This coupled with reviewing my mistakes on the practice cases, and internalizing what I could do better helped me quickly ramp up my areas of improvement.

What was the least impactful part of your prep/the biggest waste of time and energy?

Relying on too many external resources such as various coaching platforms, external casebooks, YouTube videos – there are too many external resources available in the market for case interview preparation and it is easy to get overwhelmed. One should stick to a few resources that they think are reliable, comprehensive, and more importantly suit them and cater to their needs.

Lack of constructive feedback while practicing with peers and self-reflection often was a missed opportunity. I realized early on, that while it was important to practice cases, more important was to receive constructive feedback on your performance to identify strengths and areas of development.

How confident were you going into interviews?

I was very confident going into the interviews and this came from the fact that I had done a sufficient amount of mock interviews with my peers (try to practice as many different people as you can – but those who can be trusted and are experienced) across different industries and different case types.

The best way to identify people who would be good for mocks, are those who have sufficient experience in terms of the mocks they have done and can provide constructive actionable feedback and/or have previous consulting experience or background.

One can never be fully confident and it is only natural to get the nerves and the jitters but one needs to remember that the interviewers are looking for an ideal solution but your ability to problem solve in a structured and precise methodology.

Another thing that really helped me be confident while going into the interviews was being my authentic self in every interview. I went into the interviews not only wanting to problem solve but also learn more about the company, the interviewer and his experience with the company – all of which helped me connect with the interviewer!

People sometimes get really nervous before an interview. What was the “worst thing” that happened during the cycle?

I do not have any particular experience that I can think of.

My advice (Top)

Knowing what you know now, what advice would you give to yourself at the very beginning of your interview prep?

Start early and do your homework: consulting interviews are not a sprint but a marathon. This means that starting early and following a disciplined approach is the key. Take a stab at a case interview to understand what they really are about! Make yourself familiar with the process and what the interviews are really about before you dive deeper into the interviews – there is no right time to start!

Develop a structured approach: Consulting interviews often involve case interviews, which require a structured problem-solving approach. Practice and refine your ability to break down complex problems into manageable components, develop hypotheses, and use frameworks to analyze and solve them. Maintain a log book of cases you have done with all the feedback intake the most of every mock case interview.

Seek feedback and iterate: Throughout your preparation, actively seek feedback from mentors, peers, and consultants. Basis this feedback, keep iterating and refining your approach as you prepare for the consulting interviews. Make sure to have a particular goal for every mock interview that you do and make sure that you are working towards that development goal.

P.S. Are you preparing for consulting interviews?

Real interview drills. Sample answers from ex-McKinsey, BCG and Bain consultants. Plus technique overviews and premium 1-on-1 Expert coaching.