My personal approach to interviewing

Passionate about recruiting

I participated in McKinsey’s interviewer training four years ago. A core tenet of McKinsey interviewing is that it is consistent and structured – no one needs to worry about trick questions or an unprepared interviewer. I conduct about 10 interviews each year for students or experienced professionals. I started interviewing people for roles in the Costa Rica Knowledge Centre, which is where I started my career at the firm. Since then, I have interviewed dozens of candidates for our Client Capability Network teams in Costa Rica and now Düsseldorf, Germany where I have been based since September 2019..

Before Covid-19, I conducted in-person interviews and now they are all virtual via Zoom. I enjoy in-person interviews, but virtual interviews are more laid back. It’s like inviting the person into my home and none of us have dressed as formally as we would have at the office.

joana with daughter in park
joana with daughter in park

Enjoying the interview process

There are two main reasons I enjoy interviewing prospective candidates. First, I enjoy interacting with people, and I believe I have a good sense of how candidates can fit in with our firm and our teams. Second, I like having conversations with our candidates about our culture and how our diverse our firm is. Many candidates believe we are mainly male consultants who dress in business suits. I enjoy sharing my experiences including my own journey as an economist who started in Central America and now works full-time and parents a 13-month-old daughter.

Casual approach to interviewing

I start each interview with a short and relaxed personal introduction, so the candidate feels comfortable and less nervous. I always make time for questions at the end. My answers are honest and I try to give as many examples as possible.

My funniest or weirdest interview moment was when a candidate´s first words to me were, “Hey – I remember you from my friend´s party last weekend. How cool to meet you here!” That is when I noticed what a small country Costa Rica is.

And as far as my advice to candidates, be passionate and show motivation for the role. Be prepared to provide details about your experience and skills. That personal piece matters just as much as the case.

Joana at painting and apple at a painting class
Joana at painting and apple at a painting class

About me

Outside of work I love spending time with my family in nature, exploring new food, or attending cultural events. I am passionate about arts and painting, and I love to dive with sharks and travel to remote places. I met my husband during a three-month client project in Argentina while crossing the Río de la Plata on a ferry for a Sunday trip to Uruguay. That day trip was certainly worth it!
I received a double-degree bachelor’s  of science in international management from ESB Reutlingen and ICADE Madrid. I have a master’s in economics from Université Panthéon-Sorbonne and another master’s in specialized economic analysis from Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.

Joana sitting next to a monkey on the beach in Costa Rica
Joana sitting next to a monkey on the beach in Costa Rica

I completed traineeships at the European Central Bank in Frankfurt and the Inter-American Development Bank in Costa Rica before joining McKinsey in 2015. I spent three years based in San José, Costa Rica as part of McKinsey’s Global Institute Economics Research, then left temporarily to be a professor and researcher in international trade and competitiveness at the Universidad Católica del Uruguay in Montevideo. I realized academic life was too laid back for me and I missed the work environment, variety of projects and dynamics at McKinsey.

Our daughter Mila was born in Montevideo in 2019 and I rejoined McKinsey in Düsseldorf after maternity leave in September 2019. Now I am part of the Research team for Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

Hear more about interviewing at McKinsey from our colleagues. 

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