Starting a new challenge

We sat down with Natalie to see what it was like to interview with McKinsey for a role in Implementation after spending 15 years working in wealth management. She’ll join our Bangkok office in February 2021.

Why did you apply to McKinsey coming out of your MBA program at the University of Southern California?

Starting a new challenge
Starting a new challenge

I enjoyed my career in banking but after 15 years, I was ready for a new challenge. Attending business school helped me realize my passion for identifying and creating solutions to business problems. This led to me to consulting and McKinsey.

During my MBA program, I listened to many speakers from consulting backgrounds, including McKinsey. Learning about the work McKinsey consultants do for their clients, the problems they help solve, and the insights they generate deepened my desire to join the firm. At McKinsey, I knew I would work with clients on their toughest challenges.

The idea of switching careers after spending many years in one industry was a little scary. I was initially under the impression that McKinsey sought out candidates with less professional experience. However, through conversations with consultants, I was encouraged to learn this wasn’t the case at all. McKinsey values candidates from all kinds of backgrounds and levels of experience. I am very happy with my decision to apply.

How did you prepare your personal experience examples?

Starting a new challenge
Starting a new challenge

I made a list of my accomplishments and the defining moments in my education, career, and volunteer work, then narrowed down my options. I reached out to former colleagues and MBA classmates who I worked with closely and asked them to think of moments where I demonstrated the skills McKinsey looks for in consultants. They recalled situations I didn’t even have on my list, and our conversations gave me the opportunity to ask for constructive feedback on my presentation.

I found it is important to recall as many details as possible and to reflect deeply on each of the examples. Some questions I asked myself were: Why did I make those decisions? What could I have done differently? How did my actions impact others? What did I learn from the experience?

How did you feel prior to your interviews?

To be honest, I was quite nervous because working at McKinsey has been a dream of mine for a while. I knew I would interview with people in very senior positions. However, my recruiter did a great job at communicating the structure of the interviews so I knew what to expect.

What surprised you most about the McKinsey interview process?

Starting a new challenge
Starting a new challenge

I was surprised at the effort the firm put into helping candidates succeed. There were a lot of tools and resources available, such as interview tip videos and practices cases on the website, along with informational zoom calls to help prepare me for my interviews. My recruiter provided a lot of support and resources in preparing me for what to expect and how to put my best foot forward. She stayed in constant contact with me, which put my mind at ease. I received feedback from my interviewers on different ways I could approach the cases and present my ideas in a structured manner, which was tremendously helpful as I progressed through the interview rounds. I felt completely supported throughout the recruiting process.

Looking back, how did you feel about the overall experience?

The experience was nothing but positive. I was very impressed with the professionalism and passion in everyone I met at McKinsey. Every interviewer was friendly and genuine; they made an effort to get to know me. The way the interviews were conducted gave me an opportunity to demonstrate my skills in a way that a traditional interview may not have. Learning the case interview process has transformed the way I approach problem solving and structure my communication.

Why are you excited to join McKinsey?

I am looking forward to working with smart colleagues, solving tough problems with clients, and being immersed in an environment of constant learning. Within the Implementation practice, I will have the opportunity to help turn strategy into reality. I am excited to be a part transformational and lasting impact for our clients.

Find a job like Natalie’s

More about Natalie

Natalie recently graduated with her MBA from University of Southern California Marshall School of Business. She has a bachelor’s degree in psychology from University of California Davis. Before coming to McKinsey, she spent more than 15 years in banking and wealth management, holding roles in investments, operations management, service management, and business banking. Her most recent role prior to starting her MBA was as a vice president for one of the world’s largest financial institutions where she successfully led teams to build relationships and deliver comprehensive financial solutions to top-tier clients. Her interests include traveling, learning new languages, and music.

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