Show intellectual curiosity to ace interviews

We sat down with Philipp, who interviewed with McKinsey earlier this year, to hear about his experience interviewing with Finalta by McKinsey. Read more about how he tackled interviews while on a journey across Argentina.

Philipp at Machu Picchu
Philipp at Machu Picchu

About me

I graduated in finance from the University of Amsterdam and started my career at a global bank. Following three years as a credit analyst, I continued my journey as a banking restructuring consultant, focusing in mergers and acquisitions in Germany. Now, I am an analyst with Finalta by McKinsey in Budapest, where we benchmark the productivity and digital advancement of banks across Europe to help clients make strategic decisions.

I applied to McKinsey because it’s a global network of outstanding individuals who are motivated to work together to make a meaningful difference for clients. I appreciate McKinsey’s focus on value creation for clients; it’s a main driver of the firm’s amazing culture. Additionally, I was excited about the breadth of opportunities for career development here - it is unparalleled.

Before interviews

I read online resources about McKinsey’s interview process, and, honestly, felt overwhelmed. My worries turned out to be unnecessary. The interview process is designed in a logical way and consists of intellectual problem solving sessions. Rather than a right or wrong answer, intellectual curiosity should prevail. The combined case and fit-based interviewing style is an effective assessment, focused more on learning how someone thinks than examining the knowledge the possess.

Initial interviews

I felt nervous getting ready for my two initial interviews. It was pre-COVID-19, so the interviews were held in the Budapest office – a new city, a new firm and a ton of smart people around me. I hung onto the thought that I was invited for a reason, and took confidence in my preparations.

Silhouette photo of Philip on the beach at sunset
Silhouette photo of Philip on the beach at sunset

Final rounds

I had two final interviews, one in Madrid and the other in Buenos Aires (where I was traveling at the time). I was surprised by the genuine involvement of my interviewers who conducted the sessions in a coherent and guiding way. They guided me toward a holistic understanding of the requirements and substance of my role. As a bonus, when I visited those offices, I felt a sense of belonging I haven’t experienced so strongly before. I haven’t officially started at the firm yet, but I have already gotten to know my soon-to-be team members and leadership.

Interview highlights

I conducted my final interview with the Budapest office via video conference while backpacking in Buenos Aires. I didn’t have the most elegant clothing at my disposal, and ended up wearing a flowery shirt and flip flops (which, thankfully, could not be seen in the video). A formal offer arrived two hours after the interview, evidencing the firm’s meritocratic culture. While a suit may not be required for interviews, I wouldn’t exactly try my wardrobe that day by choice.

Read more interviewing stories here

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