Be yourself in interviews and beyond

Ranika conducts executive assistant interviews in Tampa. She has gone from interviewee to interviewer, earning a promotion and two degrees along the way. Here she shares her advice for candidates: bring your authentic selves to your interviews.

Ranika wearing orange shirt
Ranika wearing orange shirt

What’s involved in interviewing for an executive assistant role at McKinsey?

After an initial phone interview, executive assistant (EA) candidates participate in Experience Day. First, there’s a role simulation in which they demonstrate their decision-making and communication skills. Next, there’s a group exercise where candidates collaborate to solve problems. I’m not focused on candidates’ ability to produce the “correct” answer – there isn’t just one way to solve a problem. What I’m observing is their thought process and how they operate in a team. As EAs support individuals, their work requires them to work with other EAs, colleagues and clients at all tenure levels and around the world. The day concludes with each candidate participating in two individual interviews and I’m one of the colleagues with whom they meet.

What is the advantage of Experience Day vs. a traditional interview process?

Candidates tell us they leave feeling confident about whether McKinsey and this role are the right fit for them because Experience Day provides a realistic view of the responsibilities, broad range of necessary skills, and day-to-day life. In any given day, an EA may schedule an event, review a presentation, figure out logistics, or book travel. Experience Day offers a glimpse into the impact executive assistants make and their importance to consultants’ and the firm’s success.

How did you become involved in the assessment process?

I started as an executive assistant in 2013. Since then, I’ve completed my undergraduate and master’s degrees and been promoted to executive assistant regional team lead. I can relate to candidates during the interview because I’ve been in their shoes. Since I worked my way up, I know what’s required to succeed, such as teamwork and a continuous learning mindset. My favorite firm value is “Develop one another through apprenticeship and mentoring.” I have an amazing mentor who has helped me navigate my path at McKinsey from the beginning; it’s what has gotten me where I am today.

Why is your role as an assessor important to you?

I feel excited to be one of the first people a candidate meets in their interview process. I am a lesbian, Black, have natural hair, and I identify as a masculine female – meaning I am a woman who wears men’s clothing and I have a more masculine demeanor. Representation matters. When a candidate walks in the room and sees a little bit of themselves in me, they sigh with relief and have a sense of peace and confidence. I’m proud to show the LGBTQ+ community there is a place for us at McKinsey and in the corporate world. McKinsey is the first place I’ve felt I can be myself. In that comfort and security, I have accomplished things I didn’t even know were possible.

Knowing what you know now, what advice would you have given yourself as a candidate?

Be your most authentic self. You have something to offer McKinsey, and you’re here for a reason. We want you to find your happiness and success here. Show us who you are because we want you to bring your fullest self to work.

Ranika on a boat in Everglades
Ranika on a boat in Everglades

More about Ranika

Ranika joined McKinsey as an executive assistant in 2013 and was promoted to EA Regional Team Lead in 2017. Since joining the firm, she has completed her bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and master’s degree in organizational leadership. Ranika was the 2018 recipient of the Tampa office’s Marvin Award, which recognizes the individual who most embodies the firm’s values and inspires others in memorable, meaningful ways. She currently leads Tampa’s Equal at McKinsey (McKinsey’s LGBTQ+ community) and Equal at McKinsey Allies groups. When Ranika is not working, she enjoys basketball, bowling, going to the movies, spending time with family, and traveling.

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