Sophie joined McKinsey as a user research lead in late 2019, but first became interested in a career at the firm years prior while attending business school in Melbourne. We asked her what piqued her interest in a career with McKinsey, how she prepared for the interviews and what surprised her about the process.
Applying to McKinsey
At the end of business school in Australia, McKinsey was the most sought-after place to join. A friend of mine received an offer, and I enjoyed seeing how happy she was at McKinsey over the years. After moving to New York, other friends who had joined the firm and had similar, wonderful experiences encouraged me to apply.
Preparing for interviews
I was lucky to have a close friend with extensive experience in recruiting. She became my interview coach, putting me through my paces to prepare. She would throw behavioral questions at me while we were cooking dinner together, and I'd ring her before my interviews to get my head in the right space to answer questions. This helped me build confidence in answering interview-style questions. It led to a wonderful celebration for both of us when I received my offer.
I wasn't entirely sure what my first round of interviews would be like. My first discussion was with my recruiter, followed by a conversation with the operations manager for the Design & Innovation team. When I look back now on how nervous and over prepared I was, I can't help but chuckle. I expected to do most of the talking, recounting experiences where I had demonstrated skills related to the job criteria. However, the reality was that it was a conversation – a two-way street that validated the role was a perfect fit for me. If it became apparent to me or the interviewer that I wasn't the best fit, we would have begun looking for a different role at McKinsey that offered a better match.
The final interviews were nerve-wracking because I wanted the job so much. My final round was a series of interviews that included a case study and team fit and technical expertise questions. Of all the emotions I expected to feel when I received my case, I was surprised to feel relief. It asked me to use my expert design and research knowledge and that’s when I knew for sure this was the right job for me.
Support each step of the way
The relationship I built with my McKinsey recruiter was different from any I’ve had previously. It felt like my recruiter, Rachel, genuinely wanted me to get the role and was advocating for me at every step of the process. She did everything within her power to help me prepare and put my best foot forward.
The operations manager from the Design & Innovation team was another person who ensured I felt supported before even joining the firm. Chris did this in small gestures of human kindness, whether it was being transparent about the open roles they had on the team, accommodating an extended start date, or sending friendly emails leading up to my first day. These small moments began to build a picture of what McKinsey would be like before I even started.
My overall experience
I couldn't give higher praise for recruitment at McKinsey. The process took five weeks from application to signing an offer; it was transparent and efficient. Even if I had not received an offer, it would have been an enjoyable process.
Prior to joining McKinsey, Sophie worked as a strategy and innovation consultant at Doblin, Deloitte’s design and innovation practice. In recent years, she’s worked in fashion, sports, automotive and retail banking, tackling behavioral change challenges, e-commerce transformations, and customer experience redesigns. She now resides in New York but grew up in Australia and attended The University of Melbourne.
For more information on McKinsey's design career paths, visit mckinsey.com/TechCareers