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Taking interviews step by step

Yan, an implementation associate in Jakarta, focused on having meaningful conversations, sharing compelling stories, and tackling cases one interview at a time

We sat down with Yan, an implementation associate in Jakarta, to learn about his experience interviewing with McKinsey.

What surprised you most about the McKinsey interview process?

Taking interviews step by step
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I had five back-to-back interviews in one day, which was mentally exhausting. It was also an extremely positive experience, and I would welcome the opportunity to do again. All the conversations were casual; they felt like brainstorming discussions to tackle real business challenges. They were filled with fun banter. During one, my interviewer joked about how his consulting skillsets was helping him handle his newest, most demanding client: his new baby. Another interview involved an intense discussion about building economies in developing countries, including my own, Indonesia. All of these conversations were relaxed and insightful. I saw different points of view and learned a lot, too.

How did you prepare your personal experience examples?

My first task was to understand what McKinsey was looking for. The McKinsey careers site was an extremely helpful resource that offered helpful guidance on the qualities that make consultants successful. It shared information on the firm’s values and the personal experience questions.

I reflected on my past experiences and jotted down supporting bullet points that helped showcase the skills McKinsey sought. I used the situation, task, action, result, lessons-learned (STAR-L) framework to organize my thoughts. Afterward, I spent a lot of time practicing. I found it very helpful to practice with people from different backgrounds and collect constructive feedback. This brought a new perspective to each of my stories.

How did you feel prior to your interviews?

I would be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous. I was excited, too. Interviewing meant the chance to join an exceptional team of professionals to tackle the world’s toughest and most interesting problems. I tried to cope by breaking my larger goal of getting the offer down into smaller, bite-sized pieces, like having one successful interview, then another. I focused on having genuine, meaningful discussions with the consultants. This shift in mindset helped me relax and focus the conversations on things that interest and excite me, making the process more enjoyable.

Taking interviews step by step
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Looking back, how did you feel about the overall experience?

It was a very positive experience because I learned about McKinsey and the firm’s values and met remarkable people who supported me and wanted me to succeed. The feedback I received from my interviewers was extremely helpful. For example, in the earlier rounds I was asked to slow down a bit when it came to the mental math, focusing more on engaging with interviewer then just giving the result. I was able to immediately incorporate this valuable feedback into my approach and improve for the next round. Additionally, I felt the preparation and the interview process as a whole allowed me to reflect and learn about myself and my strengths.

Why were you excited to join McKinsey?

Many things excited me about joining McKinsey, like the chance to solve meaningful challenges and drive change across diverse areas. However, I was most excited about working with the people and my potential to grow. The conversations during the interviews and the support I received to help me succeed reassured me that the firm is where I want to be.

Find a job like Yan’s in Indonesia

More about Yan

Yan joined McKinsey as an associate with the Implementation practice in Jakarta. Before that, he spent ten years working in oil and gas in Indonesia and the Middle East. Yan obtained his MBA from the University of Oxford and his bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from Bandung Institute of Technology.

When he is not working, Yan enjoys photography, traveling, and cooking. Most of the time, you will find him chasing his two-year-old and six-year-old during his off days.