How to get into McKinsey in India

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McKinsey & Company is one of the most valued employers in India. It recruits some of the best talent in the country, and it pays well too. McKinsey is one of the most valued and prestigious employers in India. It has been ranked as the best employer in Asia Pacific and India by Randstad, an HR consultancy firm.

McKinsey is a global management consulting firm that helps companies improve their performance by offering advice based on data. The company has over a thousand employees in India and across the world in sectors such as banking and financial services, technology, healthcare, retail and consumer products.

It’s no surprise, then, that McKinsey receives thousands of applications every year from India alone. The firm is known to be one of the most selective recruiters around the world, with just around 1% of applicants getting a final offer. And why not? After all, if you work for McKinsey:

  1. You’ll work with some of the best people in your industry — or any other industry
  2. You’ll learn how to solve real problems and create value for clients and society as a whole
  3. You’ll get access to top-notch training programs that will help you improve your skillset

Why is getting into McKinsey so tough?

McKinsey is one of the most prestigious consulting firms in the world, but getting a job there is notoriously difficult. The firm’s reputation for top-notch talent and its extensive partner network make it a dream destination for any management consulting aspirant. In fact, McKinsey’s application process is so rigorous that it can take up to three months before you hear back about an interview. The firm has a reputation for hiring only the best and brightest graduates from top universities, and that’s reflected in its acceptance rate. Last year, McKinsey received over 80,000 applications for around 1,000 spots worldwide. That means you have less than one percent chance of making it onto McKinsey’s shortlist if you apply directly to their recruitment website.

McKinsey hires from all over the world, so it needs people who have experience working with different cultures and languages. It also wants people who can demonstrate leadership skills and make an impact on clients’ businesses right away. McKinsey also has a reputation for being extremely selective in who they hire. They look for people with top grades from top schools — but even if you have those qualifications, it’s still not easy to get in.

What kind of roles does McKinsey have?

McKinsey is a professional services firm that has been around for nearly 100 years. It uses its massive network of consultants and clients to deliver solutions to some of the world’s biggest problems.

McKinsey has offices in 67 countries and employs over 30,000 people globally. It works with many different industries including technology, financial services, healthcare, consumer products, public sector and more.

Consultants are not the only kind of hires at McKinsey. It also hires people for its internal (administrative roles like those in finance, HR, risk management, procurement etc), technology (analytics and innovation), and client capability network (earlier more famous as McKinsey Knowledge Centers).

What are internal roles at McKinsey?

Internal roles at McKinsey are the roles that actually help run McKinsey as an organization. They span across the following functions (not exhaustive):

Finance: Finance helps with financial planning, analysis and reporting.

People & Human Resources: People & Human Resources (P&HR) is responsible for developing, implementing and monitoring McKinsey’s people policies and programs. P&HR also supports hiring and performance management.

Real Estate, Events & Travel: Real Estate, Events & Travel is responsible for managing real estate portfolio and events management. This includes reviewing leases, managing facilities, developing policies and procedures related to real estate management.

Visual Graphics & Media: Visual Graphics & Media creates all materials and content used in McKinsey’s communications efforts around the world, including web content, print materials such as client reports and presentations slides.

Global Administration: Global Administration supports day-to-day operations at the firm including IT systems management, compliance program implementation and governance.”

Technology & Digital: Technology & Digital provides enterprise-wide IT support across geographies while ensuring that technology investments align with our business priorities.

What are tech roles at McKinsey?

McKinsey has a team of over 6,000 technologists who are changing the way we work and solve problems. Their global team includes technologists in all offices, working with clients across all industries and geographies. They’re looking for people who are passionate about solving complex problems, building new technologies, and making an impact at scale.

McKinsey technologists collaborate with our consultants to design transformative solutions that equip clients with the tools they need to succeed in today’s digital world. They see technology as a way to solve problems faster, better, and more efficiently than ever before.

Technology is at the core of what people do at McKinsey — from developing their own technologies to using them to help clients improve their businesses. McKinsey offers a wide range of opportunities for people with technical skills across multiple disciplines, including business and finance. These are roles that involve innovation and technology creation to help clients remain at the cutting-edge. They span across the following functions:

  • Agile Coaching
  • Automation & Robotics
  • Data Engineering
  • Data Science
  • Design
  • Digital Marketing
  • Information Security
  • Drive robust, cyber-security strategies.
  • Product Management

Roles at the McKinsey Client Capability Network

McKinsey’s client capability network (CCN) is a group of industry-leading professionals who partner with the firm to provide clients with access to their expertise.

The CCN consists of more than 4,000 senior executives from a wide range of industries and functional areas. They have deep knowledge of their fields and are often considered thought leaders in the areas they specialize in.

How does the CCN work?

Clients can draw on the CCN’s expertise through a variety of channels:

Direct engagement — McKinsey partners with clients on specific projects or initiatives that require deep domain knowledge. They bring together teams from across our global offices to collaborate with clients on these projects. This direct engagement is ideal for large, complex assignments that require an understanding of global trends and opportunities.

Partnering — The CCN provides advice and guidance to our clients through a variety of programs aimed at helping them develop their own capabilities to meet future challenges and opportunities. These engagements focus on topics such as digital transformation, global growth or leadership development.

Think of CCN roles as those of experts that go deep into a particular topic or area of specialization to support consultants.

Consulting roles at McKinsey

Consulting roles at McKinsey are the company’s bread and butter. You’ll work on client projects across all industries, applying your skills to help organizations solve problems and improve performance. Consulting roles at McKinsey are varied and can be either short-term or long-term assignments depending on the client need. You could be asked to take on a project or two at a time or you could be asked to work on them for several years before moving on to something else entirely new.

There are a number of different consulting roles at McKinsey. The most common ones are:

Analyst – Analyst roles at McKinsey are typically filled by recent graduates who have earned degrees in business or economics, and are interested in learning how to apply their knowledge to real-world problems. These roles usually last two years, although there is flexibility depending on your career goals. During these years, analysts learn about different industries and businesses through immersion in client projects. As they progress, they gain exposure to more senior consultants who coach them on how best to develop their skills and knowledge base.

Associate – Associates work on client projects and have to be able to jump into any client project, regardless of their area of expertise. They are also expected to lead projects and provide strategic advice to clients.

Senior Associate – Senior Associates are on their path towards becoming a Partner at the firm. They will have more responsibility for clients and for managing junior associates than Associates.

Partner – Partners usually manage large teams of people and take an active role in the management of clients’ businesses. They also play a key role in winning new business and steering the activities of the firm. While the Partner role is the pinnacle within a practice, there can be multiple levels of partners too.

Different paths to get into McKinsey

McKinsey recruits candidates at one of three career stages – college graduates, MBA graduates, and Advanced Degree Professionals (ADPs). Here’s how you can get in at each stage:

As a business analyst (college graduates)

If you want to work at McKinsey, you will need to understand how to get into McKinsey. Here is how you can get into McKinsey as a business analyst after an undergraduate degree:

  1. Get good grades

McKinsey looks for people who have excellent academic track records. If you have already graduated with an undergraduate degree, then look over your transcript and see what grades you got in each class. The higher your grades were, the better off you will be.

  1. Take challenging courses in college

A lot of students think that they should take easy classes so that they can get good grades quickly and get on with their lives. While this might work out well for some students, it doesn’t work out well for everyone — especially if you are planning on applying for jobs down the road (like those at McKinsey).

  1. Do internships during college

One of the best ways to show off your talents to future employers is by doing internships during college (or even high school). If that internship happens to be with an MBB firm, you get bonus points.

  1. Network

Networking is an important part of getting into any job, but especially so when applying for a position at McKinsey because many people who work there come from other companies where they worked with former colleagues or friends who are now working at McKinsey (or vice versa). In college itself, try to network with alumni now working for ‘The Firm’.

  1. Show leadership

The next thing is making sure that you have some good extracurricular activities on your CV. To do this, try volunteering for charities or non-profit organizations; this will show that you are interested in more than just money and profits. You should also take part in activities where your leadership and not just participation is clearly seen.

As a Junior Associate after an MBA

Note that McKinsey does not hire from every business school in India. They selectively hire from ISB and the top IIMs and a few other prestigious business schools. Therefore, if your ultimate aim post-MBA is to get into McKinsey in India (or another MBB firm), check the statistics first.

McKinsey is the world’s leading management consulting firm. They are constantly looking for top talent, and they have a rigorous application process.

Here are some tips on how to get into McKinsey after your MBA:

Have a top-tier MBA degree. McKinsey is known for recruiting MBAs from top business schools around the world, so if you want to be considered, you need to have a degree from a school that’s well regarded by the firm. ISB and the IIMs (A, B, C, L) in India are top bets. MDI and XLRI are good options too.

Have relevant work experience. McKinsey likes to see that its candidates have worked in industries relevant to its clients; if you’re applying for an associate position, for example, it’s best if you’ve worked in an industry like technology or healthcare rather than advertising or media. If possible, have at least two years of relevant experience under your belt before applying for an associate role at McKinsey (and ideally more). If you have worked in a consulting firm before your MBA, that is a plus too.

Study hard during business school and internships so that you look good on paper and can demonstrate academic prowess when asked about it during interviews (they will ask). For McKinsey, grades matter, and they matter absolutely! Class toppers have been known to get automatic McKinsey interview shortlists (i.e. without requiring a review of their resume) at top Indian MBA programs.

Network with McKinsey alumni and campus reps: McKinsey usually keeps an eye on graduating classes through seniors and their regular visits to campus. Network well so that you are visible to them. You can also gain visibility and show leadership through participation in and winning B-school competitions or helming certain clubs (especially the consulting club) on campus.

As an Advanced Degree Professional

If you are a PhD or MPhil holder, McKinsey would be happy to look at you. It even hires a lot of recent advanced degree holders from top global universities such as Oxford and MIT. The purpose is to leverage your advanced understanding of a domain to enable you to be an expert consultant in that area.

The good news is that McKinsey is often open to candidates from non-business backgrounds, assuming they have demonstrated their competence in the business world. For example, they want to hire people who have worked in healthcare or government. They will consider someone who has demonstrated their ability to analyze problems and solve them through their professional experience outside of business school or management consulting firms. The point here is that McKinsey values expertise more than anything else. They do not care where it comes from or what degree it comes from; as long as it is relevant to the job at hand then they will consider it seriously when making their hiring decisions.

The kicker? A few years later, you might well find yourself, even as an ‘expert’ in a certain area, working in a completely different one. Yes, that’s the power of McKinsey and how it grooms people.

Here is how you can try to get a role with McKinsey with an advanced degree if you were not recruited through your school’s connections:

  • Go through McKinsey website and find out about recruiter profiles. You need to identify the right person who will be interested in your profile.
  • Prepare a short note on why you think that McKinsey would want to hire someone like you. This should include what makes you unique, why they should hire someone like you and what would be your contribution to McKinsey.
  • Create a list of people who can refer/introduce you to recruiters at McKinsey or other companies (this is called ‘warm calls’). For example, if your friend works at Goldman Sachs and has good relations with them, he may introduce you to his colleagues there who work in HR or recruiting department.
  • If your employer is working with McKinsey on an engagement, you can even ask someone from within the consulting team to refer you as a potential hire. Note that this needs to conform to anti-poaching policies and NDAs that McKinsey signs with its clients, and should only be done after verifying this.

How do we know all this?

Great question. We’ve got consultants and full-time staff that are ex-MBB (and ex-McKinsey) employees, and who still maintain a good connect with their former colleagues. Every year, we also help hundreds of students get into top MBA programs, and remain in touch with them after they graduate and get into MBB firms. We also help aspiring McKinsey (and other consulting firm) applicants for consulting case study interview preparation.

Have questions? Get in touch with us today.


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