Navigating the McKinsey Interview Process in 2023: Mastering Interviewer Led Case Interviews

Man in a suit preparing for McKinsey Interview Process 2023 - headless, symbolizing adaptability in interviewer led case interviews

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Hold it right there. Drop everything you’re doing with your McKinsey interview prep and pay attention. I’m not saying you’ve been doing it all wrong, but there’s always room for improvement. I’m here to talk you through the McKinsey interview process in 2023, specifically focusing on the art of mastering interviewer led case interviews. 

Interviewer Led Case Interviews: The Fundamentals

Let’s get one thing straight – the McKinsey interview process in 2023 is a battlefield, and only the strongest survive. With countless applicants vying for the same spots, you need to stand out by demonstrating your strategic thinking and problem-solving skills.

The McKinsey interview process is one of the most prestigious and competitive job interviews in the world. Every year, thousands of applicants from all over the world compete for a limited number of positions at the firm. Aspiring consultants must not only demonstrate their knowledge and skills but also prove that they have the potential to think strategically and solve complex business problems.

The process is becoming increasingly competitive, and understanding how to master interviewer led case interviews has become a critical factor in success. In this article I will provide an overview of the McKinsey interview process in 2023, explain why mastering interviewer led case interviews is important, and provide tips on how to best prepare for and ace these types of interviews.

At its core, a McKinsey case interview consists of a prompt, followed by brainstorming questions, charts and exhibits, and math.

McKinsey employs the interviewer led case interview style. It’s like a regular case interview, but with a twist: the interviewer takes the reins, driving the case and throwing you curveballs. The focus? Your adaptability, communication skills, and ability to think on your feet.

Here are the basics:

Visual representation of the prompt stage in McKinsey Interview Process 2023

The Prompt: The prompt generally consists of a business situation or problem that needs to be solved. You will be prompted to come up with a framework to address the company’s problem. Importantly, McKinsey emphasizes both breadth and depth in frameworks. It’s critical that you maintain your MECE-ness all while having as extensive a framework as possible.

Brainstorming icon, important step in McKinsey's interviewer led case process

Brainstorming: At some point in the case you are likely to be asked at least 1 brainstorming question. Think of brainstorming questions as “easy” or simplified frameworks. You spend less time thinking through them, but you still need buckets and themes when answering.

Analyzing a business chart for insights in interviewer led case interviews at McKinsey

Chart & Exhibits: In most interviewer led case interviews you will be asked to analyze charts and exhibits to better understand the dynamics of the situation and assess potential solutions. This part of the interview will require you to identify patterns in the data and draw insights from it.

Calculator to solve a math problem, crucial for acing interviewer led case interviews

Math: Finally, at some point you will likely be faced with a math question, prompting you to calculate a business related problem. In general, McKinsey will tell you what they want you to calculate, but not how. Additionally, they may not always provides you all the numbers you need and you will need to ask for relevant data. Math calculations here can range from simple math (e.g., percentages) to more complex calculations (e.g., cost/benefit analysis, breakeven, etc.).

The Tides Have Turned - What Has Changed in the McKinsey Interview Process in 2023?

In recent years, McKinsey has tweaked its interview process, with interviewer led case interviews gaining popularity as the go-to assessment tool. Here, the interviewer actively directs the case, while candidates are expected to deliver analysis and insights from the presented information.


This pivot emphasizes problem-solving prowess and communication skills over mere fact-regurgitation from past experiences. Consequently, it’s crucial for candidates to become well-versed in both the format of interviewer led case interviews and potential questions they may face.


Bear in mind, that while this article zeroes in on the case interview component, don’t forget that McKinsey has also implemented the Imbellus test as an initial step in their overall process. With ever-changing simulations to navigate, preparation is key.

What Makes An Interviewer Led Case Interview Different to a Candidate-Led Case Interview?

The main difference between an interviewer led case interview and a candidate-led case interview is that in an interviewer led case interview, the interviewer takes an active role in driving the case. The interviewer will generally provide information or ask questions that they want answered, while the candidate is expected to provide insights and analysis based on this information.

In addition, there is generally less emphasis on providing a specific solution or recommendation at the end of an interviewer led case interview — instead, the focus is more on demonstrating problem-solving skills and communication abilities throughout the course of the conversation.

How an Interviewer Led Case Interview is The Same

Despite some differences between interviewer led and candidate-led case interviews, there are still some common elements between them. Both types of interviews require candidates to be able to framework effectively, communicate clearly and concisely, process charts and exhibits efficiently, draw insights from data, and organize and complete math calculations accurately.

We like to compare these two formats to riding a bike: In an interviewer led case interview you are riding a bike with training wheels. However, you are getting pushed down a steep hill with rocks being thrown at you. In an candidate led interview, you don’t have training wheels, but you also have more time to find your way.

Preparing for Interviewer Led Case Interviews

When preparing for interviewer led case interviews, it’s important to do your research. First, familiarize yourself with the format and structure of these types of interviews so that you understand what to expect during your conversation with the interviewer. Additionally, it’s helpful to review sample cases or practice problems that are similar to those you may encounter during your actual interview.

It’s also important to manage your expectations going into an interviewer led case interview — even if you have done your research and practiced extensively, it’s likely that you will still make mistakes or feel overwhelmed at times during the conversation. The key is to not let any missteps derail your performance — focus on your problem-solving skills rather than any potential mistakes you may have made along the way.

Training for the Big Showdown - Acing Your Interviewer Led Case Interviews

When you step into the McKinsey arena, you need to be prepared for anything. Here’s a battle plan to get you ready for the interviewer led case interviews:

Know Thy Enemy

Queen winning chess game, symbolizing strategic thinking in McKinsey Interview Process 2023

Get familiar with the format and structure of interviewer led case interviews. Practice with sample cases and problems to hone your skills.

Stay Frosty

Stacking wooden blocks, representing problem-solving abilities in interviewer led case process

Things won’t always go your way during the interview, but don’t let setbacks throw you off your game. Stay focused on your problem-solving skills and keep pushing forward.

Ace the Interview

Corporate lady shaking hands, showcasing communication skills in interviewer led case interviews

When it comes time for your actual interviewer led case interview, remember these crucial tips:

    • Listen closely to what your interviewer is saying — pay attention to both what they ask as well as what they don’t ask in order to gain insight into their expectations for your response.
    • Utilize frameworks throughout your conversation — this will help you structure your thoughts and keep track of your progress during the interview. Ensure your frameworks are broad, deep, customized, and objective-driven.
    • Ask questions — don’t be afraid to ask clarifying questions if you don’t understand something or if you need additional information in order to answer a question properly. This will demonstrate that you are engaged in the conversation as well as your problem-solving skills.
    • Communicate clearly — use concise language when responding to questions in order to ensure that your answers are understood by your interviewer.
  • Be comfortable with math – while you don’t need to be a math whizz, do make sure that you know how to setup math problems in the context of a case and do make sure you can comfortably run the calculations once you have setup the equation.
  • Process Charts & Exhibits effectively – make sure you know how to read and interpret charts in the context of the case. Make sure you are not just reading the chart to the interviewer, but rather drawing conclusions and insights related to the question hand hand.

Real-Life McKinsey Interview Questions

Wondering what kind of questions you might face during your McKinsey interview? We’ve got your back. Here are a few real questions our candidates have encountered in 2023:

  1. (Asked in Italy, the United States, and Australia) A major international bank across 7 geographies is setting up an employee training program.  They are hiring more tellers and want to better train both their existing tellers and their new tellers. What questions would you ask the tellers in order to optimize the learning experience?
  2. The CEO of a local package delivery company in a small village has reached out to us. He is looking to setup fleet of delivery trucks based on delivery needs. All trucks have to be of the same model. How would you go about setting up his fleet?
  3. We are advising a bank that is looking to create an online training program for their employees. What questions should we ask the counterpart on the bank’s team?
  4. A beauty company is trying to outsource part of its activity in China.  Should we outsource or not?
  5. US retail bank serving consumers and small businesses has been underinvesting in technology for a great number of years. A new, dynamic, young CEO has come on board. What priorities should this CEO focus on to increase profit?
  6. How would you derive a marketing plan for an educational textbook firm in the nation?

Final Words of Wisdom

Mastering interviewer led case interviews is essential for success in navigating the McKinsey interview process in 2023. Research, practice, and hone your problem-solving skills. Stay adaptable, communicate effectively, and always focus on the task at hand. By keeping these tips in mind and maintaining a positive mindset, you’ll be well-prepared to tackle the challenges ahead and secure your spot at McKinsey. Good luck!

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