The Day of Interviews

After attending weeks of presentations, networking as far as the eye can see, attending dinners and case workshops, bidding on interview slots, and practicing what feels like over a million cases, the big day is here. You are ready.

What to wear?

Business attire, no question. Beyond that, dress as you normally would. For instance, whether you should wear a white, solid colored or fine patterned shirt is up to your personal taste, style and comfort. The last thing you want to think about is what clothing you are wearing, and whether it is affecting your performance during the interivew.

Ensure that you have ironed/pressed your clothing in advance. In the harsh light of the typical interview room, wrinkles are quite visible. Dry-clean all of your interview clothing, or invest in a good bottle of starch.

The Process

Typically the process is the same across schools and firms.

The exact details will vary by school, but no matter what the process get there with plenty of time to spare. You do not want to have to rush.

Note that your style of first-round interview will vary by school and firm. Here are the variations that we have seen. For explanation of fit questions and nomenclature, see the fit section.

First interview Second interview Notes
25-min case, 5-min fit 25-min case, 5-min fit The most common first-round interview style. Case focus is very heavy and usually before fit. Fit typically focuses on the Common Three and What-can-I-answer. Most often seen with A.T. Kearney, Bain, BCG, and BAH
45-min case, 15-min fit 45-min case, 15-min fit The most grueling of interviews, specifically because of its time commitment. This is the most typical with McKinsey. Fit conforms to the McKinsey PEI (Personal Experience Interview), a 3-part fit interview with specific pre-directed questions.
30 minute case 30 minute fit This is not a common style of interview for consulting firms. Typically firms believe that the use of 30 minutes for fit does not help identify the strongest candidates. Expect fit to consist of the Common Three, the Extended Fit, and What-can-I-answer. Most often seen with Deloitte.
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As you wait for your interviewer, you will no doubt see others waiting for their interviewers. Most likely you will see a long line of black business suits as you look down the hall. You will be nervous and most likely feel stressed out. Talking with others may or may not relieve some of this stress. Be wary; others may have stories about how Student A received an offer from every firm, or how Student B choked on their interview last year. Despite the positive intent, these conversations rarely lead to positive result when timed at the last possible second. So, our advice is to stay away from them altogether. Talk about happy things instead.


This cannot be stressed enough. When you go into the interview, you have to look and feel excited to be there. You have to show that you want to do the case, that you enjoy doing the interview. In addition, nervousness and fear can be easily covered with even a little excitement. Think about it. Your interviewer has been there for 6 hours, and you are the last person of the day. She does not want to be there anymore. Engage her in the interview by showing that you, however, do want to be there. It is a powerful force and one you should be ready to use.

Did I do well?

The first instinct of many is to want to talk to friends, to compare. Almost always, however, one or both parties leave this conversation feeling as though they missed something. "How did you do on the case?" "I thought it was good, especially when I hit the detail about the old warehouses in South Carolina." "Oh, I didn't even get to that." The number of elements in a case that you uncover, however, is not a perfect determinant of whether you will advance to round two. We have seen many many cases of where one person did better than another, in the sense of uncovering more data, yet the second advanced to the second round. Interviewers are looking for so much more than simply your ability to uncover data in a case.

Callbacks and Feedback

After an interview, expect a very stressful waiting period for a callback. Most positive callbacks occur that evening, and most negative callbacks occur within 48 business hours. Note "most" - we have heard of cases of the opposite being true. And, for Thursday or Friday interviews, expect callbacks as late as Monday. Typically the call will be made by one of the interviewers, as they have the interview relationship already established with you. Occasionally the recruiter will be the caller.

When you have the interviewer on the phone, you can ask for feedback. Bear in mind, however, that interviewers see 8-15 candidates per day, so the feedback they remember per person is bound to be very limited. Furthermore, between candidates they have perhaps five minutes if they are running on time (and often even less if they are behind) to jot down feedback. As such, the feedback you receive will typically not be very precise. Feel free to dig by asking probing questions, but be wary of feedback that you receive from this source; if you have to do it at all, the feedback you get may be invented or boilerplate feedback used to fill the feedback holes (e.g. "you did not drive the case enough...").

If you did well, congratulations! You are on the way to Round 2. You will schedule Round 2, usually through a recruiter. It typically takes place within 3-10 days after Round 1, depending on availability. With travel-intense firms (A.T. Kearney, BAH, McKinsey), your Round 2 will take place on a Friday. With less travel-intense firms (Bain, BCG), your Round 2 has more flexibility during the week. Take a break, take a breath, and continue with your other interviews.

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