Second-round Interviews

So you've made it through first-round interviews. You received a call, typically from HR or the more senior person you interviewed with in first-rounds, stating that the firm wishes to interview you in their second round in the office. Congratulations! You have passed the first, very important cut.

Scheduling the Interview

Many firms will simply tell you on what day you are interviewing and give you a choice of times. Typically the firm will have a school-specific day, in which you and all of your colleagues will interview on the same day during scattered time blocks. Or, the firm is a travel-intensive firm (McKinsey, BAH, ATK) and will require you to interview on a day (typically Friday) that partners will be in the office. In these cases, you can only choose the time that you will interview. You may be given a choice of time blocks that are between 2 and 4 hours in length, again dependent on the firm. Your choice of timeblock should take into account a few considerations:

Occasionally a firm will give you a choice of days on which to interview as well. This is typical of less travel-intensive firms (Bain, BCG). Given a choice, consider how you feel between the choices. Do you prefer Mondays over Tuesdays? Thursdays over Wednesdays? Do you prefer to be before or after other interviewees? It is very difficult to "game the system" in this respect, so simply pick what you feel the most comfortable with.


Please read first-round interviews for information on preparing for the interview.

The Process

The process here is similar to that of first-round interviews.

Interviewing with Partners/Senior Managers

By the time someone has made partner, they have, quite literally, interviewed hundreds of times, often with the same case. They have seen every possible path taken on a case and know exactly where someone is headed. Usually they come to a conclusion on a person within the first 10 minutes of a case, using the remainder of the time to justify that conclusion. Because the case is second-nature to the partner, they have the ability to take on a persona while giving the case. Occasionally the persona will be that of an angry or tight-lipped client. Be ready for your interviewer to cut you off, generate body language that implies unhappiness at your response, or simply show no emotion and say nothing except to respond to your questions.

Furthermore, because these cases have been given so often, occasionally the partner will simply guide you to where they want you to go. While your training may dictate that this is a sure ding, in more than one instance we have learned that this led to an offer.

These responses can be extremely unnerving, but stick to your preparation, keep your cool and you will do fine.

Forms of Interviews

There are a variety of interview formats that we have encountered in second-round interviews. Many of them are similar to first-round interviews, and some are slightly different.
Interview format Notes
25-min case, 5-min fit This interview focuses mostly on the case. The goal is for the partner/manager to better understand your analytical ability. Little time will be focused on fit.
30- or 45-min case, 15-min fit A typical interview format for second-rounds. The first part consists of an extended case, the second part consists of fit questions. The extended time makes this interview far more grueling than 30-minute interviews.
30-60 min group problem solving You will be placed with other interviewees around a table and asked to collectively solve a problem and perhaps deliver a presentation. Interviewers will sit quietly off to the side and watch you, taking notes. Your goal is to demonstrate the ability to influence your peers and contribute to discussion while not bullying or otherwise looking like an asshole.
30-60 min preparation,
30-min presentation/Q&A
You will be given a deck of slides with the goal of preparing and delivering a presentation to a group of senior managers/partners describing what course of action should be taken. The presentation will usually be 10-15 minutes in length, followed by 20 minutes of Q&A. Be prepared to say "I will look into that" and not fabricate answers when you do not know the answer.

Differences between firms

This section is TBD.

Everything is an Interview

Remember, everything you do or say while you are in the company offices is an interview. This includes speaking to the receptionist, greeting others in the office, and even overheard conversations in the washroom. Even the walk from the lobby or waiting area back to the office of your interviewer is an interview. Innocuous questions such as "how has your day been?" or "what do you like to do for fun?" can be used to help decide whether you will receive an offer.

It is very hard to stand out in a positive way, but very easy to say the wrong thing and stand out in a negative way.

Getting the Offer

If you did well (or maybe did not do well, but they liked what they saw), you may get an offer. On average, from start to finish, your chances of successfully getting an offer are approximately 1 in 20. If you have received an offer, congratulations! You are one of the few to have successfully navigated the path of management consulting recruiting.

Handling a Decline

You may have done poorly on one or all of your interviews. You may have slipped up on the math, misread a graph completely and never recovered, or not thought of the correct path to pursue. Or, less tangibly, the interviewers did not think you would fit well with the firm. Do not worry. If you have other interviews, whether they be this year or next, you have to shake off this rejection and focus on your next interview. Your next interviews will not wait for you to recover. Know that this is a very difficult career path and, for a great many, it requires two years to get the position that they are looking for. Make sure to get feedback, recall your wins and losses, and keep on trying.

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