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Vault’s Verdict

Whatever the ups and downs in the global economy, McKinsey—and its position as the most prestigious name in the business—remains a constant. A trusted advisors to leaders the world over, the firm is the first name on most lists when complicated changes and difficult challenges are afoot. 

Part of the reason for that stellar reputation is the firm’s commitment to delivering a consistent experience wherever in the world it happens to be operating. Aside from specific cultural differences, a McKinsey consultant could walk into any of the firm’s offices on the planet and feel at home—something that helps clients to also receive consistent levels of assistance, regardless of their location.

Aside from hours—a perennial issue across the industry—insiders report very few drawbacks to life at the company.  Training, compensation and—of course—exit opportunities are all best-in-class at McKinsey. Which means that, for most, getting an offer is the hard part. 

Firm Culture

“Our culture is unparalleled. I never feel nervous talking to senior leaders. Everyone jumps in to help. If I stay for the long term it will undoubtedly be because of the people I work with.” 

“Global firm with a deep embedded culture of collaboration and development.”

“Independence, ruthless focus on impact, training and development at all levels, client relationships, privileged opportunity to work with clients on thorniest challenges.”

“McKinsey is a global partnership-- we can work anywhere, meet international friends, and solve global problems like no-one else. Collaboration is expected and incentivized and I've met some of my closest friends and confidantes here.”

“Unique experience that has changed my professional outlook forever and allowed me to deliver the greatest impact I've ever delivered.”

Quality of Life

“As I spent more time at the firm, I gained a lot of flexibility in terms of managing my quality of life. My teams practice smart and mindful travel cadence (mostly 3 days a week of traveling either to client or to co-locating at a McKinsey office) which also allows me to work from home ~2 days per week. Family comes first for me and so I am still able to give time to my children (be home for their school activities or just spend time with them during weekday evenings).”

“Best: work-life integration, I'll call it. Can work at client site then fly to wherever I need to be on the weekend. People generally understand if you block off time for personal life, just needs to be known before the project starts.”

Worst: Churn. Having to re-do decks because clients don't like it or senior leaders can't agree on a direction. That's very frustrating, especially if it leads to missed personal life opportunities (e.g., missing a happy hour w/friends to finish a deck).”

“Long hours, high stress environment on a lot of projects. Approach to travel has improved greatly in the new normal, with much more intentional prioritization of travel when needed/impactful, balanced with remote work that helps with the lifestyle. Very easy to take time off in between projects.”

“There is a lot of control over your hours and travel requirements. Sometimes that might come with a compromise to certain opportunities, but McKinsey offers the flexibility for you to pick your balance. The onus is on you to decide how to manage yourself and your time.”


“McKinsey describes itself as a caring meritocracy and I think that is really true. Unlike competitor firms, performance and compensation is not based on financial metrics and targets. It is a holistic review that factors in how you build lasting client relationships, how you develop and inspire your teams and colleagues, how you are as an entrepreneur, and how you develop and become known for your expertise while living positive values.” 

“Best aspect is that compensation starts relatively high and grows exponentially and I find that rewarding. Worst aspect is that MBA graduates are not eligible for a bonus in your first year at the firm since we haven't worked a full year.”

“Great perks. Lower overall compensation compared to market with organizations that have stock compensation as well for professionals.”

“There are some roles that are not treated the same in compensation despite being at the same impact band. This shows up in differences among traditional / integrative consultants and those on other paths such as solution leadership.”

Career Development

“Amazing opportunities which scale to capability. Real mentoring and sponsorship. Unique growth opportunities because of the access to senior executives and core issues.”

“The dedication that firm leaders have for helping individuals progress is second to none. Yes, our formal training programs are incredible. What is even more incredible is the extent to which Senior Partners hold themselves accountable for helping all of us succeed.” 

“Best career aspect is the unending opportunities. McKinsey is a truly global firm with interesting projects - client and internal - and room for growth going on all the time. During Covid, the firm didn't misstep once (thanks Kevin Sneader!). The worst aspect may be the flipside and the avalanche of opportunities and the need for more work, more expertise and more time.”

“Make your own McKinsey allows you to follow your passions and define your journey in a way that is meaningful to you, which is both fantastic in terms of career development opportunities that align with your interests but also requires you to take great ownership of your trajectory and ensure you are driving towards the next professional milestone.”

“Pro-bono work we get to do at the firm is super inspiring. The work the firm does to help non-profits in our local community is incredibly rewarding and enables you to grow as both a private and social sector leader.”

Community Engagement

“One of the best. There is a serious effort to be more diverse and the effort includes training etc. It is not just lip service.” 

“As a veteran I've found the firm community to be incredibly supportive of our transition and unique perspectives.”

“I appreciate that we are putting our money where our mouth is with the investments we are making in diversity not just in the firm but outside of the firm as well.”

“McKinsey is adopting a very focused approach towards increasing representation and has undertaken efforts such as setting up consulting clubs in HBCUs and bringing students to firm offices to provide exposure to them. Additionally, the firm has increased LGBTQ+ representation by setting up GLAM (the firm's LGBTQ+ affinity group) and very recently organized a global conference in Germany for all colleagues affiliated with the group.”

“Progress is slow because of our working model; senior partners are where we need the most diversity, but it takes time to grow into that role.  All of that being said, our leaders know that diversity is key to unlocking positive impact in the world.” 

Business Outlook

“As a private company with a very strong balance sheet, McKinsey is extremely well positioned in good economic cycles and in bad. It is also highly diversified across geographies and sectors with a strong longstanding client base. McKinsey approaches downturns with a through cycle mentality. McKinsey does not do staff layoffs, instead they go out and try to find the best talent available and make the best acquisitions. You can really see the difference in McKinsey's culture by how they treat their people in challenging times. For example, McKinsey was the first firm to close their Russia office after the Ukraine invasion. They guaranteed employment and relocation for anyone who wanted to stay with McKinsey -even secretaries who had only been with the firm for a very short time.  Consultants volunteered to help provide fun services for colleagues’ kids, help with housing, and more.”

“I trust that we'll navigate the economic conditions well; leadership is already being proactive and intentional about our resources.”

“McKinsey has been highly acquisitive and is constantly investing in start-ups and companies that can allow us better capabilities in going to market.”

“Post-covid, I think the economy and employee morale in the wake of industry news are definitely challenges we will need to face. However, I believe that given the client work we're still doing, the focus we put on people, and the perks, we'll be well positioned to move ahead.”

“The firm is doing a great job of constantly reinventing itself and innovating in areas of growth (for example digital and sustainability). It can be sometimes slower than first movers but tends to innovate in a thoughtful manner and has a strong track record of success with innovations (transformation, operations, design, sustainability).”

Hiring Process

“Our interview process is not to test preparation of the candidates but to evaluate how they perform when they are at their best. This translates into active personalized coaching and support for every candidate that is interviewing with the firm. In the spirit of developing each other, every candidate whether hired or not hired is called by one of the interviewers with an offer to also share feedback. Many candidates (both hired and not hired) attest that this makes the process so enriching irrespective of the outcome.” 

“Interview process is shortened to ensure candidates (campus) receive feedback same day.”

“The interview process generally runs very smoothly and candidates will more often than not receive a call with results the night of their interview. The ideal candidate is a strong problem solver that also has strong people skills, though each track will require a different skillset.”

“Very responsive and thoughtful in providing feedback. Rapid in response (typically ~1-2 hours after final interview). There is no one ideal candidate - McKinsey actively looks for diversity and strengths in 1-2 areas (not some template that the candidate needs to fit).”

“Very thorough and well-structured process, with checks and balances. Ideal candidate is able to marry interpersonal, team and leadership skills with critical, conceptual and analytical thinking and problem solving.”

Interview Questions

“McKinsey receives over 1 million applications a year. Beyond the quantity what is most exciting is the diversity of backgrounds - philosophy majors, surgeons, material engineers, lawyers, climate scientists.  It makes the orientation session and training programs a blast. The common denominator is smart, interesting people who like to make change happen.” 

“I did a case on a wave pool company, a power utility, and an automotive servicing company.”

“Case studies, with an opening exploratory phase that are followed by a quantitative question and mixed in with personal experience discussions.”

“Each interview includes one personal experience question in which candidates provide significant detail on aspects like leadership/inclusion/overcoming challenges/etc. as well as a case that asks a variety of business/problem solving questions.”

“Please discuss the most challenging time you worked with a diverse team, and how you overcame these challenges.”

McKinsey & Company

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New York, NY 10022
Phone: (212) 446-7000

Firm Stats

Employer Type: Private
Global Managing Partner: Bob Sternfels
2023 Employees (All Locations): 38,000

Major Office Locations


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