Engagement Manager

Engagement Manager Interview Questions and Tips


McKinsey engagement manager interview

Asish MohapatraExperiencedSelected
I Applied for job through Personal Contacts for Engagement Manager role at McKinsey
Interview Process
Case Study Interview Case Study Interview Case Study Interview Other Interview
Round 1

Case Study Interview

Interview Experience
We started the interview with a 3-4 minute chat about how painful it can be in the morning to travel and start working right away (He had just arrived).

He then quizzed me about leadership instances at work and in academic career; then I took him into what he believed leadership was. We had a long chat about why leadership was important in consulting. We also spoke about how I was to translate a very explicit form of leadership displayed at work (I was leading operations in a factory) to an implicit environment (like consulting). We talked about what leadership skills are transferable and ones which are not.

The case was about a global heavy vehicle manufacturer. The firm was planning to enter India; my job was to devise a strategy for it. A simple case to begin with I thought, but I knew very well that the challenges are higher in a simple case.
I started off with a simple framework (nothing great, decided the marketing mix and the way to enter – organic was the better route). I also identified the capabilities of the manufacturer that could be transferred to this setting. This went on for about 10 minutes. Here it was important to structure the problem well, following a MECE structure. I also shared some experience of a project with him that we had done in Competitive strategy project that we had done on cars and shared some uniqueness of thenIndian market with him. I am not covering this in detail as it was pretty standard and I just had to do the basics right. Then he told me to size the truck market in India. I told him that I will follow the stock method of analysis, by which I will estimate the number of trucks currently in operation throughout India. Since I was doing a demand side analysis, I divided the trucks into
variable loads (where capacity utilization is less than equal to 100%) or fixed loads (construction equipment carriers, petrol loads, car containers, etc.). He said that they normally don’t do it this way but he wanted me to proceed as he found it interesting.

Then, he told me that he wanted me to do it for the car carriers for paucity of time. I went ahead and assumed a certain number of carriers that are bought every year (the number wasn’t important, I assumed 1000 for ease of analysis). I understood the supply chain from him and he explained the dealer system to me. Then, I told him that I will assume steady state, as in the number of cars sold are the number of cars manufactured and distributed. I then divided it as per the number of manufacturers, number and location of manufacturing locations, distance, speed distribution, capacity of trucks, capacity utilization, number of hours driven in a day, maintenance days and the average number of days that a truck is driven in a year to arrive at the number of trips made and hence, the number of trucks that were plying. It was important to note that the trucks generally came back completely empty. I also told him that the transporters will like to keep some number of trucks on a standby. He asked me to estimate that as well. I gave him a framework to analyze that. I gave him a framework depending on locations, routes, failure time and MTBFs. He was ok with that. The case was extremely quantitative and was very intensive numerically. I also did a sensitivity analysis on one of the
parameters showing him that the whole estimate was sensitive to a few parameters.
Then, I told him that if I link both the cases together, then it gives me an interesting sight into what value proposition the truck
manufacturer can give to the Indian transporters. I told him that let’s look at each of the variables that I had estimated earlier and
see whether we can reduce them. Then, I said that we can try to increase the mileage and increase the size of the truck as well. Then, I told him that both the things might be inversely related. It can also be done that the truck speed can be increased on the back journey. Maintenance days can be decreased. He asked me for a few creative recommendations, which I gave – I don’t really remember them now but the method was as stated above.

Then, he asked me for a feedback about the case and discussion overall. I told him about how different the case would have been
had the case between about variable loads. He was ok with it.

He then told me to ask him a question. I asked him about the project specifically and to what detail McKinsey went. I also asked him how McKinsey keeps a tab on how clients implement suggestions. The overall case lasted about 25 minutes. I then linked it with one of the questions asked in the personal interview. I told him that it is a challenge that line managers like us will face in a
consulting environment, wherein we do not necessarily get to implement. Then, I shared a few jokes that I had played with consultants (mostly technical) and how it might be my turn to be on the receiving end now.
Interview Tips
I think the skill that was being tested here was how comfortable I was with the interviewer in the beginning. It was important to engage him in a fruitful conversation that is argumentative but not confrontational. I think basic presence and communication skills were being tested here. Overall, the whole experience lasted about 10 minutes, and when he was convinced that I was comfortable enough, we went into the case.
It is important to be your natural self in the interview. Comfort with numbers is absolutely crucial. It is also important that when using creativity, structure should not be lost. Never shoot ideas of the hat, always be structured. It is important to see and address the body language of the interviewer. The basic thing that works is that one should focus on bringing out one’s strengths in the interview. My strengths lay in creativity, structuring and quick calculations (which I specifically tried to bring out in the interview). Your strengths (preparation will yield that) could be very different and you should try to bring them out. It is very important to remain cool after the interview since one might get a feeling that he’s not done well but the results could be just the other way round!
Round 2

Case Study Interview

Interview Experience
We started the interview with a conversation about my career at IIT and my times in Cuttack (Orissa), my hometown. He was hooked onto my JEE rank and asked me why the number was unique. I don’t think he wanted a particularly great answer but he wanted to check my ability to think on my feet. He asked to give him 5 different uniquenesses.

He also asked me why Cuttack wasn’t doing as well as a Bhubaneswar. To this I replied taking geographic, political, cultural and economic reasons into account. We then discussed about my Summer Project with Reckitt Benckiser (this was an automation project with a FMCG major). He asked me to explain the labor implications of implementing automation. He then went ahead to ask me my experiences in dealing with unionized labor at ITC. He was also interested in one of the papers that I had written about
BOP and presented at XLRI. This was about how to bring your best people to the BOP. He asked me to explain the paper and then told me to explain how useful it can be to the corporate world. My observation had told me that he was very practical and won’t like flowery answers that this is the idea of the millennium! I gave him all the strengths and weaknesses of the idea (and real ground level ones) in implementation.

After that he asked me why I was looking forward to a consulting career. I told him that it links well to my long term goal, which is
leading a NGO. I told him that this is one of the reasons that McKinsey stands out for me as a firm, with all the public policy and
pro-bono work. We discussed a bit about India’s policy change from the ‘50s to the ‘70s. I gave him some funda about what I had
seen in the Commanding Heights video, though he was doing most of the talking.

He was visibly happy with the fact that I said public policy (Later I realized that he specializes in public policy at McK) and told me
that he will give me a case on it. The whole experience lasted 15 minutes.

He started off the case asking me what I knew about the Bharat Nirman Project. I told him that my knowledge is limited to what I have read in the papers over the past few weeks and I do not know in detail about it. He told me that this case will enhance my
learning about the challenges facing somebody working in public policy.

The case was about rural electrification. He said the objective of the central government has now shifted to putting an electric bulb in every Indian home by Feb, 2008. He asked me how the Government should go about it.

I started off telling him that the idea looked unrealistic to me. Assuming that 1 billion is the Indian population and 65% lived in
villages, 650 million is the current rural population. Assuming that there are 5 members per rural household, there are 130 million
households. Then assuming that 30% of rural India is electrified, 91 million households remain. We just have two years, which is
approximately 700 days. Even if we work throughout, 1.3 lakh households have to be electrified every day. This is by no means
easy. Add to this fact that there is huge geographic dispersion and the current state of the SEBs, the plan looks nonviable. I told him that I found it impractical. To this he replied saying that most public policy projects are such. They lack thinking about the design phase itself. He asked me to go ahead with the problem assuming it is doable.

I approached the problem saying that I would see the project from three standpoints – economic, organizational and operational. On the operational point, I would divide the project into generation and T&D phases. On the economic standpoint, I would look at the ways and means to fund this project. On the organizational front, I would like to see who would own this project. Here, he told me that the question should not be treated like any other consulting case and he is looking for completely creative solutions.

I asked him whether I should go ahead with the analysis the way I had structured or he wanted me to do something different. He
replied that he is looking for specifically the Generation area. I told him that when it comes to generation, there are four issues
that need to be looked at – Performance of conventional energy generation units, New conventional energy units, isolated units and non-conventional sources of energy. He said that I should discuss the non-conventional energy sources first.

I told him that I was aware of solar, wind and bagas (sugarcane by product). He asked me to describe the economics of Solar. I showed it to him that at the current rate, it’s unprofitable. Then, we went to Wind energy. I told him that the issues to look for
here are technology, fixed costs and practical viability (availability of areas) where they can be installed. We discussed each one of them in greater detail from then on.

I told him that when it comes to buying technology, it would be very costly and technology transfer has to be on a mutual basis.
Then, we went it to the details of the windmill technology and its advantages in the Indian context. He was doing most of the talking here.

He asked me to do a commercial evaluation of all these technologies. I did the same considering three parameters – speed (because the industry has an external effect), cost and future viability (to incorporate learning curve effects). After shedding some light on each one of them, he asked me to move on to the funding aspect in generation.

I told him that the money here can be drawn from four areas – government, Indian private, Foreign players and debtors. I told him how each one of them was different (most of the logic was thought on the spot). We then discussed about the amount of privatization that should be allowed. I was of the opinion that wherever private participation is allowed, it should be in both R&D and generation. Having only one of them was not of any use. He didn’t agree to it and he was of the opinion that we weren’t ready yet. We closed the interview on an argumentative note.

He asked me to ask a question at the end. I asked him what kind of persuasive powers consultants enjoy when it comes to public policy projects. He smiled and gave me a lot of insight into public policy consulting. He appreciated the fact at the end of the interview that I could make people talk. The whole experience lasted close to 20 mins.
Interview Tips
Keep yourself cool. Show a good understanding of the things happening around you (may not be knowledge, but an opinion usually helps). Do not try to throw facts when they amount to nothing!
Round 3

Case Study Interview

Interview Experience
He asked me about the problems that dealing with a union entails. There were a few more specific questions about my resume, in which I had to describe the work I did. I spoke for some time – maybe 2 minutes.

Then he asked me the kind of preparation that our batch had done for consulting. I gave him some feedback about how the interview workshop process done by McKinsey could have been better and how different it was from other colleges (stressing on poor institutional memory and ways to deal with it). He asked me what my last case was about. When I told him that it was about public policy and I had like it. He said that he also wanted me to do a case in that. The whole conversation lasted close to a little over 10 minutes.

An extremely short case. It lasted less than 10 minutes. He asked me what a government could do to improve the banking policy of a third-world country. To begin with, I told him that there is no generic answer and the policy has to be case specific. I also told him that I got a feeling that he was speaking from personal experience.

He said that I was right and asked me to take the case of Bahrain. He asked me what I knew about Bahrain and its banking industry. I told him that I knew it was a Muslim country and was staunch in protecting Muslim values (I used to collect stamps; I knew that they did not have a word of English – I told him that).

Then he gave me a good overview about Bahrain (lot of tangential stuff) and told me that the Finance minister was worried that the industry might lose it. He told me it was majorly into fostering corporate banks.

To begin with I told him that it was a case of B2B marketing and banks would stay if they get a good value proposition in Bahrain.
But then, if they get a better value proposition elsewhere, they’ll shift. He said I was right and asked me to think ahead. I asked him who these banks were. He told me that they were the Middle East bases of MNC banks. I asked him why the banks were there in the first case. He told me that it was centrally located and had liberal laws. I analyzed the geography and told him that what struck me was the fact it was close to Dubai. I asked him why not Dubai?

He told me that there was an announcement by the Dubai officials that they would make their policies freer than Bahrain and would make it a free trading zone.

I inferred from this saying that this might be a symptom of the real issue but wasn’t the actual problem. To this, he agreed. I told him that first of all I need to analyze the Dubai threat more closely. I told him first that we need to establish whether Dubai’s threat is credible or not (look at their history and look at the economic impact). He asked me to assume that they can do it. Then, I told him to look at the value proposition (including the switching cost to Dubai – local knowledge, skill base) that Bahrain provides and compare to the value proposition that Dubai gives. I told him that it is important to keep a futuristic view in mind. Then, I told him that what strikes me about the case is the fact that in this industry, it is very important to build your local clientele and not rely on foreigners. He said fine.

Then, I quizzed him about how developed was Bahrain’s retail and corporate banking was. I told him that it would relate very closely to the economic development was in Bahrain.

I told him that I felt that the real issue with Bahrain was the fact that the industry relied too much on MNCs without first satisfying local demand. I told him that I would like to create a policy keeping this in mind.

He asked me to stop the interview then and there.
Interview Tips
Thinking on your feet is extremely important at the beginning of the case. First think common sensical and then get on to the regular consulting case analysis. One way of dealing with a person you know is to use your previous experience with him (in any which way).
Round 4

Other Interview

Interview Experience
I was told at the beginning that I won’t have a case. He asked me to ask a few questions that I felt were relevant.

I asked him how McKinsey makes the environment conducive for knowledge sharing. He gave me a few inputs.

I told him what I had read about McKinsey’s knowledge management in a HBS case. He heard it attentively. He then gave me an idea about the state of affairs now and particularly in India. I asked him about how sharing gets linked to performance initiatives. I also asked him how other firms (esp. consulting) do it. He then asked me to narrate a few instances about ISB. I told him that any education program is incomplete without pranks. I told him a few pranks that I had played on a few friends in ISB (and vice versa).
Interview Tips
Be your natural self and try to gauge the interviewer’s body language when telling a story.
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McKinsey engagement manager interview

Achint Setia ExperiencedSelected
I Applied for job through Walk-in for Engagement Manager role at McKinsey
Interview Process
Case Study Interview Case Study Interview Case Study Interview Case Study Interview Case Study Interview
Round 1

Case Study Interview

Interview Questions
  • Question 1: The client is a hospital chain with 12 hospitals across India and plans to grow to 40-50 hospitals. The first hospital was set up in Chandigarh, 8 years back. The client has taken both organic and inorganic routes to growth with the last acquisition some 2 years back. Their profit has been declining over the last one year and we need to diagnose the issue along with suitable recommendations.
Interview Experience
The first thing I did was to clarify the expectations of the client and any associated constraints. Priyanka clarified that we need to focus on EBIT and ROI improvement. The current EBIT and ROI were negative and our goal was to take them to 25% and 30-35% respectively. There were no financial constraints for the particular case. Structure: ROI = After Tax EBIT / Invested Capital Invested Capital = Working Capital + Net Investments I clarified that I would be looking to increase EBIT by increasing revenues or reducing costs or both. Then I would look at decreasing Invested Capital through analyzing components like Receivables, Cash, Inventory, Payables, Fixed Investments and Depreciation. She agreed and asked me to start by picking up one of the drivers. I picked revenues because there were considerable improvements required in both EBIT and ROI and cost cutting might not suffice. She nodded and we proceeded. I listed the various revenue drivers in a hospital: Diagnosis, OPD and Procedures (she helped me a bit here with correct terminology). After some discussion it was clear that the revenues from procedures, which was a major contributor to hospital’s income, were declining. The price of procedures had been constant so it was an issue with the number of procedures. Also, the other hospitals had lower prices for the same services hospital seemed to be charging a premium for their services and I had to find out why. I elaborated the various factors that would drive premium such as patient care, diagnosis authenticity, convenience and future tests required. She asked be to elaborate patient care. I listed 5 factors: doctors & nursing staff, length and time, accommodation, flexibility of meeting close ones, and miscellaneous things such as food etc. I also prioritized these putting doctors and nurses on the top. It was here that she revealed that some key doctors had left an year back and the hospital’s premium was to be attributed to the presence of these doctors when they were in service, This nailed down the key reason of decline of procedural revenues. Next, she asked me to look at reducing costs. I elaborated the entire value chain of the hospital: 1. Supply Side consisting of utilities, drugs and equipments 2. Operations consisting of procedures, labor and R&D. 3. Marketing and promotions After a brief discussion on the factors driving supply side costs, I identified that the procurement of drugs can be optimized through consolidating purchase. On the operations side, we figured out the wage structure was pretty much fixed and I detailed out a few recommendations here to improve labor efficiency. One was to use a performance based incentive structure with the use of balance scorecards and leading indicators to assess performance. She was quite happy on hearing this as this was part of the recommendations they had given to the client. The case ended here.
Interview Tips
My advice to you would be that whenever in doubt about a new business, ask rather than guessing and spending time that could be utilized in more fruitful discussions.
Round 2

Case Study Interview

Interview Questions
  • Question 1: A very open ended case. Pan-IIT (a group of IIT alums) is looking to build an organization called “Reach for India”. The purpose is to hire top business school graduates and have them work with district collectors across India and help them solve some key national issues and also build a governing secretariat of top talent. The problem was to recommend the Pan-IIT board on how to go about building this organization
Interview Experience
I tried to scope the problem down but Rajiv wanted me to structure my thoughts first and come up with an approach on a broader level. I came up with the following structure Structure: 1. Strategic Goals: a. Short term: Solve some existing problems and build a talent pool b. Long term: Impact on society and economy 2. Organizational: a. Supply of Labor Pool b. Attracting and sustaining employees i. Salary and Incentives j. Personal Development through trainings k. Challenging assignments l. Exit Options c. Execution to meet the expectations of the 4 stakeholders: District collectors, Pan-IIT, Government and Employees i. Management j. Teachers / Training k. Program Structure: Curriculum, Length, intensityl. HR m. Administration 3. Financial: Source of Finances, debt and equity distribution. Rajiv was fairly satisfied with the comprehensive structure and after a brief discussion, clarified that the focus of the present case was to just think about the building blocks of the organization. Since I had listed down quite a few things, he just wanted me to have a discussion on the various aspects of the problem and we chatted for 15 minutes on what should be the issues in each of the elements of the Organizational part and recommendations to tackle them. Detailing out an exhaustive structure and explaining my approach in detail gave the confidence to the interviewer. After that I just had to engage him in discussion on various aspects till he decided to close the case.
Interview Tips
Try to scope down an open ended problem such as this. If interviewer wants to explicitly look at your broad level thinking, such as in my case, it is important to take your time and come up with as exhaustive a structure as possible.
Round 3

Case Study Interview

Interview Questions
  • Question 1: The client wants to construct a hospital in an upcoming suburb and the objective is to come up with a sustainable business model for the same.
Interview Experience
Since the problem given to me was very open ended, I started asking a lot of questions on the objective of the client and any constraints we need to consider in our analysis. Adheet revealed the following information: The suburb is still under development and there is no infrastructure as of now. The client is actually a large hospital chain in the country and is not looking for immediate profits but eventually within 3-4 years. Financial constraints not an issue. Hospital again! But the good part was that I had got some confidence on the business after having interviewed with Priyanka earlier.
Structure: a. NPV > 0 b. Determine cash flows: Revenues, Costs, Working Capital and Capital Expenditure c. Determine appropriate discount rate for cash flows: an appropriate way would be to use industry comparables of similar hospitals. He agreed and asked me to discuss the revenue aspect. I laid down the following approach: 1. Identify customer disease patterns and demographics. 2. Pick up the attractive opportunities that could ensure long term sustainability. Identify the customer segments to target. 3. Check if the opportunity aligns with business vision and company’s capabilities. 4. Determine the appropriate price for these services based on consumer willingness to pay To simplify things he gave me an additional data point here. The real estate developer of the area had predicted the following growth of population in that area: 100,000 in 3 years 500,000 by 6 years 1 million by 10 years. He then asked me to determine the healthcare requirements of these potential customers. I listed down 3 factors here: Socio Economic Status, Age and Idiosyncratic factors such as family history. He was impressed and asked me how I could determine the Socio Economic Status. I gave a lot of options here but he kept pushing that we had no access to any formal databases and some proxy was needed. After a bit of thinking I told him that the kind of apartments being bought by the families could proxy for their socio-eco status. This was what he was looking for and immediately gave me the following information. Super luxury flat (1 crores): 10% of families, luxury (50 lacs): 40%, 1 bedroom apartment (20 lacs): 50%. I asked about the average number of people per household and he gave me the numbers of 5, 4 and 3 respectively. I told him that even the relatively poorest of families were actually quite well to do as they could afford a 20 lacs flat. He agreed and asked me what kind of service on a broad level would suit our target customer segment. I told that 2 kinds of services should suffice here: Deluxe and Regular. Deluxe would include some premium procedures that could be utilized by either of the segments. Regular Procedures would be more day to day services provided to a wide spectrum of the population. He mentioned that regular procedures would need a breakeven volume to turn profitable and asked me to develop a timeline for introduction of the two kinds of services. Based on the population immigration information he had provided me earlier, I recommended that the client should start with deluxe services when the customer base would be small and eventually move to other regular services and customer base grows big enough to achieve breakeven. He asked me if there were any risks involved here and I mentioned that competitive threat could always be a concern here. I recommended that such a threat could be conquered to an extent by making appropriate arrangements for customers to receive these services at a nearby hospital of the same chain. He liked the idea since the hospital could bear initial losses. We had some more discussion on other issues of such as real estate, supplier contracts, equipments etc. before he closed the case. And as always, he discussed about movie making experience and also my work at Microsoft.
Interview Tips
Be careful when the interviewer is giving a lot of numbers. He might be looking to test your quantitative abilities. Clarify upfront if in doubt.
Round 4

Case Study Interview

Interview Questions
  • Question 1: He laid out the problem. There’s an airport somewhere in London, which has 4 terminals and 2 runways. The airport authorities are planning to build a 5th terminal. Would it make sense?
Interview Experience
I started by laying down my hypotheses on why a 5th terminal should be built:
1. Reduce congestion on existing terminals by increasing capacity
2. Facilitate Growth of air traffic and passenger traffic
3. Achieve optimization between traffic on runways and terminals He wanted me to test the first hypothesis. I confirmed whether airport capacity can be defined in terms of passenger flow rate. He agreed but wanted me to look at another measure of capacity which is the air traffic flow rate. In simple terms, this was the maximum number of airplanes that can land or take off from the airport in a day.
I asked for specific information and got the following data:
1. Air traffic operates for 17 hours in a day.
2. Each terminal has 50 gates I said to figure out whether there is any real capacity increase we need to find out whether New Capacity = MIN{ Total number of airplanes determined by total gates, Total number of airplanes that can use the runway in a day} > Current Capacity He asked me to make the required assumptions and proceed. I made 2 specific assumptions:
1. Both runways are identical and capable of serving same traffic.
2. All airplanes on an average take the same amount of time while standing on gates and similarly while using the runway (take off or landing)
He then gave me the following data: A plane takes 90 sec on average on the runway while landing or takeoff. This meant that the runways can support a total of 17 * 2 * 3600 / 90 = 1360 planes per day. Next, he told me that every gate can support 5 planes on an average. This meant that with 5 terminals a total of 5*50*5 = 1250 planes can be held on the gates. This gives the new capacity = Min{1250,1360} = 1250 an additional capacity of 250 planes. So one part of the hypothesis was verified that there would be additional capacity added by building 5th terminal. Now we had to establish whether it would reduce congestion. We started discussing the various sub hypotheses that would need to be true for this to happen. Things such as feasibility of movement of passengers and staff from one terminal to another, movement of infrastructure(shops etc) to the new terminal and so on. We chatted for almost 10 minutes on this and he asked me to synthesize the case. The hypothesis had been proven right.
Interview Tips
Practice hypothesis driven case solving as well in case you come across such an interviewer.
Round 5

Case Study Interview

Interview Questions
  • Question 1: The case was about a web services company which had encountered saturation in its web search and advertisement business and wanted to revive itself within the next 5 years.
Interview Experience
I clarified what all businesses the client was running, the relative share of revenues in each and the competitive landscape in each. Then I laid down my approach:
1. Identify the attractive businesses for the future. This can be done using a 2X2 matrix of competition vs. growth opportunity.
2. Choose the ones that are feasible to focus on in the next 5 years based on company’s capabilities.
3. Chart out an execution strategy for these businesses accounting for challenges and the effect on bottom line.
4. Consider divesting the unattractive businesses considering the risk of impact on the existing ones since there is lot of interdependency in the web space. He was satisfied with the overall structure and drew out a chart with lots of customer and growth data on the existing businesses. It’s difficult for me to explain our discussion over here because first, the chart was fairly comprehensive and second, he asked me to hand over to him everything I had written while solving the case. On a broad level, we discussed the attractive business opportunities and what challenges we would have to consider. He asked me to give 10 specific challenges in one particular business and it was here that my Web 2.0 course learning and software experience helped me.
Interview Tips
Push yourself when the interviewer says..”What else...” - this is an indication that the interviewer wants to check how creative you can get with your thought process.

Skills Tested

  • Ability To Cope Up With Stress
  • Case Solving Ability
  • Case Analysis
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McKinsey engagement manager interview

Saurabh VashishthaFresherSelected
I was interviewed on-campus at Indian School of Business (ISB) for Engagement Manager role at McKinsey
Interview Process
Case Study Interview Case Study Interview Case Study Interview
Round 1

Case Study Interview

Interview Questions
  • Question 1: PI questions: Tell me about yourself?
  • Question 2: Why ISB? Why MBA? Why consulting?
  • Question 3: Case Questions: A publishing firm has been seeing a fall in profits off late. Help them diagnose and fix the problem.
Interview Experience
The case started on a very generic note and on the outset seemed like a standard profitability case. I started with some clarifying questions such as
: What does the company do? The company is into magazine publishing (2nd highest selling weekly magazine, in addition to
few other magazines.
: Who are the competitors? There are a few other competitors. 2 other large competitors, 1 larger and another smaller than our
company and the segment is dominated by these 3. There are a few other smaller players too.
: How long have they been facing the problem? Facing it for the past few years.
: How are the competitors doing? Doing fine. Have been more or less constant.
I started with structuring the problem in a standard profitability problem (profit = revenue – cost). He told me that the revenues have been fine and they have actually seen an increase in revenue over the past few years (he threw some numbers here such as % increase in revenue etc). Then I told him that I would focus on the costs. In order to handle the costs part, I created a value chain of the complete process from the time of collection of news and articles (reporting) editing printing distribution. Here he asked me to think if there could be something else also in the value chain. I realized that after distribution there should be something related to ‘returns’ also. He was expecting the same answer. Then I went through the various parts of the value chain to understand
the costs involved in each part and if something had changed or could be improved there, but there were no major issues. Since he had asked me specifically for the returns part, I asked him a little more about the returns policy and what happens if the vendor/retailer has overstocked the magazines. He told me that the company takes them back and the value is practically zero for those magazines. (Throughout the discussion he was giving me numbers on how much it costs per magazine at each part of the value chain).). At this point, I asked him if there had been an increase in the number of returns (overstocking at the retailer’s end and he gave me some data which indicated that was the case). I told him that at this point, we can evaluate the implications of
both under-stocking and overstocking at the vendor’s end and find if the company is supplying the optimal quantity. This was basically an application of the ‘newsvendor problem’ we studied in the basic operations course. Post this it was simple, I completed the calculations and he looked satisfied.

It’s very important to listen carefully during a case interview. Most interviewers will give away hints and will try to help you solve a case. Catching those hints and solving the case together with the interviewer is the key. Another thing that I think went right was the conversations before and after the case interview. I was done with the interview in 12-15 minutes. For the remaining time, I chatted with him about his experience interviewing at ISB and how he found it different from interviewing at the IIMs. And then we went on to talk about the different models that the schools operate on and how the education sector in India has evolved
etc etc. All of this helped me strike a note with the interviewer. Finally the fact that I could remember what the newsvendor problem was

Interview Tips
Listening skills are very important. Go through the core term concepts. The ability to apply concepts studied in the various subjects to your case interviews give that ‘wow’ factor.
Round 2

Case Study Interview

Interview Questions
  • Question 1: PI questions: Tell me about yourself?
  • Question 2: A lot of questions about my work experience and about my company
  • Question 3: What I thought was the best way to encourage innovation in a technology company
  • Question 4: Case Questions: Tata motors was producing Indica (which costs around 3 Lakhs), and wanted to produce a 1 lakh car. How can they go about doing this?
Interview Experience
A majority of this interview was PI. He asked me a lot of questions about my work experience and about my company (Trilogy). He then asked me about what I thought was the best way to encourage innovation in a technology company. Although this was a PI, I tried to put a structure to my answer. I basically divided the reforms into a few buckets, like organizational changes (incentive structures), employee focus, customer focus etc. And then elaborated under each of the sub- headings. There were also other questions related to the biggest challenges at work etc.

This was a very small and simple case. He was primarily looking for ways to not just reduce cost but how to approach a radically different problem. I went through the standard set of cost reduction measures throughout the value chain but told him that this would only achieve only so much cost reduction. In order to create a one lakh car, they need to look at something from the scratch. It needs to be a fresh design (not just of the engine, but also design of how the various processes work today, including where the assembly happens, how distribution works etc).

Most of this interview was about my work experience (Software product development and technology consulting), and my views on the technology sector. It helped to have researched the various trends in the sector and having an opinion on the various things.

Nothing much, though it may have helped to go through the casebooks from earlier years in detail, because this case was very similar to something that was asked in one of the previous years, but I heard it for the first time in the interview.

Interview Tips
: Be very thorough with your work experience related topics
: Do research on the trends etc in the relevant sector.
: Try and structure your responses even in a PI.
Round 3

Case Study Interview

Interview Questions
  • Question 1: PI questions: Tell me about yourself?
  • Question 2: Case Questions: The Maharashtra government wants to build a plan for the Mumbai metro project and wants it to be a completely self financed project. How could this be achieved.
Interview Experience
This was again a small case, where interviewer did most of the talking. I started with telling him that there would be two key aspects to this project, the first being the financing (sources, procedures) and the second being the revenue generation, and both of these together need to contribute to a self financed metro project. I started with the revenue part first. I approached this through an asset monetization approach (basically analyze the various assets that the project would own and look at ways to monetize each of them). Here I talked about the train, the tracks, the land near the tracks and the stations etc and suggested ways to monetize these. The most important thing that came out was the land that is allocated to the metro project, and which is not used directly for
the project and can be developed as a commercial property to monetize the project. Once we reached this stage, interviewer talked at length about how this worked at the Mumbai metro project where he was involved and how they were able to collect many times more revenue than the amount needed for the project. Then I talked about the financing part. Here I basically started with the
pecking order and suggested ways to finance. I told him that given that government guarantees could be explored and this could lead to ways of reducing the cost of financing. This turned more into a conversation, where interviewer talked about the various kinds of securities that could be used and how the government often provides sops in the form of tax breaks etc.

Again, listening helped. He kept giving me hints and helped me progress through the case. Also, during the case prep sessions, we had touched upon the asset monetization strategy, which helped here.

Nothing really went wrong. It would have been nice to know about the various securities that interviewer mentioned could be used for financing such a project
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McKinsey engagement manager interview

Pranjal JainExperiencedSelected
Interview Process
Case Study Interview Case Study Interview
Round 1

Case Study Interview

Interview Questions
  • Question 1: Personal questions:Examples of leadership experience.
  • Question 2: Personal questions:Examples of leadership experience.
Interview Experience
In the Personal Interview, I was asked about my leadership experiences. My experience of factory start-up with HLL helped my case. Further I was asked why I could not make it through with McK the previous time (I had interviewed while at IITK in 2002 for analyst post). Here I pointed out to the way I have changed in the last 3 years both while working with HLL and by doing my MBA (focusing on peer learning). I gave an example of the way I currently understand the position of HLL, with specific mention to its annual result (had been announced just 3 days back ); I had done some basic numbers (ratios) and could easily comment on the performance with a mention of the way ahead as it should be for HLL.
I was given two cases by the interviewer for my first round.
For case 1, I was given this: SAP India has not been able to expand its operations as it has not been able to hire the right number of people, so ramp up was not possible, help out its HR dept. I did some checks with simple questions to understand the situation better. Then I drew a funnel (which represents the hiring process), input to which is applicants and output is selected candidates. Understood the drop outs (people eliminated) at various stages. Concluded that the process can not be made less stringent, so the only way out is to increase the input to the funnel.
Looked at input as market share of a product (dependent on 3 factors, Awareness, Availability and Purchase intention, MARKSTRAT funda). Checked if it’s a fair way to look at it. The interviewer was pretty satisfied with it.
Awareness: 2 segments, fresh college grads and IT professionals working in other firms who might like to apply to SAP. Realized that awareness level is low on campuses and the IT Pros of other firms are not being targeted at all.
Remedy: Campus promotion events, tie ups with schools the way Infy et al are having, start a referral programme, start blogs, etc.
Availability: Very poor interface to apply on, extremely low bandwidth of HR dept. takes a month to process applications and by that time the applicants are no longer interested or already have jobs. Measures suggested here.
Purchase Intention: No problem here. The quality of work is great and the brand name of SAP is great.
In the end, synthesized the case.
I believe I was able to structure the case very well and that really helped a lot.

2nd Case: Tata 1 lakh car, need to lower the cost of parts in car to less than 75 K.
Structure made, being from a manufacturing background I tried to leverage on my wok knowledge and presented my analysis:
• Might have to use an alternate MoC (Material of construction), think plastics/composites.
• Tie up with a global vendor like GE to get the MoC
• Have all yr auto ancillary suppliers gear up to the challenge of using the MoC
• Centralized purchasing done by Tata Motors for all ancillary suppliers so as to get economies of scale
• Rationalize the components being used, get rid of useless components used in the car (I missed out this point and was driven towards it)

My energy level created very positive vibes from the very beginning
The structuring of the cases was good.
The way I could point out the change (for the better) that I have undergone since the time I last interviewed with McK.
My leadership examples was pretty strong
In the end I asked him about the Mck NASSCOM report (I had read it cover to cover) and wanted to know his views on Indian top 5 IT cos becoming USD 10 Bn firms.
He was happy with the question and gave his views.
Interview Tips
Personal Questions: Prepare very well. The way I see it, write a 10-12 page essay about yourself which really is a representation of your true self. It should not be swayed by the firm or the kind of job you are interviewing for.
It helps to serve as a key for all personal questions and having it all together ensures that there is no contradiction in any answer. It worked very well in my case.
Round 2

Case Study Interview

Interview Questions
  • Question 1: What are my views on ISB and the way ahead for it.
Interview Experience
There were no personal questions in this round and it was pointed out that only 1 case will be administered. I was asked to ask him questions about work/McK. I asked him about his failures at McK.
For case I was presented with this: Client is India’s largest PSU bank (Client name cant be disclosed ☺) Due to recent RBI strictures, cheque can’t be delivered physically to a clearing house, so an alternative scheme is to be drawn up. I some how confused this whole system with RTGS and started blabbering out of that when I was checked by Nigel. (Lesson: Never ever assume anything, if you do, make sure you check it with the interviewer).
There were basically 2 schemes which were drawn up with regards to cheque processing and movement of information/data. They were to be compared, a result had to be arrived at and an optimal one (possibly a third one was to be suggested).

I went about drawing the 2 schemes (what appeared to be child’s play initially was extremely tough). By the end I was thoroughly confused between the schemes as they had so many elements to them. I requested for more time and drew them neatly (that is something not very natural to me) and on different sheets of paper. Then I concluded that we need to do a cost benefit analysis (with the constraint of acceptable service level) and I went on to identify the cost drivers. They included manpower cost, cost of hardware like scanners, bandwidth cost (for electronic flow of images), cost of courier and the constraint of service level. At this stage I was getting lost due to excess information and was asked to stop and synthesize the discussion we had had till that time before proceeding further.

Then we did establish the merits of one network structure over the other and I was then asked to arrive at an even better network. The interviewer left me alone in he room for some time to help me think and I could arrive at an alternate network. Upon discussion it was found that I had not taken care of the service level and my design was not feasible.
Interview Tips
Never crack in a pressure interviewer, if the case is difficult and the interviewer is asking you to speed up and move when you are not really done with an issue, DO take your time.
General Tips
Maintain positive energy from the beginning of the interview.

Focus on the way you structure the cases.

Be as succinct and creative as possible while solving the cases.

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