Updated: May 4, 2020
I was recently asked, "Why do companies take 4+ interview rounds before selecting the new recruits?" I'm sharing my interview experience with McKinsey Knowledge Centre (MKC) to explain what recruiters aim to achieve by all those rounds:
When I was pursuing my graduation in Commerce from Kirori Mal College, Delhi University, I appeared for the position of a Research Analyst at MKC, which took 7 rounds in total.
The first round was CV Screening, in which a pool of 200+ students from my college applied (I have this information because I was in the Placecom). The purpose of this round was to eliminate candidates who didn’t meet the basic criteria of the firm (these criteria are unknown but often circle around academics).
The second round was a Problem Solving Test (PST) that McKinsey conducts for most of its positions. It tests the candidates on their aptitude, logical reasoning and data interpretation abilities. These are some of the basic requirements for any analyst or an associate to have and hence this round. A total of ~120 students appeared for this test from my college.
The third round was an interview with an MKC executive. This round took place off-campus (at the company’s office). The purpose of this round was to test the ability of candidates to solve a case (a guesstimate). Working with numbers is essential for any analyst or consulting job and hence this round. Around 35 students reached this stage from my college.
The fourth round was an interaction with the HR executive from MKC. An HR round is used to identify if the candidate is the right fit for a company or not. Here, the values of the candidate are tested by posing situational questions. For example, “What would you do if the client is unhappy with your presentation?”. Around 10 students from my college made it to this round.
The fifth round was an interview with an MKC Sr. Associate (I don’t remember the exact role). This interviewer evaluates the candidate by asking a multitude of questions ranging from how one grew up to what are one’s future goals and aspirations. This interviewer also asked for a case solution. The purpose of this round is to evaluate if the candidate is a holistic enough person, who is aware of the happenings around as well as sharp enough to work at MKC. Around 8 students made to this round.
The sixth round was an interview with the HR head at MKC. This round is supposed to check if the candidate is good enough to be a part of any team at MKC. Honestly, it is more like a formality at this stage and they are basically looking for any red signals on the basis of which the candidate needs to be rejected. Around 5 students made it to this round.
The seventh-round was a call with the MKC Partner (again, not sure about the exact role). This round was over a video call. Here, the interviewer asked about any recent happenings that interested us, about our favorite books, role models, etc. I felt this round was more of a test of rapport building with the Sr. Management to check if the candidates will be able to connect with the clients. Around 5 students made it to this round.
MKC hires only 2 students from each campus it visits at Delhi University. I was wait-listed for the position after the seventh round and got a confirmation when I had joined the post-graduate program at IIM Ahmedabad.
What I learned about companies that take 4+ interviews is their need to stringently evaluate the candidates on all the parameters of the job. These often include (as mentioned earlier) -
Job-related Skills (case-solving)
Ability to work in Teams
Fit with the Organization
and many more…
The packages that these companies pay are often high (Rs. 13 Lacs at MKC) which makes it a costly enough mistake to hire a wrong candidate. Moreover, their reputation is at stake when the candidate acts as a representative on behalf of the firm. This is not as much in the case of MKC as it is in McKinsey, where the client interface is higher. However, as a brand name, MKC would want to maintain consistency across its workforce. Hence, the long chain of interviews.
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