A Day At McKinsey & Co. (and a few days before that!)

Tuesday 27th May 11:55 a.m.   Listen there’s recruitment drive for JRA-Telecom and High Tech at the Mckinsey & Company, Gurgaon. I was more than excited to hear that. It is on the 30th May, and listen get your tickets booked said the voice on the phone.

12:00 p.m. Mummy I need to go get the train tickets booked. Beta , get it done by flight cos you won’t be able to make it by train, and you won’t get the tickets to Delhi in the eleventh hour. No Mummy I won’t it will cost a million!!! I quickly checked out the retro Indian railways website. There was no ticket available for any of the trains for the next week, even in tatkal. But wait there was one in a train called the Dakshin express. God saved me,  there was this train which started 10:30 in the night and reached by 4:00 p.m. the next day, 17 and a half  hours that’s faster than the fastest train to Delhi. Wow, I did not take a moment off, got ready and went to the get the tickets. I was so excited; I had exactly 48 hours to brush up my basics and the current trends in the area of Telecom. I took no time to rest and went about doing my research. It was around evening time that my dad came back home and I told him the scheme of things that took place the whole day. Then I told him that I got my tickets booked in that train. He asked me whether I was sure the train took 17 and half hours cos he’d travelled in that train and it used to take like a century to be precise exactly double the time that I actually interpreted. I checked the ticket and it was 4:00 a.m. the other day. I was shocked. A lot of events and discussions took place after that, finally I had to spend those extra bucks to get a flight ticket to New Delhi (the one I argued my mom over).

Wednesday 28th May   Spent the whole day studying.

Thursday 29th may      I was supposed to leave for Delhi so that I could attend the interview on the 30th. And guess what these Gujjars came from nowhere and blocked the key places in the National Capital Region. I was in a soup again. If these things would continue I would be stuck in Delhi cause there would be no way out of it. But luckily the police and administration for the first time brought the matters under control and the road blockages were removed. There were multitude of new things I was about to experience en-route the national capital. The first was the GMR Rajiv Gandhi International airport at Hyderabad (not exactly cos it’s like miles from the city). It was my first hand experience of being at an intl. airport. I had been to one at New Delhi and Bangalore, but one can’t call them international by any standards. I was amazed to find out that our typical old hyderabadi frens were there with big families to just come and enjoy the beautiful lawns and the picture perfect airport and had actually no intentions to take a flight or to receive anyone. So that explains a bit about us “the HYDERABADIS”. After the ticket problems and then the Gujjar struggle, I had been wishing that my luck does not go for a toss again. The funny part was that whether I would be allowed on the plane because I had no Id proof. Yeah, I had an expired Driving Learner’s license!! If that would count. Luckily…. my luck did not go for a toss and managed the boarding pass. It was a little wait and then boarded the flight which took off dot on time. One thing was bad to notice. The cabin crew was like bad… It was a spicejet flight. I recollected the last time (my first time) on board was a spicejet to Bangalore from Delhi and it had like uber-cool cabin staff. Were they biased towards the Hyderabadis… (who gives a damn we know we don’t deserve it ha-ha). And this time I did not forget to carry cotton to plug my ears, learnt it from past flight experience that if you do not wanna go deaf after your ultra super jet flight take care of your ears… it took exactly two hours from meeting Rajiv to Indira. My Jiju and Sis were there at the airport to pick me up. Gurgaon is like fifteen minutes drive from Delhi airport. And here I was another new experience; I was on an expressway, eight lanes, another first time. Gurgaon the city known for its malls. Ok now I realized this was the place which spread the mall virus in India. Looking at Gurgaon, and the rapid pace with which construction was going on it seemed like India was really developing!!! As in infrastructure…

Listen be confident and speak clearly said my sister, oh well yeah that’s no secret, I was this kinda guy who would generally eat up lot of words, maybe my folks thought I was no better than our previous cricket team captain Mr. Mohammed Azharuddin (another Hyderabadi!!!) at speaking clearly. Yeah but that was a case long ago. I think I can converse much better now I said. so did you do a study on McKinsey, my sis…. Yeah just read about them they do consultancy!!! (a fact not very concealed and even dumbsters,”a new word coined for present day youngsters by the Oxford, “would know). I mean did you go through the details of the job description and the facility at Gurgaon on their website, she said. I told yeah. The drive to home I saw office buildings of some of the best companies in their domain. It was so inspiring!!!  After that reached home had dinner and slept.


THE BIG DAY………….THE D-DAY ….. Whatever

I got up like 7 in the morning. I had taken down some important points in the notebook just went through them. I remembered that I had mentioned about my Industrial training and did not study anything about it!! What am I going to say? Then I just went through that and then got ready. My jiju dropped me at the McKinsey office. It was a huge complex. Though not all floors were occupied by Mckinsey. I went in and told the security guard that I was there for the batch day( that’s what they call a sort of off-campus) where people and students turn up for specific openings in the company.

I was directed to one of the floors where I had to wait. The other candidates who were supposed to compete with me were supposed to be coming from the Punjab Engineering College, Chandigarh. Yeah I remember the name, the same college from where Kalpana Chawla had graduated. So was in for some really tough competition. The first round was supposed to be Group Discussion. I was sort of scared, cos I had never been in a GD( as in for placements) before. Moreover I did not even get time to meet the guys who were coming from PEC. So was sort of apprehensive as in what would happen. Finally the clock struck 12:00 and we were directed to a room for GD. This was my time, before actually the process started I got time to talk to couple of guys who had turned up and stuck a rapport with them, this relieved my tension a bit. After sometime, a lady and a gentleman came in the room and introduced themselves. They were there to judge us in GD. 

GROUP DISCUSSION: The topic given to us was the Indian IT industry and its future. I thought the topic was apt for me. We were given a minute’s time and were supposed to speak our mind. I had been reading a lot in the past three months so it was easy for me to jot down some points quickly on paper. As soon as the lady called start, one of the guys quickly took lead, he was trying to dominate a lot. I had never been in such a situation before, that too in a pressure situation like this one. To be frank he talked some crap for around a minute, but then I had to think quickly, as soon as he finished another guy started , I had to take lead. Having read a lot about how to prepare for GD, it helped me, I quickly raised my voice and attracted attention and lowered it back again. I came out I can say with the most valid point at that time that was direct the group to the present scenario where the rupee was appreciating the dollars leading to losses for the  IT companies. Then another guy added to it. Then I came out with the dotcom boom and bust phenomenon which helped the IT fraternity. It led to companies outsourcing the jobs to India and third world countries to cut down on their costs. I thought it really impressed the people judging us. Then after few guys doing the talking I came out with another great point I must say. I told that soon 3G is going to be introduced in the country and it’s going to connect remotest part of India through Broadband. And then the IT companies could tap the potential of the rural youth. And Unlike US for which 3G is going to bring value added service, it’s going to provide basic communication access to the rural youth, because wire line is not an economic viable option. This really set the ball rolling and I knew my clearing the GD was inevitable. Then discussion went around for another minute. One of the guys mentioned that IT cos were only sticking to services and not product oriented stuff. I quickly pointed out that lot of companies were setting up offshore campuses in India and doing hard core R&D in India. After that the guy who took the lead summarized the discussion. After that the lady told each one of us to summarize the discussion individually one by one. When my turn came I did so. After that they took a while off to declare the result. I was more confident now after my superb show!!! (Though I wasn’t before the GD).

Soon the HR came in and declared the result. I forgot to mention there were 13 ppl who had turned up. We were divided into two groups of 7 and 6 for GD. Out of 7 in my group 5 were selected. And six in the other group 3 were selected. I was really excited I had cleared the first hurdle. Out of eight 4 of them were told to stay back and rest 4 of us were told to go have lunch at the company’s mess on the topmost floor. The mess wasn’t actually in a mess, it was awesome. I had seen the one in a documentary on Google, it wasn’t as good as that but it was close to it. The food being served was pretty good. After that we went back for the interview.

After waiting for a while I was called in for an interview. It was good to see the same lady and gentleman who were there for GD . They were pleasant and smiling. This eased the tension a bit (in fact completely).


The lady told me to  quickly go through my resume. I started, Mam I come from the city of Hyderabad, I have had major part of my schooling in so and so school,, blah blah… I took up my engg at VITU blah blah.. my interests  include blogging, reading books, playing the bass guitar and trekking.

Lady: so you play the guitar in a band….. yes mam I used to at college… and you do read  books?? What’s the latest you’ve read?? Mam the World is Flat by Thomas.L Friedman… nice she was impressed.. so what does that book talk about.. well it’s actually about how globalization has lead to flattening the world. The writer discusses the forces which have flattened the world. The rise of the third world countries.. blah blah…. And you do quizzing as well… yes mam I used to … but off late could not find time…

A few technical questions do not remember exactly… around 5-10 minutes

So Neeraj, what do you know about Zigbee: how would you explain it to a lay man ?? I answered mam there’s something called LAN, then WAN and then you have PAN. Now PAN as in WPAN makes u communicate with devices in close proximity and then I told the protocols and blah blah…. Next 5 min

What’s with WLAN and WIMAX, 3G…… again I do my blah blah… explained the differences, which holds future prospects etc.. next 5 min

Have you heard about MTN?? yes mam, it’s a South African based Telecom company. It was recently up for acquisition… do you know which companies were chasing down the deal… yes mam, Vodafone was after it, then China Mobile and I’m not sure about recent developments but reliance has emerged as the major contender.. (wait I missed something!!, I thought) She asked about bharti I told yeah it was( I was cursing myself how could I forget it)…   anyways they were impressed that I was aware of current stuff..

Good so do you know about Docomo?? Well I knew it… “mam it is a Japanese company which first introduced 3G in Japan and they even came out with a new technology, she was  impressed and before I could complete she pointed out they came out with I-Mode… ya I recollected it.. she was quick to add that next time anyone asks you tell them this.. My confidence grew….

 The gentleman now asked me a question. You guys must be using a lot of computers at college, do you know which company they are from??? Strange question I thought…. I said, they use ACER and IBM… he quickly said IBM??? I could see through that and quickly pointed out IBM as in Lenovo… then he asked me name the top five  PC distributors in the world. .. I told, IBM, Dell, HP and then I ran out of all the other names.. like ASUS, ACER, etc… I came out with a dumb answer Compaq… I could see the smile on their faces, I quickly corrected myself and told that Compaq was a part of HP. They were impressed again the way I corrected my mistake. Ok then how do u say Lenovo is the biggest he asked, is it volumes or revenues.. I told the volumes even though I wasn’t sure but then he was just checking for my confidence.. so neeraj where exactly is Lenovo from… Sir, it’s a Chinese company and had brought IBM’s Pc division 2 yrs back…. He was impressed…

So Neeraj tell me do you have a offer in hand ?? yeah mam, with the TATa Consultancy Services…. As an assistant systems engineer… what?? I repeated ASE.. ok neeraj so why do you want to join Mckinsey?? I had that well charted out came out with a great answer I must say… infact I was just being truthful.. another 10 minutes..

In an interview the best thing is to be truthful about one’s requirements…. The people were impressed…

Ok neeraj the gentleman said name the top IT players in India…. I told TCS, then CTS is coming up, Accenture, Wipro, Infosys… blah blah…

Few more questions in between

So what do you know about virtualization..?? sir I told don’t have much idea but I know that in operating systems… u have virtualization wherein one OS runs over the other… he told ok… so name me the latest OS apple has come out with?? I guess leopard.. so how do you compare Leopard and Vista.. I told sir I haven’t used Leopard so can’t tell much about it.. as in I can compare Vista with Xp.. I did so .. I completely ripped apart vista… told it was this that.. the system resources  etc… then I told security aspects they were I guess impressed with that…

There were many more questions but I do not remember many of them… I remember talking a lot about economics and technology and how each was intertwined to the other….

Then there was a case study.. I was supposed to fit as many cups I can in that room.. they basically looked at the way I would approach the problem… it was pretty ok..

Then the interview got over and came out smiling…. I thought I had done pretty well…the interview was like a forty minutes or something… after the first round of interviews 6 people out of eight were left. I got through the first round.. there were two panels. The second round of interview was with the other panel. Actually in the beginning 4 were interviewed by one panel and other 4 by another.

INTERVIEW ROUND 2: We were waiting for our chance. Meanwhile guys were getting eliminated. Finally I was called for the second round of interview. There was a guy in his late twenties. He asked me again about myself.. Then he directly jumped to why did I want to join McKinsey.. I told the reasons… then he questioned me about did I exactly understand my role after I join McKinsey I told yes. He also told me that sometime the work could be very mundane, would I still like to do it.. I supported it with some crisp examples.. he was impressed. Then the gentleman asked me about my hobbies… luckily he was also interested in music. He asked me the kind of music I listened to.. I told blues and rock. He asked me my favorite band, I told Led Zeppelin. He asked me the songs I liked, I told Stairway to heaven and over the Hills and far away.. then I told Iron Maiden.. he asked me which album I liked. I told brave new world.. he added that it was the return of Bruce Dickinson. Then I added that he was the soul of Iron Maiden. He talked about Steve Harris was the main force but I told infact but still Bruce Dickinson was a major puller… then we talked about Metallica, we talked about Jason Newstead and then Cliff Burton. A strange coincidence both of us had Cliff Burton as our favorite Bassists. Then we talked at length about Metallica, Master of puppets and the Four horsemen etc. the guy was impressed by my knowledge in Telecom as well as rock and Roll!!!… he-he-ha-ha. He came out with me and directed the HR to take me to the Head of Mckinsey knowledge centre practice for the Final round of interview…the interview was around 20-25 minutes. Basically I had to justify why I wanted to join Mckinsey and what were my strong points and my communication skills..etc..

After the GD and two rounds of Interview only two people were left, a guy called Ketan Chaudary and myself. Ketan was a smart guy, from PEC. In fact he had struck a job with Goldman Sachs so that was like pretty cool.


THE INTERVIEW ROUND 3: After waiting for a while I was sent in to meet Mr. Mark. He was a pleasant gentleman, one could come across. He gave me a handshake. ” I actually made an attempt to give a firm handshake, unlike previous occasions where if somebody offered a handshake I could only manage to cling on to their fingers!!!!!”. He asked me how my day at McKinsey was, I told it was nice. He asked me what I knew about McKinsey. I told him that it was the best place to work. I told him what I understood of the job description I was being offered etc. he asked me to summarize the GD in the morning. I did that.. then I was asked about the latest trends in the Telecom sector. I told about 3G how it’s going to help India, MTN deal, Wimax in New Delhi etc. he finally told me that he was pleased to meet me and asked for my preference in the Telecom or the High Tech Domain. I told I had relevant work in both domains so I could mould myself into any of those functions.. finally he greeted me and I left..

So that was the story, I met Ketan and we both were waiting for the result.. we were told later that we’ll be told as and when they are ready with the openings and some organizational fundas.. not very clear on that still..anyways it was a fun experience. The whole day was a great experience spending it in the world’s best management consultancy.. SIMPLY AAAO-SUM

A round of GD and three rounds of Interview was mentally sapping…. at the end of the day, by the time we made out it was already 630 in the evening..on the whole worth an experience!!!!!





  1. Hello sir,
    I am 2nd year student at ISMU Dhanbad (admitted through IIT-JEE).I am really interested in consultancy firms.I would like to know that i could you manage to get a call(off campus) for GD & interviewby by Mckinsey&Co.
    I will be happy to hear you.

  2. Wow – I just read through your blog from the perspective of an MBA student at US. I’m really impressed with the depths of your insights, and especially around how your group analyzed emergence of 3G in India. While it reminded me of my undergrad days, I must admit that you guys seemed way ahead of your peers. We had similar discussions during my IIM-C GD, but I assure you the quality was nowhere as close to what you have described.

    Trust it turned out all great in the end!

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