Sauhard Gupta is an IIM Lucknow alumnus (Class Of 2021), who has won the Director's Medal at IIM Lucknow. Sauhard was a Placement Mentor and a Core Team Member of Team Disha at IIM Lucknow. In this interview, Sauhard talks about his summer placement preparation, the resources he used for his placements, how he prepared for the case problems, his experience at McKinsey &Co., and why he feels he bagged the PPO from McKinsey&Co.! Read on!
Note From The Editor→ You may also be interested in reading Sauhard's journey from making it to IIM L to winning the Director's Medal at IIM L here!
1)Hi Sauhard, please tell us in brief about how you prepared for summer placement interviews?
At IIM L, the shortlists for top consulting firms (namely McKinsey, Bain & BCG) come roughly 5-6 weeks before the interview day.
The cases typically tested during the summers process include – Profitability, Market Entry and Business Abstract cases. Usually, it is recommended to start with Profitability (since this helps in building a strong foundation and develop business acumen) and master in ~2 weeks followed by a market entry for 1 week and finally to move onto business abstract cases (considered the toughest but certainly the most exciting and intuitive).
Q2) What resources did you refer to while preparing for summers?
There are diverse set of materials available – there is a dedicated casebook by Consulting and Strategy Club, IIM Lucknow which is highly recommended since it beautifully details out the structures of the various case types with examples. Additionally, there are case books by ISB and IIM Ahmedabad. I referred to all of these.
Q3) What was your strategy for solving and practising case problems?
There are 3 ways of practising cases –
- Administered by senior batch: this according to me is the best way to improve since you learn a lot from their feedback and also have a better understanding of how are actual interview cases administered (but with a disclaimer every senior doesn’t know everything, so go to a new senior to practice diverse set of cases). Ideally a candidate should practice atleast 1 case every day with a senior and max 3 cases.
- In case of groups: Typically you make a group of 3-4 peers and practice cases with them. This provides an opportunity to administer cases to your peers and you learn from the interviewer’s perspective. Ideally, a candidate should practice at least 1 case every day within their case group, also he/she should be a part of 3-4 case groups to ensure that the candidate isn’t accustomed to a specific style of case solving.
- Reading cases: This can be done during free time (voids between classes or in a boring lecture). This helps increase coverage and cover diverse topics.
Finally, the most important step is to revise cases – alone or with peers. It’s similar to giving CAT mocks and revising each of them well to ensure you are learning and improving with each mock.. even with cases it’s critical to discuss the alternate solutions/problems and varied ways of structuring the cases and ensuring you are MECE (Mutually Exclusive, Collectively Exhaustive) at each step. This helps develop first principle thinking which is critical to ace any kind of cases.
Lastly, beyond cases also practice your HR answers like – why consulting, why that specific firm, etc (beyond the list of questions provided by Team Disha)
Q4) What is the summer internship process like for McKinsey?
The process kicks off with a pre-placement talk where they introduce the firm and detail out the process. This is followed by shortlisting of candidates based on their CV. Each shortlisted candidate is allocated a buddy (usually a JA or an Associate with similar background) and a mentor (usually an EM or AP). The buddy helps you with practising cases and HR answers to ensure you are ready for the interview and the mentor helps you in understanding the firm better. Beyond these interactions with the buddy and mentor, there are constant touch points with the firm in which the firm talks about their polices and processes and addresses the doubts of the candidates if any. The firm also releases frequent case slots to ensure that the short listed candidates get enough practice under their belt. A week before the interview date Problem Solving Game (an abstracted, natural environment to help you demonstrate problem-solving skills in a more interesting way than a traditional question-and-answer format. No prior business or gaming knowledge needed.)
Finally, there are typically 2-3 rounds with McKinsey partners or senior partners – which are focussed on HR questions and Cases.
Q5)What were the reasons you think that you cracked the interview?
My journey was a sinusoid, I had my good and bad days during the preparation but I was diligent in my approach, trusted and enjoyed the process.
I guess one thing that definitely helped was reading the old interview experiences since it helped me get an idea of what to expect and think in an expected manner.
Lastly, being focused on your goal and not being waivered by distractions (focussing only on consulting) also helped a lot.
Q6)Tell us about your day-to-day work as an intern at McKinsey?
In consulting every team has a different work style and hence a different day-to-day work and expectations – this is done to serve the client better. If I talk about my team, we used to prioritize my work and get the team’s buy-in on the same in a check in call. Then throughout the day, we have multiple checkpoints to check progress and help me if I have any doubts or if I was stuck with something. Beyond my EM we used to have regular PS with the AP and Partner and also frequently collaborate with the client.
Q7)What according to you, you did right to achieve the PPO from McKinsey?
A few things that I did well according to me were:
- Setting expectations and ensuring full transparency on those expectations with my manager
- Ensuring that I had deep understanding of the work streams that I handled
- Constant check-ins with my manager to get the buy-ins and get clarifications on points where I was stuck
- Ensuring that I not only learnt but also unlearn things quickly
- Finally the most important -taking regular feedback and working on the same (showing incremental learning curve)
I wish luck to the upcoming batch!!
You May Also Be Interested In Reading→
- Guesstimate Questions To Practice For Summer Placements
- Cracking Consulting Interviews - How To Approach Guesstimate Questions
- The Top 20 Consulting Firms To Work With After MBA - InsideIIM Recruitment Rankings
- Consulting Firms Where Alumni of IIM A, B, C And ISB Are Now Working At - Alumni Report 2020
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