McKinsey Business Analyst: What is It & What Do They Do?

Landing a Business Analyst gig at McKinsey out of college is the goal for many students in the consulting pipeline. Considered the “gold standard” of consulting, McKinsey makes up one third of the prestigious “MBB” triad, along with competitor firms Bain and BCG. Landing that job is no easy feat – candidates must undergo a rigorous resume and academic record review, complete the McKinsey Solve online assessment, and beat out dozens of other applicants in a competitive case interview process. It’s not easy.

But what does a McKinsey Business Analyst actually do? And with such a high bar to entry, what can you do to increase your odds? Read on as we explore all that – and more.

McKinsey Business Analyst

What is a McKinsey Business Analyst and What Do They Do?

The Business Analyst position is the entry-level position at McKinsey. McKinsey fills its Business Analyst cohort with undergraduate recruits, non-MBA masters program hires, and, occasionally, lateral transfers from entry-level analyst positions at Tier 2 and Big 4 consulting firms like Oliver Wyman and Deloitte.

As a Business Analyst, you’ll likely be staffed on a client-facing engagement team with 1-2 other business analysts, a post-MBA associate, an Engagement Manager (McKinsey’s name for project or case team leader), and multiple partners of differing levels of seniority. While a small percentage of Business Analysts do internal work, the majority are staffed on these client-facing projects.

On these teams, you’ll work closely with your colleagues to solve a business problem for your client. Companies come to firms like McKinsey with problems they can’t solve themselves, so you can look forward to intellectually invigorating work on a series of difficult business issues.

Day to day, a Business Analyst can expect to spend much of their time gathering data – from the client, from expert interviews, from surveys, and from market research, aggregating and analyzing it in Excel, and summarizing it in skillfully rendered PowerPoint presentations. While more senior members of the team focus on client interaction and presentation, Business Analysts own the data and are on the front lines in terms of making sure the problem gets solved.

Business Analyst vs Associate: What’s The Difference?

What’s the difference between a Business Analyst and an Associate at McKinsey? The main difference is the recruiting pipeline – Business Analysts are hired out of undergraduate and one-year masters programs, whereas Associates are hired mainly from two-year MBA programs. McKinsey rounds out its associate class with law school and Ph.D. hires.

Given their increased seniority, Associates typically “own” more of a case and have more client-facing responsibilities. But the positions are similar, despite the different recruiting pipelines, and there is a substantial amount of overlap!

How to Become a Business Analyst at McKinsey

Becoming a Business Analyst at McKinsey is difficult, and competition is steep. McKinsey’s acceptance rate is under 1%! Most future Business Analysts interview at the beginning of their senior year for full-time slots. About one third of the class typically comes from the McKinsey Summer Business Analyst program – McKinsey’s signature internship program for students during the summer after their junior year. The majority of Summer Business Analysts receive full-time return offers, making the program an attractive pipeline for prospective consultants.

The recruiting process for both full-time Business Analysts and Summer Business Analyst interns is similar. Both require an online application which includes a resume, optional cover letter, and academic transcript. All applicants then complete McKinsey Solve – McKinsey’s online problem solving assessment. After assessing candidates’ application, online test performance, and any internal referrals or recommendations, recruiters release interview invitations.

Having a finely-tuned resume and cover letter are vital to locking in an interview slot. Think yours could use some work? Work with our ex-McKinsey experts to “consultify” your resume and secure an interview slot. And don’t neglect networking – having people “in your corner” is often the difference between landing a job and not even being invited to interview! Invest time in meeting as many consultants as possible and improving those relationships. Not sure where to start? Check out our Networking Bootcamp to get you started.

McKinsey Business Analyst Interview

McKinsey Business analyst interviews include two main portions – the Personal Experience Interview, or PEI, and the case interview. The PEI format is unique to McKinsey – interviewers will ask one question designed to illicit a story demonstrating leadership, conflict management, or personal drive, and then discuss that story for about half of the interview.

McKinsey’s case interview format is also fairly unique. Unlike many competitor firms, McKinsey uses an “interviewer led” casing model. Interviewers will ask three to four specific questions over the course of the interview, and candidates are evaluated on their responses to those questions. Most candidates find this format easier than the more open-ended evaluations used at Bain, BCG, and other firms, but it can leave less room to showcase original thought and ingenuity.

Preparing to apply to McKinsey and want to improve your casing? Start by reading through cases and working with friends, and then work with an ex-McKinsey interviewer to lock in your skills.

McKinsey Business Analyst Application Deadline

McKinsey’s Business Analyst application deadline is typically in early to mid-July, and most candidates will apply in the summer before their final year of college. This year’s application deadline was July 13, 2023.

For rising juniors, the application deadline for McKinsey’s Summer Business Analyst internship position is just around the corner! Submit your application by August 30, 2023. Click here to apply!

McKinsey Business Analyst Salary

McKinsey increased its salary packages in 2023 to keep pace with inflation. New undergraduate and masters hires into full time Business Analyst positions earn a base salary of $112,000 and can earn up to $18,000 in performance bonuses. Total compensation can reach over $140,000 with signing and housing bonuses!

For more specific information on McKinsey Business Analyst salaries, and to view compensation details for the rest of the consulting industry, including Bain and BCG, refer to our current Management Consulted Salaries Guide!


Interested in becoming a McKinsey Business Analyst? While the strikingly low acceptance rate and stiff competition can seem daunting, a well-crafted resume and cover letter, effective networking, and lots of casing practice can substantially increase your odds.

If you do land an offer, you can expect long hours and high pressure – but also invigorating work, exciting travel, brilliant coworkers, great compensation, phenomenal exit opportunities, and the McKinsey stamp on your resume. There are few better positions to land out of college. Interested? Join our Black Belt program to put yourself in the best position to succeed.


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