McCombs School of Business | Mr. Marine Executive Officer
GRE 322, GPA 3.28
Tuck | Mr. Liberal Arts Military
GMAT 680, GPA 2.9
Harvard | Ms. Developing Markets
GMAT 780, GPA 3.63
Harvard | Mr. Policy Player
GMAT 750, GPA 3.4
Wharton | Mr. Future Non-Profit
GMAT 720, GPA 8/10
Duke Fuqua | Mr. Tough Guy
GMAT 680, GPA 3.3
Harvard | Mr. CPPIB Strategy
GRE 329 (Q169 V160), GPA 3.6
Harvard | Mr. Defense Engineer
GMAT 730, GPA 3.6
Chicago Booth | Mr. Unilever To MBB
GRE 308, GPA 3.8
Chicago Booth | Mr. Bank AVP
GRE 322, GPA 3.22
Kellogg | Mr. Double Whammy
GMAT 730, GPA 7.1/10
Stanford GSB | Mr. Infantry Officer
GRE 320, GPA 3.7
McCombs School of Business | Mr. Ernst & Young
GMAT 600 (hopeful estimate), GPA 3.86
Kellogg | Mr. Engineer Volunteer
GMAT 710, GPA 3.8
Kellogg | Mr. Operations Analyst
GMAT Waived, GPA 3.3
Kellogg | Mr. Defense Engineer
GMAT 760, GPA 3.15
Cornell Johnson | Mr. Indian Dreamer
GRE 331, GPA 8.5/10
Kellogg | Mr. Innovator
GRE 300, GPA 3.75
London Business School | Ms. Private Equity Angel
GMAT 660, GPA 3.4
Chicago Booth | Ms. Indian Banker
GMAT 740, GPA 9.18/10
Yale | Ms. Biotech
GMAT 740, GPA 3.29
Stanford GSB | Ms. Global Empowerment
GMAT 740, GPA 3.66
Harvard | Mr. Renewables Athlete
GMAT 710 (1st take), GPA 3.63
UCLA Anderson | Ms. Apparel Entrepreneur
GMAT 690, GPA 3.2
Harvard | Mr. Armenian Geneticist
GRE 331, GPA 3.7
Berkeley Haas | Mr. 1st Gen Grad
GMAT 740, GPA 3.1
Ross | Mr. Travelpreneur
GMAT 730, GPA 2.68

Big MBA Employers Are Tough Interviewers

Getting a job offer from consulting giant McKinsey & Co. is the equivalent of running a triathlon—or worse.

“I applied directly on the McKinsey site for the junior research analyst position and had a 1-on-1 initial interview with HR before two 1-on-1 interviews with Research Associates,” one applicant tells Glassdoor, the company ratings website. “I was then asked to go in for the McKinsey Problem Solving Test, which I passed. Then I had three 1-on-1 interviews with Senior Research Associates from the teams in Chicago, Toronto, and Seattle. … Overall, I had a good experience interviewing with McKinsey (despite not getting an offer after all of that). 1-on-1 interviews were non-technical and more fit-based. There were questions about background in research and quantitative analysis experience.”

Not surprisingly, perhaps, Glassdoor today (July 27) put McKinsey at the top of its annual list of the 25 most difficult companies to interview with. The list is based on 80,000 interview ratings and reviewed sharing on the website over the past year.

Many of the highest ranked firms are major hirers of MBA students. Right after McKinsey, for example, is Boston Consulting Group, Oliver Wyman, and AT Kearney, all consulting firms which are major recruiters at top business schools. Bain & Co. is sixth on the list, while Google, long known for its difficult hiring process, is eighth.

Students who spend time in their schools’ career development centers will find many of the names on the list as active recruiters, including Teach For America, Procter & Gamble, General Mills, Facebook, and Amazon.

Below are some other highlights from the Glassdoor study:

Toughest Interview Process: Consulting firms lead the way with McKinsey & Company (Interview difficulty: 3.9) taking top honors, followed by Boston Consulting Group (Interview difficulty: 3.8), and Oliver Wyman (Interview difficulty: 3.7) . Interestingly, almost half of the companies represent the tech industry with companies like Google (Interview difficulty: 3.5) and Facebook (Interview difficulty: 3.3), who are famous in Silicon Valley for their tough interview techniques.

Difficult Interviews Don’t Necessarily Mean Negative Experiences: Despite a tough interview, positive interview experiences outweigh negative interview experiences at all of the companies on the list. Cypress Semiconductor receives the highest rate of candidates experiencing a positive interview (76% positive, 10% negative), followed by Sapient (75% positive, 6% negative) and Bain & Company (73% positive, 2% negative).

Veterans and Newcomers: For the second year in a row, McKinsey & Company (Interview difficulty 2012: 3.9; 2011: 3.9) tops the list, and several other companies on last year’s report have made it into the top 25 again, including Oliver Wyman (Interview difficulty 2012: 3.7; 2011: 3.4) and Teach for America (Interview difficulty 2012: 3.4; 2011: 3.5). Newcomers to this list include Shell Oil (Interview difficulty: 3.6), Google (Interview difficulty: 3.5), Rackspace (Interview difficulty: 3.4), Facebook (Interview difficulty: 3.3) and Progressive Corporation (Interview difficulty: 3.3).

Some of the most daunting questions candidates have recently been asked include:

“There are 3 products: tomatoes, luxury cars, t-shirts. What value added tax is applied to each product type?” – McKinsey & Company Junior Consultant Candidate (location n/a)

“How many people would use a drug that prevents baldness?” – Boston Consulting Group Associate Candidate (Boston, MA)

“What is the marginal cost of a gigabyte in gmail?” – Google Associate Product Manager Candidate (Mountain View, CA)

(See the complete list of the top 25 on the following page)

About The Author

John A. Byrne is the founder and editor-in-chief of C-Change Media, publishers of Poets&Quants and four other higher education websites. He has authored or co-authored more than ten books, including two New York Times bestsellers. John is the former executive editor of Businessweek, editor-in-chief of Businessweek. com, editor-in-chief of Fast Company, and the creator of the first regularly published rankings of business schools. As the co-founder of CentreCourt MBA Festivals, he hopes to meet you at the next MBA event in-person or online.