The management consulting industry is distinctive in that it can serve just about every business need imaginable. Consultants, as much as anything, are problem solvers and the areas they are brought into include every industry and functions as wide-ranging as organizational change management, strategy, operational improvement, or process analysis.
Digitization has led many firms to add technical services to their portfolio, bringing them into the tech arena. Many are excelling in adding digital, design, analytics and other tech-focused services but questions remain about how tech talent sees these firms as a place to join and build a career.
At our recent HackerRank main event in New York, our SVP of Customer Success, Gaurav Verma, explored this question with Maria Tselevich, Technical Recruiter at McKinsey & Company.
Established in 1926, McKinsey & Company is one of the most prestigious management consulting firms in the world. With approximately 30,000 employees working in more than 20 industries ranging from agriculture to financial services to healthcare.
In her conversation with Gaurav, Maria shared the ins and outs of recruiting technical talent for a well-established company navigating a digital transformation. The competition for developer talent is high, but how much more for a non-traditional tech company?
Attracting tech talent with a “non-tech” brand
Attracting tech candidates can be a challenge. Having a solid tech talent brand is a magnet for developers. McKinsey’s legacy as a management consulting firm, however, doesn’t always say “innovative tech organization” to tech talent. Developers and other tech professionals seek employers where there is a clear path for advancement and development and, at first glance, potential candidates couldn’t see if this was the case at McKinsey.
When the team began ramping up technical hiring, they turned to recruiting events as one source for candidates.
Maria recalls they were often met with confusion, prompting attendees to ask “what are you doing here?”
While the consulting aspect of their work separates them from typical tech startups, it’s also become one of their most compelling points. Maria shares, “You can come to McKinsey to solve challenging problems for a variety of clients. You get a diversity of projects and don’t have to commit to one industry but can use tech in real-world applications to affect change and deliver impact to clients.”
McKinsey Digital is helping clients use tech to create new solutions, solve current problems and expand businesses. The tech professionals, including developers, have a wider range of projects and problems to solve than a traditional tech company where they may bring their data and analytics expertise to cybersecurity project one month and then focus on application management the next.
McKinsey has always focused on bringing innovative solutions to the market and to clients and that is true for their work in digital, design and data science. As part of McKinsey, you’ll get to work with and develop leading-edge technical solutions, learn new and emerging tech platforms, have the freedom to solve problems and explore unconventional solutions, and advance your own development through mentoring and formal and on-the-job training.
The ideal McKinsey technical candidate
So what does the ideal technical candidate look like for McKinsey? Specifically, Maria’s team is charged with looking for developers, data scientists and data engineers. They are looking for candidates who have more than just strong technical backgrounds but are also comfortable in client-facing roles, skilled in communications, collaboration, and building relationships.
A strong business sense is also an indicator that a tech candidate will be successful as a consultant. For instance, if a candidate understands how the innovations they can create will help clients transform and innovate their businesses, then they are likely to excel as a technology-focused consultant.
Assessing technical skills
A challenging aspect of McKinsey’s move into hiring more and more technologists was figuring out how to assess technical candidates. Over the years, McKinsey has polished their recruiting process for management consultants and even continue to innovate on the process and experience. Candidates can expect a standard process when they interview to assess leadership and communication skills, personal impact, problem-solving and entrepreneurial drive. For more technical roles, they needed to design a technical interview that was as accurate and predictive as their consulting interview.
HackerRank ultimately became a component to their technical skill assessment. Using CodeScreen allowed Maria’s team to identify whether candidates had the right coding skills upfront. Once candidates fulfill the skill assessment, the rest of interview the process mirrors what they do for management consultants. Because of the client-facing nature of their roles, technical consultants need the same communication and team-oriented skills as the rest of management consultants.
Having a standard technical skill assessment process helped Maria’s team move swiftly in their hiring, providing a relevant and positive candidate experience to determine the best candidates to join McKinsey.