The World’s Toughest Interviews and How It All Started

Glassdoor logoYou know what they say: The resume may get you the interview, but it’s the interview that will get you the job.

And nowhere is that interview tougher than at McKinsey & Company. The big-time consulting company ranked first on Glassdoor’s annual list of the companies with the toughest interviews. It’s the third consecutive time for the company, which is one of those “distinctions” you aren’t going to see mentioned on the company careers site.

But no reason not to crow a little about that. Even the many who flunked the interview rated it a positive experience, which is a lot more (like more than two times the percentage) of those who thought the Paycom interview not only tough, but a real downer. More than half the candidates — many who didn’t get an offer, but some who did — rated the interview experience at HR tech firm as a negative.

Yeah, yeah. The malcontents who didn’t get a job said it was negative. Big surprise. If that’s always the case, then explain McKinsey and many of the others rated as tough interviews. Most of those at the toughest end of the scale were also rated the most positive.

Ever wonder how the whole idea of job interviews got started? Way back in the olden days, dad  took his 10 year-old in hand and apprenticed him to the local (fill in the blank here). Ben Franklin became an apprentice printer at 12, for instance.

Actual job interviews probably derived from the medieval guilds, when traveling craftsmen had to prove their skill before they could ply their trade.

This being Friday, and this being Roundup, which has thus far been much too serious, I have found a documentary by the BBC on the forerunner of today’s job interview. Pay special note to the early behavioral questions, which so many hiring managers are posing in exactly the same way today.

  • Richard Araujo

    Tough doesn’t necessarily mean negative, is all there is to it. Tough in terms of challenging and learning, that’s good. Tough in terms of insulting, and annoyingly drawn out and extended for little to no productive purpose, that’s negative.

  • Keith Halperin

    @ Richard. ZVery true.
    @ John Z. I guess Edward Snowden got through the McKinsey & Co, interview process just fine.


  • Selina Kelly

    ahaha, things haven’t changed much then!

    Good for McKinsey & Company, they may have the toughest interviews but you can bet that they’re getting a heck of a lot more repeat applicants in comparison to Paycom…

  • Keith Halperin

    @ Selina: I bet McK & Co pays a lot more than Paycom does, too.
    If Paycom isn’t really expecting to hire McK and Co-type applicants (“the Fab 5%”), then it can probably interview any darn way it pleases- there are loads of people (darn good ones, too) willing to go through all kinds of crap for a job.