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Do McKinsey Drug Test? The Truth

If you’re soon to be employed by McKinsey, or hoping to get a job there, you may be concerned that you’ve heard a rumor that they do drug tests on employees. Is this true?

Currently, McKinsey does not conduct drug tests as part of their pre-employment screening. There is, however, evidence that employees have on occasion been required to do drug tests at McKinsey as part of their day-to-day activities. This is in response to requests from clients.

If you have taken drugs in the past, it would be wise to stop when getting a job at McKinsey for a multitude of reasons (with the slight chance of having to do a drug test being just one!).

Although you would be very unlikely to receive such a test, any negative result from one could have very detrimental results to your career.

In this post, I’ll look at:

drug testing at McKinsey

It Is Not Normal Procedure To Be Drug Tested At McKinsey

There is a lot of evidence from ex-employees at McKinsey that drug testing is not a part of McKinsey’s pre-employment screening, or, indeed, a part of their day-to-day operations.

I spend half my life on consulting forums! And I’ve seen anecdotes on many of them that this is the case.

This is certainly the case in the United States and the UK. I should say that McKinsey operates in 65 countries. (Source) It is possible that in one of those countries, they perform drug tests.

I have never heard any evidence, though, that this happens, and McKinsey does not state as much.

What Do Ex-McKinsey Consultants Say?

As I said, I’m a big consultant forum nerd, and I’ve seen a few comments about this issue in consultant forums.

They all state that drug testing is not a policy on entry to the company.

For example, in the Prep Lounge Forum, a user named Moritz, who claims to be an ex-McKinsey employee states, ‘Haven’t ever heard of anyone getting drug tested as a standard part of the job but this may be highly dependent on the region.

As for specific projects, it may well happen. I once got tested as part of a full medical that was required to enter a client’s mining site at high altitude in the Peruvian mountains. 

I could think of more potential cases but they’re generally related to Ops/Implementation work in a dangerous environment e.g. mine, construction, oil platform, processing plant, etc.

If you’re focused on strategy alone, you should be fine!’

Although not part of a pre-employment screening, his comment raises the issue of other reasons you might be drug tested. Let me take a deeper look at this…

Drug Testing May Be Requested By Clients On Occasion

This is realistically the only time you are likely to be drug-tested when working at McKinsey.

It would be at the request of a client. And the types of clients that may require this are low in number.

But who would be the kind of clients that require a drug test? Among them, might be:

  • Government agencies or institutions
  • Scientific organizations, such as the mining site mentioned above

Why It Makes Sense Not To Take Drugs When Working As A Consultant

This is kind of really obvious, but let’s just spell this out! Taking drugs and working as a consultant is a huge mistake for the following five reasons:

  1. Legal issues – Drugs are (obviously!) illegal. Use can result in criminal charges and legal penalties
  2. Job performance – Being a consultant is difficult with a clear head! The last thing you need is anything that will impair your thinking, or ability to take on projects effectively
  3. Professional reputation – If you are caught taking drugs, there could be all sorts of damage done to your career, and finding new jobs may become impossible
  4. Ethical considerations – Drugs are illegal and immoral and will be seen as unethical by clients and consultant firms
  5. You’re own physical and mental health – Taking drugs can impair your physical and mental capabilities, and potentially those of people around you

To put it simply, if you’re going to be getting a job in consulting, then it’s time to quit!

What Does McKinsey Include In Their Pre-Employment Screening?

All consulting firms are scrupulous in their pre-employment screening and checks.

What kind of checks does McKinsey carry out?

The normal measures will include:

Type Of CheckWhy They Do This
Background check-To verify information on your resume
-To assess the candidate’s criminal history
Reference check-Gather information about work history and qualifications
Educational verification-Verify educational background
-Qualifications earned
-Colleges attended
Skills Assessment-Assess technical and professional capabilities

Why Does McKinsey Carry Out A Pre-Employment Screening?

Why does McKinsey go through all the trouble of conducting in-depth background checks? Well, it’s for the following reasons:

  1. To verify information
  2. To assess an applicant’s character
  3. To ensure the safety of current employees
  4. To protect their reputation
  5. Compliance with the laws in their country and/or state

Looking To Apply For McKinsey

McKinsey is a highly prestigious consultancy firm, that operates in 65 countries, and with more than 130 branches across the globe.

They are looking for employees that are at the pinnacle of their profession, and have all the ethical and moral qualities that will help them fit in with the level of professionalism they live by.


  • Will Bennett

    Will Bennett is a Cambridge graduate. He worked as a Consultant and Senior Consultant at Boston Consulting Group (BCG) in London. Will is the Founder of The Cambridge Consultant.