it is definitely ok to ask clarifying questions at the beginning of the case. However, that should ideally happen in two ways:
- Option 1: you ask the clarifying questions before taking one minute to structure and present the framework (eg: Before we move to the framework, I would like to ask a couple of clarifying questions; to start with, do we know if that’s an industry or client problem?)
- Option 2: the questions are part of the framework itself (eg: The first area I would like to analyse in the framework is the industry; in particular, I would like to understand the following here. First, if this is an industry or client problem; second…)
In general, is important that you have a hypothesis or anyway explain the interviewer why you are looking for such information. In case you generally ask for market, competition and company, without explaining why you are asking, the interviewer may feel you are not able to prioritize and penalize you. On the other hand, if you have a solid hypothesis/reason for asking and formulate the question as for one of the previous options, that would definitely be ok.
Hope this helps,