What is the right amount of time to ask for when providing your initial structure?

approaching a case case structure
Neue Antwort am 30. Dez 2020
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Anonym A fragte am 7. Dez 2020

Typically, on receiving the case and asking the clarifying questions, the protocol is to ask for some time to come up with your structure / hypothesis before you explain your approach to solve the case to the interviewer.

What is the right amount of time that would be considered acceptable to the interviewer? Is 3-4 minutes too long? Or acceptable? I timed myself for one of the cases and 1 minute is too short. I may be able to get by in 2 minutes but that is on a standard case. On an unconventional case, the thought process is longer.

Thanks for answering!

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Vlad
Experte
Content Creator
antwortete am 7. Dez 2020
McKinsey / Accenture Alum / Got all BIG3 offers / Harvard Business School

Hi,

Depending on the part of the case I usually say: Can I take 30 sec / a minute to structure my thoughts / analyze the numbers, etc?

In terms of the use cases:

Always take:

  • 1-2 min for initial structure. But the faster the better. 1.5 looks fine
  • 30 sec to analyze the graph / table. Very often you can come up with more than one conclusion from the graph / table(e.g. main conclusion, outliers, correlations)
  • 30 sec - 1 min for questions on creativity. It's really hard to be creative "On-the-go". Spend this time creating the buckets of ideas and then the ideas within the buckets.
  • Up to 1 minute for the conclusion. Again, the faster the better. But always take the time! Your conclusion should be very well structured and your arguments should include supporting numbers and you need time to collect them. Spend 1 minute on collecting the numbers for the arguments. Remember that 70% of your arguments should have numbers

It's a bit more tricky with taking time during the case:

  • It's not OK to take 30 seconds and then come up with just 1 or 2 ideas. And then if the ideas are not correct to keep the science again. This is called "Guessing"
  • It's OK to take 30 seconds, draw a new structure (or continuation of your previous structure) and come up with a structured way to approach the problem further.

Best,

Vlad

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Francesco
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antwortete am 8. Dez 2020
#1 Expert for Coaching Sessions (3.600+) | 1.300+ Reviews with 100% Recommendation Rate | Ex BCG | 8+ Years of Coaching

Hi there,

I would recommend the following:

  • 1 min to write down the structure
  • 1.5 min to present

They are not strict rules. If you spend 1.5 min to write down the structure, you won’t lose any points. However be ready to have the interviewer ask if you are ready.

3-4 min is definitely too long to write down a structure. If that’s the time it currently takes, it means you have to:

  • Improve your knowledge of structures (eg practicing more specific type of cases you find challenging) and/or
  • Improve your speed in writing down the structures (eg using more abbreviations)

Best,

Francesco

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Henning
Experte
antwortete am 7. Dez 2020
Bain | passed >15 MBB interviews as a candidate

60-120 seconds. And you should practice this with a partner that keeps an eye on the time, as it is very difficult to estimate the time under pressure. You eventually need to get to a level of comfort with developing these frameworks that allows you to jot down the 20% of content that drives 80% of the answer reliably in a short time.

Of your max 2 min, spend a minute on the first level (the 3-5 branches). This needs to be MECE for a strong framework. Then the remainding 30-60seconds on just a few bullet points per branch underneath. These are not meant to be MECE, just a few starting points for a more in-depths analysis later.

There's also another post here with some other good answers:

https://www.preplounge.com/en/consulting-forum/how-long-should-i-spend-on-preparing-my-structure-to-present-to-the-interviewer-at-the-begining-7972

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Clara
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antwortete am 7. Dez 2020
McKinsey | Awarded professor at Master in Management @ IE | MBA at MIT |+180 students coached | Integrated FIT Guide aut

Hello!

First of all, you are right, the first a super important thing to do at the beggining is to ask clarifying questions. Most of the times, they are needed to drive the case in the right direction -and deep dive with the issue tree for it-.

Secondly, 3-4 minutes is too long. Ideally, arround 2 minutes.

You don´t need to write down all, just the main ideas/tree branches. The rest you fill it up with your words as you explain it to the interviewer.

Cheers,

Clara

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Ian
Experte
Content Creator
antwortete am 8. Dez 2020
BCG | 100% personal interview success rate (8/8) and 95% candidate success rate | Personalized interview prep

Hi there,

3-4 is absolutely too long!

You should aim for 1-2 minutes.

Now, you may be worried about not having enough depth etc., but here's a tip: The 3rd/4th layer doesn't matter as much as you think! Keep your skeleton in place, and have the why/how of you framework, but voice over the rest! There's no need to write down every. Single. Word!

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Adi
CoachingPlus-Experte
Content Creator
bearbeitete eine Antwort am 7. Dez 2020
Accenture, Deloitte | Precision Case Prep | Experienced Interviewer & Career Coach | 15 years professional experience

From my personal experience interviewing and feedback from coachees, 60-90 seconds seems to be appropriate to design your structure and another 60-90 seconds to present it. Please also search the Q&A forum as am sure this question would have been answered before.

But be ready to adapt and improvise as required by the interviewer and case. Some interviewers might expect you to talk through your thought process as you are creating the structure. Basically, prepare comprehensively and be ready for anything that comes your way.

(editiert)

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Gaurav
Experte
Content Creator
antwortete am 7. Dez 2020
Ex-Mckinsey|Certified Career Coach |Placed 500+ candidates at MBB & other consultancies

Hello there!

I agree with the other experts that it's not more than 2 minutes.
This amount of time is enough to manage a good structure.

Sometimes depending on a case, it could be even less and 2 minutes would be too much.
So prepare yourself for different outcomes in advance and practice with your peers to think under pressure.

Was it helpful?

GB

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Currently on a break
Experte
antwortete am 7. Dez 2020
I am here to get you an offer! | Got 8 offers including the 3 MBBs and non MBB like Wyman, Roland Berger, Strategy&.

Hello anonymous,

Thanks for the great question. I would say 1min-2min is fine to think about your structure but would not go further. The important thing is that you keep it MECE, and tailored to the client context.
Avoid reusing generic profitability or M&A framework and make sure you answer the client needs.
Let me know if you have further questions,
N.

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Antonello
Experte
Content Creator
antwortete am 30. Dez 2020
McKinsey | MBA professor for consulting interviews

Hi,

I confirm 1-2 minutes to think about it and 1:30-2:30 for presenting are good

Best,

Antonello

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Vlad

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McKinsey / Accenture Alum / Got all BIG3 offers / Harvard Business School
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