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1. How do you know when your structure is missing a bucket in candidate-led case interviews? Do you just exhaust your structure and then build a new one if you have reached a dead-end with the first one? 2. If you're missing a bucket, how do you go about addressing this when the interviewer points it out? Should you ever ask the interviewer (in a subtle way of course) if there is anything missing in your structure?

Anonymous A asked on Jul 29, 2017 - 3 answers
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replied on Aug 01, 2017
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Hi Anonymous,

For question 1: In general the interviewer will give some hints you forgot one element. The ideal thing to do in this case would be:

  1. sum up the questions
  2. sum up your results up to that point
  3. if you are still unable to brainstorm the missing element, ask for help to the interviewer

For question 2: you normally get the interviewer pointing out that you are missing something; the traditional way for him to do so is to ask “What else?” a number of time (which would also indicate you are not properly structuring). Thus you don’t usually need to clarify whether you are missing something, as the interviewer will communicate that directly. Then you can proceed as for question 1.

Hope this helps,


replied on Jul 30, 2017
Current partner @ Andreessen Horowitz (VC firm). Ex-Mckinsey, ex- strategy guy at Google.
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It is not uncommon that for an atypical case, none of the "standard" structures will fit. I once had a case which was more of a detective story. There was an airline that was suddenly having long, long delays at check-in counter and I had to figure out what was going on. No actual structure could possibly cover all options, so I built a high-level basic structure and then once I exhausted it and the interviewer shook his head saying "no, those aren't the reasons for the delay", I had to go back and think more and add other possible scnenarios. So, here's what I think could work generically:

1. Create a high-level structure and if you aren't sure you've covered all possible areas of exploration, just let her know based on more data, you may modify the structure if that's ok with her. Note that this is more likely for an atypical case. I don't think you'll end up doing that for a profitability or an M&A case e.g..

2. Go through the top-level analysis quickly - exhaust the branches of the tree. The "redflags" to look for here to know if you've missed something big are: 1) there is no data available for your branches and you can't go a level deeper anywhere 2) the interviewer's body language / any verbal feedback.

3. If #2 isn't going well, stay calm. Say something like, "it looks like we may need to analyse other focus areas - let me take a moment to modify my earlier structure". Then come back and repeat 1-2.


and oh, in case anyone's interested, the lines were being delayed so much because airline had added a route to a new city with a music conservatory and was suddenly seeing a lot of students who had to check in musical instruments of different sizes that airline wasn't able to process fast enough. — Hemant on Jul 30, 2017

replied on Jul 30, 2017
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I will restructure both of your questions into two use-cases:

1) If you are talking about initial structure:

I suggest asking an interviewer something like: "Is this structure good to move forward with? Am I missing something?" I suggest to do it both in a candidate- and interviewer-led cases.

Also if you have a proper structure with 4 buckets I can hardly imagine a situation when you go through all 4 buckets in 30 min. Probably this means that you are not digging deep to the root cause.

2) If you are talking about a structure you make while solving a case:

You simply take 30 seconds and make a new structure. It's important! Don't take 30 seconds and come up with 1 hypothesis (random guess). When you take additional time - always draw a new structure and present it to the interviewer.

Good luck!

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