Nirmit
Expert
I will get you on offer|McKinsey Senior EM|Offers from MBB|100+ interviews at McKinsey|Recruiting Lead|Experienced hire specialist
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50+ cases, performance still not good. What can I do?

Someone asked on Mar 21, 2019 - 8 answers

Hi there,
I have an interview with BCG in a month. I've done over 50 cases as interviewee with other people here on preplounge so far. However, I don't feel that I am on the level of getting an offer (especially with BCG cases, which are a little tougher).

I have definitely improved since my first case here, but I feel that I'm still too weak. Many times I draw poor issue trees, but mostly I get stuck during the analysis, typically when observing a graph, and give weak recommendations. Many times I run out of time, and either the interviewer tells me to come up with a recommendation, or I have to extend around 10-15 minutes.

What I've done so far beyond practising with other people is drawing out general frameworks for the typical case categories market entry, profitability and growth strategy, and treat each other case type however it comes to my mind as logical while solving it. For asking questions before drawing out my framework, I use BGOT = Business (product portfolio, revenue model and streams, B2B or B2C) Geography Objective & Timeline, plus whatever I don't understand or am really curious to know more specific things from the problem definition.

I started practising mostly with novices/advanced and preplounge cases, in the middle of my prep or so I only practise with pros and some advanced members, and since a while I switched to non-preplounge cases only (which I think are more representative for the real case interviews).

Is there any way to practise maybe structuring the cases by myself without time frames, just to get more comfortable with the procedure? Business intuition and knowing the procedure are not the problem, I read a lot before I started practising here and got used to the procedure, the problem is just that I suck when I have to do it by myself under real conditions.

I'm just getting nervous because usually people are ready for an interview/offer after between 30 and 60 cases, so that I feel a bit stupid and untalented right now...

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Nirmit
Expert
replied on Mar 21, 2019
I will get you on offer|McKinsey Senior EM|Offers from MBB|100+ interviews at McKinsey|Recruiting Lead|Experienced hire specialist

Hi,

Thanks for sharing this. I understand it is very frustrating to experience what you're going through, but hang in there. Sometimes all it takes is 1-2 good cases to get your confidence and the correct rhythm going. It's on it's way! :)

I used to feel unprepared with case struturing as well. I started structuring 5 cases each day from various casebooks. I would read the prompt and just draw out a detailed MECE structure to the best of my ability. It would take 2 mins to make the structure, 5 mins to read through the solution and 1-2 mins to re-create it with the fundamental things I was missing. Overall, 45 mins each day and it helped me boost my confidence significantly. I'm happy to share case books from top bschools separately with you. Please send me a DM if interested.

Thanks,

Nirmit

Alexander replied on Mar 21, 2019

Hi there! Let me preface this by pointing out that I'm nowhere near your number of practice cases, so please take everything with a grain of salt. However, I have plenty of experience with long, drawn-out processes (and the frustration that comes with them), so I've decided to add my 2 cents.

First off, being frustrated is not a good mindset. Yes, you need to know a lot for a case interview, but ultimately every case interview comes down to being creative, and that just won't work while frustrated. It sounds like you might have gotten more and more stressed and anxious while preparing, and that can really get in the way of growth. Further, while frustrated/stressed we tend to grasp at things we know - in this case, it might cause you to lean on pre-existing frameworks, and to pursue branches irrelevant to the case in front of you.

Second, you already adress some aspects you're aware of and which you can easily work on. If you need to practice drawing conclusions from graphs, look at reports by consulting firms and try to come up with the conclusions they draw. You'll find plenty available on the internet. Likewise, if you're perceived as unstructured looking at some more case types (M&A, pricing, new product, ...) and the existing frameworks might help. And if you need to practice structuring a framework, I'd recommend downloading case books. Those will give you plenty of prompts you can practice with.

Third, your BGOT approach sounds too cookie-cutter, like a catch-all that will take up too much time and have you ask too many questions, thereby making you seem unstructured. This is something you can fix by acquiring background knowledge, and I'd recommend looking at a few big markets - notably the one of the country you're applying in, but also China, the US, ... I'd also recommend looking at different industries and the challenges they face right now. This should help you ask more directed questions.

Lastly, please keep in mind that you can reschedule the interview. No one wins if you're not ready - you will have wasted time, and so will BCG. It doesn't seem to be any issue to reschedule. I did not, also with BCG, and I really wish I had. Don't make that mistake.

Hope this helps! Don't worry - you'll get there.

Egor
Expert
replied on Mar 22, 2019
McKinsey/Actionable feedback/Harvard University/Warwick Business School

Hi A,

Keep your chin up! You will master the structuring skill, it just comes with practice.

What I proactively suggest doing are three things

1. Book a coaching session with a coach and

  • Define your preparation schedule for an interview with checkpoints
  • Ask for a best-practice approach for cases,so that you can learn about it and try to replicate it

2. Take the cases you have already solved and try to solve them from scratch. Then compare to the model answer and your previous solution and work out the best structure. Then draw it in a neat way.
By completing this exercise you will have 5-10 ideal structures to follow.

3. Cases are not the only wat to practice structuring. I suggest reading articles and books and then structure them. Ideally if you read articles about industries, you should draft a structured understanding of them (https://www.preplounge.com/en/consulting-forum/how-to-prepare-for-cases-on-industries-where-you-have-zero-knowledge-in-3792).

I am sure you will make it. You should remember that it is not about the talent, but a practice.

All the best,
Egor

Jan
Expert
replied on Mar 21, 2019
95% practise, 5% theory. We can make 2-3 real cases in a session or split the time 50:50 between case study and general background

My guess is, that you think too much within the mindset of getting the right framework.

Try to think more in a way - what would I say if a friend of mine asked me this? What are the points I am really interested in?

Guennael replied on Mar 21, 2019
Ex-MBB, Experienced Hire; I will teach you not only the how, but also the why of case interviews

I have to agree with Vlad: there are just 2 options in my mind: Either you are not smart / talented enough, or you are making obvious cases that a coach is here to fix.

Let's get rid of the first option, which I hardly ever see: if you have a solid resume, the intellectual power is there.

The only other option is you are making fixable mistakes. Just like even the pros and CEOs have coaching, so should candidates: It is our job to spot them and give you the actionable feedback you would need to fix them. There are a number of us here with significant coaching (vs. interviewing) experience and the skills to zero in on the gaps you still have.

Yes, like Vlad, I have a bit of a conflict of interest. Remember what the upside is however. A change to work at MBB is worth it. I didn't get there on my own, very few MBB consultants did: we all had help at one point or another. Your fellow applicants (i.e., competitors) are getting coaching help... perhaps you should.

Vlad replied on Mar 21, 2019
McKinsey / Accenture / Got all BIG3 offers / More than 300 real MBB cases / Harvard Business School

Hi,

It's not promoting the service here, but I would recommend taking a session with a coach who can identify all the gaps in your performance. You are currently seeing your performance through your lens / lens of other candidates, which is not necessarily the full picture or source of truth. I believe you can identify all problems and discuss the approaches only after the full diagnostics.

Best

Someone replied on Mar 26, 2019

This might not be the answer you want to hear, but you may want to look into another career outside of consulting. This isn't a jab at you, or trying to tear you down, I'm sure you're a great person. But the sort of person that would make a great consultant is the kind where these sorts of things come somewhat naturally. If it's difficult and stressful, then you're not going to enjoy consulting and it would be an unfulfilling, unproductive career if you don't enjoy it. If I were you, I would really focus on what your strengths are, catalog them, and then look for a career that allows you to leverage your strengths.

Hrag replied on Mar 21, 2019

If you can, you should get access to some Victor Cheng interview transcripts where he guides the interviewee step by step on how to approach each challenge in a case. Also, having a preplounge interviewer put pressure on you for you to think fast and get used to fast thinking goes a long way too. You're almost there, you just need that final push to reach your final destination!