A few questions about the mechanics and dynamics of case interviews...

Case Cases Interview interview prep
New answer on Sep 22, 2019
2 Answers
1.2 k Views
Matt asked on Sep 21, 2019


I have a few questions regarding interviews:

1. How easily is information shared with candidates (I assume this will vary depending on the interviewer)?

2. I sometimes find that my initially framework is incorrect/not the best. However the feedback is that I am able to transition very well to the correct path. Is this something I should be concerned about? Usually after I present my initial framework I ask if it sounds reasonable or is a good way to continue...is this a good idea?

3. What is a good way to proceed when stuck or completely unsure of the direction to take? Is there a question I can ask that would make the interviewer more willing to guide me if I am stuck?

4. In terms of providing a final recommendation, how is my structure:

  1. Describe situation: Our client is company X and is thinking of doing... or is experiencing... and wanted advice about...
  2. I recommend that the client ...... For # of reasons.
    1. Reason 1
    2. Reason 2
    3. However many strong reasons there are. No more than 4
  3. For these reasons I would recommend the client ...(recommendation)...
  4. Mention any potential risks
  5. Considerations/implementation advice

5. In terms of sharing an initial structure, How should this be done... I have tried reading all my "buckets" and then sharing a few specific details within each bucket. However, I find it most comfortable to share bucket 1 then share some specifics and then do the same with bucket 2 and so on.... Is this a good approach?

Thank you and I appreciate any advice!


Overview of answers

  • Upvotes
  • Date ascending
  • Date descending
Best answer
replied on Sep 21, 2019
McKinsey Business Analyst | 3+ years Experience | MBA at LBS


Here are my answers:

1. If you ask, they say :) Meaning that typically they have a few data that are going to give you right at the start. But they also have other data that they'll show you if it fits within your structure (maybe the case goes in a different direction and there is no more need for that data) or they'll show you if you mention that specific piece of information (e.g., we would need to consider the target segment for our client, do we have any info on that? Yes, in fact, I have here the table...). Usually, if you are not mentioning that info but it is vital to go on with the case, they'll try to help you "say" it

2. Well, it depends. If your framework is always wrong when you start and you need me to re-focus you on the right path, that's a "minus" on your side, thus you have to be sure to be good in the other parts of the case

3. The interviewer can totally understand when you are stuck. The good thing to do in these cases is: talk so that the interviewer understand where you are stuck, what it is that you are missing and can be able to help you to go back on track. If you remain silent, staring at the blank page, they wouldn't be able to help. Also, clearly say: "I'm uncertain of this" but be sure to provide a few alternatives "..because I'm considering this, but I'm not sure if it's applicable in this case for this and that reason. Thus maybe I could go from this way to calculate..."

4. 1 is fine as long as it's short, 1 sentence max. The case is 20-30mins long, you can bet I remember the client's situation. 2. three is the magic number in consultancy, 2 is bad, 4 is good, but 3 is perfect. 3. Invert 2 with 3, consultancy is all about top-down communication, before the answer and after the back-up, not the other way around. 4 and 5 great

5. Top-down communication is better, as mentioned above. I know it sounds strange because for example from university, we are required to state all hypotheses and proofs and then draw the conclusion. Consultancy is the other way around. Thus, I would advise saying "I would investigate areas 1, 2 and 3, looking at costs and revenues in all of them". At this point, the interviewer would have the chance to tell you "ok, let's focus on 2" and then go ahead. If they don't say it, then "In area 1 I would investigate a,b,c,d, and e". In area 2 "...." and area 3 "...."

Was this answer helpful?
Content Creator
replied on Sep 22, 2019
McKinsey / Accenture Alum / Got all BIG3 offers / Harvard Business School


1. If you ask the right question - you get the info. If your questions are too broad - probably not. For example, if you ask "Tell me about the market", most probably you'll not get any info. If you ask for the "Market size and the growth rates" - you'll get them

2. It comes with practice. Ideally, you should have the structure that fits. You should ask the right clarifying questions to tailor your structure. It's fine to ask smth like: Does this seem like a good approach? Should I add or prioritize anything?

3. Ask the interviewer: "Could you pls tell me more about the process" and put the process flow he gives you as the new structure

4. Correct structure of the conclusion:

  • Objective
  • Recommendation. Never recommend anything that is not confirmed with the interviewer (and ideally calculated)
  • 2-4 arguments with numbers why the recommendation is valid
  • Any additional things that you've covered with the interviewer but have not confirmed / calculated. It's also ok to put the risks but if there is nothing to mention in terms of the additional things.

5. You should have the top-down communication - first you present the 1st level and then expand each bucket


Was this answer helpful?
Giulia gave the best answer


McKinsey Business Analyst | 3+ years Experience | MBA at LBS
Q&A Upvotes
11 Reviews