Are candidates penalized for not getting through the whole (interviewer-led) case?

case study Interview Interviewer-led MBB Time limit
Recent activity on Apr 04, 2018
6 Answers
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Dave asked on Apr 03, 2018
Advanced/Pro only please. Interested in real McKinsey-style or candidate-led cases.

I am mainly asking with regard to McKinsey-style cases, but perhaps this could apply to the candidate-led format as well.

Despite being told that I quickly solved the portions of the case I was given, there were still other sections and analyses remaining that we did not get to. Since the interviewer is primarily leading McKinsey-syle cases, is it my fault if we don't finish the entire thing and will I be penalized for not getting all the way through?

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Content Creator
replied on Sep 06, 2018
McKinsey / Accenture Alum / Got all BIG3 offers / Harvard Business School


Out of all MBB companies, only Bain expects you to crack the case and get the final number in 70% of the cases. At McKinsey (especially with the interviewer-led cases) and BCG very often it's just about discussing various topics and demonstrating the right skills (Structured thinking, Business Judgement, Etc).

So don't worry too much about the final answer. However, always try to have a good pace, since you never know what the interviewer has in mind.


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Anonymous replied on Sep 07, 2018

Hi Kay,

It is generally not required that the candidate "cracks" the case. This also varies widely by case, and interviewer. Some interviewers like to give very long, difficult cases, where completely solving it is very, very difficult, and the vast majority of candidates (including those who get offers) won't solve - this was the case with one of the partners I worked with at Bain.

Other interviewers will give more simple cases, and in this instance it is more of an expectation that the candidate with "solve" the case. In these cases, clients are more differentiated through the additional "gold dust" they provided in the case - for example, not just having a structured recommendation at the end, but going deeper by proposing next steps.

Finally, I am not sure what Vlad is basing his statement about "bain expects you to crack the case in 70% of cases". This is definitely not true, and I don't believe there is any specific expectation about candidates being able to come up with a specific answer.

Hope that helps!


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replied on Sep 06, 2018
Ex-MBB, Experienced Hire; I will teach you not only the how, but also the why of case interviews

Remember what the objective is: we want you to show that you can follow a structured (and MECE) approach, so that we know you will crack today's case, and the one tomorrow, and the one after.... if given enough time.

I can't speak to the percentages, but would agree the method is more important than the answer

PS: if you dont find the answer, it will hopefully be for lack of time, not for lack of creative ideas

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replied on Apr 04, 2018


Agree with others - you will be penalized if you run the case too slow and then the interviews can not run you through all of his prepared questions (you just need to think that the case is prepared so that an outstanding candidate, the ones who got offers, can do all pieces, not just part).

however, I’m quite intriged with the feedback you referred - if you are able to quickly and accurately solve all the pieces you’re given.. I don’t see any reason why you weren’t given the full case, so if this was just a practice with other candidate be careful calibrating for it!



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Dave on Apr 05, 2018

Hi Bruno, I suspect this particular cases I'm referring to were just longer than what would be normally given in a case interview. I've noticed that many of the prep lounge cases have one or two optional or extra sections attached, which I assume are there for extra practice and would not be included in a normal 30-35 min case interview.

Content Creator
replied on Apr 03, 2018
Former BCG Principal and decision round interviewer

Yes you would be penalized if you aren't able to go through all the key components of the case. Less penalized if the elements you didn't get through were not "core" elements but you highlighted them as potential follow-up analyses.

Hope it helps,


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Vlad gave the best answer


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