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Are there any useful frameworks/checklists for asking Clarifying Questions?

Anonymous A asked on Dec 29, 2018

Hey guys - do you know any useful frameworks or checklists I could use to ensure that my clarifying questions are identifying relevant info?

I'm wondering if something like the 5W1H method (who, what, where, when, why, how) might be a good checklist to work through to make sure I ask clarifying questions that will give me a full understanding of the case.

I've looked at previous questions on PrepLounge and seen a lot of recommendations on case-specific clarifying questions. I'm interested to see if there are any general frameworks you'd recommend to make sure my questions are on point!


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replied on Jan 04, 2019
McKinsey Engagement Manager & BCG Consultant | Interviewer at McK & BCG for 7 years | Coached 90+ candidates secure MBB offers
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Hi Anonymous,

the questions you ask at the beginning have the following objectives:

  1. Completely understanding the context/situation (including, unclear terminology, but also, for example, the business model of the client if unclear!)
  2. Understanding the question(s) of the client
  3. Understanding (and quantifying if applicable) the underlying objective(s) of the client

These questions are aiming at understanding the initial setting, hence forming a precondition to outline your structure towards answering the core question (the issue tree)!

The later questions that you ask while navigating through the case are then aiming to verify the actual relevance of each sub-branch in your tree. So if you have defined and disaggregated the criterion to answer the client's core question in a clean way, all these leater questions follow a this precise "roadmap" as layed out by your tree. These questions then oftentimes also comprise enquiries on current performance metrics (revenues, costs, growth rates etc.), which normally should never be asked in the clarifying questions (before making explicit your structure).

Cheers, Sidi

replied on Dec 31, 2018
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5W1H can help, yes - but probably too much in the clarifying questions. In general, I just make sure I understand the terms + question, quantify the objectives and get a timeline. All other questions will be addressed as part of the framework