Are we allowed to take a moment before making final case recommendation?

Case Interview final recommendation timing
Edited on Jan 23, 2022
11 Answers
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Jasmin asked on Jan 10, 2022
Prep for bayer inhouse...

I saw in some case videos that candidates directly gave their final summary - pitch CEO. But I'm still wondering if we are allowed to take a moment to structure our thoughts? 

If so, how long is good? - 30s, 1min? Would it affect the evaluation results of the interview, if taking too long?

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Paul
CoachingPlus Expert
replied on Jan 10, 2022
Project Leader @ BCG - 6 years consulting experience|Coached 300+ candidates |Interviewer at BCG | 2nd Session free

Hi there,

You should during the whole case interview, strategically distribute the requests for time (e.g. during framework or during difficult questions and/or conclusion), assuming the interviewer will allow you to have any time at all (always judge him behavioural-wise)

I would do the following

1) Ask for time before you lay out your framework and see the response from interviewer (yes/no , body language)

- If you had positive response you can have 1 additional slot to ask for “long time” and maybe another “short time” request - you should always gauge the atmosphere / response / personality of interviewer

2) Assuming you are in the condition to ask for time for a conclusion, it is YOUR CHOICE and according to me a TRADE-OFF DECISION

Scenario A - Do not ask for time for conclusion

+ Shows ability to think on the spot, confidence

- Interviewer could be more lenient on the level of structure and insights in the conclusion

- If conclusion delivered is below minimum bar as for as being crisp, to the point, relevant and structured because of the rush - it will penalize you in the problem solving/structure axis

Scenario B - Ask for time (if allowed, preferred for me) for conclusion

+ Gives you time to structure conclusion in an answer first, logical, business relevant and MECE way

- Interviewer's “bar” for judging your performance is higher, given you took time 

- If conclusion delivered is below minimum bar as for as being crisp, to the point, relevant and structured because of the rush - it will penalize you in the problem solving/structure axis

 

AS per your second question

→ I would penalize a candidate if taking more than 1.30 min without delivering superior content. Would stick to the < 1min- 1.30 to be sure

 

Hope this helps.

Good luck

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Hagen
Expert
replied on Jan 11, 2022
Current Bain & Company Project Leader and interviewer | 250+ interviews conducted | 6+ years of coaching and mentoring

Hi Jasmin,

First of all, congratulations on reflecting your case performanc so thoroughly!

This is indeed an interesting question which is probably relevant for quite a lot of users, so I am happy to provide my perspective on it:

  • Generally speaking, I would always advise you to ask for a short period of time to have a last look at your results before giving the final recommendation in order to
    • properly structure your thoughts
    • integrate all meaningful pieces of information and 
    • think about contingencies and next steps.
  • Normally, asking for a short period of time will not affect your evaluation at all since such situations also happen in real life where you will ask the client about some time to come up with a valid answer (though normally not in a conversation). Still, in case you are asking for a short period of time whatever question the interviewer is asking (I did experience this), this would, in total, most probably affect your evaluation.
  • Lastly, I would advise you to still keep it down to 30-60 seconds since all you want is to structure your thoughts and quickly think about 2-3 more aspects to mention. An excellent recommendation would still be a crisp one.

In case you want a more detailed discussion on how to best approach every component of a case interview, please feel free to contact me directly.

I hope this helps,

Hagen

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Clara
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Content Creator
replied on Jan 10, 2022
McKinsey | Awarded professor at Master in Management @ IE | MBA at MIT |+180 students coached | Integrated FIT Guide aut

Hello!

It totally depends! Mostly in the interviewer. 

For instance, in my own personal experience with McKinsey, I had interviewers that let me take a moment to gather my thoughts, and others who told me: 

The CEO is coming out a meeting, and finds you by chance in the elevator. He/she wants to know an update, even knowing that you are not fully done with the assessment. What would you tell her/him? (and you cannot prep since he/she is here already). 

In short, and this applies to almost all questions regarding case interview prep: you need to be ready for all- 

Hope it helps!

Cheers, 

Clara

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Luca
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replied on Jan 10, 2022
BCG |NASA | SDA Bocconi & Cattolica partner | GMAT expert 780/800 score | 200+ students coached

Hello Jasmin,

The golden rule is always to ask for some time before giving the final recommendation. This will help you to:

  • Be more structured in your answer
  • Do not forget anything relevant from the case
  • Be more creative in terms of risks/next steps

Sometimes (few times) the interviewer will not let you to take some time, so be sure that you take notes in a structured and effective way, in order to be always ready for a summary.

You should usually take around 30 seconds but it can vary according to the complexity of the case. Do not worry anyway, taking longer will not impact your valuation. The interviewer will simply tackle in asking for an answer.

Hope it helps,
Luca

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Moritz
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Content Creator
replied on Jan 10, 2022
McKinsey | 100+ coachings & interviews @ McKinsey | ESADE MBA | Top rated for experienced hires & career transitioners

This depends entirely on you, the interviewer, and the firm.

There are basically 3 scenarios:

  • No summary/recommendation: Typical for McKinsey interviews that are interviewer-led and based on specific questions. If the last question does not say “What do you recommend?” then no summary is expected of you (though it may not hurt to clarify if it feels awkward - it's on the interviewer to be clear)
  • You make the rules: If you take the lead with a very proactive approach, and even try to stick to a (self) imposed time window, you might at some point drive it to its conclusion on your terms.
  • You ask for permission: Most typical scenario whereby interviewer signals you along the lines of “The CEO is about to enter the room” - take the clue and use 15 seconds - with permission. Depending on how this section is introduced, everything from 0 to 60 seconds can be appropriate.

However you end up giving your recommendation (if you give one), please do so in the most top down way! Recommendation for key actions/decisions first, everything else second. Assume the CEO only has 15 seconds to listen to you. What do you want him to take away?

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Florian
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replied on Jan 11, 2022
#1 rated McKinsey Case and PEI Coach | 5 years at McKinsey | Mentorship Approach | 530+ McK interviews in 2021

Hey there,

Usually, you can take around 30s to 1m to think about it. Think about the following 3 items:

  1. Top-down recommendation(s): Think about 1-3 recommendations based on your findings in the case
  2. Discuss 2-3 supporting arguments for each
  3. Discuss next steps and a way forward (or risks)

Cheers,

Florian

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Allen
Expert
replied on Jan 10, 2022
Ex-McK Experienced Hire and EM - I show you how to perform at your best

Hi Jasmin,

Good question.  There are different opinions on this type of question.  Here's mine:

It's always ok to take time.  This is because a better answer is always preferred over a quick answer. So if you need time, take it.

It goes without saying that if you can be good and quick, of course do that.  So definitely practice and try to move quickly.

Think about real life: would a client expect you to synthesize everything on the spot or would they be comfortable with you taking some time to consider your response?  And even if you took a bit "too long," a great answer makes up for everything.

I'm happy to explain more if you want.  In the meantime, hope this helps!

Best,

Allen

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Ian
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Content Creator
replied on Jan 10, 2022
BCG | 100% personal interview success rate (8/8) and 95% candidate success rate | Personalized interview prep

Hi Jasmin,

Absolutely! Always ask for time if you need it. Ideally you only need about 30 seconds.

Now, ultimately, you should always have your recommendation ready throughout the case. A great caser knows their recommendation/risks and updates/evolves their thinking over time. Good case organization is key here.

There will be instances where they don't give you time, so just be ready for that as well!

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Adi
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Content Creator
replied on Jan 10, 2022
Accenture, Deloitte | Precision Case Prep | Experienced Interviewer & Career Coach | 15 years professional experience

Hi Jasmin,

Yes, absolutely fine to take some time.

If you take great notes and write well on your sheets of paper, to structure the final recommendations should not take more than 30 seconds. Upto a minute of time out is fine but no longer.

Sometimes, I have noticed candidates move smoothly and seamlessly to this final stage. But they take great notes and/or have very good memory :). Hope you get the point.

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Pedro
Expert
updated an answer on Jan 23, 2022
# Bain | EY-Parthenon | Roland Berger | FIT | Market Sizing | Former Head Recruiter

You should be taking notes (key insights) on a page to be ready anytime to give out your recommendation.

It is usually not an issue to ask for a moment. You should ask for it. However, it should not take more than 30-60 seconds. You should use the time to quickly go through your notes and pick what is more relevant and think about any caveats.

Then you should start by stating the objetive and providing the the recommendation (this is always first), 2-3 key supporting points, then describe 1-2 insights related to each supporting point, and if there are any caveats to your recommendation mention them.

Do not over-structure your answer. Candidates often go into much detail. And do not discuss the process you followed to reach the conclusions (we want the conclusions, not the process).

Hope this helps,
Pedro

(edited)

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Udayan
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Jan 21, 2022
Top rated MBB coach with many offers /Ex McKinsey EM in New York /6 years McKinsey recruiting experience/Real cases

ALWAYS take time to structure your thoughts before answering a question. You are never penalized for taking time when needed but will always be penalized for rushing and giving an incomplete or incorrect answer.

In terms of how much time - take the time you need and what is reasonable. For a reasonably quick summary up to a minute is totally fine if you need to gather all your points on a page.

 

Udayan

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Paul gave the best answer

Paul

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Project Leader @ BCG - 6 years consulting experience|Coached 300+ candidates |Interviewer at BCG | 2nd Session free
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