Asking MBB interviewers for data

MBB
New answer on Aug 05, 2021
5 Answers
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Anonymous A asked on Jul 31, 2021

If I ask for revenue data over past couple of year and they don't have it at the aggregate level but only have it as number of products sold or price over last couple of years, can I expect the interviewer to hand me the data since I asked about "historical revenue" or will they only hand it to me if I specifically ask for historical number of units or historical price figures?

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Erica
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updated an answer on Jul 31, 2021
Ex-McKinsey / 100% offer rate / LBS / Principle driven / Real case/ If you get the interview, you should get the offer!

Hi there. The interviewer will only hand you the data asked for. So it's crucial to amke sure you know exactly what you're doing before digging into the numbers.

When I do math question, a backward deduction has worked very well. I always follow below steps. Let's assume the interviewer asks you to calculate the profit the company will make next year.

Step 1: State your general logic - "In order to calculate the profit the client can make next year, we can use projected revenue deduct projected cost"

Step 2: Breakdown the big blocks - "So revenue can be calculate by mutiplying price and vol, while cost can be calculated through xxx plus xxx"

Step 3: Ask for data - "I'm wondering whether there is data for xxx, xxx, xxx available?"

Step 4: Do the math - work on the numbers given as fast and accurate as possible

Step 5: Sanity check

As you can see from above example, if you have your general logic sorted out before asking for any data, you can avoid 1). getting confused on which data to use if given a long list of numbers 2). missing any data

Hope this makes sense!

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Sidi
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replied on Jul 31, 2021
McKinsey Senior EM & BCG Consultant | Interviewer at McK & BCG for 7 years | Coached 300+ candidates secure MBB offers

Hi Anonymous!

No, the interviewer will of course only hand you the data that you ask for. And just to be clear: asking for it is also not enough! You need to EXPLAIN what you actually want to find out, and how it will help you to address the question! And which information would be needed for that analysis. Precisely.

The absolutely worst possible phrasing when asking for data is "Do you have any data/information on [Profits/RevenuCosts/Demand development, etc.] You must be SPECIFIC, and you must contextualize your request for data against the case solving logic that you outlined in your structure. Otherwise, you will inevitably come across as both a weak conceptual thinker and also a weak communicator.

Cheers, Sidi

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Francesco
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replied on Aug 01, 2021
#1 Expert for Coaching Sessions (3.600+) | 1.300+ Reviews with 100% Recommendation Rate | Ex BCG | 8+ Years of Coaching

Hi there,

Most interviewers won’t provide information on price and volume if you ask for revenues only when they don’t have that information available. They will just tell you “We don’t have that information available”.

They may still hint there may be other data they have, but it will be up to you to ask.

Best,

Francesco

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Ian
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replied on Aug 02, 2021
BCG | 100% personal interview success rate (8/8) and 95% candidate success rate | Personalized interview prep

Hi there,

The general rule is you have to be asking within the realm of reason.

There's an important "trick" to asking for data, which essentially asks for "everything" while also being specific. So, the best way to ask in your example isn't saying "do you have product revenue data over the past x years", but rather "I'm looking to understand x. To do so, I really need to understand our historical and current revenues. As such, do you have any revenue data on hand? This could be historical, current, broken down by product, geography, or anything of that nature"

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Sofia
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replied on Aug 05, 2021
McKinsey San Francisco | Harvard graduate | 5+ years of coaching | >90% candidate success rate | Personalized approach

Hello!

Be as precise as possible when you are asking for data, and be sure to explain why you want it. If you ask about historical revenue, some interviews might be more charitable and give it to you, but others will expect you to be more precise, so it is always best to be specific. 

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Erica gave the best answer

Erica

Content Creator
Ex-McKinsey / 100% offer rate / LBS / Principle driven / Real case/ If you get the interview, you should get the offer!
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