expert
Expert with best answer

Francesco

100% Recommendation Rate

2,865 Meetings

5,792 Q&A Upvotes

USD 349 / Coaching

4

At the end of the case interview, what should we do as a closing conclusion? How would you structure a synthesis?

At the end of the case interview, what should we do as a closing conclusion? How would you structure a synthesis? Including problems, short solutions, why is that solution (insights), and risk/mitigations? Is there a time gauge of how much is too much? Also can we ask interviewers for feedback about the case?

At the end of the case interview, what should we do as a closing conclusion? How would you structure a synthesis? Including problems, short solutions, why is that solution (insights), and risk/mitigations? Is there a time gauge of how much is too much? Also can we ask interviewers for feedback about the case?

4 answers

  • Upvotes
  • Date ascending
  • Date descending
Best Answer
Book a coaching with Francesco

100% Recommendation Rate

2,865 Meetings

5,792 Q&A Upvotes

USD 349 / Coaching

Hi Charles and Olzhas,

as a structure for the conclusion, I would recommend the following three steps:

1) Repeat the objective. This will ensure you are indeed answering to what is relevant for the case. Forget to repeat the objective is one of the most common mistakes candidates do in the conclusion and can lead to answer to the wrong question. As an example:

  • Our goal was to understand (i) why profits are declining and (ii) how we could increase profits by XYZ”

2) Provide an answer-first solution. You don’t have to present everything you discovered in the case at this stage, only the main conclusion and its supporting factor. If the conclusion is not clear 100% as you have not analyzed all the elements of your structure to derive a definite yes or no, you can provide a preliminary answer based on the elements you have identified.

  • After our initial analysis, we found out that profits are declining due a decrease in revenues in division 1 and that, in order to increase profits, with the information we have so far it seems a good idea to enter Market A. This is based on the following reasons:
    • [SPECIFIC FINDINGS 1]
    • [SPECIFIC FINDINGS 2]
    • [SPECIFIC FINDINGS 3]”

3) Provide risks / next steps suggestions. You should always have next steps/ risks in your conclusion. You can refer to the elements present in your structure that you did not have time to cover or to risks emerged during the case:

  • As additional elements, we would like also to consider the following …[RISKS/NEXT STEPS]”

You should spend around one minute to deliver a conclusion. The interviewer may give you a shorter time constraint (usually minimum 30 seconds), thus you should also practice for shorter allocations of time.

I would never ask for feedback on your performance at the end – it’s a sign you are uncertain on your performance and kills the confidence of the interviewer in you.

Hope this helps,

Francesco

Hi Charles and Olzhas,

as a structure for the conclusion, I would recommend the following three steps:

1) Repeat the objective. This will ensure you are indeed answering to what is relevant for the case. Forget to repeat the objective is one of the most common mistakes candidates do in the conclusion and can lead to answer to the wrong question. As an example:

  • Our goal was to understand (i) why profits are declining and (ii) how we could increase profits by XYZ”

2) Provide an answer-first solution. You don’t have to present everything you discovered in the case at this stage, only the main conclusion and its supporting factor. If the conclusion is not clear 100% as you have not analyzed all the elements of your structure to derive a definite yes or no, you can provide a preliminary answer based on the elements you have identified.

  • After our initial analysis, we found out that profits are declining due a decrease in revenues in division 1 and that, in order to increase profits, with the information we have so far it seems a good idea to enter Market A. This is based on the following reasons:
    • [SPECIFIC FINDINGS 1]
    • [SPECIFIC FINDINGS 2]
    • [SPECIFIC FINDINGS 3]”

3) Provide risks / next steps suggestions. You should always have next steps/ risks in your conclusion. You can refer to the elements present in your structure that you did not have time to cover or to risks emerged during the case:

  • As additional elements, we would like also to consider the following …[RISKS/NEXT STEPS]”

You should spend around one minute to deliver a conclusion. The interviewer may give you a shorter time constraint (usually minimum 30 seconds), thus you should also practice for shorter allocations of time.

I would never ask for feedback on your performance at the end – it’s a sign you are uncertain on your performance and kills the confidence of the interviewer in you.

Hope this helps,

Francesco

(edited)

Thank you so much Francesco! Really helpful and spot-on! — Olzhas on Mar 24, 2019

Book a coaching with Vlad

97% Recommendation Rate

388 Meetings

7,316 Q&A Upvotes

USD 299 / Coaching

Hi,

First of all, here are the general ways to provide the recommendation:

  1. Always take 30 seconds to structure your recommendation. Never give a recommendation without taking time for preparation
  2. After taking the time - check the objective. The worst thing you can do is answering the wrong question
  3. Spend 30 seconds on structuring the recommendation and collecting the numbers supporting your arguments from your case notes

The typical structure is the following:

  1. What was the objective
  2. Your recommendation
  3. Arguments why the recommendation is valid (2-4 arguments) with the supporting numbers
  4. Additional things you would like to explore. In the order of priority:
  • Things you still need to explore / data you need to get in order to provide a valid recommendation (Very typical for McKinsey cases where the interviewer guides you and interrupts in the middle of the case to provide a conclusion
  • Things you've slightly covered during the case but have not come to a particular measurable solution or were not the part of the original objective (e.g. alternative growth options or some questions on creativity)
  • Risks
  • Next steps

For example:

  1. Our objectives were to understand why the profit is declining by X and how to bring the profit back within one year (Don't forget that your objective should be measurable in terms of money / other metric and time)
  2. According to the analysis we've done so far, my recommendation is to shut down the division A and to concentrate on the divisions b/c if we want to increase the profit, and there is a number of reasons for that.. (Remember that your arguments should include numbers).
  3. You provide the arguments a) First of all, problems in Division A are the major driver of the decline in profits - 90% of the decline in profits refer to Division A. b) Secondly, the decline is driven by the contracting market size that is shrinking at xx percent and is not expected to improve in the near future. c) Finally....
  4. Additionally, I would like to check the following... (In the last bullet, you simply provide a list of other things you have discussed, but they were not the part of the original objective / the things you slightly discussed but haven't come to any conclusion, like the questions on creativity)

The problem is that In many cases, you can't provide a definite answer since you don't have enough information

Consultants may be testing several things:

  • Are you comfortable enough with providing preliminary recommendations based on limited data? (Imagine a CEO whom you met in the elevator and who wants to know the preliminary findings)
  • Will you make a mistake of providing a recommendation with a high level of certainty without having a proper supporting data?

Imagine a case when you have to make a decision whether a PE fund should acquire a company. You make a proper structure (Market, Competitors, Company, Feasibility of Exit) and in 25 min of a case, you've managed only to go through the Market and Competitors branches of the analysis. What will be your recommendation?

In this case, you have to provide a Soft Recommendation:

  1. You start with an objective ("Our objective was to understand whether we should buy this company")
  2. You provide a preliminary recommendation highlighting the uncertainty("According to the limited data we have so far, our preliminary recommendation is to buy this company and there are three reasons for that..." or "Purely based on the data we have about the market it looks like it's a good idea for a number of reasons..")
  3. You provide the reasons ("First of all the market is big at X and growing at Y, Secondly the competition is fragmented with the target company having x% of the market. Thirdly...")
  4. You Mention the pieces of data that you need to provide a full recommendation ("But to come up with a final recommendation I would like to look at the company financials, key capabilities and..." or "But to be 100% sure in our recommendation we need to check...)

Best,

Vlad

Hi,

First of all, here are the general ways to provide the recommendation:

  1. Always take 30 seconds to structure your recommendation. Never give a recommendation without taking time for preparation
  2. After taking the time - check the objective. The worst thing you can do is answering the wrong question
  3. Spend 30 seconds on structuring the recommendation and collecting the numbers supporting your arguments from your case notes

The typical structure is the following:

  1. What was the objective
  2. Your recommendation
  3. Arguments why the recommendation is valid (2-4 arguments) with the supporting numbers
  4. Additional things you would like to explore. In the order of priority:
  • Things you still need to explore / data you need to get in order to provide a valid recommendation (Very typical for McKinsey cases where the interviewer guides you and interrupts in the middle of the case to provide a conclusion
  • Things you've slightly covered during the case but have not come to a particular measurable solution or were not the part of the original objective (e.g. alternative growth options or some questions on creativity)
  • Risks
  • Next steps

For example:

  1. Our objectives were to understand why the profit is declining by X and how to bring the profit back within one year (Don't forget that your objective should be measurable in terms of money / other metric and time)
  2. According to the analysis we've done so far, my recommendation is to shut down the division A and to concentrate on the divisions b/c if we want to increase the profit, and there is a number of reasons for that.. (Remember that your arguments should include numbers).
  3. You provide the arguments a) First of all, problems in Division A are the major driver of the decline in profits - 90% of the decline in profits refer to Division A. b) Secondly, the decline is driven by the contracting market size that is shrinking at xx percent and is not expected to improve in the near future. c) Finally....
  4. Additionally, I would like to check the following... (In the last bullet, you simply provide a list of other things you have discussed, but they were not the part of the original objective / the things you slightly discussed but haven't come to any conclusion, like the questions on creativity)

The problem is that In many cases, you can't provide a definite answer since you don't have enough information

Consultants may be testing several things:

  • Are you comfortable enough with providing preliminary recommendations based on limited data? (Imagine a CEO whom you met in the elevator and who wants to know the preliminary findings)
  • Will you make a mistake of providing a recommendation with a high level of certainty without having a proper supporting data?

Imagine a case when you have to make a decision whether a PE fund should acquire a company. You make a proper structure (Market, Competitors, Company, Feasibility of Exit) and in 25 min of a case, you've managed only to go through the Market and Competitors branches of the analysis. What will be your recommendation?

In this case, you have to provide a Soft Recommendation:

  1. You start with an objective ("Our objective was to understand whether we should buy this company")
  2. You provide a preliminary recommendation highlighting the uncertainty("According to the limited data we have so far, our preliminary recommendation is to buy this company and there are three reasons for that..." or "Purely based on the data we have about the market it looks like it's a good idea for a number of reasons..")
  3. You provide the reasons ("First of all the market is big at X and growing at Y, Secondly the competition is fragmented with the target company having x% of the market. Thirdly...")
  4. You Mention the pieces of data that you need to provide a full recommendation ("But to come up with a final recommendation I would like to look at the company financials, key capabilities and..." or "But to be 100% sure in our recommendation we need to check...)

Best,

Vlad

Book a coaching with Guennael

99% Recommendation Rate

266 Meetings

1,310 Q&A Upvotes

USD 269 / Coaching

Francesco's answer is spot on. I teach it slightly differently though, to really accentuate the various steps and make sure you are following the pyramid principle:

1. Ask for time; in my experience, everyone will give you a minute... except at BCG where they say "client is in your office, drop your pen, look up, go". There's no downside to asking anyway, it can only help you

2. Repeat the initial objective to level set

3. State & number your recommendations; a list will do here

4. Go back over each recommendation, explain what you found, how that's relevant, and how that will benefit the customer. If a recommendation needs to come before another one, or one is 90% of the answer, make sure to bring this up as well

5. Next steps. Two options here: either (5a) you aren't done and need to analyze a couple more things in order to confirm the interim recommendation, say so; or (5b) you are pretty much done with the analysis, and you offer to implement (especially in large consultancies, who will always have people ready and able to help implement) or bring up the next improvement possible and thereby sell another project

Francesco's answer is spot on. I teach it slightly differently though, to really accentuate the various steps and make sure you are following the pyramid principle:

1. Ask for time; in my experience, everyone will give you a minute... except at BCG where they say "client is in your office, drop your pen, look up, go". There's no downside to asking anyway, it can only help you

2. Repeat the initial objective to level set

3. State & number your recommendations; a list will do here

4. Go back over each recommendation, explain what you found, how that's relevant, and how that will benefit the customer. If a recommendation needs to come before another one, or one is 90% of the answer, make sure to bring this up as well

5. Next steps. Two options here: either (5a) you aren't done and need to analyze a couple more things in order to confirm the interim recommendation, say so; or (5b) you are pretty much done with the analysis, and you offer to implement (especially in large consultancies, who will always have people ready and able to help implement) or bring up the next improvement possible and thereby sell another project

It's preferable you don't ask for feedback as it puts the interviewer in an awkward situation especially if it's face-to-face. I would also that if you mention the probabliity of the risks happening would be a nice touch as well.

It's preferable you don't ask for feedback as it puts the interviewer in an awkward situation especially if it's face-to-face. I would also that if you mention the probabliity of the risks happening would be a nice touch as well.

Related BootCamp article(s)

Getting Up to Speed

In order to repeatedly demonstrate prerequisite skills under the pressure of a real case interview, you need to learn the basics and practice cases.

1 Q&A

Related case(s)

Espresso, Whatelse?

Solved 2.6k times
Espresso, Whatelse? Espresso Whatelse is an Italian company that produces coffee and espresso machines since 1908. It is the Italian market leader and has a strong presence overall in Europe. In 2019, Espresso Whatelse has increased its revenues but it has seen declining profit margin. Your client wants to understand the root causes of this 2019 trend and how to increase its profit margin again.  
4.6 5 109
| Rating: (4.6 / 5.0)

Espresso Whatelse is an Italian company that produces coffee and espresso machines since 1908. It is the Italian market leader and has a strong presence overall in Europe. In 2019, Espresso Whatelse has increased its revenues but it has seen declining profit margin. Your client wants to understand ... Open whole case

MBB Final Round Case - Smart Education

Solved 1.9k times
MBB Final Round Case - Smart Education Our client is SmartBridge, a nonprofit educational institution offering face-to-face tutoring services. The client operates in the US. The mission of SmartBridge is to help as many students as possible to complete studies and prevent that they drop from the school system, in particular in disadvantaged areas. The client is considering starting operations for its services in the Chicago area. They hired us to understand if that makes sense. Due to the nonprofit regulation, SmartBridge should operate on its own in the market, without any partnership. How would you help our client?
4.7 5 69
| Rating: (4.7 / 5.0)

Our client is SmartBridge, a nonprofit educational institution offering face-to-face tutoring services. The client operates in the US. The mission of SmartBridge is to help as many students as possible to complete studies and prevent that they drop from the school system, in particular in disadvant ... Open whole case

Hot Wheels

Solved 400+ times
Hot Wheels Problem definition: Our client is Korean Car Parts (KCP), a multi-national original equipment manufacturer (OEM) of car parts based in Korea. They've recently seen a decline in profits and have brought us in to understand how to address this falling profitability.
4.4 5 14
| Rating: (4.4 / 5.0)

Problem definition: Our client is Korean Car Parts (KCP), a multi-national original equipment manufacturer (OEM) of car parts based in Korea. They've recently seen a decline in profits and have brought us in to understand how to address this falling profitability. Open whole case

McKinsey Digital / BCG Platinion: Oil & Gas Upstream Technology

Solved 300+ times
McKinsey Digital / BCG Platinion: Oil & Gas Upstream Technology [PLEASE NOTE: This is a technically difficult case and should only be completed by those coming in as a Technology specialist, i.e. recruiting for McKinsey Digital, BCG Platinion, etc.] Our client is a multinational oil and gas company. While they are vertically integrated and have upstream, midstream, and downstream divisions, they have recently been experiencing competitivity issues in the upstream gas division, which brings in $1B in profits annually. Our client’s upstream division has offices in Australia and Indonesia. Their work is highly dependent on their IT systems, as they have to constantly monitor wells and pipes (pressure, hydrocarbon count, fluid makeup, etc.) The upstream division has two large legacy IT systems that are primarily used for downstream operations but have been modified for upstream purposes. These systems are managed by a central team in the US which is responsible for all IT issues across the business. They triage issues/enhancements and then manage development teams in India and Finland who complete the work.
4.3 5 11
| Rating: (4.3 / 5.0)

[PLEASE NOTE: This is a technically difficult case and should only be completed by those coming in as a Technology specialist, i.e. recruiting for McKinsey Digital, BCG Platinion, etc.] Our client is a multinational oil and gas company. While they are vertically integrated and have upstream, midstr ... Open whole case