Expert with best answer


100% Recommendation Rate

2,545 Meetings

2,761 Q&A Upvotes

USD 319 / Coaching

BAIN Interview feedback - TOO STRUCTURED and NOT PREFERRED recommendation-first approach?

Anonymous B asked on Jan 02, 2018 - 4 answers

Hi all,

Hope you have a good new year break. I want to share with you the feedback I got following my Europe Bain first-round interview (which I didn't pass). Please note, this post is not to justify why I should have been hired but more of asking you guys for your perspective on this for a second opinion and for me to dwell on for further self-development.

Aside from the positive, there were two main points for further improvement following the interview. I would like to share one point with the community.

The interviewer said my recommendation-first approach was not preferred. I started off with a recommendation and 3 supporting points, closed with the recommendation again, and outlined 2 areas of focus given more time and analysis. All points made were relevant and valid. The interviewer thought I should have provided more context and background, mention the analysis done, and then end with the recommendation. From his point of view, he thought it would come off as more conversational.

Now, I know there are pros and cons to both approaches. Not sure what you guys think of this but I believe the overall overwhelming online content from coaches, interviewers, and offer-holders pointed me toward my initial approach. You need to start with the recommendation first to answer the CEO's question and then support it with facts and analysis. No CEO wants to spend their time second-guessing the recommendation due to the long storyline and context you tell. This has always been the 'preferred' approach within the online community in my opinion. What was surprising to me was that I thought this approach was widely recognised and preferred within the strategy consulting, and more importantly the MBB community?

What do you guys think? Love to hear all of your thoughts on this. Are you just as surprised as I am or do you think I'm missing something here?


4 answers

  • Upvotes
  • Date ascending
  • Date descending
Best Answer
Content Creator
replied on Jan 25, 2018
#1 Expert for Coaching Sessions (2.500+) | 1.100+ Reviews with 100% Recommendation Rate | Ex BCG | 6+ Years Coaching Experience
Book a coaching with Francesco

100% Recommendation Rate

2,545 Meetings

2,761 Q&A Upvotes

USD 319 / Coaching

Hi Anonymous,

my suggestion for the final sum up would be the following:

  1. Repeat the objective, if possible quantifying it (eg “Dear Mr CEO, you asked us to understand whether we should buy company X to increase our revenues by Y in Z years”)
  2. Provide answer-first recommendation + motivation for that. (eg “After our initial analysis we would recommend not to buy the company. The reasons are that (i) there are not enough revenues that could be generated by current products and (ii) there are no new products that could be developed any time soon. In particular..”). There is no need to force the presence of three reasons here, unless you indeed have three reasons. If you have two strong points only, it’s ok to use two.
  3. Provide next steps. (eg. “In order to meet our goal, we would be happy to analyse further companies that could be interesting for us. In particular..”)

Given what you mentioned, it could be that:

  1. You did not clarify the objective at the beginning and the interviewer felt that led to a “too quick” jump to the conclusion
  2. The motivation in point 2 was not deep enough

Having said that, I agree the feedback is a bit strange, as an answer-first approach is the standard way to proceed for a final recommendation.

Hope this helps,


replied on Sep 06, 2017
Former BCG in Paris, Official BCG coach for more than 100 experienced / post-MBA candidates
Book a coaching with Anne

100% Recommendation Rate

15 Meetings

6 Q&A Upvotes

USD 159 / Coaching


I agree with Francesco on the reasons why you may have sound too structured. It is better to create a framework that will be well adapted to the case, than "blindly" follow a standard framework.

Regarding the "too accurate maths", you should keep in mind that interview cases don't use real/precise numbers. You need to compute are orders of magnitude, not precise results. The result of you computation should have approximately the same level of accuracy than the figures given by you interviewer. For instance, if your interviewer tells you that the company's benefit is about 10.5 million€ and ask you how much the new initiative you've been discussing will increase the benefit. Your answer should be in million with a single digit (e.g. 1.7 million€). Don't answer 1 689 234 €. You will loose time computing such a precise answer and you know for sure that the "89 234" is not a relevant piece of information.

They want to know whether you can do "back of the envelop" thinking :

  • Can you figure out quickly what is the good way/good model to compute an insightful result ?
  • Are you at ease with numbers ?
  • Are you able to have a critical eye on your results ?

Indeed, while working at MBBs, you will do a lot of big Excel models with plenty of numbers. It is easy to make errors ( e.g. selecting the wrong cell with a fat finger...). MBBs expect you to realize, on your own, when something went wrong in your model. For instance, with a "back of the envelop" reasoning, you know that the result should be around 10. Your Excel model would tell you whether it is 9.51 or 10.8. But if you find 30 ou 200, you should see on your own that something went wrong.

Hope this help!

Good luck for the rest of your interviews!

Anonymous A updated his answer on Aug 29, 2017

I had a case interview preparation with an experienced consultant and he told me that for McK case solving, my structure should be more framed. In that sense the feedback of McK was confusing. I guess my case was indeed perceived too structured and I will work on that. Thanks for your answering.


Hi, — Maikol on Sep 10, 2017

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.

Case Studies

The case study is the most important element of the case interview, which you'll have to nail in order to get into strategic consulting. Here you can learn the specific skills and concepts necessary to solve them.

Interviewer-Led vs Candidate-Led cases

Case Interviews can be led by the candidate or by the interviewer: In Candidate-led cases the main challenge is the structure. In Interviewer-led cases the main challenge is to adapt quickly

Related case(s)

Bain case: Asian lubricants producer

Solved 101.1k times
4.7 5 27396
| Rating: (4.7 / 5.0)

LubricantsCo, a very successful Asian premium producer of lubricants in their native region, would like to further increase their revenue and profit. The product range ranges from lubricants in the automotive sector (e.g. motor and gear oil) to industrial applications (e.g. fats, heavy-duty oils). ... Open whole case

Deloitte Consulting case: Footloose

Solved 56.3k times
4.5 5 12684
| Rating: (4.5 / 5.0)

Duraflex is a German footwear company with annual men’s footwear sales of approximately €1 b. They have always relied on the boot market for the majority of their volume. In this market they compete with three other major competitors. In the fall of 2013, Badger – one of Duraflex’s competitiors – ... Open whole case

Bain Case: Old Winery

Solved 38.3k times
4.4 5 1008
| Rating: (4.4 / 5.0)

You have inherited the “Old Winery” from your grandfather, a winery which has been family owned for five generations and can be dated back to the 16th century. Half of the eleven hectares are used to grow white grapes, the other half to grow red grapes. They are grown in the conventional way, i.e. ... Open whole case

McKinsey Questions

Solved 32.7k times
4.5 5 834
| Rating: (4.5 / 5.0) |
Difficulty: Intermediate | Style: Fit interview | Topics: Personal fit

Tell me of a situation where you had an opinion and no one seemed to agree with you. What was your goal when you decided to join university / work / clubs / a sports team? Did you have a goal that you were not able to reach? What did you do? What do you want to be remembered for and how are you a ... Open whole case

Bain Questions

Solved 21.7k times
4.6 5 274
| Rating: (4.6 / 5.0) |
Difficulty: Intermediate | Style: Fit interview | Topics: Personal fit

Tell me about a difficult situation you had to cope with. Tell me of a task which you didn’t like doing and explain why you performed it nevertheless. Why do you do things? What do you like doing most / What is your favorite hobby? Walk me through a situation where you showed leadership skills. Open whole case