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

Anonymous A asked on Jan 02, 2018 - 1 answer

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?


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Francesco replied on Jan 25, 2018
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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,


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