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

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Recent activity on Jan 25, 2018
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Anonymous B asked on Jan 02, 2018

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?

(edited)

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Francesco
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replied on Jan 25, 2018
#1 Expert for Coaching Sessions (3.600+) | 1.300+ Reviews with 100% Recommendation Rate | Ex BCG | 8+ Years of 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,

Francesco

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Anne
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replied on Sep 06, 2017
Former BCG in Paris, Official BCG coach for more than 150 experienced / post-MBA candidates

Hello,

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!

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Anonymous A updated the 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.

(edited)

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Maikol on Sep 10, 2017
Hi,
Francesco gave the best answer

Francesco

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