Best practice for communicating while analyzing charts?

Charts communication
Recent activity on Jan 20, 2019
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Anonymous A asked on Jan 17, 2019

Hi. When analyzing charts, what's a good step-by-step process for conducting the analysis?

In particular, I'm curious as to the best approach: a. On receiving the data, should I take 30-60 seconds of silence to analyse the information and then report back my insights, or b. On receiving the data, should I jump immediately in to 'thinking out loud' analysis on the trends?

To be clear, I'm interested in the balance of 'silent analysis' and 'thinking out loud'.

This question is based on previous feedback that I was a bit slow in moving through the case, perhaps asking for too many silent analyses.

Any general comments on the best approach for communicating while analyzing charts would also be much appreciated.

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Content Creator
updated an answer on Jan 20, 2019
#1 Coach for Sessions (4.000+) | 1.500+ 5-Star Reviews | Proven Success (➡ | Ex BCG | 9Y+ Coaching

Hi Anonymous,

theoretically they could both be fine, but option a. is safer as gives you time to be better organized. In general, you can proceed as follows.

analyzing charts in case interview

  1. Ask for one minute of time to structure your thoughts.
  2. Summarize what the graph is about. Read in particular the graph title (often forgot), the axes and the legend.
  3. Restate the main question you have to answer. Many people don’t spend the time to clarify the specific question they have to answer; consequently, they end answering the wrong one. Don’t be one of them and be sure to restate what is the main insight you have to derive
  4. Provide an analysis related to the question. Once you have the graph crystal clear as for the content, then, and only then, you can move to an analysis of how the graph can answer to the question you have restated.
  5. Provide a conclusion for the graph that answers the original question. Again, very often people simply state what the graph is about, without providing any conclusion. A great candidate will provide a connection between the analysis done and the previous question formulated, with a clear summary of the whole analysis
  6. Present the next steps to follow based on such a conclusion. As a final step, a great candidate will present what can be done as additional steps to help further the client on the particular question raised.




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Content Creator
replied on Jan 17, 2019
McKinsey / Accenture Alum / Got all BIG3 offers / Harvard Business School


Several things about analyzing the tables / charts:

  1. Take a minute to look at the graph / table. It's important ot gather the thoughts!
  2. Read the graph title
  3. Look at the graph type and define the type (pie chart, line chart, etc)
  4. Look at the legend (ask for clarifying questions if necessary)
  5. Identify whats going on on the graph. Look for: Trends, % structures,
  6. Look for unusual things (consultants love to integrate these traps in charts) - correlations, outliers, etc
  7. Make 3-4 conclusions from the graph. Think of potential hypothesis on what could be the root cause / what are the consequences
  8. Prioritize the most important for your current analysis and move forward with the case

Sources to learn from (prioritized):

  1. "Say it with Charts" by Gene Zalazny
  2. "Pyramid Principle" by Barbara Minto
  3. Learn basic statistics (Any GMAT or MBA prep guides)
  4. Check all available MBB presentations and publications. Practice to derive conclusions and check yourself with the actual ones from the article / presentation
  5. GMAT IR part (Official guide and Manhattan prep)
  6. "Consulting Bible" and "Vault guide for consulting" - check the chapters on cases with graphs in these books

Good luck!

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