Case approach when no specific numerical target is provided

case structure Clarifying questions objectives
New answer on Jan 14, 2020
4 Answers
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Anonymous A asked on Jan 13, 2020

Hi everyone!

I just want to clarify - for common business cases/strategic decisions, if you try to clarify with the interview on a specific financial target for the case in hand (e.g. increase Profits by X, achieve ROI of X, breakeven period of X, investment horizon of X, etc) and the interview just says 'no specific targets' - should you adjust the approach at all?

My inclination would be to still run the same economic analysis, i.e. e.g. calculate the ROI or breakeven period for an investment decision, and then in the conclusion - give recommendations based on whether the client is willing to accept more or less than the calculated financial numbers.

Is this the advised approach for cases without spefifically defined numerical targets (despite pressing the interview for this information)?

Thanks!

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Vlad
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updated an answer on Jan 13, 2020
McKinsey / Accenture Alum / Got all BIG3 offers / Harvard Business School

Hi,

First of all, you can still ask the interviewer: "What are the criteria for success?"

In general, you make a structure based on 3 things:

  • Objective
  • Context
  • Type of the case

If you have no measurable objective, you just build your case based on the qualitative objective, context, type of the case

Best

(edited)

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Francesco
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replied on Jan 14, 2020
#1 Expert for Coaching Sessions (3.600+) | 1.300+ Reviews with 100% Recommendation Rate | Ex BCG | 8+ Years of Coaching

Hi Anonymous,

even if you don’t have a specific financial target, you will always have a defined goal in a case, otherwise it would be impossible to solve it. You should therefore present an analysis of that goal in your structure when you start the case, it is quite likely that the interviewer will ask you anyway to do some math at a certain stage of the case, since this is normally tested.

Best,

Francesco

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Clara
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replied on Jan 14, 2020
McKinsey | Awarded professor at Master in Management @ IE | MBA at MIT |+180 students coached | Integrated FIT Guide aut

Hello!

There is no case with 'no specific targets' at all, it may just be that there is not a main KPI outlined for the beggining.

In this cases, is your task to find with the interviewer "what is success" for this client, that can either quali or quanti -and it can be not-straightforward, but there is always a target-.

Hope it helps!

Cheers,

Clara

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Antonello
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replied on Jan 13, 2020
McKinsey | MBA professor for consulting interviews

Hi,
when no quantitative objective is given I suggest to structure your decision process with the main KPI, that should include even quantitative parameters like cost of the investment, breakeven time or profitability. Give to every KPI a weigh and align the interviewer with your interview process.

These cases are actually often used in real-life interviews, therefore is crucial to make practice and develop a good mental structure to approach them.

Hope it helps,
Antonello

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Vlad gave the best answer

Vlad

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McKinsey / Accenture Alum / Got all BIG3 offers / Harvard Business School
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