Case Structure/Framework Timing

Case structure and frameworks
New answer on Jul 31, 2020
6 Answers
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Anonymous A asked on Jan 22, 2019

In regards with drafting down the structure/framework for tackling case studies, how long should it take, for both interviewer/interviewee led cases.

In MBB interviews, do interviewer actually allocate you specific amount of time i,e, okay boy, you have 30 seconds to give me a structure !!!

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Sidi
Expert
replied on Jan 22, 2019
McKinsey Senior EM & BCG Consultant | Interviewer at McK & BCG for 7 years | Coached 300+ candidates secure MBB offers

Hi Anonymous,

this is a very typical concern that candidates have when building their case skills. However, it is extremely important that you understand that putting yourself under time pressure while practicing is absolutely counterproductive! You first have to learn the right way of approaching and structuring cases, and time is the last concern you should have here! It is like learning an instrument - you first HAVE TO play much MUCH SLOWER than regular in order to be able to properly learn. Speed will come by itself after some time! If you try to force speed too early, you become sloppy and will never really master it!

Moreover, I can promise you that as long as you come up with a rigorous and compelling approach, focusing on the logic according to which you will answer the precise case question (as opposed to just listing buckets you want to look into), the interviewer will immediately forget about any perception of "slowness" he might have had a minute before!

In the tradeoff rigor vs. speed, prioritize rigor! Speed follows automatically. And as I said, even if you take 3 or 4 minutes to come up with a rock solid approach, this is much better than taking 30 seconds and then only having a half baked and shaky roadmap.

Cheers, Sidi

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Francesco
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Content Creator
replied on Jan 22, 2019
#1 Expert for Coaching Sessions (3.600+) | 1.300+ Reviews with 100% Recommendation Rate | Ex BCG | 8+ Years of Coaching

Hi Anonymous,

I would recommend as standard time to write down your structure one minute, and as standard time to present one minute and a half. This should be just a benchmark – the interviewer won’t care much if you go a bit longer so far that you have a good approach.

Sometimes the interviewer will indeed give you a time constraint - this is done on purpose to see how you react under pressure. Although you should be ready to provide a faster structure in such a situation, I would not say it is the norm.

Hope this helps,

Francesco

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Vlad
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Content Creator
replied on Jan 22, 2019
McKinsey / Accenture Alum / Got all BIG3 offers / Harvard Business School

Hi,

Here are some guidelines:

  • 1-2 min for initial structure. But the faster the better
  • Up to 1 minute for the conclusion. Again, the faster the better. But always take the time! Your conclusion should be very well structured and your arguments should include supporting numbers and you need time to collect them
  • 30 sec - 1 min for questions on creativity. It's really hard to be creative "On-the-go"

It's a bit more tricky with taking time during the case:

  • It's not OK to take 30 seconds and then come up with just 1 or 2 ideas. And then if the ideas are not correct to keep the science again. This is called "Guessing"
  • It's OK to take 30 seconds, draw a new structure (or continuation of your previous structure) and come up with a structured way to approach the problem further.

Best,

Vlad

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Tiago
Expert
replied on Jan 22, 2019
Strategy Consultant with interview experience in UK, Spain and Portugal / LSE Graduate

Hi anonymous,

I would typically ask the interviewer for 1-2mins to structure my approach.

In my experience some interviewers will say "take as long as you like" whilst others will want you to be quick. I wouldn't say "can you give me 30secs" and then take longer.

With more and more case practice you'll see you'll get quicker at structuring a case and it will almost become "intuitive" to structure your approach as a market entry case, M&A, etc..

Hope this helps!

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Anonymous on Jan 22, 2019
Thanks for your reply, the reason why i posted this question is because, i had a preplounge practice session with this guy who is going through 2nd round interview with Bain, in his 1st round, the interview literally say, you have half a minute to come up with an approach. Hearing that was brand new information for me as from what i am aware of, usually it is not time constrained (wihtin reasonably duration)
Sidi on Jan 22, 2019
Let me be very clear: this sort of advice is PURE BULLSH*T. Please ignore this statement, it is plain wrong. Cheers, Sidi

(edited)

Anonymous replied on Jul 31, 2020

Dear A,

I would recommend you take 1 min for framework and 1 min for presenting it. Interviewer alswys can give you little less time just to see you acting under the time pressure. But you can also try to ask 30 sek more.

For you practice at the very beginning I would strongly recommend you to solve the cases right than fast. With practice you can gain the speed, but first build the right logic.

Wish you good luck,

Best,

André

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Guennael
Expert
replied on Jan 22, 2019
Ex-MBB, Experienced Hire; I will teach you not only the how, but also the why of case interviews

Anything over 90 seconds is probably too long, but I will forgive a long wait time if your initial structure is amazing.

As Sidi said, you will also get faster with practice. Just like the mental math, focus on doing well first, then doing well fast - NOT the other way around

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Sidi gave the best answer

Sidi

McKinsey Senior EM & BCG Consultant | Interviewer at McK & BCG for 7 years | Coached 300+ candidates secure MBB offers
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