Clarifying questions for cases

approaching a case
New answer on Aug 13, 2020
5 Answers
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Anonymous A asked on Jun 22, 2019

Hello,

I was wondering what advice you all have about asking general questions before you provide a framework. How much and how little should you ask before a framework? What are some general guideliens/ tips you have?

Thanks!

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Daniel replied on Jun 22, 2019
Imperial College PhD, Rolls-Royce Project Engineer, RWTH Aachen Mechanical Engineer and Business Administrator, Software Engineer
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Ian
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replied on Jun 24, 2019
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I always write BOTMG at the bottom of my framework page.

This helps "trigger" you to consider questions around B = Business Model, O = Objective, T = Timing, M = Market, G = Geography.

However, you should never just say "so, what is their business model?" Obviously, ask questions that help you frame your hypothesis, understand the situation, and ultimately drive your case better.

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Francesco
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replied on Jun 23, 2019
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Hi Anonymous,

I agree with Vlad, additionally to that you can also clarify everything which is not clear in terms of the initial prompt provided by the interviewer (eg specific terminology you are not familiar with).

Best,

Francesco

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Anonymous replied on Aug 13, 2020

Dear A,

I would like to share some tips about clarifying questions that might be useful for you. Actually, before starting you case solving you can ask 2-3 clarifying questions or even more until you get the information you needed.


Below there are 3 main types for clarifying questions:

  1. questions that clarify the objective of the case interview

Here the basic things you have to know about the case objective:

  • What is the measurable metric of success?

  • What is the time frame?

  • What are potential restrictions or limitations?

2. questions about information that strengthens your understanding of the company

In this chapter the main things you have to know are:

  • Business model: How does the company make money? Do they sell directly to customers or do they sell through retailers or partners?

  • Products and services: What products and services does the company sell? What benefits do these products and services provide?

  • Geographic location: Does the company have one location or are they a national chain? Does the company operate in just one country or do they have an international presence?

3. question about definition of a term you are unfamiliar with

Most consulting interviews do not require you to have specialized knowledge or expertise in an industry. Therefore, if you come across a term that you are unfamiliar with, it is completely acceptable to ask the interviewer for the definition.

So these are three main types of clarifying questions. If you asking too many questions, the interviewer will probably reply to you smth like this: we don't know, we'll see later, it'’ ot relevant

Best,
André

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

Hi,

I suggest asking the following questions:

1) Clarify the business model / how the business actually makes money. Even if you think you understand it, try to repeat it to make sure that you understand it correctly. e.g. if the case is about oil&gas company which revenues are declining, ask if it is Up / mid / down-stream problem. In this case, defining a revenue stream is critical to setting up the right structure.

2) Clarify the objective. Here make sure that your goal is:

  • Measurable
  • Has a time-framed
  • Has / has no limitations

e.g. Should I invest 100k in this business for 1 year if I want to get 15% return?

3) Ask the questions that will help you build a relevant structure and remove ambiguity.

Best!

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