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2

Closing/Summing up the case interview

Hi everyone!

After extensive case practice, I feel like I'm getting good at solving the cases themselves. However, I seem to have problems with the closing part and presentation of the solution, taken from feedback I have received. I have been told that I shouldn't just summarize previous points, but offer some conclusions. Now I'm not quite sure what that means and how to do that. Can anyone help me?

Hi everyone!

After extensive case practice, I feel like I'm getting good at solving the cases themselves. However, I seem to have problems with the closing part and presentation of the solution, taken from feedback I have received. I have been told that I shouldn't just summarize previous points, but offer some conclusions. Now I'm not quite sure what that means and how to do that. Can anyone help me?

2 answers

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Best Answer

Dear Anonymous A,

Congratulations on advancing with your Case prep.

Regarding your concerns about concluding/closing a Case, you should almost never use the approach you described (commonly referred to as a deductive or 'bottoms-up' approach that outlines all the steps you took to arrive at your ultimate decision); rather, your recommendation should be crisp, concise, data-driven, and communicated in a manner that is inductive (or 'top-down').

The most conventional form of the inductive Case close is one that can offer a single, 'headline' action-oriented recommendation and/or opinion based on the facts and deductions derived in the Case. This recommendation should then be supported by 2-3 mutually exclusive elements discussed in the case that lend authoritative weight to the headline recomemndation and/or opinion.

One might even go further (as many good candidates do) by identifying possible risks, hurdles, and/or alternate solutions to the headline recommendation/opinion given in the case. A sort of Devil's Advocate scenario, if you will.

The entire package should be communicated in a crisp communication style that is logically sound, thoughtfully structured, and easy to follow. A hypothetical example might read something like this:

[Eighteen-year-old girl making a choice as to which of her divorced parents she would like to live with]

[Recommendation/Opinion]: It makes sense to go and live with mum in London as opposed to my dad in Dresden. Three key reasons why are:

[Supporting Elements]:

1) Educational opportunity: I've already received a scholarship to study at the Imperial College in London. If I were to move to Dresden with my dad, I would undoutdely need to give up such a fantastic opportunity.

2) Language/Cultural Barriers: London is more familiar to me, and I speak English fluently. Living in Dresden would be tougher in comparison since I've only visited briefly during my last four summer holidays, and my German is hardly sufficient.

3) Emotional Support: My mum is a very practical woman, and as an eighteen-year-old with all the attendant distractions that come with being a young adult, my mum is more primed to be my pillar of support as compared to my dad.

[Counter-case]:

I realise that I could always stay here in New York where I went to secondary school and still avail myself of similar opportunities as living with my mum in London would offer since:

a) Columbia University: I have also received a scholarship to study at Columbia University which is equally as prestigious as Imperial College, London, and,

b) Older sister: my older sister who lives in New York has promised I can stay with her and her husband if I go to Columbia. She and I are very close, and she's almost as practical-minded as my mother.

Dear Anonymous A,

Congratulations on advancing with your Case prep.

Regarding your concerns about concluding/closing a Case, you should almost never use the approach you described (commonly referred to as a deductive or 'bottoms-up' approach that outlines all the steps you took to arrive at your ultimate decision); rather, your recommendation should be crisp, concise, data-driven, and communicated in a manner that is inductive (or 'top-down').

The most conventional form of the inductive Case close is one that can offer a single, 'headline' action-oriented recommendation and/or opinion based on the facts and deductions derived in the Case. This recommendation should then be supported by 2-3 mutually exclusive elements discussed in the case that lend authoritative weight to the headline recomemndation and/or opinion.

One might even go further (as many good candidates do) by identifying possible risks, hurdles, and/or alternate solutions to the headline recommendation/opinion given in the case. A sort of Devil's Advocate scenario, if you will.

The entire package should be communicated in a crisp communication style that is logically sound, thoughtfully structured, and easy to follow. A hypothetical example might read something like this:

[Eighteen-year-old girl making a choice as to which of her divorced parents she would like to live with]

[Recommendation/Opinion]: It makes sense to go and live with mum in London as opposed to my dad in Dresden. Three key reasons why are:

[Supporting Elements]:

1) Educational opportunity: I've already received a scholarship to study at the Imperial College in London. If I were to move to Dresden with my dad, I would undoutdely need to give up such a fantastic opportunity.

2) Language/Cultural Barriers: London is more familiar to me, and I speak English fluently. Living in Dresden would be tougher in comparison since I've only visited briefly during my last four summer holidays, and my German is hardly sufficient.

3) Emotional Support: My mum is a very practical woman, and as an eighteen-year-old with all the attendant distractions that come with being a young adult, my mum is more primed to be my pillar of support as compared to my dad.

[Counter-case]:

I realise that I could always stay here in New York where I went to secondary school and still avail myself of similar opportunities as living with my mum in London would offer since:

a) Columbia University: I have also received a scholarship to study at Columbia University which is equally as prestigious as Imperial College, London, and,

b) Older sister: my older sister who lives in New York has promised I can stay with her and her husband if I go to Columbia. She and I are very close, and she's almost as practical-minded as my mother.

Originally answered:

Case structures

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Hi,

First of all, you should start taking for granted that you will not be able to go through the whole structure - it's fine.

Now there are two options:

  1. You went through a part of your structure and you can provide a valid recommendation but you are still not sure about some minor aspect of it - "Hard Recommendation"
  2. You went through a part of your structure and you are mostly not sure about your recommendation - "Soft Recommendation"

In the first case your recommendation should be the following:

1) Our objectives were to understand why the profit is declining by X and how to bring the profit back within one year (Don't forget that your objective should be measurable in terms of money / other metric and time)

2) According to the analysis we've done, my recommendation is to shut down the division A and to concentrate on the divisions b/c if we want to increase the profit,

3) and there is a number of reasons for that.. (Remember that your arguments should include numbers)

  • First of all, problems in Devision A are the major driver of the decline in profits - 90% of the decline in profits refer to Division a
  • Secondly, the decline is driven by the contracting market size that is shrinking at xx percent and is not expected to improve in the near future
  • Finally....

4) Additionally, I would like to check the following... (In the last bullet, you simply provide a list of what else you need to check to be comfortable with the solution)

In the second case when you are completely not sure about your recommendation, the approach should be different and you should provide a Soft Recommendation

Consultants may be testing several things:

  • Are you comfortable enough with providing preliminary recommendations based on limited data? (Imagine a CEO whom you met in the elevator and who wants to know the preliminary findings)
  • Will you make a mistake of providing a recommendation with a high level of certainty without having a proper supporting data?

Imagine a case when you have to make a decision whether a PE fund should acquire a company. You make a proper structure (Market, Competitors, Company, Feasibility of Exit) and in 25 min of a case, you've managed only to go through the Market and Competitors branches of the analysis. What will be your recommendation?

Here is how you should approach this problem:

1. You start with an objective ("Our objective was to understand whether we should buy this company")

2. You provide a preliminary recommendation highlighting the uncertainty("According to the limited data we have so far, our preliminary recommendation is to buy this company and there are three reasons for that..." or "Purely by analyzing the market our preliminary recommendation is..."

3. You provide the reasons ("First of all the market is big at X and growing at Y, Secondly the competition is fragmented with the target company having x% of the market. Thirdly...")

4. You Mention which pieces of data you need to provide a full recommendation ("To be completely sure about the recommendation I would like to look at several other aspects like the company financials, key capabilities and...") - this is exactly the soft recommendation

Best,

Vlad

Hi,

First of all, you should start taking for granted that you will not be able to go through the whole structure - it's fine.

Now there are two options:

  1. You went through a part of your structure and you can provide a valid recommendation but you are still not sure about some minor aspect of it - "Hard Recommendation"
  2. You went through a part of your structure and you are mostly not sure about your recommendation - "Soft Recommendation"

In the first case your recommendation should be the following:

1) Our objectives were to understand why the profit is declining by X and how to bring the profit back within one year (Don't forget that your objective should be measurable in terms of money / other metric and time)

2) According to the analysis we've done, my recommendation is to shut down the division A and to concentrate on the divisions b/c if we want to increase the profit,

3) and there is a number of reasons for that.. (Remember that your arguments should include numbers)

  • First of all, problems in Devision A are the major driver of the decline in profits - 90% of the decline in profits refer to Division a
  • Secondly, the decline is driven by the contracting market size that is shrinking at xx percent and is not expected to improve in the near future
  • Finally....

4) Additionally, I would like to check the following... (In the last bullet, you simply provide a list of what else you need to check to be comfortable with the solution)

In the second case when you are completely not sure about your recommendation, the approach should be different and you should provide a Soft Recommendation

Consultants may be testing several things:

  • Are you comfortable enough with providing preliminary recommendations based on limited data? (Imagine a CEO whom you met in the elevator and who wants to know the preliminary findings)
  • Will you make a mistake of providing a recommendation with a high level of certainty without having a proper supporting data?

Imagine a case when you have to make a decision whether a PE fund should acquire a company. You make a proper structure (Market, Competitors, Company, Feasibility of Exit) and in 25 min of a case, you've managed only to go through the Market and Competitors branches of the analysis. What will be your recommendation?

Here is how you should approach this problem:

1. You start with an objective ("Our objective was to understand whether we should buy this company")

2. You provide a preliminary recommendation highlighting the uncertainty("According to the limited data we have so far, our preliminary recommendation is to buy this company and there are three reasons for that..." or "Purely by analyzing the market our preliminary recommendation is..."

3. You provide the reasons ("First of all the market is big at X and growing at Y, Secondly the competition is fragmented with the target company having x% of the market. Thirdly...")

4. You Mention which pieces of data you need to provide a full recommendation ("To be completely sure about the recommendation I would like to look at several other aspects like the company financials, key capabilities and...") - this is exactly the soft recommendation

Best,

Vlad

(edited)

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