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Confused by case Interview at BCG TA

Anonymous A

Hi All,

I just had first round of interview at BCG TA office and got a negative feedback about my case performance. But I am little confused:

In 1st case I was asked about the cost savings when a Landline telephone company wouyld buy a mobile company. I kind of got impression that I should have come up with the ideas where the synergies would be. I also tried to ask about the cost structures of the companies, but the answer was 'what do yout think'. So I went brain-storming the whole case about possible synergies and their degrees.

In 2nd case I was given several diagrams about IT company and had to find out: (1) what was the problem in the company, (2) why they had it and (3) what could have been a solution. I figured out the answer to first two. For the third I tried to ask for more info to understand the process, but insread I was asked about my opinion what was going in the company and what should have been changed.

After the interview I thought it was kind of expertise interview and they were looking for some person with good understanding of telecomunication industry. I asked about it during the feedback but they said that it was normal interview and of course I could ask more questions during the case (which was not the impression I got during the interview).

This was my first ever interview so:

  1. Did I misinterpret the interviewers and should have been more demanding about the additional info
  2. Did I just ask wrong questions (I would expect that they woudl say it question was irrelevant)?
  3. Is BCG TA interivew different from the normal interview?

Thanks in advance.

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Francesco replied on 05/22/2017
Ex BCG | MBB Specialist | #1 Expert for meetings done (1000+) and recommendation rate (100%)

Hi Anonymous,

it sounds the issue for both questions was that you were not structured enough in presenting potential solutions. Consequently, interviewers may have thought you were not structured enough.

For the first case, after having brainstormed the cost structure, you could for example present the following:

“In order to identify synergies, we can think about two main categories, revenues and cost synergies. As revenues synergies, we can think about something that would allow us to either (i) increase the price, or (ii) increase the volume we sell. As for cost synergies, we can think about something that would allow us to either decrease (i) the cost per unit or (ii) the number of units of a particular type of cost. If it is ok for you, I would like to go deeper with the first one”

For the second case, they may have expected something as follows:

“In order to help our client and reach our goal of [# OF OBJECTIVE] millions in savings, we could look to solve this particular problem, or, if that is not feasible, try to find other ways to increase revenues or decrease costs.

In order to solve the problem, from the information we have so far, I am thinking about [# OF OPTIONS] things we may do: [OPTION 1], [OPTION 2], [OPTION 3].

If that is not applicable, in order to increase revenues I am thinking about two options: (i) work on current products or (ii) work on new products. For both options, we may then try to (a) increase the price or (b) increase the volume we sell. In order to decrease costs, we may instead, for a specific cost unit: (i) decrease the cost per unit or (ii) decrease the number of units of that cost. If it is ok for you, I would like to start with the first area”

To directly answer your questions:

  1. It sounds you did not necessarily need more info; rather, you needed to present a structure for cost synergies and potential solutions in the first and second case respectively.
  2. That’s probably not the issue. It’s likely they simply though you were not structured enough
  3. Usually interviews for specific practices are not different for generic interviews; the only difference is that you get more cases related to a specific sector with the first type of interviews.

Best,

Francesco

Anonymous A replied on 05/22/2017

Hi Francesco,

Many thanks for your thorough response I really appreciate it.

May be I convert this into a discussion :)

Not being structured sounds good explanation. When I think now, I could have presented my brainstorming ideas in first case better, but it really felt more like a question than a case. It was more like, what do you think when mankind will go to the Mars or something from that series :) It was more like a topic of discussion. One company buys another and where there can be a cost saving. Just this one sentence. May be I was too stressed, but it did not really feel to start drawing or writing on the paper :(

I think that the examples in the internet are really different. So far I have not seen a one sentence case. It sounded more like a estimation or sizing question and I felt like I should not write anything. I could not even ask whether I understood the question properly, because it was just one sentence, either you understood it or you did not listen :)

Like you said, I also tried to structure with fixed and variable costs, but I got the impression from the interviewer that it was not a good idea :) Then I divided the costs in different activities, like: marketing, customer service, R&D, operations, distribution channels, etc. May be I missed something or my assessments were not correct, but I thought that was not a point.

What I am trying to say is that, it felt like I was asked 3*5 and I should have pretended that I was calculating 4324 * 31231.

Concerning the second case, sorry may be I did not explain it good enough but it was not about the savings. It sounded like interviewer-led case, here are the data about the some company process, how much time they spend for some activities, we know that there is some problem and you have to find out what is the problem, why they have it and how can we solve it.

From the data I figured out that the problem was that overall process was slow and it was because one activity was too slow creating the bottleneck. But from the data one could say what was happening in the company because of that bottleneck. I proposed some ideas, but none of them were true. When the interviewer explained what was really happening, I almost asked, how could I possible known that :) And that’s why I thought it was more like an expertise-interview. One had to really knew the process.

I am sorry to bother you but I hope this is interesting for others as well.

To summarise your response, it was not that my answers were wrong or not sufficient, but the problem was the way I presented them.


Thanks again.

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