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Convince me of an unpopular opinion

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New answer on Jun 11, 2024
7 Answers
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Anonymous A asked on May 13, 2024

Do you have ideas for the following question: convince me of an unpopular opinion? 

I really have no idea of examples. Any help with concrete examples is appreciated. Thanks

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Ariadna
Expert
replied on May 13, 2024
BCG | Project Leader and Experienced Interviewer | MBA at London Business School

I never had this question in a consulting interview (& I know for a fact these kind of questions are pretty much discouraged in BCG interviews) … but nevertheless, I can share what I would personally answer + some tips where to look for more ideas

“Young employees  are changing jobs more often than in the past” is one. This is not true and definitely not a sign of generation X vs generation Z vs other generation, but a product of age (aka the driver is the age of the employee, not the generation). For me any of the “kids these days” statements are good examples - but this is also just a pet peeve.  

Now back to a more useful answer: a good place to look for such things is around cognitive biases, like the kind you would find in a book such as “Thinking fast and thinking slow” by Daniel Kahneman, or Dan Ariely's books. They are full of examples of “what most people think” vs. what is true. Freakonomics is another great source of such things. 

Also: there is a whole subreddit named exactly "Unpopular opinion" - you might get some good inspiration there! 
https://www.reddit.com/r/unpopularopinion/ 

Hope this helps and let us know what you end of picking! 

Ariadna 

 

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Sidi
Expert
replied on May 14, 2024
McKinsey Senior EM & BCG Consultant | Interviewer at McK & BCG for 7 years | Coached 350+ candidates secure MBB offers

Hi, 

If you're being asked to provide an example of when you needed to convince someone of an unpopular opinion, the focus should be on demonstrating how you successfully changed someone's perspective. It's less about the unpopularity of the opinion and more about the strategies you used to persuade the other person.

However, it's crucial to show empathy in your story. Often, candidates emphasize analysis and evidence to prove the superiority of their ideas in order to convince others; instead, what top consulting firms (MBBs) are really looking for are individuals who are able to look at a problem through the eyes of others! 

So a good story of convincing others should show how the candidate tried to understand the REASONS why the other person was against his/her ideas (in this case, what made your opinion “unpopular” and why was the other person against it), and then how he/she addressed these concerns in order to get buy-in.

Cheers, Sidi

_______________________

Dr. Sidi Koné 

(🚀 Ex BCG & McKinsey Sr. Project Manager, now helping high potential individuals join the world's top Strategy Consulting firms (McKinsey | BCG | Bain))

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Agrim
Expert
Content Creator
replied on May 15, 2024
BCG Dubai Project Leader | Learn to think like a Consultant | Free personalised prep plan | 6+ years in Consulting

Some confusion here - pls help.

  • Convincing the interviewer of an unpopular opinion - is like trying to prove to the interviewer that the earth is flat. This version of a question is typically not seen in consulting interviews - but I could believe such a question could be asked in say, a marketing interview.
  • Telling the interviewer of a story where you convinced someone at work/college/life on something that was not the dominant opinion in the group - is a more consultingy question. And this type of question is typically found more in McK interviews. The goal of the interviewer is to undrstand your persuasion skills and the personal impact you can generate. So if you don't really have a clear incident in life that falls along the question, you still might have incidents where you have persuaded people to follow what you propose - and you just need to tell that story with the right drama and details.
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Pedro
Expert
replied on May 14, 2024
Bain | Roland Berger | EY-Parthenon | Mentoring Approach | 30% off first 10 sessions in May| Market Sizing | DARDEN MBA

This is a dangerous question. I can think about a lot of “unpopular opinions” that could put you in a bad spot (anything related to current contentious topics in politics: climate change, social media speech control, universal basic income, etc.). 

And I don't mean being a negationist here, simply discussing that market based solutions are better than government intervention in order to adress climate change is the kind of topic I would prefer to avoid in an interview.

I'll give you a few topics. These actually come from ChatGPT, but notice that I actually had to ask a quite detailed prompt + 3 interations to reach this answer (previous were either politically charged, actually popular, or simply very obvious things)

  • Patents stifle innovation more than they promote it: Argue that the current patent system, while designed to incentivize innovation, often leads to monopolistic behavior, litigation wars, and the stifling of competition, ultimately hindering progress and limiting the accessibility of new technologies and ideas.
  • Mandatory retirement ages should be abolished to harness the experience and expertise of older workers: Challenge the notion that older workers are less productive or adaptable and argue that abolishing mandatory retirement ages would allow companies to retain valuable institutional knowledge, mentorship capabilities, and diversity of perspectives in the workforce.
  • Quarterly earnings guidance should be discontinued to encourage long-term strategic thinking: Argue that the pressure to meet short-term earnings targets can lead to myopic decision-making and underinvestment in innovation, and advocate for companies to focus on communicating their long-term vision and strategic priorities to investors instead.

     

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Dennis
Expert
Content Creator
replied on May 14, 2024
Ex-Roland Berger|Project Manager and Recruiter|7+ years of consulting experience in USA and Europe

Hi there,

with something like this, the risk is always to get caught up in controversy and bias. So tread carefully. 

One “evasive maneuver” I could think of would be to use an “unpopular opinion” from a few years ago such as 

“Employees who work remotely from home are not less productive compared to when they work from the company office"

Then you can use all the empirical evidence from the COVID lockdowns to support that claim - while sprinkling in the appropriate caveats where necessary. But especially in consulting, most of the work was delivered remotely via online channels during that time period and it worked.

Best

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Hagen
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Jun 11, 2024
#1 Bain coach | >95% success rate | interviewer for 8+ years | mentor and coach for 7+ years

Hi there,

I would be happy to share my thoughts on your question:

  • First of all, I would advise you to think about an unpopular opinion that you truly believe in; this will make your argument more genuine and convincing. For example, you could argue that "Failure is more valuable than success." This perspective, while unpopular, allows you to discuss the lessons learned from failure and how it prepares individuals for future challenges.
  • Moreover, I think this particular personal fit question is rather rare, so I would advise you not to worry too much about it.

If you would like a more detailed discussion on how to best prepare for your upcoming interviews, please don't hesitate to contact me directly.

Best,

Hagen

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Cristian
Expert
Content Creator
replied on May 14, 2024
#1 rated MBB & McKinsey Coach

Did you get this in an interview? 

That's rather strange. 

If anything, it's meant to test your ability to persuade. 

To persuade somebody you need to understand their thinking and their motivations. 

So what I would do, to begin with, is to ask them questions about the unpopular opinion you chose. 

See what their beliefs are about that unpopular opinion. 

Then, work to shift those beliefs. 

Best,
Cristian

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Ariadna gave the best answer

Ariadna

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