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Critique of this Case Interview Structure

Anonymous A

I hear people saying that their interview feedback was that they were too structured. I came across the video below of a sample case and I figured this may be an example of it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=16m-yflh-Ho

Just looking at the first 6 minutes where she lays out her structure, is her approach considered too structured? Also is she considered to be boiling the ocean?

I'm struggling with what would be deemed a good upfront structure for the MBBs. If I were given this type of case, after clarifying facts, my approach to the structure would be to say the following:

1. Introduce the 3 buckets I want to look at (Organic, Inorganic, Partnerships/JVs);

2. A brief explanation of why I have chosen those buckets and a very general explanation of what I will be asking in, and what I expect to achieve by exploring, each bucket. I would only do this at a very high level without listing out all the possible options (just a few examples to give the interview a ballpark of where I am looking) within each bucket;

3. That while we may do a cost and risk analysis as we explore the alternatives within each bucket, I will present a more complete cost and risk analysis once we have concluded the best option for the client;

4. Clarify with the interviewer that he/she is happy with that approach.

I expect the explanation of my framework to take less than a minute and will give me freedom to identify and explore specific options as the case evolves while allowing me to generate ideas as I go. Would this be considered a reasonable introduction to the framework for an MBB or would my approach be deemed too light on structure? Or are the MBBs really expecting the level of detail the lady in the video goes into? 5 minutes vs 1 minute is a big difference.

Many thanks

(edited)

Francesco replied on 10/06/2017
Ex BCG | MBB Specialist | #1 Expert for meetings done (1000+) and recommendation rate (100%)

Hi Anonymous,

I personally don’t think she was too structured; rather:

  1. Her communication is not optimal; she could have mentioned first all the macro areas and then go deeper in details, that would have given an immediate idea to the interviewer of her structure.
  2. Industry should be put at the beginning in a grow strategy case, as could give direction on the actual strategy (out of those she mentioned as organic and inorganic) where to concentrate, checking the segments with the highest potential.
  3. She actually sounded unstructured when she mentioned competitors, size and value chain in the industry. It was not clear why she mentioned size and competitors - those points could makes sense, but missed a rational. Also, she mentioned the hypothesis to sell components as a reason to look at value chain; since that could be considered a way to sell new product varieties, the structure would not be MECE, as she mentioned new product as well in the organic bucket at the beginning.
  4. Current revenues could be clarified at the beginning of the case as clarifying questions – sounds strange to have such quantification in the middle of the case.
  5. Risks could have been shorter – no need to detail in such length, as risks most of the time depends on the solution chosen.
  6. Overall, due to point 3, 4 and 5, she went too long (3 min and 30 seconds); she could have explained such structure cutting unnecessary points in less than 2 minutes

Your structure, on the other hand, sounds a bit too simple and misses the industry bucket, which may be relevant to understand where to focus the growth efforts. Assuming you have already clarified the goal, the structure I would recommend for this case would be the following:

  1. Analyse the industry. Check (i) which segments have the highest potential (ii) Consider innovation not yet present in the market but potentially appearing in the time period our client desires to grow
  2. Consider growth strategies. I would suggest to focus on
    1. Current products, analysing ways to increase (i) Price or (ii) Volume
    2. New products (also achievable via M&A or JV), focusing on (i) Product variety and (ii) Diversification
  3. Consider feasibilities for the option identified. Do we have (i) Enough money and (ii) Enough capabilities
  4. Consider risks

That would include all the critical elements she also mentioned, but could be delivered in less than two minutes. Of course, the structure could then be expanded further once tocuhed a specific area during the interview.

Hope this helps,

Francesco

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