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Florian

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6

Depth and width of framework?

So I just had my first round second interview with McKinsey. Interestingly it was an interview with an associate partner.

The interviewer pointed out at the start that I had a generic framework approach which I would argue is not entirely true. While the profitablity buckets were Revenues and Costs (generic) within this, I had expanded tailored to the industry and business specifically.

Example: Integrated business so variable costs were different, High end products so associated branding and packaging costs. On the revenue side, since it was a revenue increase concern, I split it into existing, new, and inorganic and expanded within that.

The interviewer then proceeded to ask me the 'what else' question 5 times for revenues and 3 times for costs. Each time appriciating my diverse ideas however, consistently asking for more.

As a result, my question is, when presenting a framework we have 1-2 minutes, was this just the interviewer pressuring me to see if I could think wide or was there an issue with the framework.

Note: I understand this is inadequate detail, so please do let me know what further information you would need, thank you!

So I just had my first round second interview with McKinsey. Interestingly it was an interview with an associate partner.

The interviewer pointed out at the start that I had a generic framework approach which I would argue is not entirely true. While the profitablity buckets were Revenues and Costs (generic) within this, I had expanded tailored to the industry and business specifically.

Example: Integrated business so variable costs were different, High end products so associated branding and packaging costs. On the revenue side, since it was a revenue increase concern, I split it into existing, new, and inorganic and expanded within that.

The interviewer then proceeded to ask me the 'what else' question 5 times for revenues and 3 times for costs. Each time appriciating my diverse ideas however, consistently asking for more.

As a result, my question is, when presenting a framework we have 1-2 minutes, was this just the interviewer pressuring me to see if I could think wide or was there an issue with the framework.

Note: I understand this is inadequate detail, so please do let me know what further information you would need, thank you!

6 answers

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Book a coaching with Florian

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Hey there,

I think the misunderstanding might be in the difference between a framework derived for McKinsey vs. a framework created for other consulting interviews.

At the core, McKinsey wants to see creative ideas communicated in a structured manner, the more exhaustive the better.

Your goal should be to come up with a tailored and creative answer that fits the question. The framework should - broadly speaking - follow these three characteristics:

  • Broad
  • Deep
  • Insightful

As I understand from your answers (with limited context, be aware!), you lacked some creative ideas. Branding and packaging are still generic and you would need to go into more detail and qualify your answer with practical examples and more details.

Since you say you have 1-2 minutes to present the framework, I think that is where the disconnect comes in. In a McKinsey interview, you can take up to 6-8 minutes to present your structure, your qualification, and hypotheses. This is due to the interviewer-led format that McK employs. The interviewer will only ask 'what else' if you

  • haven't gone broad or deep enough
  • did not explain your ideas well enough for them to stand out (again, you have time here)

The firm wants to see exhaustive and creative approaches to specific problems, which more often than not do not fit into the classic case interview frameworks that were en vogue 10 years ago...

Again, this only applies if everything you say

  • adds value to the problem analysis
  • is MECE
  • is well qualified
  • includes a detailed discussion of your hypotheses at the end

The difference in format and way of answering a question is the reason why I recommend preparing very differently for McK interviews vs. other consultancies.

Pressure interviews are not a thing at McK!

Cheers,

Florian

Hey there,

I think the misunderstanding might be in the difference between a framework derived for McKinsey vs. a framework created for other consulting interviews.

At the core, McKinsey wants to see creative ideas communicated in a structured manner, the more exhaustive the better.

Your goal should be to come up with a tailored and creative answer that fits the question. The framework should - broadly speaking - follow these three characteristics:

  • Broad
  • Deep
  • Insightful

As I understand from your answers (with limited context, be aware!), you lacked some creative ideas. Branding and packaging are still generic and you would need to go into more detail and qualify your answer with practical examples and more details.

Since you say you have 1-2 minutes to present the framework, I think that is where the disconnect comes in. In a McKinsey interview, you can take up to 6-8 minutes to present your structure, your qualification, and hypotheses. This is due to the interviewer-led format that McK employs. The interviewer will only ask 'what else' if you

  • haven't gone broad or deep enough
  • did not explain your ideas well enough for them to stand out (again, you have time here)

The firm wants to see exhaustive and creative approaches to specific problems, which more often than not do not fit into the classic case interview frameworks that were en vogue 10 years ago...

Again, this only applies if everything you say

  • adds value to the problem analysis
  • is MECE
  • is well qualified
  • includes a detailed discussion of your hypotheses at the end

The difference in format and way of answering a question is the reason why I recommend preparing very differently for McK interviews vs. other consultancies.

Pressure interviews are not a thing at McK!

Cheers,

Florian

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I would also argue the framework is too shallow, narrow, and does not cover all the required steps to solve the ENTIRE problem at hand and to present an approach for the ENTIRETY of the case. It is about showing from A-Z everything you want to do based on the GOAL and the SCOPE of the case. This just represents one possible CONTENT framework for the first couple of minutes of the case.

This kind of skill, structuring to MBB level, making sure the structure involved both PROCESS steps and CONTENT frameworks covering the entire problem and providing roadmaps for the entire case interview is exactly what I focus on with my coachees. Reach out if interested.

In any case, best of luck with the rest of the process!

I would also argue the framework is too shallow, narrow, and does not cover all the required steps to solve the ENTIRE problem at hand and to present an approach for the ENTIRETY of the case. It is about showing from A-Z everything you want to do based on the GOAL and the SCOPE of the case. This just represents one possible CONTENT framework for the first couple of minutes of the case.

This kind of skill, structuring to MBB level, making sure the structure involved both PROCESS steps and CONTENT frameworks covering the entire problem and providing roadmaps for the entire case interview is exactly what I focus on with my coachees. Reach out if interested.

In any case, best of luck with the rest of the process!

(edited)

I understand, just as a follow up on this, as I understand it, we have only a few moments to explain the framework, the depth / width of the what - else questions my interviewer was asking could not have been covered in this time, with regard to that, do you think that was him pressure testing or is that level of width / depth expected in the framework answer itself? — Anonymous A on Mar 25, 2021

In the answer itself. You want to give / present everything I mentioned when you come back from your time off structuring. — Denis on Mar 25, 2021

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Hi there,

I completely agree with Florian (deserving of most upvotes here).

You clearly didn't have enough ideas, that weren't deep enough, and that weren't actually tailored enough to the case.

If he asked 5 and 3 times respectively, he wasn't "testing" you, you were missing something.

Hi there,

I completely agree with Florian (deserving of most upvotes here).

You clearly didn't have enough ideas, that weren't deep enough, and that weren't actually tailored enough to the case.

If he asked 5 and 3 times respectively, he wasn't "testing" you, you were missing something.

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It's difficult to comment not knowing the case and your full answer but it is worth realising that you don't always get "good" interviewers who are engaged with your answer and are good at asking probing questions to help you deepen your answer (and your resulting interview score). The "what else" question is an easy default that many McKinesy interviewers use, often due to laziness, but if intetionally then they are testing your ability to broaden your thinking (i.e., think outside the box) and/or take a step back and prioritise within your structure.

The example you shared is a great sign of a strong candidate who is able to identify the interdependecies in their structure. I'm not suggesting you didn't do so but it's worth thinking about whether you might have been missing details and specificities behind your structure (i.e., 3/4th level detail) as well as specific insights from the case brief that would relevant to build your hypothesis.

It's difficult to comment not knowing the case and your full answer but it is worth realising that you don't always get "good" interviewers who are engaged with your answer and are good at asking probing questions to help you deepen your answer (and your resulting interview score). The "what else" question is an easy default that many McKinesy interviewers use, often due to laziness, but if intetionally then they are testing your ability to broaden your thinking (i.e., think outside the box) and/or take a step back and prioritise within your structure.

The example you shared is a great sign of a strong candidate who is able to identify the interdependecies in their structure. I'm not suggesting you didn't do so but it's worth thinking about whether you might have been missing details and specificities behind your structure (i.e., 3/4th level detail) as well as specific insights from the case brief that would relevant to build your hypothesis.

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Hello!

First of all, take everything with a pinch of salt since we weren´t thre, hence it´s impossible to be very accurate.

Given tha numbr of follow up questions he was making and judging by the tree you presented, unfortunately it does seem too simplistic/shallow/non targeted.

Cheers,

Clara

Hello!

First of all, take everything with a pinch of salt since we weren´t thre, hence it´s impossible to be very accurate.

Given tha numbr of follow up questions he was making and judging by the tree you presented, unfortunately it does seem too simplistic/shallow/non targeted.

Cheers,

Clara

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Hey there!

If the interviewer continuously asking you "What else?" on the same point - it definitely means that you are missing something. They would never do it just to "broaden the framework". I suggest you to work through the case once again to see what you were missing out.

If you need help or have other questions - feel free to write to me!
GB

Hey there!

If the interviewer continuously asking you "What else?" on the same point - it definitely means that you are missing something. They would never do it just to "broaden the framework". I suggest you to work through the case once again to see what you were missing out.

If you need help or have other questions - feel free to write to me!
GB

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