Do partners really prepare a "structured written case"?

Partners
New answer on Mar 01, 2021
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Anonymous A asked on Feb 24, 2020

Do partners really prepare the written case prepared by the consulting firms to interview candidates? I heard pretty often partners use projects they have done before to have a "discussion". If this is the case, would the approach of solving the case be different from solving a structured case (like those case we see in case books)? What if there is not much data and information provided and the whole case interview becomes more like "discussion" on very random questions? Thanks!

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Luca
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replied on Feb 24, 2020
BCG |NASA |20+ interviews with 100% success rate| 120+ students coached |GMAT expert 780/800 score

Hello,

They usually take inspiration from past projects but they always try to make them a bit "academic" and you will be asked to solve them in the same way. You have just to get used to less structured cases, without many data or exhibits.
If you want to practice with real cases, feel free to text me.

Best,
Luca

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Emily
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replied on Feb 24, 2020
BCG Project Leader | 3+ years interview experience for BCG SEA recruiting | Kellogg MBA, NTU, Peking University

Hi there,

Are you referring to the actual written case or the normal case interview? From the questions I assume the latter, but correct me if I am wrong.

Yes partners could be using cased based on their real projects (and sometime managers/principals do this as well), but it doesn't mean it would be less structured. In reality, consultants solve their client's problem in a structured approach - that's how we work. For interview purpose, interviewers could condense and simplify a real project into something that can be discussed within 30 mins or so, but the core structure would remain the same. Sometimes there might not be much quant to do with an interview by Partner i.e. no math, but the qualitative analysis would be there, and it is not going to be a random talk. If you at some point of time feel a conversation is pretty random, that probably is a signal that you need to put some extra effort to make it less so.

Hope this makes it clear.

Best,

Emily

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Clara
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replied on Mar 01, 2021
McKinsey | Awarded professor at Master in Management @ IE | MBA at MIT |+180 students coached | Integrated FIT Guide aut

Hello!

Indeed they do prep them and review them with McK HR -in the cases that I know-.

It´s also true that they can make you something on the spot, particularly partners who are very exprienced.

Hope it helps!

Cheers,

Clara

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Anonymous replied on Apr 28, 2020

Dear A,

This is a difficult question to answer in general, because some partners use structured cases, others — simply use cases from their own experience. Anyway, the best way to prepare for it is to practice your case solving skills and structured communication, while being very energetic, empathic and convincing.

Best,

André

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Thomas
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replied on Apr 17, 2020
150+ interviews | 5+ years experience | Kearney & Accenture | Sold consulting startup| London Business School

In my experience, the final round with partners is often more conversational. The partners will test you a bit but also trust that the judgement of the previous interviewers was good and that you can do a case. Therefore, there is a tendency to use more personal situations and behavioral questions.

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Antonello
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replied on Feb 29, 2020
McKinsey | MBA professor for consulting interviews

Hi, case preparation will be the classical one with 2 additional points to focus on:

  • 80-20 prioritization: quickly navigate an important amount of data to find what really matters to the case resolution;
  • Executive summary: develop 1-2 pages to present that sum-up the problem and your recommendations.

I have a couple of well done written cases, feel free to text me for sharing.

Best,
Antonello

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Francesco
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replied on Feb 25, 2020
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Hi Anonymous,

I guess you are referring to the standard cases and not the written ones, which are a specific subset of cases used by some firms only.

The approach to solve cases which derive from projects (which indeed sometimes partners ask) is exactly the same as the one you would use for standard cases.

In terms of how to structure an approach for “random questions”, it would be great if you could define the exact ones you are referring to.

Best,

Francesco

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Ian
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replied on Feb 25, 2020
BCG | 100% personal interview success rate (8/8) and 95% candidate success rate | Personalized interview prep

For a written case everything is prepared beforehand.

For a standard case, yes, interviewers almost always base theit case off of a real project. Then, it depends on their style as to how much material they decide they want to show. Some prepare extensively and run the case the exact same way every time. Others like to go more off the cuff and be flexible so as to see how you think.

Don;t worry about any of this...the same rules apply i.e. structure, conciseness, driving forward, being creative, etc.

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Vlad
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replied on Feb 24, 2020
McKinsey / Accenture Alum / Got all BIG3 offers / Harvard Business School

Hi,

It's a bit unclear whether you are talking about the written case or a one on one case.

Even if the case seems more like a discussion, and comes from the partner's previous experience - you should be always structuring. That's what they are looking for.

You should have:

  1. Initial structure
  2. Structures to drill down into the problem further
  3. Structures to answer any additional questions

During the discussion interviewers can ask you the following questions:

  • Let's generate 10 ideas how to…

  • Let's brainstorm…

  • How will you get this data if you are at the real project…

  • How will you check the following assumption…

  • Do you have some ideas on how to… Any other ideas?... Tell me more...

  • etc...

I recommend the following approach to creativity questions:

  1. Ask an interview for a minute: "Can I take a minute to structure my thoughts?"
  2. Think of several buckets of ideas. Remember to think as big as possible
  3. Narrow down to each bucket and generate as many ideas as possible. If the idea is too high-level, you can come up with examples
  4. Present the structure (buckets) and then your ideas
  5. Generate more ideas within the buckets if required by the interviewer

You may be wondering how to develop creativity?

Although most of the companies would say that you don't need any specific business knowledge, in reality, it is hard to solve a case purely based on common sense. The lack of business knowledge becomes a very common problem, especially among people with non-business backgrounds

Business Acumen is all about building proper industry and functional knowledge. Here is how you can do that:

  1. Practice more cases with the other candidates. Try to start with the most common industries - Retail, Consumer Goods, Airlines, Banking
  2. Study the annual reports of the public companies in each industry. They have a good overview of the company and the industry.
  3. Get the industry information from relevant books, magazines, etc. We'll recommend some good reading in the next lessons.
  4. Study MBA cases. They have a good industry overview. You can purchase HBS cases here: https://hbr.org/store/case-studies
  5. Follow this course further and you'll learn a lot about different industries

For each industry, you should understand:

  • Revenue streams
  • Cost structure
  • Average margins
  • Key Performance Indicators
  • Industry trends

Best

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Luca gave the best answer

Luca

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