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Feedback: Overly Prepared

Anonymous A asked on Jul 15, 2019

Dear Members,

I frequently got the feedback in case interviews that I came across as sounding overly prepared.

Do you have experience with this kind of feedback and how can I improve this point?

Thank you.

Best,

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Leif
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replied on Jul 16, 2019
BCG | Kellogg MBA | 5 years of case coaching experience | 200+ candidates coached
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Hi there,

Very interesting question. I rarely give out such feedback as "overly prepared" to people I have coached, but when I do, it's usually because of the following reasons:

  1. The way he/she leads: the candidate can solve the case well, but the way he/she leads the case is very formulaic. He/She pushes through the case without ever pausing, like machines finishing a job rather than human beings solving a sophisticated problem.
  2. The way he/she talks: the candidate uses a ton of jargons, talks extremely fast and/or in monotone, appears to be using templates whenever he/she answers a question.
  3. The way he/she engages: the candidate seems to be bored and not personally engaged in the case.

Of course there can be other reasons why you can sound "overly prepared", and you should first identify the root cause. Since you said you "frequently" received such feedback, I recommend you reach out to every person who has given you that feedback and ask for more details. You can also schedule a mock case with a consultant friend or a Preplounge expert, and ask them to look out for it specifically during the case.

If the cause happens to fall into the 3 categories I mentioned, you can try:

  1. Just take a break - stop doing any cases for a couple weeks so you get a bit rusty.
  2. Record yourself doing a case, figure out which parts of it (e.g. words you used, intonation, pace, etc.) do not sound right and practice doing it a different way.
  3. Adjust your mindset. Learn to treat every case as a real world problem instead of an exam question. Imagine yourself being in a client room when you do a case.

Hope this helps. Feel free to message me if you would like to discuss further.

Jamie replied on Jul 16, 2019
Currently senior consultant in Tier 2 firm soon applying to MBB

Hey there,

I have been giving final rounds in my company (tier 2 firm) for the past year in I have given that feedback to maybe 2 or 3 people.

What happens is that if you see someone is pre-formatted, done a tone of causes, memorized every single thing and you are not able to get a genuine answer out of the person, what is the point of doing an interview? I will never know how the candidate react in real case conditions.

Again, dont get me wrong, I'm not saying dont prepare, but if you solve the cases like a robot and you sound like one that will just stress out the interviewer.

My recommendation is, when you hear a new product launch case, dont simply think in your end on a pre prepared structure to solve new product launches. Think about the case it self, make an effort to understand what is going on, what do you need to know in order to get to an answer. I love it when itnerviewees are able to pull from real life and sound like they are solving a real project with me.

Just my 2cents

Francesco replied on Jul 16, 2019
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Hi Anonymous,

I believe the feedback you are receiving is a bit misleading, as “overprepared” seems to refer to the fact you practiced too much - I don’t see why doing a relevant amount of cases should be per se an issue.

What the interviewers probably meant is that you appear too mechanic in the way you present the structures or communicate during the case. If that’s indeed the case, I would recommend to:

  1. Identify the specific words/sentences that give that impression – your previous interviewers should be able to point that out
  2. Try to personalize your structure and communication and connect them with the specific case objectives to show you are not just repeating a memorized framework
  3. Find peers/experts that can help you in improving the way you communicate and present during the interview

Hope this helps,

Francesco

Vlad replied on Jul 16, 2019
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Hi,

Usually, you are getting this feedback when you are using the "book" frameworks without adjusting them to the context and the objective of the case. When you have a new case you should always think:

  • How is that case similar to the cases I've done before
  • What's there in the objective and the context of the case that makes the case different
  • How should I adjust my structure to this new information in the case

Another problem can be your behavior. You might be too "robotic" instead of engaging with the interviewer and getting a great conversation

Best

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