For an interviewer-led type question, how long is an acceptable time to structure your response before answering?

interviewer led McKinsey
Recent activity on Sep 30, 2018
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Anonymous A asked on Sep 29, 2018

I've been listening to LOMS, and it seems like the recordings cut out the "thought gathering" downtime, so I have no idea how long the candidates actually take to gather their thoughts.

When practicing, to get a structured answer I usually take up to two minutes to prepare my response. In an interviewer-led format, is this acceptable?

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Vlad
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Sep 29, 2018
McKinsey / Accenture Alum / Got all BIG3 offers / Harvard Business School

Hi,

It doesn't really depend on who leads the interview:

  • 1-2 min for initial structure. But the faster the better
  • Up to 1 minute for the conclusion. Again, the faster the better. But always take the time! Your conclusion should be very well structured and your arguments should include supporting numbers and you need time to collect them
  • 30 sec - 1 min for questions on creativity. It's really hard to be creative "On-the-go"

It's a bit more tricky with taking time during the case:

  • It's not OK to take 30 seconds and then come up with just 1 or 2 ideas. And then if the ideas are not correct to keep the science again. This is called "Guessing"
  • It's OK to take 30 seconds, draw a new structure (or continuation of your previous structure) and come up with a structured way to approach the problem further.

Best,

Vlad

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Guennael
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replied on Sep 30, 2018
Ex-MBB, Experienced Hire; I will teach you not only the how, but also the why of case interviews

If you come back with a well thought out and detailed framework, I dont mind you taking 2 minutes - but that is definitely the upper limit. 60 to 90 seconds is more standard.

I also have no problem with someone asking me once or twice for time to gather their thoughts during the case - but dont abuse that option. As for the conclusion... most companies give you a minute (or 30 seconds), but BCG will typically expect you to drop your pen and look up at a second's notice.

In any case - all else being equal, the faster the better.

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Anonymous B replied on Sep 29, 2018

Since in interviewer led cases, response structure evolve. I personally dont take more than 2 mins to gather my thoughts and draw initial part.

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Vlad gave the best answer

Vlad

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McKinsey / Accenture Alum / Got all BIG3 offers / Harvard Business School
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