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Framework Direct and Business Sense Struggle

Yixu asked on Jul 28, 2016 - 4 answers
Current BCG Consultant; interviewed with McKinsey, BCG and Bain

Hi all,

I interviewed with McKinsey and Bain for summer intern. I am currently a rising senior at NYU Shanghai. Yet my feedback from McKinsey final round was, "My framework is still not very direct and to the point." And another, "Need more business sense". So I failed the last interview.

I am interning at Accentuer and another investment firm this summer. I just started revisitng cases and all those problems. But I have some struggle firguring out an effective way of framework delivery. I have the feeling of many appraoches are right.

Can you help? Thanks.



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replied on Jul 30, 2016
Current partner @ Andreessen Horowitz (VC firm). Ex-Mckinsey, ex- strategy guy at Google.
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Of course many approaches are right! In fact, many "answers" are right as well. This is a huge misconception that there is only one right path to only one right answer in a case. As long as you have a reason to believe in your answer, and it's not a randomly picked answer with no data/analysis backing it, then you will be fine.

I think of cases in terms of "drivers" and how mutually exclusive and collectively exhaustive they are. A typical "mental case" I give to new case solvers (and sometimes old timers also do this wrong) is: the population of birds in a city is falling. Why? Many start rambling into a "list of" reasons (what I call "the list mode interviewee"): air pollution, food, noise, urbanization, etc etc. But the truth is that these are factors that affect the actual driver of population, which are three: birth rate, death rate and -- many miss this one -- net migration rate.

So, all you need to really focus on are what the main "drivers" of a particular business problem are. The rest of the "Framework" will just follow from there. In a typical P&L case, the main "drivers" are obviously cost and revenue, but then you can expand out to what are the other things (the analogous to "pollution" " food" etc..) that eventually affect the two drivers? Those usually are, for revenue: price, demand (don't forget they are inter-related -- this is what is called "business sense" because you need to intuitively know that higher price may lead to lower demand especially for a "commodity" product such as rice or potatoes.. unless it's a luxury product, in which case demand may go up. See?). For costs: it could be fixed/var: labor, lease, overhead, etc etc..

Clarity of thought for many different type of cases only comes through practice and a lot of reading over a period of time. There is no shortcut.

replied on Jul 29, 2016
Ex-MBB, Experienced Hire; I will teach you not only the how, but also the why of case interviews
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Yixu - the problem with this feedback is that it is not very actionable on its own. You have dozens of current / former consultants on the websites (the "experts) who can and will gladly help you if you book a session with them. Yes, you can also book a session with me but that's not my point. Truth is, we just need more info to know how to help you with the structuring.

As for the "business sense", you can develop this by reading the business and economic pages of your newspaper for example (HBR is also a great source obviously, as would be many of the free articles put out by McK, BCG, Strategy& and others), or by doing/reading case after case after case. Your studies should also help you. No quick fix here, sorry.

Congrats on getting interviews with 2 of the big 3 in the first place, this means your profile is appealling. Congrats on going to the final round, this means you can basically do the work. You were close. Keep working at it, and don't be afraid to hire someone to help you - it is a really small investment in the grand scheme of things.

Good luck, let me know if you want me to help




Yixu replied on Aug 01, 2016
Current BCG Consultant; interviewed with McKinsey, BCG and Bain

Hearty thx Hemant!

Yixu replied on Aug 01, 2016
Current BCG Consultant; interviewed with McKinsey, BCG and Bain

Hi Guennael,

Hearty thanks for your detailed and helpful advice. As I am preparing today, I do find HBR, FT and Economists really helpful. I am still keep practicing. Interestingly, different consultants (I mean those who are now working for MBBs give me different,sometimes even oppposite point of view, which can be confusing sometimes.

Would love a schedule, actually I am more interested in the success-based version. But I am not eligible for applying via the success-based? I did secure three invitations (MBB) and I am interning at Accenture this summer. I thought I did meet the criteria? I will email PrepLounge team and figure out why.

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