General Framework Guidance

Conceptual thinking Framework McKinsey McKinsey & Company
New answer on Mar 28, 2021
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Anonymous A asked on Mar 25, 2021

With regard to frameworks, speaking particularly for McKinsey, is it important to cover the ENTIRE case (i.e. how I would go about solving it) or just state the FACTORS / SOULTIONS I would look to solve a question.

Example - Client wants to increase profitability over the next 5 years

A solutions / factors apporach would be revenue & cost and their component parts such as price, mix, quantity, variable, and fixed. All ofcourse explained in more detail with custom sub-elements for the case.

An overall approach I would suspect would be:

1. Market Dynamic - Size/GR + Competition + Customer Segments + Macro Changes
2. Profitability Solutions - Revenue (current avenues + new avenues) and Costs
3. Risks / Implications

I was under the impression that when asked for factors (usually the first question in McKinsey cases) I would do the former, however, it does make more sense to state the overall approach.

Any feedback?

Thank you so much for the response.

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Content Creator
updated an answer on Aug 17, 2021
#1 rated McKinsey Coach | Top MBB Coach | 5 years @ McKinsey | Author of the 1% | 120+ McK offers in 18 months

Hey there,



I have written a detailed insider perspective on the McKinsey case interview here:


Focus on the specific question asked by the interviewer. Since the McKinsey case is a succession of questions there is no need to boil the ocean but rather give a targeted answer to the question at hand. The interviewer will anyway lead you through the case afterward and you have a chance to touch on other points should they come up.

In your example, I'd recommend going with the first option since that would 

  • answer the question you have been asked
  • is actionable and something the client could exert some control over

Your goal should be to come up with a tailored and creative answer that fits the question. It should contain three elements

  • Broad
  • Deep
  • Insightful

In order to come up with an answer like this, take time! In a McKinsey interview, you can take up to 2 minutes to draft your structure, IF the structure you come up with is strong and

  • a. hits all the key points that the firm wants to see and
  • b. is communicated in the right way.

A big issue I see with coaching candidates is that they take too little time to structure their thoughts because they feel pressured to be quick rather than exhaustive and creative.

An additional 30 seconds can often make the difference between a bad structure and a good one or a good one and an excellent one. So my battle-tested advice is to get rid of this time pressure mindset, especially in a McKinsey interview.

Also different from other firms, you can take up to roughly 6/7/8 minutes to present your structure, your qualification, and hypotheses. This is due to the interviewer-led format that McK employs. 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 (similar to what you recommended as your second, more general approach to the question above).

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.




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Anonymous A on Mar 26, 2021

First, thank you so much for a detailed reply. With my interview, I presented a Revenue - Cost framework since it was a profitability concern. The client wanted to know how they could improve 5 years into the future so I took the time period into consideration. The company was also fully integrated so that impacted my costs a great deal. All in all, I had around 14 ideas of revenue increase and cost decrease at a high level, e.g. change price based on associated price sensitivity of our target customer segments (these are the sort of statements I was saying) and in some cases where I felt major impact could have been brought I expanded further e.g. Product innovation, the tech products industry is fast on innovation, our client over the next 5 years will likely need to stay ahead of the market by innovating on existing products or introducing new products all together. My interviewers concern was that I jumped into stating the ideas but did not tell him how I am validating them e.g. he wanted me to say I would like to first look at market dynamics and segment geographically (world wide company) and then based on key locations I would do XYZ (this is just as an example). Really he wanted me to solve the overall problem not just give him good ideas, although he did pressure test me there by asking what else maybe 4-5 times. Because of this I'm a little confused, should my structure be one to solve the OVERALL problem or just state the solutions / factors, and secondly, how long can I really take to go though this because 25+ ideas overall will take more than a minute or two for sure?

Clara on Mar 27, 2021


replied on Mar 26, 2021
Ex-McKinsey final round interviewer | Executive Coach

Assuming you are referring to the structuring section of a McKinsey case, I would focus on answering the question that your interviewer poses than cover a hollistic approach. Often times, the structuring section is more of a WHAT question (i.e., key drivers, consideration areas, etc.) than HOW. If it's not clear, then it's important to clarify the question with the interviewer. It's difficult to come up with a relevant and meaingful structure when you are not clear on what is the specific question you are trying to answer.

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Content Creator
replied on Mar 27, 2021
McKinsey | Awarded professor at Master in Management @ IE | MBA at MIT |+180 students coached | Integrated FIT Guide aut

+1 Florian.

Focus on the QUESTION

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Content Creator
replied on Mar 26, 2021
MBB | 100% personal interview success rate (8/8) and 95% candidate success rate | Personalized interview prep

Hi there,

Florian said it best.

Let me just add one critical thing:

You should always be completely ruthless in eliminating anything that does not he;p you answer the objective. Your one and only focus is literally "what do I need to look at in order to answer this specific quesiton and nothing else".

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Content Creator
replied on Mar 28, 2021
Ex-Mckinsey|Certified Career Coach |Placed 500+ candidates at MBB & other consultancies

Totally agree with Florian! Great explanation

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Florian gave the best answer


Content Creator
#1 rated McKinsey Coach | Top MBB Coach | 5 years @ McKinsey | Author of the 1% | 120+ McK offers in 18 months
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