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Generating Industry-Specific Insights

Case Interview Case Structuring frameworks
New answer on Sep 22, 2023
6 Answers
351 Views
Anonymous A asked on Sep 18, 2023

Hi all,

I avoid using fixed structures and often rely on internalized frameworks for relevance. However, when lack knowledge in a specific industry, how can I effectively generate industry-specific ideas?

 

(edited)

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Ian
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Sep 18, 2023
#1 BCG coach | MBB | Tier 2 | Digital, Tech, Platinion | 100% personal success rate (8/8) | 95% candidate success rate

Hi Alice,

I lack industry knowledge in a million industries…but I can brainstorm for any of them :)

How?

  1. Learn commonalities/patterns
  2. Pull from your daily reading
  3. Pull from you general knowledge/observations
  4. Use frameworking
  5. Ask strong questions to build up your understanding of the industry
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Anonymous A on Sep 23, 2023

To pass the interviews yes, to pass the clients sometimes no...

Ian on Sep 23, 2023

Sorry? Can you elaborate here

Marvin
Expert
replied on Sep 20, 2023
Former BCG Consultant | Startup Founder | Holistic approach to a successful application - cases & beyond | 10% discount

Hi,

That can indeed be challenging but no one expects you to be an expert in every industry. Here are some strategies to help you effectively generate industry-specific ideas:

Ask Industry-Relevant Questions: Begin by asking industry-specific questions to gather information and context. These could include questions about industry trends, common challenges, competitive dynamics, regulatory factors, and customer behaviors. This will help you better understand the specifics of the industry you're dealing with.

Leverage General Business Knowledge: Use your general business knowledge and problem-solving skills as a foundation. Many business concepts and principles apply across industries, such as supply chain management, marketing, pricing strategies, and cost reduction.

Analogies and Transferable Insights: Draw analogies from industries you are more familiar with. Compare the industry in the case to others you know well and see if there are transferable insights or strategies. For example, if you've studied retail extensively, you might find similarities in supply chain issues across different sectors.

Hypothesize and Test: Formulate hypotheses or educated guesses based on the information you've gathered. Then, during the case interview, express your hypothesis, explain your reasoning, and ask for feedback from the interviewer. This demonstrates your ability to think critically and adapt your thinking.

 

Remember that interviewers are often more interested in your problem-solving approach and ability to adapt than in your industry-specific knowledge. Demonstrating a structured approach, analytical thinking, and the ability to quickly learn and apply industry insights can make a positive impression even when you're dealing with unfamiliar sectors.

/Marvin

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Nikita
Expert
updated an answer on Sep 20, 2023
MBB & Tier2 preparation | 90+ offers | 7 years coaching | 2000+ sessions | PDF reviews attached

Hello!

I'm going to reiterate the answer I gave to a similar question not long ago since I think it's very relevant here as well:

In order to generate industry-specific insights it's important to acquire an overview of all the main industries and problem types.

Firstly:

When practicing solving cases with other candidates, specifically ask for cases on certain industries and problem types you are unfamiliar or have difficulties with rather than solving a random case which is irrelevant to your progress. Communicate it to your potential case partners before scheduling a meeting that you want to cover industry X or an Y problem type. If the candidate doesn't have such a case in the library, move on to another candidate.

Draw a table where the columns are main industries (e.g. Metals&Mining, Oil&Gas, Telecom, FMCG&Retail, HORECA, Banking, Aviation, Pharma, Media&Communications) and the lines are the main problem types (e.g. Investment, New Product, Market Entry, M&A, Market Share, Profitability, Customer Experience, Operations) and try to solve a case on each main problem type for every main industry listed in your table.

Secondly:

Network with people who work in the industries you want to learn about and ask them to tell you about this industry. In exchange, you can give them a case / tell about your industry / provide a networking opportunity / buy a coffee etc.

I personally used such an approach when preparing for the case interviews back in the day.

Hope this helps,
Nick

(edited)

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Cristian
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Sep 18, 2023
#1 rated MBB & McKinsey Coach

Hi there!

Great question!

I also love the fact that you start by saying that you don't use fixed structures. You shouldn't. 

First of all, you are not expected to generate industry-specific insights unless you are applying for a senior role or for an expert role. For entry level (BA, Associate) generalists they are rather interested in your skills than your knowledge. 

My number one tip would be to listen and note down very carefully the information that is provided in the prompt. Every data point that is being given could then be used to make a common about it. 

To give you an example, the prompt mentions that the client is a European fintech expanding into Asia. 

It's easy to discuss it purely as a ‘market’ entry case. But what is specific about going to Asia? What are the differences between Europe and Asia? How are the cultural differences likely to impact this expansion plan? Basically, from one data point, many ‘specific’ questions can spring up that then enable you to calibrate your answer. And this is all about using your common sense, not prior knowledge of Asian banking. 

Hope this helps!

Best,
Cristian

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Benjamin
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Sep 22, 2023
Ex-BCG Principal | 8+ years consulting experience in SEA | BCG top interviewer & top performer

Hi,

One thing I'd like to add is that the actual insights you need to get or uncover in a case interview can all be uncovered using the existing data / information in the case. Put in another way, the progress of the case (if you are progressing well) would give you all you need to get to the so-what or insights that are specific to the case.

So i would focus less on industry knowledge, as others have pointed out. Even on the job, many consultants struggle to get to insights or the ‘so-what’ - there are tips and tricks that can help but it is best learnt from an ‘apprentice’ style (i.e. feedback → learn).

All the best!

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Pedro
Expert
replied on Sep 22, 2023
Bain | Roland Berger | EY-Parthenon | Mentoring Approach | 30% off first 10 sessions in May| Market Sizing | DARDEN MBA

Darden's MBA Casebook has a good list of topics per industry (it covers some 15-20 industries).

That should be able to help you with the specifics of each different industry.

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Ian gave the best answer

Ian

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