Expert with best answer


97% Recommendation Rate

364 Meetings

5,233 Q&A Upvotes

USD 229 / Coaching

How do I practise being more MECE in my answers?

Anonymous A asked on Oct 14, 2017 - 3 answers
3 answers

  • Upvotes
  • Date ascending
  • Date descending
Best Answer
updated his answer on Oct 16, 2017
McKinsey / Accenture / Got all BIG3 offers / More than 300 real MBB cases / Harvard Business School
Book a coaching with Vlad

97% Recommendation Rate

364 Meetings

5,233 Q&A Upvotes

USD 229 / Coaching


First of all, I totally agree with Francesco on the process. You should always come back to the cases you've solved and reevaluate your structures.

Secondly, I believe it's very much related to industry / functional knowledge.

There are several sources of information to develop industry knowledge and learn to build MESE structures:

  1. Cases - you simply solve 50-70 cases and get a broad knowledge of different industries, common pitfalls and questions. The key here - find good partners who already had case interviews with MBB companies
  2. Company reports, equity reports, IB roadshow docs - usually have a good overview of company and industries. Annual company reports are probably the best source of information about the industry. Make your structures while reading the reports
  3. Books - one good book about airlines can help you build all possible airlines frameworks

I strongly recommend practice drawing structures for each industry - profitability, value chain, etc

Then I will switch to getting functional knowledge (Marketing, supply chain, finance, etc) and drawing various functional structures.

Also here are my recommendations about particular industry structures:

  • Retail - make sure you understand key retail metrics (P&L lines, same store sales, revenue per square meter and per person, etc) and distribution metrics (share on shelf, etc)
  • Airlines - read about profitability issues, different routing models, cost structure, industry metrics like load factor and make sure you know all possible additional revenue streams
  • Telecom - I would read industry reports and try to understand how telecom is transforming with internet penetration and tech innovations
  • Banking - you should know the key products in corporate and retail banking and how they earn money (Interest, commission, transactional)
  • PE / M&A - try to make a proper Due Diligence structure, Revenue synergies and cost synergies.

Good luck!


Content Creator
replied on Oct 15, 2017
#1 Expert for Coaching Sessions (2.500+) | 1.100+ Reviews with 100% Recommendation Rate | Ex BCG | 6+ Years Coaching Experience
Book a coaching with Francesco

100% Recommendation Rate

2,546 Meetings

2,771 Q&A Upvotes

USD 319 / Coaching

Hi Anonymous,

many people think being MECE means having the right content for the structure only. That’s actually just part of what you need: to be MECE you need (i) the right points in the structure and (ii) the right communication. That’s because if you have a perfect MECE structure, but you communicate that poorly, the interviewer will not perceive you as MECE. More specifically you would need the following:

For the STRUCTURE you can work on two areas to improve your points:

#1: Optimize the framework

In order to optimize your framework, you should personalize it proceeding as follows:

  1. Create some basic structures for your frameworks. Case in point should work well for that, although it presents a lot of frameworks, many of which not very useful. Still, it’s a good starting point.
  2. Start practicing cases (ideally, you should get to 50+) in person, online, or reading MBA handbooks. Each time you find a new approach to solve the case that is not present in your structure, write it down and add it to your framework, keeping a MECE approach.
  3. Eliminate or consolidate the sections in your frameworks that you do not find useful to solve cases.
  4. Find commonalities between frameworks, so that you do not have to remember 7-8 structures completely different, but just few differences between frameworks.
  5. Once received the initial information from the interviewer, present the framework adapting it to the specific goals of the client, mentioning why you would like to explore a particular area and the connection of that area with the goals previously communicated by the interviewer.

#2: Brainstorm in a structured way whenever you are unable to find a proper framework

This is something you want to do in case you are unable to find the right structure for a particular question. In order to brainstorm in a structure way, you can do the following:

  1. Recap all the information you received. This will provide you time without giving the impression that you don’t know how to approach the question.
  2. Identify the key elements that would constitute the fundamental areas of your structure. Some potential divisions are: Internal-External (eg reasons for an increase in costs); Current-New (eg product, customers, distribution channels); Financial-Non financial (eg benefits from a way to enter a market compared to another).
  3. After having defined the key areas, start brainstorming for each of them.

For the COMMUNICATION you can follow two steps as well:

#1: Mention the macro areas of your framework.

An example would be: “In order to help our client, I would like to focus on three main areas. Number 1 I would like to focus on [FIRST TOPIC], Number 2 on [SECOND TOPIC], Number 3 on [THIRD TOPIC]. If this is fine for you, let me go deeper in each of them”

#2: Provide details for each macro point.

An example would be: “In area Number 1, this is what I would analyse. First, I would like to cover [FIRST STEP OF FIRST TOPIC]; second, I would like to focus on [SECOND STEP OF FIRST TOPIC]; next, I would like to work on [THIRD STEP OF FIRST TOPIC]. In area Number 2, this is what I would analyse. First,(…)”

This should ensure you are MECE on both the actual content of the structure and its communication.



Anonymous replied on Oct 16, 2017

I think Vlad and Francesco have done a great job of thoroughly covering this subject. But to build on Vlad’s point about Industry / Functional knowledge, almost all consulting firms are organized around both Industry verticals and Functional horizontals. For example, at McKinsey, a partner will be affiliated with a primary Industry vertical like “Financial Services” and a primary Functional horizontal (McKinsey calls them Business Functions) like “Marketing & Sales”.

These Industries / Horizontals are listed out on most firm’s websites. As a starter, prioritize 5-7 of the most prominent Industries (e.g., choose High Tech vs. Metals & Mining) and figure out what structures apply by 1) learning the basics about the industry and 2) practicing cases in that industry. Do the same for the Functional areas and you will have a strong basis for developing MECE structures.

Related BootCamp article(s)

Issue Tree

The Issue Tree Framework can be used to break down the problems of a case to its components and significantly increase your speed during case interviews.

The Value Chain

The Value Chain - as e.g. by Porter - is a classic framework to structure the activities of a business and add value to products by transforming resources.

Brain Teasers

Learn how to tackle brain teasers and what purpose they serve in consulting case interviews

Typical Question Types in Written Tests

Questions among all tests can be categorized in math, GMAT-style, chart reading and brain teaser questions. Each type needs to be approached differently.

Getting Up to Speed

In order to repeatedly demonstrate prerequisite skills under the pressure of a real case interview, you need to learn the basics and practice cases.

Related case(s)

Brain Teasers - U2 Concert

Solved 9.1k times
4.3 5 399
| Rating: (4.3 / 5.0) |
Difficulty: Intermediate | Style: Brain Teaser | Topics: Brain teaser

Number sequence Situation: “You and I will take turns saying numbers. The first person will say a number between 1 and 10. Then, the other person will say a number that is greater than the first number. The difference between both numbers must be between 1 and 10. We will keep going back and forth ... Open whole case

Brain Teasers - Motel

Solved 7.6k times
4.6 5 437
| Rating: (4.6 / 5.0)
Difficulty: Intermediate | Style: Brain Teaser | Topics: Brain teaser

Motel Situation: Three friends check into a motel for the night. The clerk tells them the bill is $30, payable in advance. They each pay the clerk $10 and go to their room. A few minutes later, the clerk realizes he has made an error and overcharged the trio by $5. He asks the bellhop to return $5 ... Open whole case

Brain Teasers - Pirates

Solved 6.3k times
4.5 5 395
| Rating: (4.5 / 5.0)
Difficulty: Intermediate | Style: Brain Teaser | Topics: Brain teaser

Pirates Situation: Five pirates are trying to split up 1000 gold pieces. The rules are as follows: Pirate #1 must divide the gold up in such a way that a majority of the pirates (including himself) agree to. If he does not get a majority vote, he will be killed, and pirate #2 will get to propose ... Open whole case

Brain Teasers - Firefighter

Solved 6.0k times
4.4 5 60
| Rating: (4.4 / 5.0) |
Difficulty: Intermediate | Style: Brain Teaser | Topics: Brain teaser

Firefighter Situation: A firefighter stood on the middle rung of a ladder, spraying water on a burning house. He then climbed up 6 rungs before the heat of the flames caused him to come down 10 rungs. After some minutes he was able to climb 18 rungs to the very top of the ladder. Question: How m ... Open whole case

Brain Teasers - Lethal Duel

Solved 5.4k times
4.5 5 81
| Rating: (4.5 / 5.0) |
Difficulty: Intermediate | Style: Brain Teaser | Topics: Brain teaser

Duel Situation: Three men, Adam, Bertie and Charlie, agree to take part in a lethal three-way duel. They each have a pistol and several rounds of ammo, and they draw lots to see who will shoot first and who second. Then they stand an equal distance apart, and they take turns to fire. When it is a ... Open whole case