How long should I take to develop my framework during a case interview?

Bain BCG MBB Mck McKinsey RolandBerger
Edited on Sep 25, 2022
11 Answers
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Anonymous A asked on Jan 09, 2021

I usually come up with solid frameworks at right about 3 minutes but I've heard that this is too long from other candidates on PL. It would be awesome to hear from case experts/coaches on what is the threshold for developing frameworks?

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Florian
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updated an answer on Aug 17, 2021
#1 rated McKinsey Case and PEI Coach | 5 years at McKinsey | Mentorship Approach | 120+ McK offers in 18 months

Hey there,

-----

UPDATE

I have written a detailed insider perspective on the McKinsey case interview here: https://www.preplounge.com/en/mckinsey-interview

-----

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...

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 to prepare very differently for McK interviews vs. other consultancies. 

Cheers,

Florian

(edited)

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Francesco
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updated an answer on Sep 25, 2022
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Hi there,

As a general benchmark, I would consider the following:

  • 1-2 min to write down the structure
  • A few mins to present (also depends on the company, at McKinsey usually you have more time to present due to the interviewer-led format – you can find more on the differences here)

They are not strict rules. If you spend more than 2 min to write down the structure, you won’t lose any points. However be ready to have the interviewer ask if you are ready.

A total of 3 min seems quite long to write down a structure only without presenting it. If that’s the time you need, it means you have to:

  • Improve your knowledge of structures (eg practicing specific type of cases you find challenging) and/or
  • Improve your speed in writing down the structures (eg using more abbreviations)

Best,

Francesco

(edited)

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Denis
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replied on Jan 09, 2021
Ex-Bain 5 yrs | Goldman Sachs Investment Banker NYC | MBA Chicago Booth | Passed > 13 MBB > 20 IB interviews

Hi A,

there is no clear right or wrong answer. Here are a couple of thoughts.

  • Quick answer: 60 seconds --> most interviewers would not say anything, 90 seconds --> most interviewers will start to get "nervous" but may or may not speak up and interrupt you and basically demand you to go ahead and present what you have, 120 seconds --> most interviewers will considers this already quite long
  • Other thoughts:
    • If you need longer than 90-120 seconds there need to be good reasons (i.e. you have a verty non-generic and detailed framework with at least 3-4 levels of detail)
    • Make sure you start working level by level (i.e. level 1 bullets first, followed by sub-bullets etc

The other experts have surely their own value-adding points to this.

Best,

Denis

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Ian
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replied on Jan 10, 2021
MBB | 100% personal interview success rate (8/8) and 95% candidate success rate | Personalized interview prep

Hi there,

Honestly, 3 minutes perfectly fine if your framework is awesome. If you produce average frameworks, you'll want to shorten then to 1.5 minutes preparation generally.

My advice is to spend a maximum of 3 minutes writing it down but ideally take 1-1.5 minutes.

Fundamentallty, you also have to have a clear plan forward (including the "why" and the "how") when producing a framework...this is the most important!

My advice to achieve this:

  • Write in shorthand
  • Just write down the main ideas/concepts (let your verbal walk-through fill in the color)
  • Practice thinking/writing quickly with a timer
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Vlad
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replied on Jan 09, 2021
McKinsey / Accenture Alum / Got all BIG3 offers / Harvard Business School

Hi,

  • 1-2 min for initial structure. But the faster the better. 1.5 looks fine
  • 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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Henning
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replied on Jan 11, 2021
Bain | passed >15 MBB interviews as a candidate

60-120 seconds. And you should practice this with a partner that keeps an eye on the time, as it is very difficult to estimate the time under pressure. You eventually need to get to a level of comfort with developing these frameworks that allows you to jot down the 20% of content that drives 80% of the answer reliably in a short time.

Of your max 2 min, spend a minute on the first level (the 3-5 branches). This needs to be MECE for a strong framework. Then the remainding 30-60seconds on just a few bullet points per branch underneath. These are not meant to be MECE, just a few starting points for a more in-depths analysis later.

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Antonello
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replied on Jan 10, 2021
McKinsey | MBA professor for consulting interviews

Hi,

It really depends on the type of case actually.

In general, however, you should be able to develop a solid structure in between 1 min and 1min30sec. If you're going too long, the interviewer will let you know about that. If you take 3 min to structure a case, be sure it's comprehensive and will really guide you throughout the solution of the case.

Hope this helps.

Best,

Antonello

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Anonymous updated the answer on Mar 16, 2022

Hi,

I would say 1-2 minutes would a rule of thumb. Once you have enough practice this should be a reasonable time to allocate. However, on a situation where you need 3 minutes I would not worry to much. The important thing is to get the right framework instead of racing to complete a framework.

 

(edited)

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Gaurav
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replied on Jan 10, 2021
Ex-Mckinsey|Certified Career Coach |Placed 500+ candidates at MBB & other consultancies

Hello there!

I would agree that 3 minutes only for coming up with the structure without presenting it is usually considered too long, but there are exceptions, like Udayan mentioned.

Typically, it would be ok to spend about 1.5 minutes to write down the structure, but the interviewer could start asking whether you are ready or ask to present what you have.
1 minute is what you need to aim at.

I think you need more practice, especially when there's time pressure. Find a peer or a coach and improve developing frameworks when solving cases.

Do you have any further questions?

GB

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Udayan
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replied on Jan 09, 2021
Top rated McKinsey Case & PEI coach/Multiple real offers/McKinsey EM in New York /6 years McKinsey recruiting experience

Especially for McKinsey interviews 2 mins or so is totally fine. Even 3 mins is okay because there is a lot of emphasis on the structure itself.

Udayan

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Clara
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replied on Jan 12, 2021
McKinsey | Awarded professor at Master in Management @ IE | MBA at MIT |+180 students coached | Integrated FIT Guide aut

Hello!

Try to remain flexible here, since there is not an absolute truth, and you need to be able to read the interviewer and the circumpstances.

Overall, I would say anything between 1.5-2.5 mins is the right measure

Hope it helps!

Cheers,

Clara

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Florian gave the best answer

Florian

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