How to effectively understand articles on newsletter and websites of consulting firms?

Digital McKinsey Digital transformation insights McKinsey & Company
New answer on Aug 01, 2022
4 Answers
Akanksha asked on Jul 31, 2022

I have been confronting a rather weird problem, based on my inability to understand jargons, phrases and ideas presented in articles such as these:

I believe that a consulting case interview won’t be limited to a business situations framework or any standard frameworks, and could be on concepts such as digital transformations and strategy. I therefore, thought it would be a good idea to read up blogs by McKinsey, but the problem is, I have no idea what this article mentioned above is talking about. There are no concrete examples presented, nor am I able to relate the ideas to my understanding so that I may be able to reproduce it in my customised frameworks. 

I regularly read Finimize, a business and financial news website that distills complex ideas and jargons in a very lucid way. I have trouble knowing what’s going on in the article above, any advice on how I can tackle this quickly and efficiently would be appreciated. 

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replied on Jul 31, 2022
Prepares you to crack ALL cases | Active interviewer with recent cases, 150+ interviews, 6+ years exp (France, MENA)


Good idea to try to educate yourself on different industries, it will help improve your business sense which is one of the key dimensions tested during a case. 

To do that, you can read articles directly from newspapers or articles from consulting firms. However, the most efficient way is to do several cases covering different industries. 

The issue with articles is that you might not see what to focus on or they might simply not discuss what is needed to solve a case. For example, you may read dozens of articles on the rising energy prices but still, you wouldn't know what are the typical investment and operation costs of an oil rig, which you would need in a profitability case. 

By the way, the link you sent is not an article, it is just a presentation of their practice. I agree, full of buzzwords and hard to grasp (typically what clients don't like). You should more look at the Our insights section (link below). If you are interviewing with a specific practice, you can also look on LinkedIn if the practice leaders published anything, you can mention (smoothly) the articles to show your motivation and interest.

Hope this helps

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Akanksha on Jul 31, 2022

Hi! Thanks for your reply. Yes, I understood the article link I posted wasn’t apt, but my experience has been similar with insights section too! It’s just hard to grasp. Based on this, what else would you recommend to me?

Akanksha on Jul 31, 2022

For instance, compare this article And any article based on pharma in McK insights. It’s just not possible for a student to make sense of what it’s trying to convey.

Mamoun on Aug 01, 2022

This is aligned with what I said above: articles are not the most efficient way to prepare, you will spend too much time trying to understand nuances and concepts that you are not expected to understand. My recommendation is just to stick to cases: do a lot, and read even more. Then try to memorize the key aspects of industries that you might have missed on your own e.g., seasonality in tourism, cost structures in retail, value chain in pharma. I have a list of such things, you can MP.

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replied on Aug 01, 2022
MBB | 100% personal interview success rate (8/8) and 95% candidate success rate | Personalized interview prep

Hey Akanksha,

I already replied in private, but a few more thoughts here:

  1. Investopedia is a good resource
  2. Google is your friend (for keywords)
  3. You should create your own industry deep-dives (and fill them in)
  4. Repetition is key. Sure, you don't understand those articles now, but how do we get good at anything? You need to keep pushing
  5. Hire a coach. I personally run 10-15 min industry deep-dive segments during my coaching. If you want to learn about an industry I can “upload” it to you in that time!
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replied on Jul 31, 2022
Interested in your success

Hi Akanksha,
these sites are providing general information about what a firm is doing. It won´t be helpful for your case interview.

Try to start 1st with cases from preplounge. You need to understand the structure of how a case is built. If you solve a number of cases, you will get a better feeling and then also understand articles better.

cheers, Ajmal

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replied on Aug 01, 2022
McKinsey San Francisco | Harvard graduate | 5+ years of coaching | DISCOUNTED SESSIONS Oct 2022 | Free 15 min intro call


Don't worry too much about not understanding everything in those articles - they contain much more industry knowledge and jargon than you would ever be expected to know in a case interview. You would also never be penalized for asking the interviewer to clarify a term or a concept that is unfamiliar to you, because you are assessed on your casing, not your industry knowledge - I always encourage candidates to ask if something seems confusing.

If you are reading things like Finimize, I would say you are doing the right thing to have the adequate level of business knowledge. Other resources I sometimes recommend for candidates are Axios Macro and Axios Markets newsletters, The Best One Yet podcast (formerly MarketSnacks), and the good old Economist/Financial Times/Wall Street Journal. 

Regarding the link you posted, I'd say there's no way of understanding it quickly other than looking up anything that is confusing and talking to people already in the practice about what their work actually involves. Read more, google things, and ask around, essentially (which it seems like you are doing already).

But as far as business understanding for the case interview is concerned, if you can follow the terms and jargon in standard cases, you should be good. You may encounter a case that deals with newer technologies, but the level of jargon shouldn't be any more complicated than for standard cases, if that makes sense.

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Mamoun gave the best answer


Prepares you to crack ALL cases | Active interviewer with recent cases, 150+ interviews, 6+ years exp (France, MENA)
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