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How to give "concise" answers during interviews

Anonymous A asked on May 09, 2017 - 5 answers

Hi everyone,

I just got rejected from BCG in the second round. The feedback I got from the recruter is that my answers were not concised and that I was often using complicated sentences during the interview (for both personal fit and case).

I wanted to know if you know any techniques or exercices in order to improve this specific communication skill.

Thanks in advance

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Originally answered:

Straight to the point?

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Vlad
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replied on Jan 23, 2018
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Hi,

It's really hard to say without knowing the context. But if the interviewer said you lack the ability to COME to the point, it could have meant several things:

1) You lack the ability to dig deep enough to find the root cause and you switch too fast to the other parts of your framework. For example, if after the calculations you find out that the product mix has changed, you say out loud something like this: "We found a problem - our revenues has declined because the product mix has changed. I see several solutions how to fix this problem"

In reality, you still don't know the root cause - what has led to a change in the product mix? Was it a shift in the customer demand? Or maybe there is something going on with our sales department? You always have to find the root cause first and only after that generate the recommendations.

2) You are not straight to the point in your questions. For example instead of asking: "Could you please tell me what is the market size and the growth rate?" you ask something like "Do we know how is the market doing?". In other words, your questions are not asking for something specific and are too broad. Several questions like this in a row may be irritating for the interviewer since it's becoming extremely hard for him to give you the case.

Best

Anonymous C replied on May 10, 2017

Hi,

In order to make progress and have a clearer and more to-the-point communication, try thinking in bullet points. Very often we get lost in narratives, which can sometimes be a draw-back when time is limited and one has to articluate fast and clear recommendations. This is a technique often used in consulting for efficient and effective communication: list the reasons (MECE) why you studied X, want to join their firm, want to be a consultant, and keep it 2-5 reasons and then enumerate them one by one, strating by the most important ones (Pareto).

Secondly, when it comes to talking about any relevant projects you have done, use the STAR framework, it really helps!

Originally answered:

Straight to the point?

Andrea
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replied on Jan 23, 2018
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For fit stories, what I really appreciate in candidates is the use of tag line followed by STAR framework detailed story. So for example if the questions is "can you tell me about a time where you had an extraordinary impact on a project you worked on?" The ideal answer would be "My biggest achievement to date was when at a grocery store client I identified and realized $20M in working capital reduction through the detailed analysis of their accounts receivable/payable".

Then you will spend the following 2 minutes detailing:

Situation - 20 seconds

Task - 20 seconds

Actions - 40 seconds

Results - 40 seconds

Hope it helps,

Andrea

Originally answered:

Straight to the point?

Francesco
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replied on Jan 24, 2018
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Hi Anonymous,

the one you presented is a common improvement area in the fit questions. The key to provide a good answer is to practice fit questions with a time constraint. As mentioned by Andrea, 2 minutes can be a good level to target (with the exception of questions with multiple elements such as “Tell me which are your three top weaknesses”. In that case you can consider a bit more time for the delivery)

Having a time constraint will force you to leave just the key information in your answer. This will show you can be time-efficient to the interviewer and that you can prioritize. Prioritization is a critical skill in consulting projects, where you have limited amount of time to achieve very significant results.

To practice this I would suggest the following:

  1. Write down all your fit answers if not done already. Use bullets to structure them.
  2. Repeat loud the answers. Put a timer with 2 minutes. If feasible, do so with a partner or record yourself.
  3. Reiterate till when you are able to deliver the answer with such time constraint. After few attempts you will notice that your answers will automatically be more to the point.

Hope this helps,
Francesco

Originally answered:

Straight to the point?

Anonymous B replied on Jan 23, 2018

Hi Vadim,
Thank you very much for you detailed reply!

It was more based on the personal fit part. So not really the case performance killed me here. :P

For example: I was asked to tell about my experience, so I did and I think it just took me too much time to drilled it down to the key facts. But I dont know how to prioritise? I want to cover every aspect of my story which indeed may borrow my opposite.

Thanks in advance for any comments and help.

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