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How to give proper "So what?" in math section of a case

New answer on Jul 08, 2020
5 Answers
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Anonymous A asked on Jul 06, 2020

Any suggestions on how to best give the so what after I'm done with calculating the quant part of the case? Aslo any tactical answers if I'm not sure about the best so what?


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Best answer
replied on Jul 06, 2020
McKinsey Senior EM & BCG Consultant | Interviewer at McK & BCG for 7 years | Coached 350+ candidates secure MBB offers


Solving a case usually means to test whether something is true or not. So the numerical calculations have usually only one goal: to check whether a criterion is met or not. This criterion is directly linked to the case question, and defines how it should be answered (e.g., "if criterion X is met, then the answer to the client is yes, otherwise no").

So every result that you come up with in your calculations should be interpreted with respect to what it means towards answering the client's question. It is remarkable how often candidates get completely lost in trying to come up with "deep" insights, even though the simple linkup of their result with the question and its criterion is the most important thing to outline to the interviewer.

The same happens by the way with chart interpretation - it is amazing to see how a large share of the candidates obsess on nitty gritty and completely irrelevant detail ovbservations, while at the same time forgetting about the question they try to address in the first place.

Cheers, Sidi

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Content Creator
replied on Jul 06, 2020
McKinsey offers w/o final round interviews - 100% risk-free - 10+ years MBB coaching experience - Multiple book author

Hi Anonymous,

The main principle is "beyond the obvious". Getting the math result is mundane work and close to everyone can do it. However, the value added comes from "beyond the obvious" - which is how does this result fit into the overall picture, and how does it connect with other data points which you already have from your analysis.

If the result is ambiguous in the overall picture, then just state it like that and let the interviewer know your alternative interpretations within the overall context - no rocket science, as simple as that.

Hope that helps - if so, please be so kind and give it a thumbs-up with the green upvote button below!


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Content Creator
replied on Jul 07, 2020
Bain Consultant | Interviewer for 3 years at Bain |Passionate about coaching |I will make you a case interview Rockstar


Strong candidates are able to relate the results of their calculations and numbers provided to them with the context of the case and the problem that the client is facing. In order to do this effectively, you need to obviously understand the context and the magnitude of the problem and then proactively communicate how the numbers you have come up with relates to that. The numbers can then be used to falsify or verify a hypothesis or be compared with some baseline information (company revenues, market size, profitability, industry benchmarks etc.).


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Anonymous updated the answer on Jul 08, 2020

Dear A,

Whenever you have completed the quantitative part of the case calculation, have a look at the initial case question and see whether it gives you any insights. Until the quantitative part comes, you should already have some hypothesis, which you are trying to test with calculations. Compare the results and have a look for a deeper insights where you should go further in the case: either you need to dig even deeper for the problem, or this will identify the roots of the problem. For example, revenue decrease rates, or that some markets are growing inconstantly.

So normally, the quantitative parts will give you an insights into the general case question, which will help you to crack the case.

I hope it helps,

If you need any further help, feel free to reach out.




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Content Creator
replied on Jul 08, 2020
McKinsey | Awarded professor at Master in Management @ IE | MBA at MIT |+180 students coached | Integrated FIT Guide aut


There are no recipies for this, since it´s a part that is very very tailored to each of the cases.

However, there are some common strategies, such as asking for benchmarks to compare with and stress test the number.

Hope it helps!



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Sidi gave the best answer


McKinsey Senior EM & BCG Consultant | Interviewer at McK & BCG for 7 years | Coached 350+ candidates secure MBB offers
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