How to increase the pace during a case study?

Bain Bain & Company Case Interview pace speed
Recent activity on Nov 26, 2018
6 Answers
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Anonymous A asked on Nov 25, 2018

Dear all,

I had a mock session with a Bain guy and the review was:

- did well
- very good business logic
- hypothesis driven approach

However, the main issue was pace. It took me 10 min longer to crack the case (after 30 min they apparently stop the time at Bain). That would be the reason I would have not passed for an internship.

How can I actually increase my pace when I'm already using a hypothesis driven approach?

The guys suggestions were "talk faster" and practice it infront of the mirror.

Would be awesome to get some feedback.

Thanks!!

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Sidi
Expert
replied on Nov 26, 2018
McKinsey Senior EM & BCG Consultant | Interviewer at McK & BCG for 7 years | Coached 300+ candidates secure MBB offers

Hi Anonymous!

I believe this is very dangerous advice from the Bain consultant, and I would bet that this person is in a rather junior role (not yet leading teams).

Generally, speed should be the LAST THING you worry about when building your case solving muscle. Similar to learing an instrument, you HAVE TO do it in a slow and meticulous way in order to properly learn the "craft and art" of case solving. Increasing the speed of framing, structuring and solving the problem is just a natural consequence of you increaslingly mastering the whole process.

And as Guennael rightfully mentions, taking MORE time in the beginning typically saves a lot of time over the duration of the case when you know how to rigorously define the decision logic which will allow you to anser the precise question of the client.

But from my experience, trying to just focus on speed is practically ALWAYS damaging! It is also damaging to try and become ightning fast with math, because this invariable damages the quality of your communication and your ability to take along the interviewer to follow the stringence of your analytical thinking (the interviewer will always assume that the way you behave in the interview is also how you behave with the client, and if you are hard to follow because you are doing multiple steps of math in your head at a fast pace, then this is damaging to you because you are harder to follow for a client!).

So my advice is: get your case skillset right! Then, speed is a natural consequence. Trying to increase speed in an isolated manner usually creates more harm then benefit.

Cheers, Sidi

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Vlad
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replied on Nov 26, 2018
McKinsey / Accenture Alum / Got all BIG3 offers / Harvard Business School

Hi,

Why don't you approach this problem the same way you are solving the cases? Find out in which part of the case you are slow and work on this exact problem

1) Presenting the structure. Based on my experience the major time-consuming factor is that candidates start providing the example of why they need a particular piece of information or providing too much explanation. Like: "This would help me determine if it makes sense to enter the market in the first place".

Instead simply say: In the market, I would like to look at the size, growth rate, segmentation, regulation. In the company, I would like to look at A,B,C,D

The major problem is that if you are providing the examples - you are stealing your own time and you will not be able to finish the case properly.

2) Being slow with math problems - Something that helped my candidates - download ALL casebooks available online and go through the math problems in the cases. They will give a good sense of required business terminology. Then you can google what you don't know.

P.S. don't follow the books solutions to solving the cases since they are not that good. Just practice the math problems

3) Being slow with calculations

Basically, you need to develop 3 calculation skills:

  • Learn how to multiply double digit numbers (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ndkkPZYJHo).
  • Learn how to work with zeros. Best way - always use 10^power instead of zeros. Example: 300x9000 = 3*10ˆ2 x 9*10ˆ3=3x9*10ˆ(2+3)=27*10ˆ5. Handwritten it looks not that complicated. If you get used to writing all the numbers that way, you will never loose zeros and all multiplications/divisions will be replaced with + or -.
  • Learn the division table up to 1/11 (i.e. 5/6 = 83.3%). It will help you calculate any percentage problems
  • Use math tools to train (Preplounge tool, Mimir math for iOS, Math tool on Viktor Cheng website). Train, train, and train again

4) Guessing instead of structuring the problem (taking into account how many times you've mentioned "hypothesis" I believe you might be guessing instead of using the hypothesis correctly):

  • 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.

More on the hypothesis usage here: https://www.preplounge.com/en/consulting-forum/how-to-lead-with-your-hypothesis-2711

Best!

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Anonymous on Feb 14, 2020
Number 1 is the tip that I really needed. I tend to provide examples or/and specific reasons for every bullet I write.
Guennael
Expert
replied on Nov 26, 2018
Ex-MBB, Experienced Hire; I will teach you not only the how, but also the why of case interviews

Speaking faster is not the solution. Instead, make sure that everything you say actually takes you closer to the answer. If it doesn't... that's waste and you should eliminate it.

Still take plenty of time early on as you think through the issue and build out the framework, that part is an investment. But thereafter, you must be ruthless and cut to the chase.

Couple more things:

- Quick math obviously will help, that can never be too fast as long as it remains accurate

- Learn some short cuts. Here are two:

(a) you want to know about the fixed costs. You ask "in terms of fixed costs, do we have any rents? what about utilities? Ok, what other FC do we have that I am not thinking about" => I see you've done your homework, and will be glad to help you after you bring up a couple of options. No need to be exhaustive, just move on.

(b) I tell you there is no trend in the case; you ask "since there is no trend, is it fair to assume we also do not have any historical on the market share?" and you move on as soon as I nod, no need to ask the question and wait for me to respond.

You will get faster with practice, just keep working at it. Good luck

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Francesco
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Content Creator
replied on Nov 26, 2018
#1 Expert for Coaching Sessions (3.600+) | 1.300+ Reviews with 100% Recommendation Rate | Ex BCG | 8+ Years of Coaching

Hi Anonymous,

as mentioned in the other comments, speaking faster would hardly be the solution. A better approach would be the one mentioned by Vlad, thus understanding in which area you are going too slow.

It is likely you have some specific areas where you are not proceeding fast enough (eg math, structuring, brainstorming etc). You should identify which is such area and then work specifically on that part. Each area may require a different improvement (eg better structuring, learning how to do math quicker, faster reading of graph, etc). Once identified the improvement, you should try to practice specifically on cases covering mainly that area.

Hope this helps,

Francesco

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Clark Kent updated an answer on Nov 26, 2018
I come from Krypton

I may be faster than a speeding bullet... but...

More haste, less speed.

(edited)

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Anonymous B replied on Nov 26, 2018

You know what? I'm having the same problem.

Here are some examples. Was going through some links given by HR. Competitive response question about 2nd biggest player in Europe wanting to buy 4th. Client is the biggest. What to do? My first thought was... good luck getting the EU to greenlight reduced competition. Lol, mind then wandered to Brexit and how I have PMQ ticket for this coming Wednesday. Great timing! :-) When I finally got back on track, I reckon like a minute or so had passed.

I gathered my thoughts and came up with my approach. Here, there's the other issue. When is it OK to make assumptions? Assumed that Company 2nd had done due diligence on buying Company 4th, etc. Ignoring assumptions, my approach was the same as the 'strong framework' answer. But bloody slow though.

Speaking as an experienced hire candidate, am finding the case interview bit rather difficult. It wasn't like this when preparing 9-10 years ago :-(

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Sidi gave the best answer

Sidi

McKinsey Senior EM & BCG Consultant | Interviewer at McK & BCG for 7 years | Coached 300+ candidates secure MBB offers
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