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How to tailor your response to each case?

Anonymous A

How do you tailor your response for each case? Especially when you have a profitability question, like it’s either revenue or cost right? How can you tailor to a specific industry if that’s the case?

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Benjamin replied on 07/08/2018
ex-Manager - Got MBB offer - Taylor case solving, no framework - beginners to experts

Hi Anonymous,

Your question points a typical challenge that candidates face in preparing for case interviews, and developping this ability is a key success factor, if not the most important.

This will of course require a lot of practice and will never be resolved by reading a few tips, but let's start with some basic advices that most candidate forget about / don't know about.

1. (almost) Never use a standard framework taken from the books. Strategy consulting is about helping client facing unique issue with a tailored answer. Forcing your approach in standard framework is unlikely to be relevant

2. Project yourself in your clients shoes and show emphaty for its problematic. By doing so you this will be much easier for you to understand what are the key topics to cover in order to formulate a recommandation and make sure you don't forget anything. I always ask myself "what would I do if this was my business and my own problem ? What do I need to know / understand to make a decision ?"

3. Make sure every topic you want to cover is relavant for the final recommandation. A simple check is to ask yourslef "If I spend time on this specific topic, and get some answers to my questions (ex. market sizing, competition, etc.), will this bring usefull element for the final recommandation given my clients problematics" ? If the answer is no, then you should drop this sub issue.

4. Practice a lot, with any daily case you can set up on your own. The above tips are taken from my own experience doing my best to build MECE structures, but keep in mind that it takes a lot of practice to achieve a satisfying performance here. I have developped an exercice called structuring drills, that focus your effort on learning to build structure. This is ususally very appreciated by candidates. Don't hesitat to ask more by mp if you need help here.

Hope this will help
Best
Benjamin

(edited)

Dorothea
Expert
replied on 07/08/2018
Ex-Oliver Wyman with 100% interview success rate - specialized in female career coaching

Hi,

no need to tailor the structure depending on what industry the case is about - if it is a profitability case, you are right, it's either the cost or revenue side. What differs, though, are the individual cost and revenue components, i.e. what are the main costs in that industry and what are the revenue streams. For this it helps to get a thorough understanding of what products are sold in each industry, how they are manufactured, how they are distributed etc. For instance, energy costs differ substantially depending on industry (just compare the steel industry and banks). When solving the case, you may want to come up with a hypothesis what the main costs are.

For the revenue side, there may be one or several revenue streams depending on the case, e.g. a lighting technology manufacturer may produce both goods for B2B and B2C clients and those two streams may differ substantially. My advice here is, always figure out how many revenue streams there are and how comparable they are.

In general, it is not wrong to apply the same basic structure to every case, but you need to tailor it whenever you start digging deeper.

Hope this helps.

Dorothea