"How would you gather this data?"

brainstorming data
New answer on Oct 31, 2020
6 Answers
Indy (80+ only)
asked on Oct 30, 2020
Actively preparing for McKinsey Final Round. Have gone through Bain final round. Shoot me a message if you want to prep a case!

What would be the best way to answer "how would you gather/get this information/data" if the interviewer asks? I know it would be best to always answer conceptual brainstorming questions with a structure; therefore, how could I approach this? Thank you!


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Content Creator
replied on Oct 30, 2020
#1 Coach for Sessions (4.000+) | 1.500+ 5-Star Reviews | Proven Success (➡ InterviewOffers.com) | Ex BCG | 9Y+ Coaching

Hi Indy,

As you mentioned, you should always start brainstorming questions with a structure. If you have no ideas, you can always use opposites (ie X and non-X: long and short terms, internal and external, financial and non-financial, etc).

As an example, you could structure:

  • External
    • Surveys and interviews
    • Expert calls
    • Free and paid industry reports
  • Internal
    • Previous projects data and expert consultants
    • Research team

Hope this helps,


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replied on Oct 30, 2020
Bain | passed >15 MBB interviews as a candidate

Typically it does not really make sense to go through some sort of framework. There are only so many ways of getting to data it doesn't make much sense to make it unnecessarily comples. The one framework that might provide some good structure here could be primary and secondary.

Primary covers everything were you collect first hand data, e.g.

  • a data request to the client
  • expert interviews (firm internally or through external expert networks)
  • market surveys
  • employee surveys
  • customer warm leads
  • ...

Secondary is everyhing that relies on the research work of others

  • Paid studies and market reports
  • Analyst's reports
  • Newspaper articles
  • Government statistics
  • ...
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replied on Oct 30, 2020
Ex-McKinsey final round interviewer | Executive Coach

It does really depend on the case context and type of data but there are a few buckets that you can always keep in mind for such question. Identifying the "sources of insight" is an important step in problem solving at McKinsey where I would encourage candidates to keep the question in mind as they also prepare to be a successful management consultant.

+ Company data: financial data, customer data, employee data, etc.

+ Interviews: management, customer, front-line, supply chain, etc.

+ Surveys: customer surveys to understand key buying factors, consumer trends, etc.

+ Industry reports: market growth projections and trends, etc.

I am certain my list is not comprehensive and so feel free to add with comments!

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replied on Oct 30, 2020
Ex-Bain Manager | 10 yrs MBB experience | 250+ people interviewed | Written case expert | Open to give limited discounts

Hi Indy,

The honest answer is that it all depends on the case context and the type of data they are asking for.

Sometimes there will be one single answer that is clearly better than any other answer, and sometimes the right answer will require you to do some conceptual brainstorming (in which case you should indeed always try to use a structured approach).

Unfortunately, the only way to get a good feeling for what apprach is expected from you in different situations, is by actively practicing this.



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Content Creator
replied on Oct 31, 2020
McKinsey | Awarded professor at Master in Management @ IE | MBA at MIT |+180 students coached | Integrated FIT Guide aut


This is a follow-up question that normally is asked when you are doing a brainstorming.

For instance, when you say: I would compare the total populations and divide them by the average size of the households, they can ask you, where would you get this data from?

It´s basically to test whether you would be able to do in a real context o no -since, believe me, as a consultant you see yourself in that situation all the time-.

Then you should literally list what you would do: check Google, check the National Statistics Institute for the cited country, open a ticket to the Research and Investigation department in the firm since they´ll probably have it off-the-shelf, etc.

Hope it helps!



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Anonymous replied on Oct 30, 2020


Data gathering is one critical aspect of an consulting study. But what is important is how we do pick up relevant data and ensure there is sanctity and logic in the data gathered by us. Typically most of the consultants adopt a three-pronged approach.

1. Data available from credible sources available in the public domain

2. Paid data again from credible sources or entities having credibility in that particular industry/area

3. Speaking to industry experts, both within the company you are working for as well as experts outside of the client firm within the same industry.

Now comes the critical part which is data triangulation which ensures that you apply your logic, analysis to give a shape and suits your requirement and can be termed an output of your/your organization's work. Data triangulation is important to remove bias, objectivity and give a logical conclusion to the analysis from data collated.

Trust this helps.

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Francesco gave the best answer


Content Creator
#1 Coach for Sessions (4.000+) | 1.500+ 5-Star Reviews | Proven Success (➡ InterviewOffers.com) | Ex BCG | 9Y+ Coaching
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