Cookie and Privacy Settings

This website uses cookies to enable essential functions like the user login and sessions. We also use cookies and third-party tools to improve your surfing experience on preplounge.com. You can choose to activate only essential cookies or all cookies. You can always change your preference in the cookie and privacy settings. This link can also be found in the footer of the site. If you need more information, please visit our privacy policy.

Data processing in the USA: By clicking on "I accept", you also consent, in accordance with article 49 paragraph 1 sentence 1 lit. GDPR, to your data being processed in the USA (by Google LLC, Facebook Inc., LinkedIn Inc., Stripe, Paypal).

Manage settings individually I accept
3

Hypothesis in McKinsey Interviewer Led Interview

Do I have to explicitly mention a hypothesis during an interviewer-led case interview such as the one with McKinsey? I read a lot of resources online telling that it is crucial to have a hypothesis, to the extend of failing the interview if I don't have one. I somehow feel that the hypothesis is more suitable to be used for an interviewee-led case because the issue tree / framework develops gradually. For interviewer led, how does one state a hypothesis but then come up with a broad & comprehensive issue tree / framework for the case? I don't see how a hypothesis could be relevant in this regard. Hope someone can enlighten me on this. Thanks.

Do I have to explicitly mention a hypothesis during an interviewer-led case interview such as the one with McKinsey? I read a lot of resources online telling that it is crucial to have a hypothesis, to the extend of failing the interview if I don't have one. I somehow feel that the hypothesis is more suitable to be used for an interviewee-led case because the issue tree / framework develops gradually. For interviewer led, how does one state a hypothesis but then come up with a broad & comprehensive issue tree / framework for the case? I don't see how a hypothesis could be relevant in this regard. Hope someone can enlighten me on this. Thanks.

3 answers

  • Upvotes
  • Date ascending
  • Date descending
Best Answer

I see a lot of confusion amongst candidates on this topic of hypothesis: when to have one, what it should sound like, is it fixed, etc.

Let's think through this logically. First, what is a hypothesis testing in an interview? It is essentially checking if you have the right "gut feel" about ambiguous business problems. Why is that important? To save time in a consulting engagement. A large company with falling sales might have 100 reasons causing that problem and if you try to "carpet-bomb" for an answer it'll take you years. A good consultant would ask some key high-level questions and narrow the causes to top 4-5 investigations. That's basically it.

Second: when to state a hypothesis? Never at the beginning. Why? Because at that point you are just guessing and guessing will get you out. Once you get a case, ask some clarifying questions first, and try to get a good sense for the "environment" this case is built in. Only then try to frame a structure and a hypothesis.

Thirs, HOW to state the hypothesis? This is best illustrated by an example. For example, say you were given a case about a MFG firm losing margins. It could be because (1) prices are falling (2) volumes are falling so per-unit economics become bad (3) costs are rising or (4) none of the above, we are just selling a lot more of the lower margin products. So, to have a hypothesis here you could ask a few questions around: has anything changed in terms of the overall economy (if not, demand might have stayed same); have competitors suddenly become more aggressive (if yes, prices wars are likely); is it a commodity product (again, price war); has anything shifted in suppliers (cost issue), etc. Based on your line of Qs, you might realize that it COULD be a price/vol/cost issue and you may say "My thinking right now is that it's a COST issue because the economy is healthy and we are still the leading firm in the industry but there has been some shuffling around in the labor market which may have impacted our variable/fixed costs".

Hope this helps.

Hemant

I see a lot of confusion amongst candidates on this topic of hypothesis: when to have one, what it should sound like, is it fixed, etc.

Let's think through this logically. First, what is a hypothesis testing in an interview? It is essentially checking if you have the right "gut feel" about ambiguous business problems. Why is that important? To save time in a consulting engagement. A large company with falling sales might have 100 reasons causing that problem and if you try to "carpet-bomb" for an answer it'll take you years. A good consultant would ask some key high-level questions and narrow the causes to top 4-5 investigations. That's basically it.

Second: when to state a hypothesis? Never at the beginning. Why? Because at that point you are just guessing and guessing will get you out. Once you get a case, ask some clarifying questions first, and try to get a good sense for the "environment" this case is built in. Only then try to frame a structure and a hypothesis.

Thirs, HOW to state the hypothesis? This is best illustrated by an example. For example, say you were given a case about a MFG firm losing margins. It could be because (1) prices are falling (2) volumes are falling so per-unit economics become bad (3) costs are rising or (4) none of the above, we are just selling a lot more of the lower margin products. So, to have a hypothesis here you could ask a few questions around: has anything changed in terms of the overall economy (if not, demand might have stayed same); have competitors suddenly become more aggressive (if yes, prices wars are likely); is it a commodity product (again, price war); has anything shifted in suppliers (cost issue), etc. Based on your line of Qs, you might realize that it COULD be a price/vol/cost issue and you may say "My thinking right now is that it's a COST issue because the economy is healthy and we are still the leading firm in the industry but there has been some shuffling around in the labor market which may have impacted our variable/fixed costs".

Hope this helps.

Hemant

Great explanation. Thank you. — Neil on Feb 28, 2017

From what I understand speaking with those most knowledgeable of McKinsey, you can present your structure in a manner framed as a hypothesis. I think you are correct in your asusmption that the hypothesis is more suitable for interviewee led cases, however there is a way you can share your structure to let the interviewer know what you want to explore and why...i.e. "In order to explore entering the chinese market, we should focus on these things.....(explain structure)...." I'm not an expert but it seems to be sound advice.

From what I understand speaking with those most knowledgeable of McKinsey, you can present your structure in a manner framed as a hypothesis. I think you are correct in your asusmption that the hypothesis is more suitable for interviewee led cases, however there is a way you can share your structure to let the interviewer know what you want to explore and why...i.e. "In order to explore entering the chinese market, we should focus on these things.....(explain structure)...." I'm not an expert but it seems to be sound advice.

I agree with Jeff, as it sounds like sound advice ;) What is also quite common in my experience is that the interviewer gives you a hypothesis that you have to evaluate

I agree with Jeff, as it sounds like sound advice ;) What is also quite common in my experience is that the interviewer gives you a hypothesis that you have to evaluate

Related BootCamp article(s)

Interviewer-Led vs Candidate-Led cases

Case Interviews can be led by the candidate or by the interviewer: In Candidate-led cases the main challenge is the structure. In Interviewer-led cases the main challenge is to adapt quickly

Focusing on The Core: Mock Interviews

It is to practice as many cases as possible - both as interviewee and as interviewee. Here are a couple of guidelines to help you get started

Case Studies

The case study is the most important element of the case interview, which you'll have to nail in order to get into strategic consulting. Here you can learn the specific skills and concepts necessary to solve them.

1 Q&A

Getting Up to Speed

In order to repeatedly demonstrate prerequisite skills under the pressure of a real case interview, you need to learn the basics and practice cases.

1 Q&A

Approaching a Case

In order to get into consulting, the case study is the most important element of the interview. Here, you can learn the specific skills and concepts to solve them.

1 Q&A

Related case(s)

McKinsey Questions

Solved 37.8k times
McKinsey Questions Tell me of a situation where you had an opinion and no one seemed to agree with you. What was your goal when you decided to join university / work / clubs / a sports team? Did you have a goal that you were not able to reach? What did you do? What do you want to be remembered for and how are you achieving it? What is your typical way of dealing with conflict?
4.5 5 860
| Rating: (4.5 / 5.0) |
Difficulty: Intermediate | Style: Fit Interview | Topics: Personal fit

Tell me of a situation where you had an opinion and no one seemed to agree with you. What was your goal when you decided to join university / work / clubs / a sports team? Did you have a goal that you were not able to reach? What did you do? What do you want to be remembered for and how are you ... Open whole case

MBB Final Round Case - Smart Education

Solved 9.2k times
MBB Final Round Case - Smart Education Our client is SmartBridge, a nonprofit educational institution offering face-to-face tutoring services. The client operates in the US. The mission of SmartBridge is to help as many students as possible to complete studies and prevent that they drop from the school system, in particular in disadvantaged areas. The client is considering starting operations for its services in the Chicago area. They hired us to understand if that makes sense. Due to the nonprofit regulation, SmartBridge should operate on its own in the market, without any partnership. How would you help our client?
4.6 5 372
| Rating: (4.6 / 5.0)

Our client is SmartBridge, a nonprofit educational institution offering face-to-face tutoring services. The client operates in the US. The mission of SmartBridge is to help as many students as possible to complete studies and prevent that they drop from the school system, in particular in disadvant ... Open whole case

Espresso, Whatelse?

Solved 6.6k times
Espresso, Whatelse? Espresso Whatelse is an Italian company that produces coffee and espresso machines since 1908. It is the Italian market leader and has a strong presence overall in Europe. In 2019, Espresso Whatelse has increased its revenues but it has seen declining profit margin. Your client wants to understand the root causes of this 2019 trend and how to increase its profit margin again.  
4.6 5 337
| Rating: (4.6 / 5.0)

Espresso Whatelse is an Italian company that produces coffee and espresso machines since 1908. It is the Italian market leader and has a strong presence overall in Europe. In 2019, Espresso Whatelse has increased its revenues but it has seen declining profit margin. Your client wants to understand ... Open whole case

Motivational questions – FIT interview preparation

Solved 2.0k times
Motivational questions – FIT interview preparation During this exercise, we will deep-dive in 4 of the most common Motivational questions asked in FIT interviews:   Why Consulting? Why this particular company? (McKinsey, Bain, BCG, others) Why this particular location? *Particularly relevant to people re-locating or choosing an office not in their region Why this particular specialized business function *Only relevant when not applying for a general role (e.g., McKinsey Advanced Analytics, BCG Gamma, etc.) *box-open green* *See Graph 1 – Note: "Motivational" are one of the 4 types of questions you can find in FIT interviews. *box-close* ➥ Graphs from the Integrated FIT Guide for MBB
4.5 5 50
| Rating: (4.5 / 5.0)
Difficulty: Intermediate | Style: Fit Interview | Topics: Personal fit

During this exercise, we will deep-dive in 4 of the most common Motivational questions asked in FIT interviews: Why Consulting? Why this particular company? (McKinsey, Bain, BCG, others) Why this particular location? *Particularly relevant to people re-locating or choosing an office not ... Open whole case

Chinese Chess - Airline Business During COVID-19

Solved 1.8k times
Chinese Chess - Airline Business During COVID-19 Sky China, a government-backed Chinese airline, has recently seen profits plummet due to COVID-19. Profits are down 80% in the months of February and March, but are showing early signs of a rebound in April.  They've brought you in to first investigate what can be done immediatedly to prevent hemorrhaging cash and surive in the short-term. They are also looking to see how the current situation can be viewed as an opportunity, and what can be done to prepare for the future. 
4.4 5 51
| Rating: (4.4 / 5.0)

Sky China, a government-backed Chinese airline, has recently seen profits plummet due to COVID-19. Profits are down 80% in the months of February and March, but are showing early signs of a rebound in April. They've brought you in to first investigate what can be done immediatedly to prevent hemor ... Open whole case