expert
Expert with best answer

Vlad

98% Recommendation Rate

350 Meetings

4,996 Q&A Upvotes

USD 319 / Coaching

I only have two weeks to prep for interviews and I'm still a beginner, what should I do?

Anonymous A asked on Aug 24, 2019 - 3 answers

Hi, I have about two weeks until consulting interviews. I read Victor Cheng's book and read some cases on my own from case books. More recently I started doing cases on Preplounge and I'm only just a beginnner. I really want to amp up my chances of getting into MBB, but I also can't afford to pay for a coaching session. What should I do? What kind of structured approach would ensure that I have a good grasp of cases?

Here are my problem areas so far as I understand:

1. oftentimes in cases, while coming up with a framework, I feel like I'm shooting off randomly and my structure isn't MECE enough;

2. I get stuck in putting together equations for word problems and then solving them quickly; since I'm bad at quick math, I've been rounding numbers a lot but to what extent is rounding allowed?

3. What are the main types of cases I should do?

Thanks, and I really appreciate any feedback.

3 answers

  • Upvotes
  • Date ascending
  • Date descending
Best Answer
Vlad replied on Aug 24, 2019
McKinsey / Accenture / Got all BIG3 offers / More than 300 real MBB cases / Harvard Business School
Book a coaching with Vlad

98% Recommendation Rate

350 Meetings

4,996 Q&A Upvotes

USD 319 / Coaching

Hi,

I will probably give you the best prep advice you can get in your situation. If it is not an internship with a dedicated interview period, please reschedule the interview. You can't imagine how many people have failed just because they didn't take enough prep. There is absolutely no penalty for rescheduling.

Take 1 more month, and make as many cases with partners/coaches as possible. Also, spend at least 2 weeks on preparing your FIT interview answers.

I recommend the following approach:

1) Start with "Case in point" book - you can download this book for free everywhere. It's not the best guide on how you should approach the cases, however, it will give you the basic understanding.

2) Start practicing cases with partners here or find them locally. !!! Find experienced partners or coaches who can provide a good feedback!!!

3) Purchase and read Viktor Cheng Book (Amazon Kindle store) and listen to LOMS (his website). I recommend to reread the book and listen to LOMS every 15 cases. Every time, having more experience, you’ll be finding something new.

4) Practice fast math

  • Learn how to multiply double digit numbers (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ndkkPZYJHo)
  • Learn the division table up to 1/11 (i.e. 5/6 = 83.3)
  • Learn how to work with zeros (Hint: 4000000 = 4*10ˆ6)
  • Use math tools (Mimir math for iOS), Math tool on Viktor Cheng website to practice

5) Below you can find a list of the most common case types and some high-level recommendations on structuring:

  • Market sizing - structuring from the supply or demand side. Structuring using a formula or using an issue tree
  • Profitability - basic profitability framework. Remember about different revenue streams and product mix
  • Market context cases (Market Entry, New product, Acquisition, etc). Always start with the big picture "market". Finish with something specific to the case (e.g. How to enter?"). Structure it as if you are defining the work streams for the real project.
  • Operational math problem (e.g. Should we increase the speed of an elevator or just buy a second one? How should we reduce the queues? Etc.) - Structuring as a process / value chain, with inflows, operations, and outflows
  • Cost cutting - I provided the recommendations on structuring it here: https://www.preplounge.com/en/consulting-forum/operations-cases-mck-1105#a2134
  • Valuation - Purely financial structure with cash flows, growth rate, WACC / hurdle rate, etc.
  • Synergies - revenue synergies (price, qty, mix) and cost synergies (value chain).
  • Social / economics cases (e.g. How to improve the quality of life in the city? How to increase the revenues of the museum?) - huge variability. Practice 3-5 social cases before the interview

6) Also, I would try to focus on the most common industries in the following priority(sorted by probability of getting a case): 1-retail and CPG; 2-airlines; 3-Telecom; 4-banking; 5-natural resources; 6-tech

7) ! Important: don't forget about the FIT interview part. Crafting you stories and backups stories will require a couple of weeks!

PS

Here is a good list of articles regarding the different parts of the case:

1) Start with clarifying questions:

https://www.preplounge.com/en/consulting-forum/clarifying-questions-1786#a3956

2) Communicating while structuring. Here is a long post by me on how to communicate the structure during the case study:

https://www.preplounge.com/en/consulting-forum/how-to-communicate-its-structure-for-the-case-study-1313#a2806

3) Using hypothesis. I made a post about hypothesis here:

https://www.preplounge.com/en/consulting-forum/how-to-state-a-hypothesis-and-match-to-the-structure-1156#a2268

4) Communicating while making calculations:

  • Always tell the interviewer your approach
  • Check with the interviewer that your approach is correct
  • Come to the interviewer with some preliminary answers
  • Check your assumptions with the interviewer

5) Communicating during the analysis of graphs / tables

  • Take a minute to look at the graph. Read the graph title. Look at the graph type and define the type (pie chart, line chart, etc). Look at the legend (ask for clarifying questions if necessary). Identify whats going on on the graph. Look for: Trends, % structures. Look for unusual things - correlations, outliers,
  • Make 3-4 conclusions from the graph. Think out loud on potential hypothesis on what could be the root cause / what are the consequences
  • Prioritize the most important for your current analysis and move forward with the case

6) Communicating while having questions on creativity

  • Ask an interview for a minute to think
  • Think of several buckets of ideas (e.g. organic growth / non-organic growth / differentiation). Remember to think as big as possible
  • Narrow down to each bucket and generate as many ideas as possible
  • Present the structure (buckets) and then your ideas

7) Communicating your conclusion. You can find a good example I've posted here:

https://www.preplounge.com/en/consulting-forum/how-much-answer-first-should-the-conclusion-be-1231#a2493

8) Communicating your FIT stories

Use the top-down approach while communicating your stories. "The Pyramid Principle" is the must-read by ex McKinsey on this topic.

I recommend using the STAR framework:

  • In Situation, you should briefly provide the context, usually in 1 or 2 sentences
  • Task usually includes 2 or 3 sentences describing the problem and your objective.
  • Then you provide a list of specific actions you took to achieve the goal. It should take 1 or 2 sentences per action (Usually 3-4 actions). Note that the interviewer can stop you any minute and ask for more details.
  • The results part should have 1 or 2 sentences describing the outcomes. This part is finalizing your story - make sure it can impress the interviewer and stay in the memory.

Best!

Marco-Alexander
Expert
updated his answer on Aug 25, 2019
Former BCG | Case author for efellows book | Experience in 6 consultancies (Stern Stewart, Capgemini, KPMG, VW Con., Horvath, zeb)
Book a coaching with Marco-Alexander

100% Recommendation Rate

7 Meetings

113 Q&A Upvotes

USD 219 / Coaching

Hi Anonym A,

such an interview is too important to go in with a lack of preparation. I would postpone it.

Nevertheless, I can offer you a free coaching session. I have a lot of experience in consulting and interview preparation, but I am new to Preplounge. I would like to familiarize myself with the system here. Therefore, Preplounge gives every coach the possibility to offer three free coaching sessions at the beginning.

Just write me :)

Best regards
Marco Alexander

(edited)

Spartak replied on Aug 24, 2019

Hello! My suggestion (most optimal in terms of limited time and budget) is to focus maximum efforts on building one solid case. Choose a real company that presents an interest to you. Supposedly it has run into some difficulties recently due to change in the market or internal conflicts. It has to be public company with plenty of data.

Then, make a case out of it. Build a financial model (analyze histrory and make projections), make industry analysis, benchark against peers, conduct macroeconomic research, evaluate the strengths of the management and product mix. Then propose several feasible solutions. Create 3-5 pages of the Power Point presentation. Present it to a group of friends, collect feedback.

This exercise will enable you to jump deep into the matters of the consulting. And you can develop a mental approach to scale problem solving to different cases.

Otherwise, watch videos from VocaPrep, read Case in Point and practice with case partners here.

I hope it helps.