Get Active in Our Amazing Community of Over 462,000 Peers!

Schedule mock interviews on the Meeting Board, join the latest community discussions in our Consulting Q&A and find like-minded Case Partners to connect and practice with!

If I get stuck in a case, should I directly ask for help from an interviewer?

help
New answer on Apr 17, 2020
7 Answers
3.2 k Views
Anonymous A asked on Feb 24, 2020

If I really get stuck in a case, should I directly ask for help from an interviewer? What are some appropriate things to do in this situation?

Overview of answers

Upvotes
  • Upvotes
  • Date ascending
  • Date descending
Best answer
Francesco
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Feb 25, 2020
#1 Coach for Sessions (4.500+) | 1.500+ 5-Star Reviews | Proven Success (➡ interviewoffers.com) | Ex BCG | 10Y+ Coaching

Hi Anonymous,

this is what I would suggest if you get stuck:

  1. Do a recap of your findings so far in the case
  2. Repeat the question you have to answer
  3. Ask for one minute to think
  4. If you still cannot find an answer: state the reasons why you cannot see a connection between the information received and the objective. This should lead the interviewer to help you

Best,

Francesco

Was this answer helpful?
Clara
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Feb 25, 2020
McKinsey | Awarded professor at Master in Management @ IE | MBA at MIT |+180 students coached | Integrated FIT Guide aut

Hello!

I would try to have it as last option, since it does not look very good.

A great trick that I try with my coachees is to do a quick recap. This:

  1. Gives you some extra time to think, without being in silence and looking lost
  2. Helps you pick up your toughts and, in most cases, gives you some ideas to continue

Try it!

Hope it helps!

Cheers,

Clara

Was this answer helpful?
Luca
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Feb 24, 2020
BCG |NASA | SDA Bocconi & Cattolica partner | GMAT expert 780/800 score | 200+ students coached

Hello,

It's never a good idea to directly ask for help stating that you are stucked. The best thing that you can do is to think loudly and do a little recap of your findings at that point, stating the doubts and questions that you have in your mind. It will happen really often that the interviewer will understand the situation and will tackle in the flow giving you some advices.
Another good option, if you still think that you can solve the case on your own, is to ask for 30 seconds to think.

Hope it helps,
Luca

Was this answer helpful?
Ian
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Feb 25, 2020
#1 BCG coach | MBB | Tier 2 | Digital, Tech, Platinion | 100% personal success rate (8/8) | 95% candidate success rate

Rarely, if ever, should you directly ask for help. It's not a good look to say "Can you help me" or "What do you think" etc. However, you can definitely indirectly ask for/signal for help.

So:

1) State that you're now figuring out where to take this next (that's fine)

2) Recap the objective and the pieces of information you need (and have) to answer the question/hypothesis.

a) Hopefully this triggers something or b) You get a signal from the interviewer on a particular segment (they might probe you and say "is that all we need from bucket x?"

2) If this doesn't work, start to probe in different areas (i.e. do we know x? To double-check you already said y doesn't apply, correct?) etc. etc.

3) If really desperate, you can say something like "Has the client experienced this before or have any ideas they've come up with?" or "Have we observed something similar to this problem in the past that we can leverage?"

Was this answer helpful?
Vlad
Expert
replied on Feb 24, 2020
McKinsey / Accenture Alum / Got all BIG3 offers / Harvard Business School

Hi,

In your particular case, you should ask the interviewer to explain further / in other words. It's better to ask for clarification rather than solving the wrong objective. I believe the interviewer meant that your investment should become breakeven in 4 years.

In general, when you get stuck there are 2 options:

  1. You ask further questions
  2. You make a new structure to drill down further

1) You ask further questions. There are 4 types of questions that you can ask. Basically you can never get stuck if you ask one of these questions:

  1. You can ask for a historical data
  2. You ask for the comparable data of the competitors / internal benchmarks
  3. You can ask for a further segmentation
  4. You ask to describe the process behind the particular number

The 4th question is probably the most important if you get stuck. For example, if you know that the sales department is not performing you can ask the interviewer: "Could you please tell a bit more about existing sales process?"

2) You ask for 30 seconds and build a new structure. The most common feedback on the interviews is "You are not structured enough". To avoid this you should always be structuring. These structures can be both fully MESE issue trees or frameworks or a combination of both.

For example, if you find that we spend more time on cleaning the job shop than the other division you go with the following:

  • The frequency of cleaning * Time spent per one cleaning
  • If we find that the frequency is the same, we structure it further into People, Process, Technology

Best!

Was this answer helpful?
Thomas
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Apr 17, 2020
150+ interviews | 6+ years experience | Bain, Kearney & Accenture | Exited startup| London Business School

It is indeed not a good sign, however, for the interviewer it is also painful to see someone being stuck. My recommendation is to recap, ask for a minute, and structure the questions you want ask to solve this issue.

Was this answer helpful?
0
Antonello
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Feb 25, 2020
McKinsey | NASA | top 10 FT MBA professor for consulting interviews | 6+ years of coaching

I would try to recap and take a minute to reframe your hypothesis/issue tree

Best,
Antonello

Was this answer helpful?
Francesco gave the best answer

Francesco

Content Creator
#1 Coach for Sessions (4.500+) | 1.500+ 5-Star Reviews | Proven Success (➡ interviewoffers.com) | Ex BCG | 10Y+ Coaching
4,547
Meetings
48,401
Q&A Upvotes
407
Awards
5.0
1625 Reviews
How likely are you to recommend us to a friend or fellow student?
0 = Not likely
10 = Very likely
You are a true consultant! Thank you for consulting us on how to make PrepLounge even better!