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Inquiries about interviewer-led case interviews

hypothesis Interviewer-led McKinsey The Role of the Hypothesis in Consulting
New answer on Mar 13, 2024
5 Answers
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Anonymous A asked on Mar 11, 2024

Hi, there!

  1. I've been checking out different resources for interviewer-led case interviews, but they all seem to suggest different things. The more I look into it, the more confused I get. How do I figure out which approach is the best for tackling an interviewer-led case interview when everyone's saying something different?
  2. So, I've been reading up on interviewer-led cases, and there's this whole thing about hypotheses. Some say you should come up with them right off the bat when you get the case, while others say to keep them to yourself. What's the deal? Can someone break it down for me? I get the concept of hypothesis, but I'm not sure how it fits into a case interview

Cheers!

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Ian
Expert
Content Creator
updated an answer on Mar 12, 2024
#1 BCG coach | MBB | Tier 2 | Digital, Tech, Platinion | 100% personal success rate (8/8) | 95% candidate success rate

Hi there,

Two major things for you:

First: Get a coach - it changes everything

Second: Read this article - Candidate-Led Cases: What to Expect With Example Cases

I've been checking out different resources for interviewer-led case interviews, but they all seem to suggest different things. The more I look into it, the more confused I get. How do I figure out which approach is the best for tackling an interviewer-led case interview when everyone's saying something different?

It sounds crazy but 80% of material out there just isn't good. Unfortunate but true. Partly because it's a hard topic to explain in writing, and partly because oversimplification sells.

Ultimately, “which approach” isn't the right way to think about this. Remember that you are training to be a consultant. This is a simulation of a consulting project. Just like there isn't just a “single approach to solving the business world's problems”, there won't be one here.

It's more complicated than that and can't just be answered in a few sentences….

How to Shift Your Mindset to Ace the Case

So, I've been reading up on interviewer-led cases, and there's this whole thing about hypotheses. Some say you should come up with them right off the bat when you get the case, while others say to keep them to yourself. What's the deal? Can someone break it down for me? I get the concept of hypothesis, but I'm not sure how it fits into a case interview

Kind of.

Careful with hypotheses.

Don't worry about them right now because people do them terribly wrong (e.g. they "guess).

Hypotheses come later. Get to 20-30 cases under your belt and 3-5 coaching sessions with a case coach.

Then come back to worrying about hypotheses.

The Most Common Pitfalls in Case Interview Preparation

(edited)

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Cristian
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Content Creator
replied on Mar 11, 2024
#1 rated MBB & McKinsey Coach

What a cool question!

If you approach cases in the right way, there is no difference between candidate led and interviewer led cases.

Why? 

Because regardless of the format, you as the candidate should be the one leading the case forward, building and sharing your thinking framework and then suggesting next steps. 

The difference is that in actual interviewer-led cases, the interviewer will steer the cases in the direction they desire regardless of what you suggest. Even so, it's still best to signal that you know how to take the case forward. 

In candidate led, the interviewer will steer a lot less and let you go in the direction you suggest. You have more autonomy, but this also comes with more responsibility.

Regarding your question on hypotheses. Hypotheses are very important. But even more important is to know when you should propose one. Practically, that is when you can support one. Supporting means that you can provide evidence to substantiate the claim that the hypothesis is making. The more evidence (i.e., legs to support the table), the stronger the hypothesis and the more it resembles an actual recommendation. 

Best,
Cristian

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Anonymous A on Mar 11, 2024

So, if I understand correctly, in interviewer-led cases, is it more common to develop hypotheses after we've gained insights from the data or answered the interviewer's questions? This suggests that it's not necessary to propose our own hypotheses initially. On the other hand, in candidate-led cases, we're expected to state our hypotheses upfront to guide the interview. Is that the gist of it?

Cristian on Mar 12, 2024

You're never expected to provide a hypothesis upfront. This is rather Victor Cheng's school of thought, but not appreciated by interviewers today. Think about how it works in actual projects - you'll never go to the client on the first day and tell them what's wrong. You should only propose a hypothesis once you have sufficient data to back it. Same in cases.

Florian
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Mar 11, 2024
Highest-rated McKinsey coach (ratings, offers, sessions) | 500+ offers | Author of The 1% & Consulting Career Secrets

Hi there,

This is the same issue with any other information you find on case interviews. The more you look, the more confused you get.

I noted this in a previous thread but this was part of the reason why I started case coaching and working with clients because I faced exactly the same issues when I prepped myself and saw it with my peers as well.

To answer your question:

On a high-level, the skills that are assessed are the same for candidate and interviewer-led interviews. There are more similarities than differences. 

For both, you need to

  • create a framework
  • probe using hypotheses
  • analyze data and charts
  • go through some case math
  • brainstorm
  • (recommend something at the end)
  • all while driving the case forward (even though in an interviewer-led format, you will receive a series of questions)

The main difference is that for interviewer-led cases (usually McK), you have more time to develop your framework and also need to create a more exhaustive one (especially related to the depth of your framework → 3 insightful levels) to show more insights and thinking. The process lasts 5-8 minutes.

In a candidate-led case, you don't have that luxury but need to introduce the most crucial areas to look at, then start diving deeper into the issues you want to actually analyze. The process lasts 2-3 minutes.

Cheers,

Florian

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Alberto
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Content Creator
replied on Mar 13, 2024
Ex-McKinsey Associate Partner | +15 years in consulting | +200 McKinsey 1st & 2nd round interviews

Hi there,

Q1: How do I figure out which approach is the best for tackling an interviewer-led case interview when everyone's saying something different?

Get a coach with real interviewer-led experience. I've run over 200 interviews at McKinsey so I can definitely help you with that.

Q2:  there's this whole thing about hypotheses. Some say you should come up with them right off the bat when you get the case, while others say to keep them to yourself. What's the deal? Can someone break it down for me? I get the concept of hypothesis, but I'm not sure how it fits into a case interview

In an interviewer-led case, you start with the case framework. From there and in every case question (math, chart reading, brainstorming), you should formulate hypotheses on potential issues and solutions relevant to the case and the information you have uncover.

Best,

Alberto

Check out my latest case based on a real MBB interview: Sierra Springs

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Pedro
Expert
replied on Mar 12, 2024
Bain | Roland Berger | EY-Parthenon | Mentoring Approach | 30% off first 10 sessions in May| Market Sizing | DARDEN MBA

Focus first on being able to solve problems - and it doesn't matter who is leading the case.

Once you start understanding how to solve problems, start thinking about your initial approach to problems - i.e., how you would come to an answer in an efficient way (i.e., think about the result you want to get with a specific question or topic; and how that ties to getting to the case objective).

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Ian gave the best answer

Ian

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