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Is issue tree the most important concept in case interview?

Anonymous A asked on Aug 02, 2018 - 3 answers


i have solved around 30 cases and from my experience, I found out that the most important thing in case interview is to find the correct issue tree. Do you agree with this?

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replied on Aug 02, 2018
Consultant at A.T. Kearney | Part of campus recruitment & coaching core team| Coached 75+ candidates converting McK, BCG, ATK
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The short answer is Yes. Issue tree is a way of structuring your analysis which is a critical element towards success in a case interview.

However, I would like to say that it is more important to build a correct issue tree than to find one. The difference here lies in the approach you take. If you try to use standard fill-all frameworks, you will want to "find" the right issue tree from your memory (maybe a bit of customization after enough practice). However, each and every business scenario is unique and hence requires a unique approach. This means that you have to use a combination of your frameworks, experience, business acumen and above all the understanding of the situational context to arrive at the correct elements of the structure. You have to think from first principles to ask the right specific questions - this leads to an efficient and relevant issue tree.

So, please be careful in understanding that a framework is not a structure. Structuring is a skill developed with coaching and practice. It is a basic thinking tool all consultants use in their day-to-day work. Hence, it is a must for you to master it.

Another crucial point about issue trees which most candidates miss is their ability to present your thoughts. It is an excellent visual tool to present your thought process clearly and logically so that anyone can follow. This is another skillset an interviewer is looking for as they have to communicate the most complex of ideas to their Clients by simplifying them to their atomic levels. Thus, when you draw an issue tree well, it also shows that you will be able to communicate your thoughts clearly in a Client-specific situation. The added benefit is of course that you do not lose any of the points you have in your mind.

However, it requires time and rigorous practice to internalize. But once you crack this part, you can rest assured that you have already cracked 70% of your interview.

Hope this helps. All the best!

Benjamin updated his answer on Aug 02, 2018
ex-Manager - Natural and challenging teacher - Taylor case solving, no framework
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Yes I fully agree. The issue tree / case structure has an significant impact on your performance :

- That is the first impression on your case performance you will make to the interviewer. The better it is, the more likely your interview will help you during the resolution

- If the structure is not appropriate, you may focus on unrelevant topics and / or miss the righ topics for the recommandation

- Depending on your interviewer, he will help you /or not to adjust the structure to make sure you go in the right direction

If you need help on how to build the right structure, don't hesitat to reach out, I also have alredy posted my approach to this here :

Hope this helps




updated his answer on Aug 02, 2018
McKinsey Engagement Manager & BCG Consultant | Interviewer at McK & BCG for 7 years | Coached 100+ candidates secure MBB offers
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Could not agree more with Ankit's excellent explanation! To all people trying to build their case solving muscle: Please take this to heart!!!

Cheers, Sidi