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
expert
Expert with best answer

Vlad

97% Recommendation Rate

389 Meetings

7,930 Q&A Upvotes

USD 239 / Coaching

4

Is the form more important than the content during case study?

Hi all,

After having taken few interviews in consultancy firms until final rounds, I often got as a feedback that I demonstrated great business sense, deep analysis, very good fit and motivation. However I was always rejected at final rounds because of the form during the case study (for instance I didn't communicate the structure enough, even if I had a good structure to solve the case).

This is why I was wondering what interviewers' expectations are concerning the form during case study.

Thanks a lot in advance

Hi all,

After having taken few interviews in consultancy firms until final rounds, I often got as a feedback that I demonstrated great business sense, deep analysis, very good fit and motivation. However I was always rejected at final rounds because of the form during the case study (for instance I didn't communicate the structure enough, even if I had a good structure to solve the case).

This is why I was wondering what interviewers' expectations are concerning the form during case study.

Thanks a lot in advance

4 answers

  • Upvotes
  • Date ascending
  • Date descending
Best Answer
Book a coaching with Vlad

97% Recommendation Rate

389 Meetings

7,930 Q&A Upvotes

USD 239 / Coaching

Hi,

There is a saying - "Idea is nothing, execution is everything"

Same with communication. It's absolutely vital to have a structure, business sense, and the right fit. But if you can't communicate it properly, it is a signal that you will not be able to communicate your ideas to the client as well.

Here are some tips on communication:

1) 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

2) 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

3) 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

4) 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

5) 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

6) 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

7) 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!

Hi,

There is a saying - "Idea is nothing, execution is everything"

Same with communication. It's absolutely vital to have a structure, business sense, and the right fit. But if you can't communicate it properly, it is a signal that you will not be able to communicate your ideas to the client as well.

Here are some tips on communication:

1) 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

2) 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

3) 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

4) 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

5) 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

6) 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

7) 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!

Book a coaching with Andrea

100% Recommendation Rate

131 Meetings

803 Q&A Upvotes

USD 269 / Coaching

If you consider communication “form”, then it is equally important to content. The main job of a consultant is communicate clearly and simply recommendations based on complex analyses. The inability to do so makes consultants ineffective in their jobs. Also communication comes in place when establishing trust with client, asking questions in a fruitful way and discussing differing points of view.

Some guidelines on communication that can be used as thought starters:

-be personable and genuine

-tell interviewer what you are going to do, what you are doing and what you have done throughout the case

-always refer back to framework you set up at beginning of the case

-always explain how what you are doing is helping you to get to answer the questions of the case, it will keep you on track

-communicate always the answer first, then the explanation behind it

-communicate simply, to the level that an average high-schooler should understand you

-never talk for more than 2’minutes straight without can interjection, comment, interruption, verbal sign of interest from interviewer

-and finally, breathe and take pauses

hope it helps,

andrea

If you consider communication “form”, then it is equally important to content. The main job of a consultant is communicate clearly and simply recommendations based on complex analyses. The inability to do so makes consultants ineffective in their jobs. Also communication comes in place when establishing trust with client, asking questions in a fruitful way and discussing differing points of view.

Some guidelines on communication that can be used as thought starters:

-be personable and genuine

-tell interviewer what you are going to do, what you are doing and what you have done throughout the case

-always refer back to framework you set up at beginning of the case

-always explain how what you are doing is helping you to get to answer the questions of the case, it will keep you on track

-communicate always the answer first, then the explanation behind it

-communicate simply, to the level that an average high-schooler should understand you

-never talk for more than 2’minutes straight without can interjection, comment, interruption, verbal sign of interest from interviewer

-and finally, breathe and take pauses

hope it helps,

andrea

Hey anonymous,

Let me be very straighforward: it is not more important, but it is as important as!

And this happens because it's also what's expected from consultants in their day-to-day life. I still remember my first days at McKinsey where I thought I was giving amazing ideas and contributions for the team on a topic that I knew a lot about (and has worked before on it in the industry, so probably had even more knowledge than some of the senior people in the team), but I kept hearing: we are not here to hear about your laundry list of suggestions, be structured in approaching and communicating them if you want us to hear it pls! It was a big lesson, and you should follow the same reasoning in the interviews (especially if it's with McKinsey, very well know for paying crazy attention to structure)

Best

Bruno

Hey anonymous,

Let me be very straighforward: it is not more important, but it is as important as!

And this happens because it's also what's expected from consultants in their day-to-day life. I still remember my first days at McKinsey where I thought I was giving amazing ideas and contributions for the team on a topic that I knew a lot about (and has worked before on it in the industry, so probably had even more knowledge than some of the senior people in the team), but I kept hearing: we are not here to hear about your laundry list of suggestions, be structured in approaching and communicating them if you want us to hear it pls! It was a big lesson, and you should follow the same reasoning in the interviews (especially if it's with McKinsey, very well know for paying crazy attention to structure)

Best

Bruno

Book a coaching with Francesco

100% Recommendation Rate

2,960 Meetings

6,977 Q&A Upvotes

USD 379 / Coaching

Hi Anonymous,

I generally agree with the previous comments, communication in the case is as important as the structure. The reason is, if the communication is not good, even an appropriate structure would be not be perceived as actually good.

As for the communication, I would recommend to proceed in the following way during the case:

  • STEP 1: mention first the macro areas of your framework. “In order to help our client, I would like to focus on three main areas. Number 1 we may work on [FIRST TOPIC], Number 2 on [SECOND TOPIC], Number 3 on [THIRD TOPIC]. If this is fine for you, let me go deeper in each of them”
  • STEP 2: provide details for each macro point. “In area Number 1, this is what I would analyse. First, I would like to cover [FIRST STEP OF FIRST TOPIC]; second, I would like to focus on [SECOND STEP OF FIRST TOPIC]; next, I would like to work on [THIRD STEP OF FIRST TOPIC]. In area Number 2, this is what I would analyse. First,(…)”

As Andrea mentioned, explaining why you are doing such analysis is also very important.

Best,

Francesco

Hi Anonymous,

I generally agree with the previous comments, communication in the case is as important as the structure. The reason is, if the communication is not good, even an appropriate structure would be not be perceived as actually good.

As for the communication, I would recommend to proceed in the following way during the case:

  • STEP 1: mention first the macro areas of your framework. “In order to help our client, I would like to focus on three main areas. Number 1 we may work on [FIRST TOPIC], Number 2 on [SECOND TOPIC], Number 3 on [THIRD TOPIC]. If this is fine for you, let me go deeper in each of them”
  • STEP 2: provide details for each macro point. “In area Number 1, this is what I would analyse. First, I would like to cover [FIRST STEP OF FIRST TOPIC]; second, I would like to focus on [SECOND STEP OF FIRST TOPIC]; next, I would like to work on [THIRD STEP OF FIRST TOPIC]. In area Number 2, this is what I would analyse. First,(…)”

As Andrea mentioned, explaining why you are doing such analysis is also very important.

Best,

Francesco

Related BootCamp article(s)

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

Related case(s)

MBB Final Round Case - Smart Education

Solved 6.9k 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 5 286
| 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 5.7k 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 5 304
| 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

McKinsey Digital / BCG Platinion: Oil & Gas Upstream Technology

Solved 1.2k times
McKinsey Digital / BCG Platinion: Oil & Gas Upstream Technology [PLEASE NOTE: This is a technically difficult case and should only be completed by those coming in as a Technology specialist, i.e. recruiting for McKinsey Digital, BCG Platinion, etc.] Our client is a multinational oil and gas company. While they are vertically integrated and have upstream, midstream, and downstream divisions, they have recently been experiencing competitivity issues in the upstream gas division, which brings in $1B in profits annually. Our client’s upstream division has offices in Australia and Indonesia. Their work is highly dependent on their IT systems, as they have to constantly monitor wells and pipes (pressure, hydrocarbon count, fluid makeup, etc.) The upstream division has two large legacy IT systems that are primarily used for downstream operations but have been modified for upstream purposes. These systems are managed by a central team in the US which is responsible for all IT issues across the business. They triage issues/enhancements and then manage development teams in India and Finland who complete the work.
4.5 5 31
| Rating: (4.5 / 5.0)

[PLEASE NOTE: This is a technically difficult case and should only be completed by those coming in as a Technology specialist, i.e. recruiting for McKinsey Digital, BCG Platinion, etc.] Our client is a multinational oil and gas company. While they are vertically integrated and have upstream, midstr ... Open whole case

Hot Wheels

Solved 900+ times
Hot Wheels Problem definition: Our client is Korean Car Parts (KCP), a multi-national original equipment manufacturer (OEM) of car parts based in Korea. They've recently seen a decline in profits and have brought us in to understand how to address this falling profitability.
4.5 5 36
| Rating: (4.5 / 5.0)

Problem definition: Our client is Korean Car Parts (KCP), a multi-national original equipment manufacturer (OEM) of car parts based in Korea. They've recently seen a decline in profits and have brought us in to understand how to address this falling profitability. Open whole case