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McKinsey case interview

Anonymous A asked on May 18, 2019

Dear experts,

I have a general question regarding an interviewer-led case interview like the one conducted by McKinsey. Why do we need to create a framework when the structure is essentially given by interviewer? After hearing the prompt, we ask clarifying questions and create the framework. Regardless of my framework, I have to follow the interviewer and probably have to switch gears and adapt to an on-the-go framework as we usually do not change our framework after it was created. Isn't then creating a framework a bit pointless? Some comments on that would be appreciated.


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replied on May 19, 2019
McKinsey Engagement Manager & BCG Consultant | Interviewer at McK & BCG for 7 years | Coached 90+ candidates secure MBB offers
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The basic premise of your question is wrong. You are never asked to "create a framework"! The first question of the interviewer will most likely be to show him how you would approach and answer the client's question. THis means, you are asked for a LOGIC, not for a set of areas. This is a big big misunderstanding of most candidates. Structuring a case means (1) narrowing down the core question and (2) making explicit the LOGIC according to which this core question will be answered. Areas and "buckets to look into" are just a by-product of this logic.

So if your logic is sound, then it will of course include all relevant aspects that need to be tested to arrive at an answer. In an interviewer-led case, the interviewer just directly points you to the area he wants to focus on by means of a concrete question (this is then the second question, after the one mentioned above).

This means that, in order to robustly build your case solving muscle, you HAVE to learn it in the interviewee-led way. You can not learn proper case solving by focusing on interveiwer-led cases. However, once you have built the necessary skills, these interviewer-led cases are much easier, because they have much less contingency and complexity in terms of navigating through the branches of your logic.

Cheers, Sidi

Vlad replied on May 19, 2019
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They point is to test specifically your structuring skills while saving the time. So the approach is the following:

  1. Work on your structure and present your structure
  2. Make an additional structure if the interviewer is asking you to drill down in a particular problem
  3. Follow the interviewer's guidelines


updated his answer on May 18, 2019
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Hi there!

Actually, I disagree with you: the approach varies significantly from interviewer to interviewer, and even in interviewer-led cases the interviewee can have a lot of space in driving the discussion.

Moreover, the initial structure you create helps to assess your ability in:

  1. Being MECE;
  2. Following the 80/20 principle;
  3. Opening the discussion and interacting with the interviewer;
  4. Guiding the interviewer through your structure, and ultimately your reasoning behind that;
  5. Showing how able you are to synthesize and collect information on paper.

Best of luck with your preparation!


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