McKinsey Final Round Preparation: Hypothesis & Exhibit

McKinsey Final Round
New answer on Sep 21, 2020
6 Answers
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Anonymous A asked on Sep 08, 2020

Hi everyone,

I am preparing for my second round McKinsey interview and am trying to learn from my mistakes during my first round. I was quite shocked during my first round when both of my interviewers presented an exhibit and asked "what my hypotheses are." Normally, for exhibit questions, the prompt I got would normally be some sort of summary or what I've found in the exhibit. I am wondering if the way my interviewers asked the questions differ than the traditional prompts and how I should tackle the question?

Relatedly, I am also wondering if there's any great resources for practicing complicated exhibit interpretations.

Thank you!

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Content Creator
replied on Sep 08, 2020
#1 Coach for Sessions (4.000+) | 1.500+ 5-Star Reviews | Proven Success (➡ | Ex BCG | 10Y+ Coaching

Hi there,

When interviewers give a graph, the goal is to find an insight directly related to the objective of the case or to a sub-point related to it.

There may be several ways for them to present the graph, but the final goal is always the same – identify a piece of information that helps to answer that particular question.

In terms of the way to approach the graph, I would recommend the following:

1. Read the graph

  • Ask for one minute of time to understand the graph
  • Summarize what the graph is about. Read in particular the graph title (often forgotten), the axes and the legend

2. Analyze the graph

  • Repeat the question you have to answer. Many people don’t spend time to clarify the question they have to answer; consequently, they answer the wrong question. Don’t be one of them and be sure to restate what is the main insight you have to derive
  • Provide an analysis related to the question. Analyze how the graph can help to answer the question you just repeated

3. Provide a conclusion for the graph.

  • Answer to the question asked. Again, very often people simply state what the graph is about, without providing any conclusion. A great candidate will provide a clear answer based on data
  • Present the next steps to follow. As a last step, a great candidate will present what should be done next to help further the client



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updated an answer on Sep 08, 2020
McKinsey / Accenture Alum / Got all BIG3 offers / Harvard Business School


The graph probably included something that you should have noticed, for example:

  • Outliers
  • Correlations
  • Seasonality
  • etc

Imagine a payment system workload chart with spikes in November and at the end of the year. The hypothesis here will be the e-commerce peak due to holidays.

Several things about analyzing the tables / charts:

  1. Take a minute to look at the graph / table. It's important ot gather the thoughts!
  2. Read the graph title
  3. Look at the graph type and define the type (pie chart, line chart, etc)
  4. Look at the legend (ask for clarifying questions if necessary)
  5. Identify whats going on on the graph. Look for: Trends, % structures,
  6. Look for unusual things (consultants love to integrate these traps in charts) - correlations, outliers, etc
  7. Make 3-4 conclusions from the graph. Think of potential hypothesis on what could be the root cause / what are the consequences
  8. Prioritize the most important for your current analysis and move forward with the case

Sources to learn from (prioritized):

  1. "Say it with Charts" by Gene Zalazny
  2. "Pyramid Principle" by Barbara Minto
  3. Learn basic statistics (Any GMAT or MBA prep guides)
  4. Check all available MBB presentations and publications. Practice to derive conclusions and check yourself with the actual ones from the article / presentation
  5. GMAT IR part (Official guide and Manhattan prep)
  6. "Consulting Bible" and "Vault guide for consulting" - check the chapters on cases with graphs in these books

Good luck!



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Content Creator
replied on Sep 09, 2020
McKinsey | top 10 FT MBA professor for consulting interviews | 6+ years of coaching

to improve complex graph reading I recommend Cosentino's "Graph Analysis for Consulting and Case Interviews". I have specific intensive sessions about exhibit preparation, feel free to text me for additional details


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Content Creator
replied on Sep 08, 2020
MBB | 100% personal interview success rate (8/8) and 95% candidate success rate | Personalized interview prep

Hi there,

First, never expect anything, and expect everything.

This is not traditional, not is it not traditional. In case prep you need to train agility/adaptability and learn how to react to anything that comes your way!

In terms of being able to interpret charts/graphs effectively

1) Read the title - and understand it

2) Read the legends - and understand them

3) Remind yourself of the objective / hypothesis in the case, to see where this might fit

4) Find the differences - where does the line graph plummet or spike? Which column is a lot smaller or bigger than the others? Where does change occur? The differences are what matter

5) Talk outloud while interpreting - first, it helps you think and process your thoughts, second, it lets the interviewer provide guidance and course correct if needed.

Best Rote Practice

Rocket Blocks:

Best Practice Strategy

1) Read the Economist (especially the daily graph and Financial Time frequently

2) Ask case partners to focus particularly on your chart-reading skills (i.e. by providing you with cases with many charts) - Bain and Deloitte cases tend to be chart heavy

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Anonymous replied on Sep 21, 2020

Dear A,

Basically the final round inerview a less structured, so you have to prepared for anything.

To practice your graph interpretation skills I woud recommend you to "Graph Analysis for Consulting and Case Interviews" by Cosentino.


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Content Creator
replied on Sep 08, 2020
McKinsey | Awarded professor at Master in Management @ IE | MBA at MIT |+180 students coached | Integrated FIT Guide aut


To add on top of what has been said already: the best resource to practice these type of complicated questions is GMAT.

I would strongly recomment you practice it with the Integrated Reasoning part of the GMAT exam.

There are free exams in the internet that you can use for practice (the one of LBS MBA page, Verits prep, as well as some free trials for courses such as the one of The Economist (

Hope it helps!



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Francesco gave the best answer


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