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Florian

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McKinsey Framework Development & Communication

Hi, so this question has come up after my recent inteview (round 1, 2nd interview) with McKinsey that I would like to clarify on.

The first question I was asked in the case interview was 'What factors would you consider to assist out client in their problem' (the regular structure development question). Now so far, when preparing for McKinsey, I was always told to answer said question in a consise manner, stating the key buckets and provide an overview of sub-components with some order of priority and then let the interviewer determin where they would like to explore, in the interest of time.

So, in my case, it was a profitability increase question for a tech product business. So, I broke it down as revenues and costs, then, I moved to segment revenues in terms of increasing opportunities from the existing product line, this included changes in price based on target segment senstivity and product positioning, increasing channel penetration of retail (the case mentioned it was a retail product) for better in-store placements and availability, and more (I'm paraphrasing here) and I did largely the same with costs, segmenting into variable and fixed. Connecting with the prompt of the company being fully integrated, I spoke about costs in that manner.

Now, as the interview proceeded, my interviewer then moved to ask the 'what else' question repeatedly and eventually led me in the direction of stating how I would VALIDATE (his words) my ideas, so when I said market including size / growth rates segmented by geography or customer segments, competitive landscape and rate of innovation, and more (again paraphrasing) that is when he was satisfied, or so it seemed.

The question that comes up here then is, to what extent should I build my framework? In hinesight now, it would've made sense to say market and product understanding first, then the profitability equation, and then maybe even the solution implementation strategy and risks however, going in the level of detail my interviewer took me in would have taken quite a while. For reference, with him it took 16 minutes of him just exploring my approach. If I was just explaining these in one go, it would've still taken 3-4 minutes at least.

So was this a pressure test to see if I actually knew what I was talking about or if I had just regurgatated what I had learned as a framework (maybe he felt that way at some point seeing it was just Rev - Cost at the high level) or did I miss something.

I understand this post is long and thank you for taking the time to read this. Just as a final note, this was a round 1 interview and oddly it was with a partner.

Thank you for your response.

Hi, so this question has come up after my recent inteview (round 1, 2nd interview) with McKinsey that I would like to clarify on.

The first question I was asked in the case interview was 'What factors would you consider to assist out client in their problem' (the regular structure development question). Now so far, when preparing for McKinsey, I was always told to answer said question in a consise manner, stating the key buckets and provide an overview of sub-components with some order of priority and then let the interviewer determin where they would like to explore, in the interest of time.

So, in my case, it was a profitability increase question for a tech product business. So, I broke it down as revenues and costs, then, I moved to segment revenues in terms of increasing opportunities from the existing product line, this included changes in price based on target segment senstivity and product positioning, increasing channel penetration of retail (the case mentioned it was a retail product) for better in-store placements and availability, and more (I'm paraphrasing here) and I did largely the same with costs, segmenting into variable and fixed. Connecting with the prompt of the company being fully integrated, I spoke about costs in that manner.

Now, as the interview proceeded, my interviewer then moved to ask the 'what else' question repeatedly and eventually led me in the direction of stating how I would VALIDATE (his words) my ideas, so when I said market including size / growth rates segmented by geography or customer segments, competitive landscape and rate of innovation, and more (again paraphrasing) that is when he was satisfied, or so it seemed.

The question that comes up here then is, to what extent should I build my framework? In hinesight now, it would've made sense to say market and product understanding first, then the profitability equation, and then maybe even the solution implementation strategy and risks however, going in the level of detail my interviewer took me in would have taken quite a while. For reference, with him it took 16 minutes of him just exploring my approach. If I was just explaining these in one go, it would've still taken 3-4 minutes at least.

So was this a pressure test to see if I actually knew what I was talking about or if I had just regurgatated what I had learned as a framework (maybe he felt that way at some point seeing it was just Rev - Cost at the high level) or did I miss something.

I understand this post is long and thank you for taking the time to read this. Just as a final note, this was a round 1 interview and oddly it was with a partner.

Thank you for your response.

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Hey there,

I think the misunderstanding comes from the difference between a framework crafted for McKinsey vs. a framework created for other consulting interviews.

At the core, McKinsey wants to see creative ideas communicated in a structured manner, the more exhaustive the better. Your goal should be to come up with a tailored and creative answer that fits the question. Think of it almost like a mini case within the whole case.

The framework should - broadly speaking - follow these three characteristics:

  • Broad
  • Deep
  • Insightful

As I understand from your question and the reaction of the interviewer, you did not qualify your answers enough and create good enough insights. It is important to go really deep with your explanations about each branch of the tree and discuss their merit in your structure, the more concrete ideas and the more actionable, the better.

Rushing through the structure in a McKinsey interview is never a good idea.

Since you say you have been told to present the framework swiftly (from who?!) and I think that is where the disconnect comes in. In a McKinsey interview, you can take up to 6-8 minutes to present your structure, your qualification, and hypotheses. This is due to the interviewer-led format that McK employs. The interviewer will only ask 'what else' if you

  • haven't gone broad or deep enough
  • did not explain your ideas well enough for them to stand out (again, you have time here)

The firm wants to see exhaustive and creative approaches to specific problems, which more often than not do not fit into the classic case interview frameworks that were en vogue 10 years ago...

Again, this only applies if everything you say

  • adds value to the problem analysis
  • is MECE
  • is well qualified
  • includes a detailed discussion of your hypotheses at the end

The difference in format and way of answering a question is the reason why I recommend preparing very differently for McK interviews vs. other consultancies.

Cheers,

Florian

Hey there,

I think the misunderstanding comes from the difference between a framework crafted for McKinsey vs. a framework created for other consulting interviews.

At the core, McKinsey wants to see creative ideas communicated in a structured manner, the more exhaustive the better. Your goal should be to come up with a tailored and creative answer that fits the question. Think of it almost like a mini case within the whole case.

The framework should - broadly speaking - follow these three characteristics:

  • Broad
  • Deep
  • Insightful

As I understand from your question and the reaction of the interviewer, you did not qualify your answers enough and create good enough insights. It is important to go really deep with your explanations about each branch of the tree and discuss their merit in your structure, the more concrete ideas and the more actionable, the better.

Rushing through the structure in a McKinsey interview is never a good idea.

Since you say you have been told to present the framework swiftly (from who?!) and I think that is where the disconnect comes in. In a McKinsey interview, you can take up to 6-8 minutes to present your structure, your qualification, and hypotheses. This is due to the interviewer-led format that McK employs. The interviewer will only ask 'what else' if you

  • haven't gone broad or deep enough
  • did not explain your ideas well enough for them to stand out (again, you have time here)

The firm wants to see exhaustive and creative approaches to specific problems, which more often than not do not fit into the classic case interview frameworks that were en vogue 10 years ago...

Again, this only applies if everything you say

  • adds value to the problem analysis
  • is MECE
  • is well qualified
  • includes a detailed discussion of your hypotheses at the end

The difference in format and way of answering a question is the reason why I recommend preparing very differently for McK interviews vs. other consultancies.

Cheers,

Florian

(edited)

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Hello there!

First of all, thank you for so clear description of your question - it helps a lot to understand the whole situation.

The simple answer here is - you should be ready for anything. It is better to build your framework in a way it covers all possible aspects and points. Your task to show the interviewer that you know what you are talking about. And if some additional questions appear from his side - you should answer them without blinking.

Hope it clarifies the situation for you!

GB

Hello there!

First of all, thank you for so clear description of your question - it helps a lot to understand the whole situation.

The simple answer here is - you should be ready for anything. It is better to build your framework in a way it covers all possible aspects and points. Your task to show the interviewer that you know what you are talking about. And if some additional questions appear from his side - you should answer them without blinking.

Hope it clarifies the situation for you!

GB

Hi Gaurav, thank you for your response. This makes a lot of sense. A question I have is how long should I take to explain my approach? I've read in previous forum responses that with McKinsey you can take 3-4 minutes however, others state to quickly explain your framework / approach and then let the interviewer decide what they want to explore in the interest of time. I'm quite confused about this since in this example I did the latter and it sort of backfired. — Anonymous A on Mar 27, 2021

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Hi there,

The short answer here is you forgot the HOW and WHY in your framework. Pretty much everyone I get as a coachee does the same - i.e. they just list a laundry list of ideas without any real direction or goal.

This concept is hard to really teach in writing (requires multiple sessions), but, in general, your framework is so much more than just a bunch of buckets with a list of items underneath (i.e. the WHAT). You have to actually articulate what you mean by Market (i.e. we want to determine that it's attractive) or Product (i.e. is our product better than the competition's product, in the areas that customers care about).

Hi there,

The short answer here is you forgot the HOW and WHY in your framework. Pretty much everyone I get as a coachee does the same - i.e. they just list a laundry list of ideas without any real direction or goal.

This concept is hard to really teach in writing (requires multiple sessions), but, in general, your framework is so much more than just a bunch of buckets with a list of items underneath (i.e. the WHAT). You have to actually articulate what you mean by Market (i.e. we want to determine that it's attractive) or Product (i.e. is our product better than the competition's product, in the areas that customers care about).

Hi Ian, thank you for your response. This makes a lot of sense. A question I have is how long should I take to explain my approach? I've read in previous forum responses that with McKinsey you can take 3-4 minutes however, others state to quickly explain your framework / approach and then let the interviewer decide what they want to explore in the interest of time. I'm quite confused about this since in this example I did the latter and it sort of backfired. — Anonymous A on Mar 27, 2021

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