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6

McKinsey Structuring

I was invited for the first round McKinsey interview at the New York office and after speaking to different consultant and reading online, I am a bit confused what the first structure is intended to achieve. I attended the McKinsey Information event and there the person introducing the structure was speaking for about 9 minutes, however I have a feeling this might be a bit long. I have also heard from some consultants that the structure should be about 3-4 minutes to explain.

Now, after we have clarified the length of the structure, it would also be great if you could let me know whether I should also include hypothesis in the structure. Again, there seem to be different schools on this, some say, its a good idea and others say that it is assumptive. It would be great to give some insights about the level of detail expected from a structure at McKinsey and how hypothesis-driven the structure itself should be.

Cheers!

Matt

I was invited for the first round McKinsey interview at the New York office and after speaking to different consultant and reading online, I am a bit confused what the first structure is intended to achieve. I attended the McKinsey Information event and there the person introducing the structure was speaking for about 9 minutes, however I have a feeling this might be a bit long. I have also heard from some consultants that the structure should be about 3-4 minutes to explain.

Now, after we have clarified the length of the structure, it would also be great if you could let me know whether I should also include hypothesis in the structure. Again, there seem to be different schools on this, some say, its a good idea and others say that it is assumptive. It would be great to give some insights about the level of detail expected from a structure at McKinsey and how hypothesis-driven the structure itself should be.

Cheers!

Matt

6 answers

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Best Answer

Hi Matt, I just got an offer from McKinsey in the U.S last week so thought I could chime in here. The biggest feedback I have is to brainstorm your structure as comprehensively as possible. I've been explicitly told by my interviewer that they are not evaluating you on how long it takes for you to come up with a structure, although if you can do it quicker then do it quicker.

As for the presentation, I would recommend keeping it under 5 minutes. Of course, this depends on how your oratory skills are and how good you are at explaining your structure. The goal is to cohesively present your structure AND to EXPLAIN why each of the subpoints matters. If you don't, it's just a laundry list and you lose your shine. Always communicate from a top-down approach (very important). Number the big buckets and the subpoints in the smaller buckets so interviewers know you're organized and can follow you easier.

I personally always start my structure presentation by restating the problem and stating a hypothesis/trend in the broader market, always bringing in personal experience. That is a key point. McKinsey and other consulting firms LOVE it when you bring in personal experience. Ex: If you're doing a case about oil, bring up BP or Exxon and fracking in the U.S. If you get a case about a phone manufacturer, you could talk about your personal experience shopping for a new phone and integrate that into your insights for the case. Another thing you can also do is a factor in global trends right now like COVID, U.S China Tariffs, Elections, etc.

At the end of the day, it boils down to this:

- Take as long as you need to make the structure good (as long as its reasonable and not over 2-3 minutes long) for McKinsey

- Integrate personal experiences and general industry knowledge to stand out.

- Explain why you want to look into the points in your structure.

Hope this helps and feel free to reply if anything is unclear.

Hi Matt, I just got an offer from McKinsey in the U.S last week so thought I could chime in here. The biggest feedback I have is to brainstorm your structure as comprehensively as possible. I've been explicitly told by my interviewer that they are not evaluating you on how long it takes for you to come up with a structure, although if you can do it quicker then do it quicker.

As for the presentation, I would recommend keeping it under 5 minutes. Of course, this depends on how your oratory skills are and how good you are at explaining your structure. The goal is to cohesively present your structure AND to EXPLAIN why each of the subpoints matters. If you don't, it's just a laundry list and you lose your shine. Always communicate from a top-down approach (very important). Number the big buckets and the subpoints in the smaller buckets so interviewers know you're organized and can follow you easier.

I personally always start my structure presentation by restating the problem and stating a hypothesis/trend in the broader market, always bringing in personal experience. That is a key point. McKinsey and other consulting firms LOVE it when you bring in personal experience. Ex: If you're doing a case about oil, bring up BP or Exxon and fracking in the U.S. If you get a case about a phone manufacturer, you could talk about your personal experience shopping for a new phone and integrate that into your insights for the case. Another thing you can also do is a factor in global trends right now like COVID, U.S China Tariffs, Elections, etc.

At the end of the day, it boils down to this:

- Take as long as you need to make the structure good (as long as its reasonable and not over 2-3 minutes long) for McKinsey

- Integrate personal experiences and general industry knowledge to stand out.

- Explain why you want to look into the points in your structure.

Hope this helps and feel free to reply if anything is unclear.

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Hi,

3-4 min is enough. Don't steal your own time

There are two ways to use the hypothesis:

First - presenting a structure using the hypothesis. For example, if you are having a PE (private equity) case, you should do the following:

1) Make the structure (E.g. market, company, competitors, feasibility of exit)

2) Make subpoints (e.g. in market: size, growth rates, profitability, segmentation, etc)

3) Present your 1st level Hypothesis:

  • - "In order to understand whether we should invest in Company A, I would like to check that the Market is Attractive, the Company is Attractive, the competition is favorable and we have good opportunities for of exit"

4) Present the main 2nd level Hypothesis:

  • "In the market, I would like to make sure that the market is big enough and growing;
  • In the company I would like to find additional opportunities for growth;
  • In competition I would like to check that the market is fragmented enough;
  • Finally, I would like to check if we have potential buyers and can achieve desired exit multiples"

Another way to use hypothesis is using the hypothesis to prioritize your analysis:

1) Make a structure: "Problem in sales may be related to Sales Motivation, Sales Strategy, Sales Coverage, and Sales Process:

2) Prioritize a part of the structure based on your knowledge / common sense / available data: "Taking into account that motivation is the core problem of the sales organization, I would like to prioritize this part of the analysis"

Good luck!

Hi,

3-4 min is enough. Don't steal your own time

There are two ways to use the hypothesis:

First - presenting a structure using the hypothesis. For example, if you are having a PE (private equity) case, you should do the following:

1) Make the structure (E.g. market, company, competitors, feasibility of exit)

2) Make subpoints (e.g. in market: size, growth rates, profitability, segmentation, etc)

3) Present your 1st level Hypothesis:

  • - "In order to understand whether we should invest in Company A, I would like to check that the Market is Attractive, the Company is Attractive, the competition is favorable and we have good opportunities for of exit"

4) Present the main 2nd level Hypothesis:

  • "In the market, I would like to make sure that the market is big enough and growing;
  • In the company I would like to find additional opportunities for growth;
  • In competition I would like to check that the market is fragmented enough;
  • Finally, I would like to check if we have potential buyers and can achieve desired exit multiples"

Another way to use hypothesis is using the hypothesis to prioritize your analysis:

1) Make a structure: "Problem in sales may be related to Sales Motivation, Sales Strategy, Sales Coverage, and Sales Process:

2) Prioritize a part of the structure based on your knowledge / common sense / available data: "Taking into account that motivation is the core problem of the sales organization, I would like to prioritize this part of the analysis"

Good luck!

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Length of time

Spend a maximum of 3 minutes writing it down (ideally 1-1.5 minutes). Then spend 2-3 minutes talking through it.

My advice to achieve this:

  • Write in shorthand
  • Just write down the main ideas/concepts (let your verbal walk-through fill in the color)
  • Practice thinking/writing quickly with a timer

Framework tips

If there's anything to remember in this process, is that cases don't exist just because. They have come about because of a real need to simulate the world you will be in when you are hopefully hired. As such, remember that they are a simplified version of what we do, and they test you in those areas.

As such, remember that a framework is a guide, not a mandate. In the real-world, we do not go into a client and say "right, we have a framework that says we need to look at x, y, and z and that's exactly what we're going to do". Rather, we come in with a view, a hypothesis, a plan of attack. The moment this view is created, it's wrong! Same with your framework. The point is that it gives us and you a starting point. We can say "right, part 1 of framework is around this. Let's dig around and see if it helps us get to the answer". If it does, great, we go further (but specific elements of it will certainly be wrong). If it doesn't, we move on.

So, in summary, learn your frameworks, use the ones you like, add/remove to them if the specific case calls for it, and always be prepared to be wrong. Focus rather on having a view, refering back to the initial view to see what is still there and where you need to dive into next to solve the problem.

Example Frameworks:

Revenue: https://www.preplounge.com/en/consulting-forum/profit-loss-frameworks-6756

Public Sector/Government: https://www.preplounge.com/en/consulting-forum/public-sectorgovernment-consulting-frameworks-3932

Risk Management: https://www.preplounge.com/en/consulting-forum/which-framework-for-a-risk-management-case-6881

Profitability: https://www.preplounge.com/en/consulting-forum/how-to-structure-and-choose-framework-for-profitability-case-3957

Length of time

Spend a maximum of 3 minutes writing it down (ideally 1-1.5 minutes). Then spend 2-3 minutes talking through it.

My advice to achieve this:

  • Write in shorthand
  • Just write down the main ideas/concepts (let your verbal walk-through fill in the color)
  • Practice thinking/writing quickly with a timer

Framework tips

If there's anything to remember in this process, is that cases don't exist just because. They have come about because of a real need to simulate the world you will be in when you are hopefully hired. As such, remember that they are a simplified version of what we do, and they test you in those areas.

As such, remember that a framework is a guide, not a mandate. In the real-world, we do not go into a client and say "right, we have a framework that says we need to look at x, y, and z and that's exactly what we're going to do". Rather, we come in with a view, a hypothesis, a plan of attack. The moment this view is created, it's wrong! Same with your framework. The point is that it gives us and you a starting point. We can say "right, part 1 of framework is around this. Let's dig around and see if it helps us get to the answer". If it does, great, we go further (but specific elements of it will certainly be wrong). If it doesn't, we move on.

So, in summary, learn your frameworks, use the ones you like, add/remove to them if the specific case calls for it, and always be prepared to be wrong. Focus rather on having a view, refering back to the initial view to see what is still there and where you need to dive into next to solve the problem.

Example Frameworks:

Revenue: https://www.preplounge.com/en/consulting-forum/profit-loss-frameworks-6756

Public Sector/Government: https://www.preplounge.com/en/consulting-forum/public-sectorgovernment-consulting-frameworks-3932

Risk Management: https://www.preplounge.com/en/consulting-forum/which-framework-for-a-risk-management-case-6881

Profitability: https://www.preplounge.com/en/consulting-forum/how-to-structure-and-choose-framework-for-profitability-case-3957

(edited)

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Congratulations! The intention of the first structuring question is to see how you breakdown a big ambiguous problem into its component pieces in a MECE way (i.e., a workplan for a consulting project). The duration really depends on the candidate as well as interviewer where in total, anything between 7-15 mins feels about right. How much the candidate talks intially vs. the interviewer really depends on how comprehensive your initial structure is as well as your interviewer's preferred style of how they want to engage. Some interviewers are ok for the candidate to 'present' for 9 mins vs. those who will want to jump in and ask questions etc. My personal preference was more the latter where I felt I could get a candidate to perform better if I got them to engage in a dialogue and get them to really think.

For your second question, I would never force a hypothesis but often there is a hypothesis behind why you have chosen to breakdown and priortise your structure in a certain way. If not then you deffinitely should as there is often more than one way to breakdown a problem. For example, in a profitability problem, if your hypothesis is increasing unit variable costs where profitability is declining despite increasing revenues, I would focus your time on digging into the detail behind the key variable cost buckets and what might be driving them, etc.

Good luck!

Congratulations! The intention of the first structuring question is to see how you breakdown a big ambiguous problem into its component pieces in a MECE way (i.e., a workplan for a consulting project). The duration really depends on the candidate as well as interviewer where in total, anything between 7-15 mins feels about right. How much the candidate talks intially vs. the interviewer really depends on how comprehensive your initial structure is as well as your interviewer's preferred style of how they want to engage. Some interviewers are ok for the candidate to 'present' for 9 mins vs. those who will want to jump in and ask questions etc. My personal preference was more the latter where I felt I could get a candidate to perform better if I got them to engage in a dialogue and get them to really think.

For your second question, I would never force a hypothesis but often there is a hypothesis behind why you have chosen to breakdown and priortise your structure in a certain way. If not then you deffinitely should as there is often more than one way to breakdown a problem. For example, in a profitability problem, if your hypothesis is increasing unit variable costs where profitability is declining despite increasing revenues, I would focus your time on digging into the detail behind the key variable cost buckets and what might be driving them, etc.

Good luck!

Hi Matt,

Congratulations on your interview invitation! Firstly, before you start building your issue tree you need to ask clarifying questions (most of the time the information given initially is too broad). After that you need to structure being MECE. Ask for data before going further in your structure, if there is no data, you need to prioritize (define key drivers) and present your initial hypothesis. Always ask for data before making assumptions or estimations. After presenting your structure and your initial hypothesis check with the interviewer if it's ok. Good luck!

Hi Matt,

Congratulations on your interview invitation! Firstly, before you start building your issue tree you need to ask clarifying questions (most of the time the information given initially is too broad). After that you need to structure being MECE. Ask for data before going further in your structure, if there is no data, you need to prioritize (define key drivers) and present your initial hypothesis. Always ask for data before making assumptions or estimations. After presenting your structure and your initial hypothesis check with the interviewer if it's ok. Good luck!

(edited)

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Hello!

To add on top of what has been said: don´t obsess over the timings.

Do whatever feels right for that particular case. Some need only 1 minute -e.g., profitability cases are pretty straight forward- and some need almost 5.

Hence, don´t look for a formula or recipie, since it can get you stiff and hinder the overall performance.

Hope it helps, good luck!

Cheers,

Clara

Hello!

To add on top of what has been said: don´t obsess over the timings.

Do whatever feels right for that particular case. Some need only 1 minute -e.g., profitability cases are pretty straight forward- and some need almost 5.

Hence, don´t look for a formula or recipie, since it can get you stiff and hinder the overall performance.

Hope it helps, good luck!

Cheers,

Clara

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