Method for analyzing graphs and tables

BCG McKinsey and Bain quantitative quantitative analysis Quantitative skills
Recent activity on Jan 15, 2022
4 Answers
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Anonymous A asked on Jan 14, 2022

Hello, 

 

I struggle when analyzing graphs and tables: do you have a step by step approach that could be useful for that?

 

Thank you

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Francesco
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replied on Jan 15, 2022
#1 Coach for Sessions (4.000+) | 1.500+ 5-Star Reviews | Proven Success (➡ InterviewOffers.com) | Ex BCG | 9Y+ Coaching

Hi there,

The method I would suggest for graph analysis is the following:

1. READ THE GRAPH

  • Ask for 30 seconds to understand the graph
  • Summarize the graph. Read in particular the graph title, the legend, and the footnote. Candidates quite often skip this part and then make mistakes

2. ANALYZE THE GRAPH AND FIND THE MAIN INSIGHTS

  • Repeat the question. Many candidates don’t spend time clarifying the question; consequently, they answer the wrong question. Be sure to align with the interviewer on what you have to do
  • Provide an analysis related to the question. Identify the key insights of the graph based on the question (this is the most difficult part of graph analysis, as it is different in every graph)

3. PROPOSE THE NEXT STEPS

  • State your hypothesis or suggestion on what to do next. Present what should be done next to help further the client
  • Ask a question/propose an analysis related to what is needed to move forward. This will show you are able to drive the case

In case you need help, I do a specific session on graph analysis, please feel free to PM me for details.

Best,

Francesco

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Lucie
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replied on Jan 14, 2022
10+yrs recruiting & top BCG trainer & BCG Project leader & experienced hire & ICF coach

Hello there, 

Let's take one step back, I think it would be important to clarify: Are you having problems to read charts and graphs also outside the business case, in your day to day life?

… I would guess you may struggle to identify what information is relevant for your case, as during the interview, you may be given information out of which a significant part is not relevant (testing how you prioritize, 80/20 approach, able to navigate in complex problems). 

If you struggle overall with the graphs and charts, I would recommend any course in the internet that gives tips and tricks. If you struggle only during the case, then I would recommend:

- start practicing cases where are no charts and graphs to identify what process works for you and so being able to transfer that process

- most importantly, when you approach the case and you formulate your early hypothesis, you identify what is information you will need to test it. This should help you to read the charts.

Please feel free to reach out if you would like to dig deeper → I can provide insight as a BCG trainer, teaching newly-joined Associate and Consultant precisely this

Wishing you all the best,

Lucie

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Pedro
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replied on Jan 14, 2022
Bain | EY-Parthenon | Roland Berger | FIT | Market Sizing | Former Head Recruiter

This how you should approach it.

  1. Read the slide (take your time, ask questions if you need to understand the slide)
  2. Consider the case objective
  3. Tell the impact of the slide in terms of the recommendation
  4. Explain / support with the evidence from the slide.

_____________________________________________________________

Candidates usually do three mistakes:

  1. They just describe what the slide says (e.g. segment X is growing by 10%"). There's no “so what”, no insight".
  2. They bring up an insights but… not related to the problem you are trying to solve.
  3. They just don't know what to say.

In all of these situations the real problem is that they are not being objective or hypothesis driven. You have to read the exhibit in the context of the problem you are trying to solve.

So the first question you have to ask yourself is: how does this influence the case recommendation? (e.g. “should we invest in market XYZ”?)? Is it supporting evidence or not? Once you find it, you have an objective or hypothesis driven insight.

Then when you read the slide you say: this does (not) support entering market X, because of  insights XYZ, which is based on ABC evidence".

Hope this helps,
Pedro

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Ian
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replied on Jan 15, 2022
MBB | 100% personal interview success rate (8/8) and 95% candidate success rate | Personalized interview prep

Hi there,

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

Rocketblocks

Best Practice Strategy

1) Read the Economist (especially the daily graph and Financial Times 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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Francesco gave the best answer

Francesco

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