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7

Need advice from experts on case Interview assessment criteria

Hello there,

I recently had two 45 mins back-to-back behavioral & case interviews (total 90 mins) at KPMG Canada's Operations Advisory practice. So, basically the format was first case & behavioral interview for 45 mins by interviewer A, and second case & behavioral interview for another 45 mins by interviewer B.

  • Both the cases focused on profitability issues for KPMG clients; and I (as a KPMG management consultant) verified the case objectives, asked clarifying questions, then developed a layout/structure for analysis including profitability issue tree, walked them through this structure/layout, performed the analysis to validate the hypotheses, and concluded recommendations backed with rationales. In the whole process, I was structured, thought out loud, and continuously engaged with the interviewers
  • For the behavioral interviews, it pretty much focused on understanding my background, experience, and interest in joining KPMG

The next day, interviewer A calls me and says the following: Hello, you were excellent in your interviews yesterday and I have a quick update for you that unfortunately, we won't be proceeding with you due to a competitive pool of candidates that outperformed you.

Here are your positive points:

  • You were very structured, analytical and engaged with us throughout the case from start to end, so that's amazing. Keep at it.
  • You have a great operations advisory experience which 100% aligns with our work, so we encourage you to apply with us in the future.

In terms of negative points (I have provided my explanation in brackets):

  • You rounded off one number (My explanation --> I did round off, but I clearly asked the interviewer is it okay if I proceed with this rounded number or does he want a more accurate number, and the interviewer agreed to proceed with rounding off)
  • Your approach was a little longer to reach the conclusion (My explanation --> I continuously engaged with the interviewers, asked them questions, thought out loud for every calculation and assumption, wrote all calculations so my analysis looks neat and clean when handing it over to the interviewers at the end. Having said that, I was able to complete the analysis and derive a conclusion i.e. recommendation based on analysis rationales, I also developed pros and cons for both options as I was asked by the interviewer. Most importantly, my recommendations were in line with the solution interviewer had kept with himself for his reference, and he told me that both align)
  • You took help to calculate depreciation cost (My explanation --> I knew the concept of depreciation cost which I explained to the interviewer and then asked him if he could guide me in incorporating it in my calculation. It was basically cost of $50,000 for a machine with a depreciation rate of 5 years, so he had to direct me that the fixed cost of a machine is $10,000 per year which is spread over 5 years. I appreciated his help and incorporated it in my calculation which drove me to correct conclusion in line with the solution interviewer had kept with himself)

Essentially in both cases, I was absolutely structured and had a good analytical framework/thought process that drove me to the correct conclusion - which I believe is the most important thing in a case interview. So, what are your thoughts/opinions on my rejection?

(I've asked the interviewer for a coffee chat next week to discuss the feedback in detail as his phone network was not great. Is there a way I could ask him to reconsider me?)

Thanks in advance for your advice & guidance!

Hello there,

I recently had two 45 mins back-to-back behavioral & case interviews (total 90 mins) at KPMG Canada's Operations Advisory practice. So, basically the format was first case & behavioral interview for 45 mins by interviewer A, and second case & behavioral interview for another 45 mins by interviewer B.

  • Both the cases focused on profitability issues for KPMG clients; and I (as a KPMG management consultant) verified the case objectives, asked clarifying questions, then developed a layout/structure for analysis including profitability issue tree, walked them through this structure/layout, performed the analysis to validate the hypotheses, and concluded recommendations backed with rationales. In the whole process, I was structured, thought out loud, and continuously engaged with the interviewers
  • For the behavioral interviews, it pretty much focused on understanding my background, experience, and interest in joining KPMG

The next day, interviewer A calls me and says the following: Hello, you were excellent in your interviews yesterday and I have a quick update for you that unfortunately, we won't be proceeding with you due to a competitive pool of candidates that outperformed you.

Here are your positive points:

  • You were very structured, analytical and engaged with us throughout the case from start to end, so that's amazing. Keep at it.
  • You have a great operations advisory experience which 100% aligns with our work, so we encourage you to apply with us in the future.

In terms of negative points (I have provided my explanation in brackets):

  • You rounded off one number (My explanation --> I did round off, but I clearly asked the interviewer is it okay if I proceed with this rounded number or does he want a more accurate number, and the interviewer agreed to proceed with rounding off)
  • Your approach was a little longer to reach the conclusion (My explanation --> I continuously engaged with the interviewers, asked them questions, thought out loud for every calculation and assumption, wrote all calculations so my analysis looks neat and clean when handing it over to the interviewers at the end. Having said that, I was able to complete the analysis and derive a conclusion i.e. recommendation based on analysis rationales, I also developed pros and cons for both options as I was asked by the interviewer. Most importantly, my recommendations were in line with the solution interviewer had kept with himself for his reference, and he told me that both align)
  • You took help to calculate depreciation cost (My explanation --> I knew the concept of depreciation cost which I explained to the interviewer and then asked him if he could guide me in incorporating it in my calculation. It was basically cost of $50,000 for a machine with a depreciation rate of 5 years, so he had to direct me that the fixed cost of a machine is $10,000 per year which is spread over 5 years. I appreciated his help and incorporated it in my calculation which drove me to correct conclusion in line with the solution interviewer had kept with himself)

Essentially in both cases, I was absolutely structured and had a good analytical framework/thought process that drove me to the correct conclusion - which I believe is the most important thing in a case interview. So, what are your thoughts/opinions on my rejection?

(I've asked the interviewer for a coffee chat next week to discuss the feedback in detail as his phone network was not great. Is there a way I could ask him to reconsider me?)

Thanks in advance for your advice & guidance!

(edited)

7 answers

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Book a coaching with Emily

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Hi,

Agree with other experts that those negative feedbacks are usually not deal breakers.
On point 1 and 3, it might be that other candidates really have outperformed you by far (e.g. without asking for help)
On point 2, hard to judge from what you describe but one potential reason maybe is that they were expecting you to be more assertive and decisive in coming to a sensible conclusion, instead of running through every details. Remember 80/20.
Besides, maybe it is not just case but the fit part also, just those would be more subjective and harder to commend.
Try again later or try some other opportunities. Good luck.

Hi,

Agree with other experts that those negative feedbacks are usually not deal breakers.
On point 1 and 3, it might be that other candidates really have outperformed you by far (e.g. without asking for help)
On point 2, hard to judge from what you describe but one potential reason maybe is that they were expecting you to be more assertive and decisive in coming to a sensible conclusion, instead of running through every details. Remember 80/20.
Besides, maybe it is not just case but the fit part also, just those would be more subjective and harder to commend.
Try again later or try some other opportunities. Good luck.

Book a coaching with Luca

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Hello,

I'm really sorry to hear your story - it's always frustating not to really understand the reasons of a rejection.
Anyway, consider that interview result is a combination of multiple factors and that fit part has a crucial role. It's not only about to get the right solution, but also how you get that solution.

Try to have a chat with HR and ask for a more comprehensive feeback, it could help also to show your motivation to join the company and to be reconsidered shortly.

Best,
Luca

Hello,

I'm really sorry to hear your story - it's always frustating not to really understand the reasons of a rejection.
Anyway, consider that interview result is a combination of multiple factors and that fit part has a crucial role. It's not only about to get the right solution, but also how you get that solution.

Try to have a chat with HR and ask for a more comprehensive feeback, it could help also to show your motivation to join the company and to be reconsidered shortly.

Best,
Luca

Book a coaching with Clara

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Hello!

To the main question here ("Is there a way I could ask him to reconsider me?") I would say that, unfortunately, no. Even when feedbacks are not clear like here (e.g., if I did great, how comes the mail is a NO), the resolution is firm and won´t change.

Sorry about that! Try in others, your experience up to now will be a very valuable asset.

Cheers,

Clara

Hello!

To the main question here ("Is there a way I could ask him to reconsider me?") I would say that, unfortunately, no. Even when feedbacks are not clear like here (e.g., if I did great, how comes the mail is a NO), the resolution is firm and won´t change.

Sorry about that! Try in others, your experience up to now will be a very valuable asset.

Cheers,

Clara

Book a coaching with Antonello

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Hi,
I do not find the 3 negative feedback as red flags. Unfortunately, the valuation is not only a matter of case resolution and the feedback provided is never 100% transparent about fit/communication points.

Best,
Antonello

Hi,
I do not find the 3 negative feedback as red flags. Unfortunately, the valuation is not only a matter of case resolution and the feedback provided is never 100% transparent about fit/communication points.

Best,
Antonello

Book a coaching with Ian

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Hi,

In general, you are tested on structure (approach to solving case + structured thought), maths/calculations, insights, creativity, ability to synthesise information, communication, coachability, and presence/driving the case.

Of course, as Vlad indicates, cultural fit is also an inherently embedded factor.

There could be a few reasons for your rejection, such as a truly competitive pool of candidates (and limited spaces), a lack of cultural fit, or a table stakes problem with your technicals.

Hi,

In general, you are tested on structure (approach to solving case + structured thought), maths/calculations, insights, creativity, ability to synthesise information, communication, coachability, and presence/driving the case.

Of course, as Vlad indicates, cultural fit is also an inherently embedded factor.

There could be a few reasons for your rejection, such as a truly competitive pool of candidates (and limited spaces), a lack of cultural fit, or a table stakes problem with your technicals.

(edited)

Book a coaching with Francesco

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Hi Anonymous,

I see two potential reasons for the rejection:

  1. They didn’t like something in your attitude/behavior and they cannot provide it as part of the feedback as it is too subjective
  2. Some of the other candidates were “perfect” in their analysis, thus although you had a good performance, theirs was simply better.

I don’t see ways they could reconsider you after a rejection, but you may ask if it would be possible to keep in touch and whether there could be a chance to reapply relative early (say in 6-12 months).

Hope this helps,
Francesco

Hi Anonymous,

I see two potential reasons for the rejection:

  1. They didn’t like something in your attitude/behavior and they cannot provide it as part of the feedback as it is too subjective
  2. Some of the other candidates were “perfect” in their analysis, thus although you had a good performance, theirs was simply better.

I don’t see ways they could reconsider you after a rejection, but you may ask if it would be possible to keep in touch and whether there could be a chance to reapply relative early (say in 6-12 months).

Hope this helps,
Francesco

Book a coaching with Vlad

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Hi,

Please keep in mind that the interview process is very subjective. Maybe there was smth else in your behavior / communication that they did not like, but could not make it the part of the formal feedback. Usually, if there is a good fit, they would not pay attention to these minor things

Best

Hi,

Please keep in mind that the interview process is very subjective. Maybe there was smth else in your behavior / communication that they did not like, but could not make it the part of the formal feedback. Usually, if there is a good fit, they would not pay attention to these minor things

Best

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