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Opening McK case

Case opening
Recent activity on Apr 05, 2018
1 Answer
2.5 k Views
Anonymous A asked on Apr 05, 2018


I’ve been practicing McKinsey style cases for some time now and I’m sometimes confused when to start building the structure.

The interviewer usually reads the prompt which finishes with something like “the client hired McKinsey to find ways to increase profits in 3 years”. Then sometimes the person pauses which sounds like the time to recap, ask clarifying questions and build the structure. However, sometimes this is not the first question and the person tells me to wait for the question which is sometimes very similar, sometimes less, e.g. it can ask eg what do you think are the possible drivers of the profit decline

My question is: in the interview, will it be clear when to start building the structure? Is there a time to recap the case and ask clarifying questions before you hear the first question of the case or will the interviewer read the prompt plus the first question and then give you time to recap, clarify and build the structure?

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updated an answer on Apr 05, 2018
McKinsey / Accenture Alum / Got all BIG3 offers / Harvard Business School


I see the 2 options here:

  1. The interviewer takes the leadership from the beginning asks you to think specifically just about the potential structure. (E.g. "Could you please develop a structure on how to assess the potential markets to enter?")
  2. You wait until he finishes giving you the context / objective and looks at you

Then in both options, you start asking the clarifying questions:

1) Clarify the business model / how the business actually makes money. Even if you think you understand it, try to repeat it to make sure that you understand it correctly. e.g. if the case is about oil&gas company which revenues are declining, ask if it is Up / mid / down-stream problem. In this case, defining a revenue stream is critical to setting up the right structure.

2) Clarify the objective. Here make sure that your goal is:

  • Measurable
  • Has a time-frame
  • Has / has no limitations

e.g. Should I invest 100k in this business for 1 year if I want to get 15% return?

3) Ask the questions that will help you build a relevant structure and remove ambiguity.

4) Do the recap of the key facts

5) Ask for a minute to make a structure



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McKinsey / Accenture Alum / Got all BIG3 offers / Harvard Business School
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