Over explaining problem

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New answer on May 06, 2020
6 Answers
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Anonymous A asked on Mar 10, 2020

Hey guys

1. I am slightly embarassed to ask this question but, I really need help with learning how to keep my answers short in a case interview. Briefly and succinctly. Does anyone have tips on how I can learn to speak for less than a minute or two in a case interview?

2. When is it acceptable to go into more detail in case and fit interview answers (how will I know). Thanks!

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Best answer
Vai
CoachingPlus Expert
Content Creator
replied on Mar 10, 2020
Consultant at BCG Nordics| PE and Due Diligence | BCG London, Boston & Dubai office experience

No question is a bad question!

It is difficult to judge how long an answer interviewer expects. Interviewers also have differing spans of attention.

When you feel the urge to go on while answering, it is always a good idea to take a pause and ask the interviewer if they would like you to go into detail. You can also ask them if there is any specific part of the answer where they would like you to shed more light. A general rule of thumb could be to speak for 60 secs and then take a pause to calmly ask the interviewer for directions

You should also take the help of visual cues from the interviewer on whether they are attentively listening to you or distracted by looking around, reading, etc. If you feel that you are losing their interest, it is a good idea to take a pause.

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Clara
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Mar 10, 2020
McKinsey | Awarded professor at Master in Management @ IE | MBA at MIT |+180 students coached | Integrated FIT Guide aut

Hello!

First of all, no question is a bad one! Never feel bad about asking! Particularly on this topic, many people struggle.

Normally, when we talk too much -or have the feeling we are talking too much- what really underlies is a lack of structure. Hence, work on this! There are many strategies (thinking and even writting your ideas as bullet points, pyramid thinking, "in a nutshell" summaries to wrap up...)

Feel free to PM, since it´s one of the things I work most with my coachees.

Hope it helps!

Cheers,

Clara

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Robert
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Mar 10, 2020
McKinsey offers w/o final round interviews - 100% risk-free - 10+ years MBB coaching experience - Multiple book author

Hi Anonymous!

Not an embarrassing question at all - I believe many candidates should consider that more explicitly in their prep!

The main underlying issue here is actully being top-down and structured in your answer. Always try to give the high-level helicopter view first (please note: structured content + structured communication - this is not the same!).

Once you established the high-level top-down view first, simply ask the interviewer if he wants you to go into more details or not! (sometimes you might have a gut feeling about it - but better be sure and ask to securely match your interviewer's expectations!)

Hope that helps - if so, please give it a thumbs-up with the green upvote button below!

Robert

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Anonymous replied on Mar 10, 2020

Dear Anonymous,

here's my advice for you:

1. In order to be concise, you need to be top-down, so for example mention the 3 things you want to explore in the case by using exactly 3 words (e.g., Competitions, Customers, Company). From there on you can deep-dive each buckets by providing more details but without repeating concepts.

2. It is acceptable to go into more detail in case if you first clearly mentioned the big picture/the macro areas you want to explore (as stated in point 1). It is accetable to go into more detail in fit interview answers if you are describing one particular experience where you need to provide more context, otherwse keep it simple and at a high level.

Hope it helps! ;)

Giulia

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Emily
Expert
Content Creator
replied on May 06, 2020
BCG Project Leader | 3+ years interview experience for BCG SEA recruiting | Kellogg MBA, NTU, Peking University

Agree with other experts that you should try to structure your answers: short conclusion followed by the supporting points clearly labeled.

Often times we talk too much on one point is because we aren't sure about what to talk next, so we just go on and try to buy time. So think of the structure, know what points you are going to cover, before your speak. Also practice getting each point across in less than 3 sentences.

It might take some time to get used to this way of communication, but you would get more comfortable and faster as you practice.

Best,

Emily

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Antonello
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Apr 01, 2020
McKinsey | MBA professor for consulting interviews

It's important to show synthesis and top-down communication. I would seriously work on it by trying every time you end a case to rephrase the conclusion by giving a short answer + 3 supporting points, always staying in 60-90 seconds

Best,
Antonello

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