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Francesco

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Presentation Type Structured Interview

Hi all,

I will have 1 hour to analyze a large set of information and create a powerpoint with a solution to a client problem. Any tips on how to structure a deck for this since it will be a real problem? Additionally, any practice advice on how to quickly sift through and interpret data?

Thanks!!

Hi all,

I will have 1 hour to analyze a large set of information and create a powerpoint with a solution to a client problem. Any tips on how to structure a deck for this since it will be a real problem? Additionally, any practice advice on how to quickly sift through and interpret data?

Thanks!!

3 answers

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Hi Anonymous,

this is what I would recommend to consider for the presentation part:

A) structure the order of the slides

For many presentations following a written case 5 slides are enough to present your findings. You can structure them as follows:

  • First slide sums up the question and provides the answer
  • Second, third and fourth slide have the supporting arguments for the first slide
  • Fifth slide provides the next steps

B) structure the content of each slide

There are three basic components for slides:

  1. Title
  2. Chart or data
  3. Label for chart

Many people structure the title as the mere description of what the chart is telling. A great title, instead tells the implication of the graph. Eg say the graph is showing a cost structure for a division. A bad title would be: Cost structure from 2005 to 2015. A good title would be: Cost structure of Division XYZ is not sustainable”. A great title would be Cost structure of Division XYZ is not sustainable due to ABC, assuming you have insides on the cause. The rule of thumb for the title is that if you read all the titles of the slides together you should get a clear idea of what is going on.

C) structure the presentation of the slides

When you present, I would suggest the following steps for each slide:

  1. Introduce the slide: “Let’s move to slide 2, which will show us why we have an issue with this division”
  2. Present the main message of the slide: “As you can see, we have a cost structure which makes for us not feasible to be competitive in this market”
  3. Provide details: “The graph, indeed, shows how our fix cost is XYZ, while competitors can benefit from economies of scale. Indeed…”

As general tips for the analysis for the information before the presentation, you could consider the following 5 areas:

1. Learn how to define a plan of action and stick to that

The first thing you should do in a written case is to define a plan and allocate in the best possible way your time. Assuming 60 minutes for the analysis, a good approach would include:

  • initial quick reading – 10-20 min (this may depend on the amount of material)
  • structure the approach – 5 min
  • make slides/answer to the questions adding detailed analysis and math – 25-35 min
  • final review – 10 min

You should then practice to stick to the time allocated, in order to maximize your final performance.

2. Practice graph interpretation

You will normally have to analyse graphs in a written case. The best way to practice is to take graphs from online resources and use a timer to test in how much time you can understand the key message. McKinsey PST graphs could be a good practice for that.

3. Work on quick reading and quick understanding of key information

You will not have time to read and prioritize everything, so you have to understand where to focus. The ideal way to practice is to use long cases such as HBS ones, and practice on reducing the time needed to absorb the key information that can answer a defined question. Quick reading techniques could also help.

4. Practice quick math

You will normally have math to do in a written case. GMAT and McKinsey PST math should work well to prepare on this.

5. Learn how to communicate your slides/answers

You may have to present your findings at the end of the case. Although as mentioned it will require more time, I would apply the same structures of final sum up in a live interview case, that is:

  1. Sum up the main questions you have to answer
  2. Present your proposed answer and detail the motivation behind
  3. Propose next steps for the areas you have not covered

As you will not be able to double check hypothesis with the interviewer as in the live case before the presentation, you should clearly state when you are making hypotheses and that you will have to verify them with further analysis.

Hope this helps,

Francesco

Hi Anonymous,

this is what I would recommend to consider for the presentation part:

A) structure the order of the slides

For many presentations following a written case 5 slides are enough to present your findings. You can structure them as follows:

  • First slide sums up the question and provides the answer
  • Second, third and fourth slide have the supporting arguments for the first slide
  • Fifth slide provides the next steps

B) structure the content of each slide

There are three basic components for slides:

  1. Title
  2. Chart or data
  3. Label for chart

Many people structure the title as the mere description of what the chart is telling. A great title, instead tells the implication of the graph. Eg say the graph is showing a cost structure for a division. A bad title would be: Cost structure from 2005 to 2015. A good title would be: Cost structure of Division XYZ is not sustainable”. A great title would be Cost structure of Division XYZ is not sustainable due to ABC, assuming you have insides on the cause. The rule of thumb for the title is that if you read all the titles of the slides together you should get a clear idea of what is going on.

C) structure the presentation of the slides

When you present, I would suggest the following steps for each slide:

  1. Introduce the slide: “Let’s move to slide 2, which will show us why we have an issue with this division”
  2. Present the main message of the slide: “As you can see, we have a cost structure which makes for us not feasible to be competitive in this market”
  3. Provide details: “The graph, indeed, shows how our fix cost is XYZ, while competitors can benefit from economies of scale. Indeed…”

As general tips for the analysis for the information before the presentation, you could consider the following 5 areas:

1. Learn how to define a plan of action and stick to that

The first thing you should do in a written case is to define a plan and allocate in the best possible way your time. Assuming 60 minutes for the analysis, a good approach would include:

  • initial quick reading – 10-20 min (this may depend on the amount of material)
  • structure the approach – 5 min
  • make slides/answer to the questions adding detailed analysis and math – 25-35 min
  • final review – 10 min

You should then practice to stick to the time allocated, in order to maximize your final performance.

2. Practice graph interpretation

You will normally have to analyse graphs in a written case. The best way to practice is to take graphs from online resources and use a timer to test in how much time you can understand the key message. McKinsey PST graphs could be a good practice for that.

3. Work on quick reading and quick understanding of key information

You will not have time to read and prioritize everything, so you have to understand where to focus. The ideal way to practice is to use long cases such as HBS ones, and practice on reducing the time needed to absorb the key information that can answer a defined question. Quick reading techniques could also help.

4. Practice quick math

You will normally have math to do in a written case. GMAT and McKinsey PST math should work well to prepare on this.

5. Learn how to communicate your slides/answers

You may have to present your findings at the end of the case. Although as mentioned it will require more time, I would apply the same structures of final sum up in a live interview case, that is:

  1. Sum up the main questions you have to answer
  2. Present your proposed answer and detail the motivation behind
  3. Propose next steps for the areas you have not covered

As you will not be able to double check hypothesis with the interviewer as in the live case before the presentation, you should clearly state when you are making hypotheses and that you will have to verify them with further analysis.

Hope this helps,

Francesco

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Hi,

I've uploaded some samples here:

https://www.dropbox.com/sh/zor4m49eyx5qxal/AABeUN6mtiGkWhEklRjszX2Oa?dl=0

(Message me for a password)

The best way to prepare is the following:

  1. Check if the calculator is allowed. So far it was. If not - you have to train mental math. I posted the main tips here: https://www.preplounge.com/en/consulting-forum/tips-to-do-big-multiplications-in-my-mind-726#a1422
  2. Prepare for a regular case interview - it helps a lot. Basically, prep lounge website is about it
  3. Practice making slides. Look for publically available MBB presentations for reference. Good books are "Pyramid Principle" and "How to make it with charts"
  4. Practice reading cases fast and prioritizing the information. I found useful two sources:
  • Written cases you'll be able to find in google or in case books. I've seen a couple in "Vault Guide to the Case Interview" and "Insead Business Admission Test"
  • Harvard cases - either buy or try to find online. You can find a couple of MIT cases here for free: https://mitsloan.mit.edu/LearningEdge/Pages/Case-Studies.aspx Unfortunately free cases don't have the prep questions.

The appropriate structure is usually the following:

Slide 1: Context, Objective, Recommendations

Slide 2-5: Analysis

Last slide: Next steps or risks & mitigation

Good luck!

Hi,

I've uploaded some samples here:

https://www.dropbox.com/sh/zor4m49eyx5qxal/AABeUN6mtiGkWhEklRjszX2Oa?dl=0

(Message me for a password)

The best way to prepare is the following:

  1. Check if the calculator is allowed. So far it was. If not - you have to train mental math. I posted the main tips here: https://www.preplounge.com/en/consulting-forum/tips-to-do-big-multiplications-in-my-mind-726#a1422
  2. Prepare for a regular case interview - it helps a lot. Basically, prep lounge website is about it
  3. Practice making slides. Look for publically available MBB presentations for reference. Good books are "Pyramid Principle" and "How to make it with charts"
  4. Practice reading cases fast and prioritizing the information. I found useful two sources:
  • Written cases you'll be able to find in google or in case books. I've seen a couple in "Vault Guide to the Case Interview" and "Insead Business Admission Test"
  • Harvard cases - either buy or try to find online. You can find a couple of MIT cases here for free: https://mitsloan.mit.edu/LearningEdge/Pages/Case-Studies.aspx Unfortunately free cases don't have the prep questions.

The appropriate structure is usually the following:

Slide 1: Context, Objective, Recommendations

Slide 2-5: Analysis

Last slide: Next steps or risks & mitigation

Good luck!

Hi,

Vlad and Francesco have done an excellent job explaining how to best structure your recommendation. Just to highlight a few points that I think are important:

  • Use data to support your points: all your arguments should be based on data provided by the case materials. Data should be presented in tables or charts in each of your slide.
  • Leave enough time for review/prep: leave enough time to review your slides, mentally go over your arguments and rehearse the opening section of your presentation. It would be a shame to have perfect slides but a weak presentation.
  • Prepare to be challenged: think about how interviewers could potentially challenge you, so they can never catch you off guard

Having gone through such an interview myself last year (and successfully passing it), here are some additional thoughts I would like to share with you. In these interviews, presentation usually is not the most difficult part, since it is just an extended version of your recommendation in a normal case interview (provided that you can do that well). You would have practiced it thousands of times already, and all you have to do is to expand your supporting arguments and add in more details (of course, in a structured way).

Many candidates instead struggle with how to process such a large amount of data within such a short time period. So here is some generally advice:

  • Be prepared to go through the case materials in several passes, in a structured way. For example, the first pass you only skim through title and content. Second pass, you dig into details and pull out the data you need. Third pass, you go over the remaining data to ensure you don't miss anything. Some candidates limited themselves to read everything in just one pass, thinking it will save them time, but it does not work way - your brain can not hold so much information, and you will end up spending more time going back and reviewing.
  • Be hypothesis driven. What does it mean in this context? It means that you should develop a hypothesis early in the interview, and spend most of your time and attention on data relevant to your hypothesis. Time is short and you will for sure not finish on time if you try to analyze every single piece of data.
  • Related to the point above, organize your case materials. You can do it in different ways. Some people lay out every single piece of paper on the table. Some people divide them into piles, based on certain criteria. You can do whatever you want, but the most important thing is to have a system, so you know where to find the page you need when you need it. It would be a disaster if you lose track of a critical piece of data and then spend 5 mins flipping through paper to find it.

These are just some general suggestions. If you would like to discuss this topic in more details, feel free to message me.

Hi,

Vlad and Francesco have done an excellent job explaining how to best structure your recommendation. Just to highlight a few points that I think are important:

  • Use data to support your points: all your arguments should be based on data provided by the case materials. Data should be presented in tables or charts in each of your slide.
  • Leave enough time for review/prep: leave enough time to review your slides, mentally go over your arguments and rehearse the opening section of your presentation. It would be a shame to have perfect slides but a weak presentation.
  • Prepare to be challenged: think about how interviewers could potentially challenge you, so they can never catch you off guard

Having gone through such an interview myself last year (and successfully passing it), here are some additional thoughts I would like to share with you. In these interviews, presentation usually is not the most difficult part, since it is just an extended version of your recommendation in a normal case interview (provided that you can do that well). You would have practiced it thousands of times already, and all you have to do is to expand your supporting arguments and add in more details (of course, in a structured way).

Many candidates instead struggle with how to process such a large amount of data within such a short time period. So here is some generally advice:

  • Be prepared to go through the case materials in several passes, in a structured way. For example, the first pass you only skim through title and content. Second pass, you dig into details and pull out the data you need. Third pass, you go over the remaining data to ensure you don't miss anything. Some candidates limited themselves to read everything in just one pass, thinking it will save them time, but it does not work way - your brain can not hold so much information, and you will end up spending more time going back and reviewing.
  • Be hypothesis driven. What does it mean in this context? It means that you should develop a hypothesis early in the interview, and spend most of your time and attention on data relevant to your hypothesis. Time is short and you will for sure not finish on time if you try to analyze every single piece of data.
  • Related to the point above, organize your case materials. You can do it in different ways. Some people lay out every single piece of paper on the table. Some people divide them into piles, based on certain criteria. You can do whatever you want, but the most important thing is to have a system, so you know where to find the page you need when you need it. It would be a disaster if you lose track of a critical piece of data and then spend 5 mins flipping through paper to find it.

These are just some general suggestions. If you would like to discuss this topic in more details, feel free to message me.

(edited)

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