When given a table and asked to draw insights from it, do you try to start describing it immediately, saying out your thoughts, or should you take a moment to analyze it (in silence)?
Presenting a table during interview
You can use the following approach:
- Take a minute to look at the graph
- Read the graph title
- Look at the graph type and define the type (pie chart, line chart, etc)
- Look at the legend (ask for clarifying questions if necessary)
- Identify whats going on on the graph. Look for: Trends, % structures,
- Look for unusual things - correlations, outliers,
- Make 3-4 conclusions from the graph. Think of potential hypothesis on what could be the root cause / what are the consequences
- Prioritize the most important for your current analysis and move forward with the case
Sources to learn from (prioritized):
- Study "Say it with Charts" book by Barbara Minto
- Learn basic statistics (Any GMAT or MBA prep guides)
- Check all available MBB presentations and publications. Practice to derive conclusions and check yourself with the actual ones from the article / presentation
- GMAT IR part (Official guide and Manhattan prep)
- "Consulting Bible" and "Vault guide for consulting" - check the chapters on cases with graphs in these books
You should definitely take 30 seconds to analyze the chart / table and gathering your thoughts before beginning to talk through thoughts. Remember to do the following:
- Pay attention to all details of the chart (e.g., title, axis labels, footnotes)
- Ask clarifying questions
- Answer the question that was asked
- Be succinct in your description of your analysis of the chart / table
- Start with the macro issues (e.g., the overall market), then drill down into micro issues (e.g., specific company trends, specific channel trends)
- Focus on major changes / issues first
- Use creative thinking to offer non-traditional answers that constitute a distinctive answer (may not be directly related to question)
1. Ask for time to understand the graph / table
2. Analize all the information: rows, columns, leyend, axis, units (carful with this one), and READ the FOOTNOTES.
3. If you do not understand something, do not be afraid to ask
4. Think about the interrelations of the table / graph with the case. If you received more than one table or graph, also consider the interrelation among them.
5. GIVE INSIGHTS, after your analysis. WHAT DOES THE NUMBER MEAN? WHAT ARE THE IMPLICATIONS FOR THE CASE / CLIENTE / BUSINESS? SO WHAT???
I would recommend the following:
- Read the graph. You can ask for one minute to analyse it, or you could actually read loud the information to the interviewer. It’s important you read all the information of the graph before doing any analysis. Not reading the graph is the most common mistake people do.
- Analyse the graph. Go back to the question they asked you when they gave you the graph. See how numbers/information in the graph can help you to define an answer for that.
- Provide next steps. Give clear indication on how you could move forward, given the analysis you provided.