Question "any other objectives?"

Case Interview
New answer on Aug 14, 2020
4 Answers
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Anonymous A asked on Jun 09, 2019

Dear experts,

the prompt usually contains all relevant objectives for the case. Some myths circulate around that one should (always) ask "are there any other objectives?" as a clarifying question. Isn't this question a bit pointless as one can and should expect that the prompt contains all objectives? What's your opinion on that? When would you recommend using this question?

Regards

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Vlad
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Jun 10, 2019
McKinsey / Accenture Alum / Got all BIG3 offers / Harvard Business School

Hi,

In many cases, the prompt may not contain the exact quantifiable objective. So you should clarify the exact objective, but there is no sense to ask for "Other objectives"

I suggest asking the following 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-framed
  • 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.

Best!

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Ian
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Jun 14, 2019
MBB | 100% personal interview success rate (8/8) and 95% candidate success rate | Personalized interview prep

Hi,

I'm often frustrated by candidates who ask questions they've memorised, without displaying original thought. I don't like the question "are there any other objectives","what are the competitors" etc. etc.

That being said, you should always ensure that you know what the objective is. If you don't, you need to ask, but in a clever way that shows hypothesis-based thinking.

For example, if the case says "They're looking at identifying why their profits are falling". You shouldn't say "What is their objective?" or "Are there any other objectives?". It's quite clear. However, you could say something like "So, it looks like their objective is to increase profits. Do they have a target in mind that they'd call success? Are their examples in other companies of similar profit turnarounds that we might baseline against? Are they willing to increase profits if it means cutting costs by firing employees?"

One of my favourite cases is about a non-profit aiming to improve the living conditions of the people in developing country x. It then says "This non-profit wants our helping figuring out 1) where to source the raw materials and 2) How to market the product in the US" In this case, you need to be very clear on the objective. I.e., It's not JUST sourcing and marketing...it's sourcing and marketing in a way that most helps these people (i.e. you may make fewer profits by sourcing from country x, but if you help the country more by paying the locals, that meets your core objective".

Hope this helps!

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Jorit
Expert
replied on Jun 09, 2019
ex-BCG | Kellogg MBA | 200+ coaching session| 50+ actual interviews | Flexible scheduling

Hi,

Actually a prompt doesn't always include all the objectives, so it is always good to check with the interviewer if there are other objectives. In my experience, candidates often confuse an action ('should we enter this market') with an objective ('we only want to enter this market if we can achieve 25% market share').

Secondly, in an initial prompt often the objective is not quantified and/or there is no time horizon. So make sure you ask for those.

Hope this helps

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Anonymous replied on Aug 14, 2020

Dear A,

asking clarifying questions is fully ok, and even necessary, otherwise, you may misunderstand the case objective. This may steer you down the wrong direction in the case interview.

I'd like you to recommend the following questions that can also help at the beginning of the interview. They can replace the question about "any other objectives"

What is the measurable metric of success?

What is the time frame?

What are the potential restrictions or limitations?

I wish you good luck with your interview! If you need other recommendations about your application, just drop me a line!

Best,

Andre

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Vlad gave the best answer

Vlad

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