Questions during the interview

Case Interview Interview
New answer on Sep 10, 2020
5 Answers
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Anonymous A asked on Apr 23, 2019

Hi,

Shall we ask for a minute for the questions they ask during the interview as we are doing in the very beginning of the case before giving the structure? Probably they'd raise some "can you list the possible effects...., what can be the causes of this...." type of questions in the middle of the interview..is it OK to stop think and answer or expected to answer quickly & directly..thank you

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Best answer
Serhat
Expert
replied on Apr 23, 2019
BCG | Kellogg MBA |82% Success rate| 450+ case interview| 5+ year consulting | 30+ projects in ~10 countries

Hi there,

Assuming you are referring to the case interview, yes you can ask for a time depending on a question you need to answer.

For example, if the question is requiring you to create a new approach/structure then it is fine, you may want to think in detail to cover all aspects.

If the question is more like a brainstorming type of question like “what can be the potential reasons for a decrease in weighted average price”, then it would be better for you not to ask for additional time as you will need to answer many questions like this during the case.

Having said that, taking time and giving a good answer is always better than not taking time and giving a poor answer.

So, you can primarily target to be master in cases and give good answers without needing additional time. During the case, if you believe that you need to take a time otherwise your answer will be poor, then I would recommend you to take your time instead of giving a poor answer.

Best

Serhat

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Guennael
Expert
replied on Apr 23, 2019
Ex-MBB, Experienced Hire; I will teach you not only the how, but also the why of case interviews

If the question is of type "tell me a time when", then no. Thinking a couple of seconds, sure - but a minute, absolutely not.

If however the question is some kind of brain storming, then yes. Here, you do want to be structured and exhaustive/MECE. One full minute might be too long, but 10 or 20 seconds, sure

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Francesco
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Content Creator
replied on Apr 27, 2019
#1 Expert for Coaching Sessions (3.600+) | 1.300+ Reviews with 100% Recommendation Rate | Ex BCG | 8+ Years of Coaching

Hi Anonymous,

you can always ask for time during the case interview to structure an approach. It is actually bad if you don’t do so – you need time to properly organize an internal structure and the interviewer may perceive you unstructured (or lucky) if you just start to provide answers right away. Having said that, you may ask for time and the interviewer may answer “No”, just to see how you react under pressure.

I would not ask for one minute though, 30 seconds are usually the norm and sufficient for an internal structuring question.

Best,

Francesco

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Anonymous replied on Sep 10, 2020

Hi A,

Yes, asking for a few seconds to present a full and structured answer is quite OK but I would not recommend you keep silent for more than half a minute.

Surely, it may also depend on the type of question you are asked. Anyway, do not get carried away and try to get ready for the answer in the shortest time.

Best,

Andre

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Vlad
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Apr 25, 2019
McKinsey / Accenture Alum / Got all BIG3 offers / Harvard Business School

Hi,

Always take:

  • 1-2 min for initial structure. But the faster the better. 1.5 looks fine
  • 30 sec to analyze the graph / table. Very often you can come up with more than one conclusion from the graph / table(e.g. main conclusion, outliers, correlations)
  • 30 sec - 1 min for questions on creativity. It's really hard to be creative "On-the-go". Spend this time creating the buckets of ideas and then the ideas within the buckets.
  • Up to 1 minute for the conclusion. Again, the faster the better. But always take the time! Your conclusion should be very well structured and your arguments should include supporting numbers and you need time to collect them. Spend 1 minute on collecting the numbers for the arguments. Remember that 70% of your arguments should have numbers

It's a bit more tricky with taking time during the case:

  • It's not OK to take 30 seconds and then come up with just 1 or 2 ideas. And then if the ideas are not correct to keep the science again. This is called "Guessing"
  • It's OK to take 30 seconds, draw a new structure (or continuation of your previous structure) and come up with a structured way to approach the problem further.

Best,

Vlad

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