Quick question numeric queries

Calculation tips Case Calculations
New answer on Jun 30, 2022
6 Answers
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Ryan asked on Jun 27, 2022
Final Interview candidate for McKinsey, looking to complete a few cases w/ like-minded problem solvers before interview

Hi All, 

I have a quick question. When performing calculations with an interviewer, does it make sense to solve it first without speaking to the interviewing and then taking the interviewer through the steps followed once we arrive at the answer?

Or is it preferable to hypothesize the logic before performing the calculation?

 

Thanks

Ryan

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Ian
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replied on Jun 28, 2022
MBB | 100% personal interview success rate (8/8) and 95% candidate success rate | Personalized interview prep

Hi Ryan,

I highly advise you just quickly flag what you would like to calculate and why.

There is only upside here. You are being communicative and taking the client (interviewer) on the journey. If you're wrong then they'll question you and you'll save a lot of wasted time.

I always recommend that candidates flag what they'd like to calculate and take a moment to lay out + articulate the exact math.

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Ryan on Jul 13, 2022

Hi Ian, Thanks for your feedback. Thankfully I got through and am now on the last interview stage! Fingers crossed. Thanks Ryan

Moritz
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replied on Jun 30, 2022
Unearth your spike & get the offer |ex-McKinsey | 120+ coachings & interviews @ McKinsey | ESADE MBA | Transition Expert

Hi there,

Generally speaking, you do yourself a big favor by being transparent; either by outlining your logic and/or talking the interviewer through your math as you execute.

Not only is it more mature and conversational, it also gives the interviewer the opportunity to help you when you're on the wrong track.

As an interviewer, I always liked to nudge people in the right way but I could only do that when they were transparent.

Hope this helps! Best of luck!

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Cristian
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replied on Jun 30, 2022
Highest recommendation rate / Top McKinsey coach / 100% success rate at >4 sessions / Honest feedback: no sugar-coating

Hi Ryan, 

It's best if you first lay out the logic of your calculations, then once you've agreed on the logic with the interviewer, do the calculations on your own, then take the interviewer through them. This way you are being communicative, top-down, while still minimising the chances of making mistakes.

Best,

Cristian

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Clara
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replied on Jun 29, 2022
McKinsey | Awarded professor at Master in Management @ IE | MBA at MIT |+180 students coached | Integrated FIT Guide aut

Hello Ryan, 

It´s a great question indeed. 

Although probably there can be opinions for both, for me it´s very very clear that it´s better to guide the interviewer through your steps instead of remaining quiet, solving it on your own and then just say a number. 

In case of a mistake, the interviewer will help you, and many times is just a tiny little thing that can be called out on the moment, of can ruin the whole calculation. 

Hope it helps!

Cheers, 

Clara

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Kurt
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replied on Jun 27, 2022
Conducted over 100 interviews for grads, interns & experienced hires

The short answer is that either is fine, if you get to the right answer.

I like to look at case interviews though, as essentially practice for how things work with a real life client on the job. With a client, you will usually want to solve it in a way that leads them through it and gives them an opportunity to correct any mistakes of understanding or logic as you go (although with the caveat that you will almost always be prepared for a client meeting).

So my personal style is that I prefer candidates openly share as they develop their logic, but it is common practice to work on it in silence for a minute or two so I wouldn't punish someone for doing that.

 

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Ashwin
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replied on Jun 27, 2022
Ex Manager Bain and company | INSEAD

In my coaching experience, either approach works if done well. A good thumb rule could be ,  If the math is straightforward you can do the computation and present ,  if it is complex , better to check your approach with the interviewer before spending time on doing calculations that are not required. 

Thanks 

Ashwin

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Ian gave the best answer

Ian

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