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Remaining structured in "conversational cases"

Anonymous A

Hi everyone, going through final rounds with 2 MBB firms now and realised Partners conduct cases in a more conversational manner. Based on advice I have seen on PL, most people suggest maintaining a structured response, however it does seem challenging if partners are:

1. throwing you questions that have only 1 line of answering (hence one is unable to create a structure around it)

2. constantly interrupting / hurrying you

Does anyone have advice on how to go about this? Any advice would be much appreciated.

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Francesco replied on 04/24/2018
#1 Expert for coaching sessions (1600+) | Ex BCG | 800+ reviews with 100% recommendation rate

Hi Anonymous,

the elements you mentioned are normally used intentionally by the partners as ways to challenge your ability to deal with pressure. That’s mainly due to the fact that an equivalent situation could occur with clients and they thus want to check if you are able to deal with it.

As for point 1, it would depend by the specific question but in general one-line answer is not optimal. To follow a more structured approach you can consider the following:

  1. Recap the situation till that moment
  2. Ask for one minute of time to structure your thoughts
  3. Identify some key MECE areas. Potential division includes: Number of units - Price per unit (eg to identify the components to reduce costs); Current-New (eg to structure product, customers, distribution channels); Financial-Non financial (eg to compare ways to enter a market)
  4. Brainstorm inside each of the areas. Your creativity in this area is directly correlated with the number of cases you have done

As for point 2, you should have clear that they do that intentionally to see your reaction. The best thing to do is to

  1. Thank them for/acknowledge the new information
  2. Readapt your previous framework with the new information if needed
  3. Keep a structured approach as for the previous point

Hope this helps,

Francesco

Vlad replied on 04/25/2018
McKinsey / Accenture / Got all BIG3 offers / More than 300 real MBB cases / Harvard Business School

Hi,

There is no feedback "Candidate is too much structured". However pretty often candidates get the feedback that they are "Not structured enough"

Answering your questions:

1) Can you provide an example of these questions? I can hardly imagine. You can answer these questions using your business sense then

2) If the partners are interrupting you - it's not bad. They want you to solve the case and they are interrupting you to save you some time. Just continue structuring and don't perceive interruptions as something targeted against you

Best!