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Restating the question/problem statement

communication problems Structure structuring
New answer on Jul 11, 2024
5 Answers
68 Views
Anonymous A asked on Jul 10, 2024

Hi there,

- When I hear the prompt of a case I repeat the situation including the question. 
- After that I typically ask some clarification questions. 
- And as a final step I say somethhing like: ok then we have the problem XYZ - correct? If the interveiwer says yes, then I say, ok let me write it down.  
- Then I say can I take a minute to structure the problem.


So what I am essentially doing is to mention the problem statement twice. After summarizing the prompt and after the clarification question before I jump into the structuring. I do that to make sure I am still aligned with the client/interviewer as the clarification questions may lead to a more specific problem statement or a slightly different one compared to the case prompt.  

Does that make sense? Or would you recommend not doing it as it could be wired repeating the problem statement twice in a short time?


Cheers

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Ariadna
Expert
replied on Jul 10, 2024
BCG | Project Leader and Experienced Interviewer | MBA at London Business School

Hey! 

To me, this part is off “When I hear the prompt of a case I repeat the situation including the question”. I see no point in in repeating what the interviewer had just said. 

You could very briefly summarize what you heard, then proceed with clarifying questions, then time to think about the structure 

OR
 

Directly clarifying questions, then summary with all you heard (again, focus is on summary, not on repeating), then quiet time to structure. 

You also do not need to announce you will write it down :) Do that directly, either the first time you hear it (I would recommend this) or at the start of your structuring time. 

Hope this helps, 

Ariadna 

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Anonymous A on Jul 10, 2024

Of course, with repeating I mean summarizing the main points :) And if I understand you correctly, you say that I should not mention the problem statement twice resp. directly before I start structuring the case - correct? When should I say the problem statement to align with the interviewer/client?

(edited)

Ariadna on Jul 10, 2024

(1) You should restate as part of your summary (that can come before or after the clarifying questions, usually depending on the length of the prompt) E.g., "Ok, let me see if I understood this correctly: the Customer is a product X manufacturer that wants to understand if they should sell to market Y, knowing X and Z. Can I now take 2 minutes to structure my approach?" (2) When you explain your structure, you should re-state the problem to solve and link it to the approach. This is essentially being hypothesis driven. In the above example: "In order to determine if it's a good idea for Customer to sell into market X, we would need to assess 3 areas: is the market attractive, can they be competitive in the market and are the barriers to entry significant". As you can see, the problem to solve is repeated within the approach, you would not say verbatim "the question you asked me is this".

Pedro
Expert
replied on Jul 11, 2024
Bain | EY-Parthenon | Private Equity | Market Estimates | Fit Interview

You are describing the process, but not what you are trying to achieve with that process… just following the process has no value on itself, but making sure you understand the context (+understand any technical terms), you clearly define the scope (of potential actions) and refine / better define the objective is what you are trying to achieve.

I can't stress enough how important this part of the case interview is… this is where you understand what is really unique about the situation, which is key to then develop a customized approach. So you have to be purposeful when executing this “process”.

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Dennis
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Jul 11, 2024
Roland Berger|Project Manager and Recruiter|7+ years of consulting experience in USA and Europe

Hi there,

your recap of the prompt should be shorter than the time it took the interviewer to give you the prompt. Clarifying questions should be asked to actually clarify whatever might be unclear to you regarding objective and intended scope of the case and/or whatever words/terminology you might not have understood. You want to validate the objective and confirm whether it is the only objective of the case. Then you can ask for some time to write down your thoughts regarding approach and structure.

There is no point in regurgitating what the interviewer already told you - you'd be wasting valuable time.

Hope that helps

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Hagen
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Jul 11, 2024
#1 recommended coach | >95% success rate | most experience in consulting, interviewing, and coaching

Hi there,

I would be happy to share my thoughts on your question:

  • I see no reason why you should do the third step in the process you described, because if you summarize the prompt and summarize something wrongly, the interviewer will tell you. That's exactly what the summary is for.

You can find more on this topic here: How to succeed in the final interview round.

If you would like a more detailed discussion on how to best prepare for your upcoming interviews, please don't hesitate to contact me directly.

Best,

Hagen

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Florian
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Jul 11, 2024
1300 5-star reviews across platforms | 500+ offers | Highest-rated case book on Amazon | Uni lecturer in US, Asia, EU

Hi there,

I would simplify it:

  1. Play back the case
  2. Ask your clarification questions (operationalize the goal + understand the context/business model)
  3. State your intentions to structure the case and ask for time

No need to duplicate efforts or statements.

Cheers,

Florian

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Ariadna gave the best answer

Ariadna

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BCG | Project Leader and Experienced Interviewer | MBA at London Business School
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