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Francesco

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6

Should you introduce the chart - even the simple stuff

Different sources say different things. When given a table / chart / image, is it worth spending 10 second just explaining what it shows before taking a moment to, in a structured way, outline the main insight from said chart. I take a few seconds to grasp what the graph says, so to me this feels like the best way - also shows that you understand the graph at a high level, keeps the interviewer engaged and the opportunity for them to correct you. Just thinking out loud.

Other places say, just go straight for the insight because it's not special that you can read a table (definitely not, but communication is good surely?). Happy to hear more arguments in favour of this method too.

What do you all think?

Different sources say different things. When given a table / chart / image, is it worth spending 10 second just explaining what it shows before taking a moment to, in a structured way, outline the main insight from said chart. I take a few seconds to grasp what the graph says, so to me this feels like the best way - also shows that you understand the graph at a high level, keeps the interviewer engaged and the opportunity for them to correct you. Just thinking out loud.

Other places say, just go straight for the insight because it's not special that you can read a table (definitely not, but communication is good surely?). Happy to hear more arguments in favour of this method too.

What do you all think?

6 answers

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Hi there,

I always recommend to read (or introduce as you called it) the chart before starting the analysis. This ensures you understand it fully and don’t miss any relevant part.

I would recommend the following as general structure to analyze a graph.

1. Read the graph

  • Ask for 30 seconds to understand the graph
  • Summarize what the graph is about. Read in particular the graph title (often forgotten), the axes and the legend

2. Analyze the graph and find the main insights

  • Repeat the question you have to answer. Many people don’t spend time to clarify the question; consequently, they answer the wrong question. Don’t be one of them and be sure to restate what is the main insight you have to derive
  • Provide an analysis related to the question. Analyze how the graph can help to answer the question you just repeated and provide an answer

3. Propose the next steps

  • State your hypothesis or suggestion or what to do next. As a last step, a great candidate will present what should be done next to help further the client
  • Ask a question related to what you need to move forward. This will show you are a proactive candidate

Best,

Francesco

Hi there,

I always recommend to read (or introduce as you called it) the chart before starting the analysis. This ensures you understand it fully and don’t miss any relevant part.

I would recommend the following as general structure to analyze a graph.

1. Read the graph

  • Ask for 30 seconds to understand the graph
  • Summarize what the graph is about. Read in particular the graph title (often forgotten), the axes and the legend

2. Analyze the graph and find the main insights

  • Repeat the question you have to answer. Many people don’t spend time to clarify the question; consequently, they answer the wrong question. Don’t be one of them and be sure to restate what is the main insight you have to derive
  • Provide an analysis related to the question. Analyze how the graph can help to answer the question you just repeated and provide an answer

3. Propose the next steps

  • State your hypothesis or suggestion or what to do next. As a last step, a great candidate will present what should be done next to help further the client
  • Ask a question related to what you need to move forward. This will show you are a proactive candidate

Best,

Francesco

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Hi,

Not sure what you mean by introducing the chart. Describing the chart = providing an insight. No need to read the title outloud. However it makes a lot of sense to take a minute and study it on your own.

Here is an approach to analyzing the tables / charts:

  1. Take a minute to look at the graph / table. It's important ot gather the thoughts!
  2. Read the graph title
  3. Look at the graph type and define the type (pie chart, line chart, etc)
  4. Look at the legend (ask for clarifying questions if necessary)
  5. Identify what's going on on the graph. Look for: Trends, % structures,
  6. Look for unusual things (consultants love to integrate these traps in charts) - correlations, outliers, seasonality etc
  7. Make 3-4 conclusions from the graph. Think of potential hypothesis on what could be the root cause / what are the consequences
  8. Prioritize the most important for your current analysis and move forward with the case

Sources to learn from (prioritized):

  1. "Say it with Charts" by Gene Zalazny
  2. "Pyramid Principle" by Barbara Minto
  3. Learn basic statistics (Any GMAT or MBA prep guides)
  4. Check all available MBB presentations and publications. Practice to derive conclusions and check yourself with the actual ones from the article / presentation
  5. GMAT IR part (Official guide and Manhattan prep)
  6. "Consulting Bible" and "Vault guide for consulting" - check the chapters on cases with graphs in these books

Good luck!

Hi,

Not sure what you mean by introducing the chart. Describing the chart = providing an insight. No need to read the title outloud. However it makes a lot of sense to take a minute and study it on your own.

Here is an approach to analyzing the tables / charts:

  1. Take a minute to look at the graph / table. It's important ot gather the thoughts!
  2. Read the graph title
  3. Look at the graph type and define the type (pie chart, line chart, etc)
  4. Look at the legend (ask for clarifying questions if necessary)
  5. Identify what's going on on the graph. Look for: Trends, % structures,
  6. Look for unusual things (consultants love to integrate these traps in charts) - correlations, outliers, seasonality etc
  7. Make 3-4 conclusions from the graph. Think of potential hypothesis on what could be the root cause / what are the consequences
  8. Prioritize the most important for your current analysis and move forward with the case

Sources to learn from (prioritized):

  1. "Say it with Charts" by Gene Zalazny
  2. "Pyramid Principle" by Barbara Minto
  3. Learn basic statistics (Any GMAT or MBA prep guides)
  4. Check all available MBB presentations and publications. Practice to derive conclusions and check yourself with the actual ones from the article / presentation
  5. GMAT IR part (Official guide and Manhattan prep)
  6. "Consulting Bible" and "Vault guide for consulting" - check the chapters on cases with graphs in these books

Good luck!

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I somewhat disagree with some of the other coaches - under certain conditions:

If you want to clear the chart for the interviewer, by all means, do it. The benefits of this have been described in other posts here, and there certainly are advantages of this approach.

However, also keep in mind the time. If you tend to take the maximum amount of time to solve a case and time management has been called out as an issue by coaches or other candidates that you practice with, the 30-60 seconds you take to describe to an interviewer what you see in a chart are a prime target to shave off.

I somewhat disagree with some of the other coaches - under certain conditions:

If you want to clear the chart for the interviewer, by all means, do it. The benefits of this have been described in other posts here, and there certainly are advantages of this approach.

However, also keep in mind the time. If you tend to take the maximum amount of time to solve a case and time management has been called out as an issue by coaches or other candidates that you practice with, the 30-60 seconds you take to describe to an interviewer what you see in a chart are a prime target to shave off.

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Short answer: yes.

Not only does it show the interviewer you understand the chart, but it allows them to correct you if you're wrong. Finally, it makes you consciously recognize what you're looking at.

Of course, don't read the title/axes verbatim. Rather, summarize what you're seeing in your own words.

Short answer: yes.

Not only does it show the interviewer you understand the chart, but it allows them to correct you if you're wrong. Finally, it makes you consciously recognize what you're looking at.

Of course, don't read the title/axes verbatim. Rather, summarize what you're seeing in your own words.

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Hi, I recommend before doing it looking at:
- title
- grand totals and main trends
- body
- footnotes

Best,
Antonello

Hi, I recommend before doing it looking at:
- title
- grand totals and main trends
- body
- footnotes

Best,
Antonello

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Hi there!
I would recommend you to introduce the chart because you will repeat the main information in your head again and it will make your speech more confident, the structure with the introduction will sound more professional and clear.
Was it helpful?
GB

Hi there!
I would recommend you to introduce the chart because you will repeat the main information in your head again and it will make your speech more confident, the structure with the introduction will sound more professional and clear.
Was it helpful?
GB

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