Spending 3 minutes writing out my initial structure - is this too long?

Framework timing
Recent activity on Jan 08, 2019
3 Answers
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Anonymous A asked on Jan 08, 2019

Hi there - I timed myself on writing out a framework and spent 3 minutes in total, this was split between initially thinking about the structure then writing it out. Is 3 minutes too long? I've read elsewhere on PrepLounge that 1-2 minutes is typical. I'm wondering if I need to speed up in order to avoid standing out for 'being slow'.

Any advice much appreciated

p.s. I don't think my frameworks are exceptionally detailed, it's more likely that I am a little bit slower at assimilating information in a pressured situation, so I think I'm taking a bit longer.

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replied on Jan 08, 2019
McKinsey Senior EM & BCG Consultant | Interviewer at McK & BCG for 7 years | Coached 350+ candidates secure MBB offers

Hi Anonymous,

this is a very typical concern that candidates have when building their case skills. However, it is extremely important that you understand that putting yourself under time pressure while practicing is absolutely counterproductive! You first have to learn the right way of approaching and structuring cases, and time is the last concern you should have here! It is like learning an instrument - you first HAVE TO play much MUCH SLOWER than regular in order to be able to properly learn. Speed will come by itself after some time! If you try to force speed too early, you become sloppy and will never really master it!

Moreover, I can promise you that as long as you come up with a rigorous and compelling approach, focusing on the logic according to which you will answer the precise case question (as opposed to just listing buckets you want to look into), the interviewer will immediately forget about any perception of "slowness" he might have had a minute before!

In the tradeoff rigor vs. speed, prioritize rigor! Speed follows automatically.

Cheers, Sidi

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replied on Jan 08, 2019
McKinsey / Accenture Alum / Got all BIG3 offers / Harvard Business School


In general, it's OK for training but not ok for the interviews.

Here are some guidelines:

  • 1-2 min for initial structure. But the faster the better
  • 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
  • 30 sec - 1 min for questions on creativity. It's really hard to be creative "On-the-go"

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.



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replied on Jan 08, 2019
Ex-MBB, Experienced Hire; I will teach you not only the how, but also the why of case interviews

Let me add a little bit to what Sidi said (which I agree with: practice makes speed, and a good intro will make the interviewer largely forget you took "forever").

First, 60 to 90 seconds is indeed more standard and "better/best practice". I don't mind 2 minutes even, but you better be darn good if you take so long. Taking 3 minutes and only giving me a couple of layers on the structure is not good enough

Second, start breaking it down as you practice. For example, 30 seconds to build a general story, 30 seconds to detail the second layer, 30 seconds to start thinking of the 3rd layer + some risks... Time yourself, and see where you spend time. This is practice, so you can't go wrong.

If you take 3 minutes currently, I'm willing to bet you a wasting some time on basic stuff that you will quickly learn to automate - or even more likely, you are wasting time thinking of the time you waste :)

Practice doesn't make perfect; focused practice does. Measure yourself, you'll improve quickly. Good luck!

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Sidi gave the best answer


McKinsey Senior EM & BCG Consultant | Interviewer at McK & BCG for 7 years | Coached 350+ candidates secure MBB offers
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