Stating a hypothesis

Edited on Apr 03, 2021
3 Answers
Anonymous A asked on Apr 03, 2021

Stating a hypothesis feels counterintuitive for beginners like myself. It just sounds so unnatural to say "my hypothesis is..."; is there another way to state it? Is there a balance between stating a hypothesis and making it seem more natural and therefore, fitting in a conversation?

Or do I just build my hypothesis-stating muscle and do it over and over again so it sounds more natural? :D

Thanks in advance!

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Content Creator
updated an answer on Apr 03, 2021
MBB | 100% personal interview success rate (8/8) and 95% candidate success rate | Personalized interview prep

Honestly, the hypothesis -led approach is outdated.

Rather, you need to have a hypothesES-driven or, rather, and objective-driven approach. Your entire framework is a set of hypotheses and views as to how to solve a problem.

In my view, the more natural the better. I tend to say things like "My thinking here is x". or "Based on what I know about x and y, I think this'll likely happen" or "My inclination is x".

Please get away from saying any generic, i.e. hypothesis, framework, buckets, clarifying questions, etc.!

This Q&A Describes Better Hypothesis Thinking

Your instinct to wait until you get further informaiton is correct. However, remember that your framework is essentially a set of hypotheses. That's why I prefer to call this "hypotheses-drive approach" or "objective-driven approach"

You don't need to state it explicitly, but remember that 1) You need to always be thinking about one and 2) You need to be demonstrating your drive towards one.

Also, remember that a hypothesis isn't necessarily "I believe x is the cause". Be better hypothesis is "If we can see what's happening with A, and A is going up, and then we look into B and B is big, then x is likely the case".

A hypothesis is much more about what questions do I need to ask/answer and how, in order to see what's happening.

Another way of viewing it:

Your framework is your structure for approaching the problem. It consits of a few main areas you'd like to look at. Inherent in your framework is a view that "If I answer A, B, and C, then we have an answer"

So, for market entry:

1) If the market is big, and it's growing, then we still want to considering entering

2) If #1 = yes, then let's see if it's attractive...can we win there? Is our product good/better than our competition's? Etc. If yes, let's definitely consider entering.

3) If #1 and #2 = yes, then, when we do enter, are we sure we can win? I.e. do we have the right plans. Will implementation actually pan out? Do we have the expertise, capital, etc.? In other words, if #2 is the thearectical, #3 is the reality.

Then, your summary becomes "I believe we should enter the market, if we can prove it's a good market, the it's attractive to us specifically, and that we will win it".

^Now this is a hypothesis :)

Read these 2 Q&As for some great context + discussion:

Hope this helps! This is a tricky topic that's difficult to properly answer in writting...if you want a more thorough explanation, and training in the mindset shift required here, don't hesitate


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Content Creator
replied on Apr 03, 2021
McKinsey | Awarded professor at Master in Management @ IE | MBA at MIT |+180 students coached | Integrated FIT Guide aut


I think it´s a great point to bring up, not only for begginers.

Hypothesis can be dangerous, since some people interpret this as:

"I need to start the case stating my hypothesis for this and then build the tree to prove it"

However, many cases are precisely a constant open quesiton, and your role as a consultant is not to make the hypothesis but to make the right questions, whose answers would lead to the solution.

For instance, don´t start a break-even case with a hypothesis! Pose it as "these are the things that I would look into, and then, if revenues in timeline X were higher than costs, we would have the outcome, or viceversa"

Hope it helps!



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Content Creator
replied on Apr 03, 2021
Strategy&| ex-interviewer | 170+ coached over career |95% success @ MBB, S&, RB, LEK, OW, Big4 [SUCCESS STORIES BELOW]

Part of this is practice makes perfect. As you complete more cases, you'll be more comfortable trying to crack the case in a hypothesis-first manner. This is a crucial skill when working on a real engagement as a consultant, else one can keep digging and digging and end up digesting information without really answering the core question.

What I'd recommend is at the start of the case think of 3/4 hypotheses of what could be happening. It's perfectly fine to tell the interviewer that "I have a few hypotheses of what could be happening and would like to explore each individually". You don't necessarily have to be some mechanistic as to repeat "my hypothesis is..." each time

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Ian gave the best answer


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