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New answer on Sep 21, 2020
4 Answers
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Anonymous A asked on Jan 17, 2019

Got feedback that I wasn't structured enough or had a clear outline of the problem. I felt I had clearly definted the problem, had a good structure throughout, and was connected the dots and consistently leading the case to the next part.

Would love to know how I can improve upon this? Just better structure on paper, so they can visibly see I'm being structured? Just the way I speak potentially? Any tips regarding this would be helpful!

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replied on Jan 17, 2019
McKinsey / Accenture Alum / Got all BIG3 offers / Harvard Business School


It's really hard to help you without knowing the details. My guess is that you just provided the initial structure but were not structuring continuously through the case.

Other than that, I would look at several areas to make sure I am structured:

1) Start with clarifying questions:

2) Communicating while structuring. Here is a long post by me on how to communicate the structure during the case study:

3) Using hypothesis. I made a post about hypothesis here:

4) Communicating while making calculations:

  • Always tell the interviewer your approach
  • Check with the interviewer that your approach is correct
  • Come to the interviewer with some preliminary answers
  • Check your assumptions with the interviewer

5) Communicating during the analysis of graphs / tables

  • Take a minute to look at the graph. Read the graph title. Look at the graph type and define the type (pie chart, line chart, etc). Look at the legend (ask for clarifying questions if necessary). Identify whats going on on the graph. Look for: Trends, % structures. Look for unusual things - correlations, outliers,
  • Make 3-4 conclusions from the graph. Think out loud on potential hypothesis on what could be the root cause / what are the consequences
  • Prioritize the most important for your current analysis and move forward with the case

6) Communicating while having questions on creativity

  • Ask an interview for a minute to think
  • Think of several buckets of ideas (e.g. organic growth / non-organic growth / differentiation). Remember to think as big as possible
  • Narrow down to each bucket and generate as many ideas as possible
  • Present the structure (buckets) and then your ideas

7) Communicating your conclusion. You can find a good example I've posted here:

8) Communicating your FIT stories

Use the top-down approach while communicating your stories. "The Pyramid Principle" is the must-read by ex McKinsey on this topic.

I recommend using the STAR framework:

  • In Situation, you should briefly provide the context, usually in 1 or 2 sentences
  • Task usually includes 2 or 3 sentences describing the problem and your objective.
  • Then you provide a list of specific actions you took to achieve the goal. It should take 1 or 2 sentences per action (Usually 3-4 actions). Note that the interviewer can stop you any minute and ask for more details.
  • The results part should have 1 or 2 sentences describing the outcomes. This part is finalizing your story - make sure it can impress the interviewer and stay in the memory.


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replied on Jan 17, 2019
McKinsey Senior EM & BCG Consultant | Interviewer at McK & BCG for 7 years | Coached 350+ candidates secure MBB offers

Hi Anonymous,

Vlad is right. It is practically impossible to help your specific case here on the Q&A. I believe you need a session with an experienced expert who can run a diagnostic on you to then pinpoint what really lies behind that feedback. Everything else will be quite blurry and inefficient.

Cheers, Sidi

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Anonymous replied on Sep 21, 2020

Hi A,

It is difficult to give you useful advice when you did not provide all the details.

In fact, I agree with my colleagues, the problem could be anywhere - at the beginning, or while presenting the structure itself, or by making the conclusions. In such a situation I would recommend practicing as much as you can and increase the number of frameworks you can use and adjust to any question, or even think of hiring an experienced coach who might help you by pointing out your weaknesses fast and providing proper guidance.



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replied on Jan 20, 2019
#1 Coach for Sessions (4.500+) | 1.500+ 5-Star Reviews | Proven Success (➡ | Ex BCG | 10Y+ Coaching

Hi Anonymous,

as mentioned by Vlad and Sidi, even if you structured at the beginning of the case, you could be perceived as lacking structure for a number of reasons; as an example:

  • Lack of structure during the case
  • Bad communication of the structure
  • Structure present but not MECE
  • Structure present but not connected to the right question/goal

It would be useful to have more information to properly understand the issue.



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Vlad gave the best answer


McKinsey / Accenture Alum / Got all BIG3 offers / Harvard Business School
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