Structuring for McKinsey style cases

case structure caseinterview McKinsey 2nd Round
New answer on Dec 06, 2022
4 Answers
Parnita asked on Dec 05, 2022
Interviews at McKinsey


I got to the next round of the interview with McK but the feedback I received was that I can further improve the structuring of my answers. 

While I always bucket my answers, I am not sure how to improve the structure further for brainstorming questions. 

Any suggestions? 


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CoachingPlus Expert
Content Creator
replied on Dec 05, 2022
BCG Expert | #1 in Middle East | 100+ Mocks Delivered | IESE & NYU MBA | Ex-KPMG Dxb Consultant

Hello Parnita,

Yes indeed, structuring all your answers is really important - not just the initial structuring that you do in the case, but everything that you speak during the interview.

The best way to tackle brainstorming is by categories (e.g. short term vs long term, financial vs non financial, weekend vs weekday, luxury vs cheap, and so on). Then, in each category, be very top down: i.e. “Within short term, I have X, Y, and Z. By X, i mean this… in Y, I mean this.. in Z, I mean this…”

It always helps to ask for time everytime you see a potential for using structure/categories. However, be prepared if they say no to giving you time - in that case however, they want to test how you think on your feet rather than structuring your thoughts.

I would even take it one step further and structure your fit answers properly before talking - in a way that it not mechanical, but is rather measured and concise.

Happy to help further via chat if you need specific support.

All the best!


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Content Creator
replied on Dec 06, 2022
MBB | 100% personal interview success rate (8/8) and 95% candidate success rate | Personalized interview prep

Hi Parnita,

That honest answer here is that you should consider coaching. Frameworking is extremely difficult to learn properly, and it's pretty much impossible to truly learn through writing (Q&A).

Read the following:

Structuring Mindset - How do I use frameworks in a case?

If there's anything to remember in this process, it's that cases don't exist just because. They have come about because of a real need to simulate the world you will be in when you are hopefully hired. As such, remember that they are a simplified version of what we do, and they test you in those areas.

As such, remember that a framework is a guide, not a mandate. In the real-world, we do not go into a client and say "right, we have a framework that says we need to look at x, y, and z and that's exactly what we're going to do". Rather, we come in with a view, a hypothesis, a plan of attack. The moment this view is created, it's wrong! Same with your framework. The point is that it gives us and you a starting point. We can say "right, part 1 of framework is around this. Let's dig around and see if it helps us get to the answer". If it does, great, we go further (but specific elements of it will certainly be wrong). If it doesn't, we move on.

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Content Creator
replied on Dec 05, 2022
BCG Project Leader | Former Bain, AlixPartner, and PE | INSEAD MBA | GMAT 780

Structuring is many things, not only creating some “buckets” (a word I have never heard in a real project.

Structuring means:

  • Being able to split the problem into parts
  • Showing a clear work plan
  • Prioritizing answers and analysis
  • Synthesizing your recommendations
  • Communicating top-down

I strongly suggest booking a session with me. I can help you to go beyond the basic recommendations you can read, which are not enough to solve the issue. 

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Content Creator
replied on Dec 05, 2022
#1 rated McKinsey Coach | Top MBB Coach | 5 years @ McKinsey | Author of the 1% | 120+ McK offers in 18 months

Hey there,

At the core, McKinsey wants to see creative ideas communicated in a structured manner, the more exhaustive the better.

Your goal should be to come up with a tailored and creative answer that fits the question both for structuring and brainstorming question (which are essentially the same). Any framework should - broadly speaking - follow these three characteristics:

  • Broad
  • Deep
  • Insightful

You would need to go into detail and qualify your answer with practical examples and more details.

To come up with the framework you have 1-2 minutes (2 minutes is kind of a soft limit). Then, in a McKinsey interview, you can take up to 6-8 minutes to present your structure, your qualification, and your hypotheses. This is due to the interviewer-led format that McK employs. The interviewer will only ask 'what else' if you

  • haven't gone broad or deep enough
  • did not explain your ideas well enough for them to stand out (again, you have time here)

The firm wants to see exhaustive and creative approaches to specific problems, which more often than not do not fit into the classic case interview frameworks that were en vogue 10 years ago...

Again, this only applies if everything you say

  • adds value to the problem analysis
  • is MECE
  • is well qualified
  • includes a detailed discussion of your hypotheses at the end

Summing up the core differences to BCG/Bain-style frameworks and brainstorming answers:

  • You have more time to think about it
  • You have more time to lead the interviewer through your structure
  • You need to go wide and deep to create an exhaustive and creative structure, whereas in BCG/Bain you rather need to be focused and quickly zero in on the key points where the problem of the case is most likely buried
  • Questions tend to be more creative and not suitable for classic frameworks, especially on the lower levels of the framework, try to get your answer to three levels
  • Instead of drilling through your framework, in the end, to look for answers to solve the case, in a McKinsey-style, you need to discuss what part of your framework you would want to prioritize

The difference in format and way of answering a question is the reason why I recommend preparing very differently for McK interviews vs. other consultancies. 

Let me know if you have more questions!



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CoachingPlus Expert
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BCG Expert | #1 in Middle East | 100+ Mocks Delivered | IESE & NYU MBA | Ex-KPMG Dxb Consultant
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