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Table Questions

Anonymous A asked on Oct 24, 2018

Hi!

When I get a table, I usually take a minute to look over it and prepare a short analysis of it (typ this table shows x, and three possible takeaways could be 1, 2, 3). Is it ok to ask clarifying questions about the table after I have taken a minute and before giving my analysis? I sometimes realize that I don't fully understand the table after I have been silent for a few seconds. And how many takeaways should I mention? If I find 8 things should I say all or pick the 3-4 most important?

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Benjamin replied on Oct 25, 2018
ex-Manager - Natural and challenging teacher - Taylor case solving, no framework
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Hello,

As always if you feel you need clarification, it's better to ask than working without it.

On top of this, you'll find few tips on how to proceed when receiving a chart :

- High level overview > Tell the interviewer that you understood what the table is about

- High level data analyisis > Try to quickly generate insights from the first reading of the data (not always necessary / relevant)

- Detailed analysis > will require calculation from your side. Make sure you can process it with intermediary result so you avoid the "funnel effect" with the interviewer

- Insight generation> This is why you have been provided a table, so please interpretate the data and connect it with the perspective of a reco after you've done your maths !!

Best

Benjamin

Vlad replied on Oct 25, 2018
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Hi,

  • You should ask clarifying questions if you don't understand however read the legend first
  • You should draw all the conclusions that you can from the table. I don't believe that there will be a chart / table with 8 conclusions. Sorry, but I've never seen it before in my consulting life.

You can use the following approach:

  1. Take a minute to look at the graph
  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 whats going on on the graph. Look for: Trends, % structures,
  6. Look for unusual things (consultants love to integrate these traps in charts) - correlations, outliers, 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. Study "Say it with Charts" book by Barbara Minto
  2. Learn basic statistics (Any GMAT or MBA prep guides)
  3. Check all available MBB presentations and publications. Practice to derive conclusions and check yourself with the actual ones from the article / presentation
  4. GMAT IR part (Official guide and Manhattan prep)
  5. "Consulting Bible" and "Vault guide for consulting" - check the chapters on cases with graphs in these books

Good luck!

Guennael
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replied on Oct 24, 2018
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I would definitely ask clarifying questions if there is something I do not understand. Beyond this, don't forget the following 3 steps to reading an exhibit:

1. High level, what am I looking at? What is the exhibit talking about?

2. Read the data, what's the story?

3. What is the insight, what am I going to do with this? Do I need to refine my hypothesis as a result?

Of the 3, the last is the most important, by far: As a consultant, generating insights will take 5% of your time but be 80% of your value add.