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Taking Interview Feedbacks with a Gain of Salt?

Anonymous A asked on May 13, 2018


I recently failed to pass a first round interview at a top consulting firm. The cases felt very easy and straight forward. The HR feedback focused on minor mistakes that I never thought would be a break dealer ex: "you didn't need to ask to convert cm to m, didn't need to ask calculation confirmation, etc." I've passed cases before that went a lot less smooth than this one (although in a smaller firm).

I'm wondering if sometimes interviewers will find small mistakes to use as an excuse to not pass a candidate because of other, harder to explain reasons (maybe they simply didn't like my personality. In hindsight I might of been cocky given the relatively easy case). Or should I really aim for perfection in case studies?

Thank you


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replied on May 13, 2018
Ex-MBB, Experienced Hire; I will teach you not only the how, but also the why of case interviews
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Sadly, you are correct. Interviewers and even HR folks do not have a clear incentive to help you: you were rejected, there are plenty of other qualified candidates and they have too much to do already... I too was given my fair share of non-sensical feedback.

On top of that, you also have the well meaning but utterly useless feedback such as "be more creative". If it is not constructive and actionable, there is no value. The problem is, constructive feedback is hard to give and requires serious thought. Many recruiters (the junior ones especially) and HR folks are not adequately trained for that.

Still, you should always ask for feedback - you never know, that feedback might be the one that speaks to you and helps you improve. There is no downside to asking, even if just one in ten will be truly useful. I also think many/most coaches ("experts") here on PL can give you that actionable and relevant feedback by the way - that's our job.

Vlad replied on May 13, 2018
McKinsey / Accenture / Got all BIG3 offers / More than 300 real MBB cases / Harvard Business School
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Unfortunately, MBB feedback is often either too general or not really applicable. However:

  1. If they say you were not structured enough or note creative - most probably you failed one of the questions on structuring or creativity
  2. There are things like calculations that are absolutely critical (e.g. If you didn't convert cm to m and that was the cause of the math mistake). If it was not the cause of the math mistake, most probably the interviewer did not like something else that they thought was to difficult to communicate