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The meaning of structure

Marcin asked on Aug 12, 2019 - 4 answers

Hi all,

noob-caser here. I'm wondering about meaning of "structure" of the case. I've read some casebooks lately and below each case there was a "sample framework"/"sample structure". I'm new to casing and wondering if it is something that I should present in fornt of recruiter? I'm listening the case, ask claryfiying questions, requesting for a while to think, create the structure and present them my points? Or it is something that I should not directly present, but build questions regarding it and follow to solution?

P.S Is it ok to create it on paper or I should learn creating it in mind?

Thank you for help and also I wanted to say hi to the community as I'm newcomer!

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updated his answer on Aug 13, 2019
McKinsey | 100% recommendation rate | Tough/atypical/last round cases | Tough Fit | Advanced tricks & tips | Case cracking process
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Given that you are new to the preparation, I would like you to understand that Case Cracking exercise is introduced in consulting recruitement because in many ways it simulates the consultant's work. This is a role play in which you as a candidate is playing a role of a consultant and interviewer is playing the role of a client.

When you hear the situation and the issue from the client. You do the fllowing things in this perticular order.

1. First you ask the client clarifying questions so that you have a good grip on client's situation and you know what the client wants

2. Ask for a few moments from the client, absorb the answers that client has given to the clarification questions and build your approach to solve the problem. THIS APPORACH IS NOTHING BUT STRUCTURE. It is called structure, because as the name suggests the appraoch needs to be STRUCTURED - preferably in ISSUE TREE fromat and following MECE principles. I suggest that, you write your structure on the paper and not just remember it mentally because, throughout the interview you need to navigate through it. You don't want to forget part of it in the heat of the moment.

3.Communucate the approach/structure to the client. Get his agreement and move onto the first analysis (in candidate led cases) or wait for the next question (in interviewer led cases).

Hope this helps! All the best!


Oleksandr (Alex)
replied on Aug 13, 2019
Very experienced ex-McKinsey consultant with cross-country expertise
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Hi Marcin,

It's very clear for an interviewer on how good you are based on the structure you come up with. Unfortunately many people literally follow step-by-step regular structures. Although a structure shall be MECE, it also shall reflect the depth of your knowledge, which such "sample structures" are missing.

My advice: If you are brand-fresh applicant - you definitely shall follow sample structures. But! If you are mature professional, who wants to make a leap into consulting - don't come up with a regular structure. You see it may be reshuffled, renamed, etc., etc. Show your creativity, yet still staying on the MECE level. This will be an amazing for the interviewer, and he/she will upward your rate.

We tried this several times with the applicants. It works well...

Good luck!

replied on Aug 12, 2019
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It is both:

  1. First, you create the structure on paper and present it to the interviewer
  2. Then you follow your structure to solve the case

In other words, your structure is a roadmap for you to find the insight and then the root cause of the problem


Many thanks! — Marcin on Aug 12, 2019

replied on Aug 15, 2019
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Hi Marcin,

I would like to add 1 aspect specifically concerning your point whether or not it's ok to put down your structure on paper.

As you are probably aware of, visualization is an important aspect in management consulting (think about slide decks). It's just helpful to make other persons follow and understand your concepts/ideas.

Now, try to image your case interview as a regular business interaction between client and consultant. Also in this situation a visualization will support a lot > therefore, it's even recommended and "consulting-like" to draw out your structure and walk the interviewer through when you present it!

Hope that helps for a better general understanding of the interview situation and answers your question about putting your structure on a sheet of paper!