expert
Expert with best answer

Guennael

99% Recommendation Rate

266 Meetings

1,310 Q&A Upvotes

USD 269 / Coaching

2

Two case mechanics questions

I'm currently polishing my casing skills with first rounds coming up next week. After around 100, I have just a few "mechanical" questions regarding hypothesis and final recommendations.

1. I think it is important to state an initial hypothesis after I take 90 seconds to "structure my thoughts", but do you think it is better to state the hypothesis before or after you review your framework with the interviewer or does it matter? I usually do it before I review my structure because I think it helps them understand why i picked the things to look at that I picked, but I am open to other views on this because I know several folks do it after they review their structure and I would like to know why.

2. During your final recommendation, what order to review your recommendation, risks and next steps, why in that order, and do you think it matters? I usually stick to recommendation, risks in that recommendation, and next steps to move forward because some of my next steps are intended to mitigate those risks.

Looking forward to hearing others thoughts. Thanks in advance.

Best,

John

I'm currently polishing my casing skills with first rounds coming up next week. After around 100, I have just a few "mechanical" questions regarding hypothesis and final recommendations.

1. I think it is important to state an initial hypothesis after I take 90 seconds to "structure my thoughts", but do you think it is better to state the hypothesis before or after you review your framework with the interviewer or does it matter? I usually do it before I review my structure because I think it helps them understand why i picked the things to look at that I picked, but I am open to other views on this because I know several folks do it after they review their structure and I would like to know why.

2. During your final recommendation, what order to review your recommendation, risks and next steps, why in that order, and do you think it matters? I usually stick to recommendation, risks in that recommendation, and next steps to move forward because some of my next steps are intended to mitigate those risks.

Looking forward to hearing others thoughts. Thanks in advance.

Best,

John

(edited)

2 answers

  • Upvotes
  • Date ascending
  • Date descending
Best Answer
Book a coaching with Guennael

99% Recommendation Rate

266 Meetings

1,310 Q&A Upvotes

USD 269 / Coaching

When you state your first hypothesis does not really matter - and as others have pointed out (Vlad recently I think), you can very well pass the case without ever stating one. Having said that, there's some logic to saying "in order to solve the question, I will start from the hypothesis that is is possible; to prove it, here is how I am going to approach it". Not much benefit to doing it, but at least it is logical.

Fwiw, I don't really expect to hear a hypothesis until you've moved a little bit into the case.

The answer for your final recommendation is easier:

1. Repeat the question

2. Answer first

3. Supporting evidence + how that's going to help (quantify the result).

4. Next steps

If you really need to identify risks, be careful to indicated that you already took this into account. The clients wants a recommendation from someone who knows what he's talking about, not a "may be yes may be not" from someone hedging his bets.

That helps?

When you state your first hypothesis does not really matter - and as others have pointed out (Vlad recently I think), you can very well pass the case without ever stating one. Having said that, there's some logic to saying "in order to solve the question, I will start from the hypothesis that is is possible; to prove it, here is how I am going to approach it". Not much benefit to doing it, but at least it is logical.

Fwiw, I don't really expect to hear a hypothesis until you've moved a little bit into the case.

The answer for your final recommendation is easier:

1. Repeat the question

2. Answer first

3. Supporting evidence + how that's going to help (quantify the result).

4. Next steps

If you really need to identify risks, be careful to indicated that you already took this into account. The clients wants a recommendation from someone who knows what he's talking about, not a "may be yes may be not" from someone hedging his bets.

That helps?

Book a coaching with Vlad

97% Recommendation Rate

388 Meetings

7,316 Q&A Upvotes

USD 299 / Coaching

Hi,

The major mistake of the candidates is that they start using the hypothesis and neglect having a proper structure.

Moreover, if you perfectly solve the case without ever stating a hypothesis - you'll pass the interview. So most probably you had some other issues with the case as well and they used it as a standard feedback.

There are two ways to use the hypothesis:

First - presenting a structure using the hypothesis. For example, if you are having a PE (private equity) case, you should do the following:

1) Make classic structure (market, company, competitors, feasibility of exit)

2) Make subpoints (e.g. in market: size, growth rates, profitability, segmentation, etc)

3) Present your 1st level Hypothesis:

  • - "In order to understand whether we should invest in Company A, I would like to check a number of the hypotheses - that the Market is Attractive, the Company is Attractive, the competition is favorable and we have good opportunities for of exit"

4) Present the main 2nd level Hypothesis:

  • "In the market, I would like to make sure that the market is big enough and growing;
  • In the company I would like to find additional opportunities for growth;
  • In competition I would like to check that the market is fragmented enough;
  • Finally, I would like to check if we have potential buyers and can achieve desired exit multiples"

Another way to use hypothesis is using the hypothesis to prioritize your analysis:

1) Make a structure: "Problem in sales may be related to Sales Motivation, Sales Strategy, Sales Coverage, and Sales Process:

2) Prioritize a part of the structure based on your knowledge / common sense / available data: "Taking into account that motivation is the core problem of the sales organization, I would like to prioritize this part of the analysis".

Answering your second question - It really depends on whether you have anything else to explore, that is more important than risks. The typical structure is the following:

  1. What was the objective
  2. Your recommendation
  3. Arguments why the recommendation is valid (2-4 arguments) with the supporting numbers
  4. Additional things you would like to explore. In the order of priority:
  • Things you still need to explore / data you need to get in order to provide a valid recommendation (Very typical for McKinsey cases where the interviewer guides you and interrupts in the middle of the case to provide a conclusion
  • Things you've slightly covered during the case but have not come to a particular measurable solution or were not the part of the original objective (e.g. alternative growth options or some questions on creativity)
  • Risks
  • Next steps

In my view, the last part (4th) of your recommendation should not be bigger than the rest of the recommendation (1-3), thus I will talk about risks if I have perfectly covered everything else in the case.

Example:

  1. Our objectives were to understand why the profit is declining by X and how to bring the profit back within one year (Don't forget that your objective should be measurable in terms of money / other metric and time)
  2. According to the analysis we've done so far, my recommendation is to shut down the division A and to concentrate on the divisions b/c if we want to increase the profit, and there is a number of reasons for that.. (Remember that your arguments should include numbers).
  3. You provide the arguments a) First of all, problems in Division A are the major driver of the decline in profits - 90% of the decline in profits refer to Division A. b) Secondly, the decline is driven by the contracting market size that is shrinking at xx percent and is not expected to improve in the near future. c) Finally....
  4. Additionally, I would like to check the option of seeling the division A products abroad. We have discussed several potential markets to enter but still have to check whether it will be feasible for us financially

Best

Hi,

The major mistake of the candidates is that they start using the hypothesis and neglect having a proper structure.

Moreover, if you perfectly solve the case without ever stating a hypothesis - you'll pass the interview. So most probably you had some other issues with the case as well and they used it as a standard feedback.

There are two ways to use the hypothesis:

First - presenting a structure using the hypothesis. For example, if you are having a PE (private equity) case, you should do the following:

1) Make classic structure (market, company, competitors, feasibility of exit)

2) Make subpoints (e.g. in market: size, growth rates, profitability, segmentation, etc)

3) Present your 1st level Hypothesis:

  • - "In order to understand whether we should invest in Company A, I would like to check a number of the hypotheses - that the Market is Attractive, the Company is Attractive, the competition is favorable and we have good opportunities for of exit"

4) Present the main 2nd level Hypothesis:

  • "In the market, I would like to make sure that the market is big enough and growing;
  • In the company I would like to find additional opportunities for growth;
  • In competition I would like to check that the market is fragmented enough;
  • Finally, I would like to check if we have potential buyers and can achieve desired exit multiples"

Another way to use hypothesis is using the hypothesis to prioritize your analysis:

1) Make a structure: "Problem in sales may be related to Sales Motivation, Sales Strategy, Sales Coverage, and Sales Process:

2) Prioritize a part of the structure based on your knowledge / common sense / available data: "Taking into account that motivation is the core problem of the sales organization, I would like to prioritize this part of the analysis".

Answering your second question - It really depends on whether you have anything else to explore, that is more important than risks. The typical structure is the following:

  1. What was the objective
  2. Your recommendation
  3. Arguments why the recommendation is valid (2-4 arguments) with the supporting numbers
  4. Additional things you would like to explore. In the order of priority:
  • Things you still need to explore / data you need to get in order to provide a valid recommendation (Very typical for McKinsey cases where the interviewer guides you and interrupts in the middle of the case to provide a conclusion
  • Things you've slightly covered during the case but have not come to a particular measurable solution or were not the part of the original objective (e.g. alternative growth options or some questions on creativity)
  • Risks
  • Next steps

In my view, the last part (4th) of your recommendation should not be bigger than the rest of the recommendation (1-3), thus I will talk about risks if I have perfectly covered everything else in the case.

Example:

  1. Our objectives were to understand why the profit is declining by X and how to bring the profit back within one year (Don't forget that your objective should be measurable in terms of money / other metric and time)
  2. According to the analysis we've done so far, my recommendation is to shut down the division A and to concentrate on the divisions b/c if we want to increase the profit, and there is a number of reasons for that.. (Remember that your arguments should include numbers).
  3. You provide the arguments a) First of all, problems in Division A are the major driver of the decline in profits - 90% of the decline in profits refer to Division A. b) Secondly, the decline is driven by the contracting market size that is shrinking at xx percent and is not expected to improve in the near future. c) Finally....
  4. Additionally, I would like to check the option of seeling the division A products abroad. We have discussed several potential markets to enter but still have to check whether it will be feasible for us financially

Best

Related case(s)

MBB Final Round Case - Smart Education

Solved 2.0k times
MBB Final Round Case - Smart Education Our client is SmartBridge, a nonprofit educational institution offering face-to-face tutoring services. The client operates in the US. The mission of SmartBridge is to help as many students as possible to complete studies and prevent that they drop from the school system, in particular in disadvantaged areas. The client is considering starting operations for its services in the Chicago area. They hired us to understand if that makes sense. Due to the nonprofit regulation, SmartBridge should operate on its own in the market, without any partnership. How would you help our client?
4.7 5 71
| Rating: (4.7 / 5.0)

Our client is SmartBridge, a nonprofit educational institution offering face-to-face tutoring services. The client operates in the US. The mission of SmartBridge is to help as many students as possible to complete studies and prevent that they drop from the school system, in particular in disadvant ... Open whole case

Coronavirus Times - COVID-19 Brainteaser

Solved 700+ times
Coronavirus Times - COVID-19 Brainteaser You and your family are faced with a challenging set of decisions. Due to coronavirus, your partner has taken a 20% paycut and you are worried you may lose your job. In addition, while daycare is still open, you are worried that sending your two children there will increase the risk of them bringing the virus back to your house, where your elderly grandparents are also staying. How would you go about thinking about this problem, and what would you recommend?
4.5 5 22
| Rating: (4.5 / 5.0)
Difficulty: Beginner | Style: Brain Teaser | Topics: Brain teaser

You and your family are faced with a challenging set of decisions. Due to coronavirus, your partner has taken a 20% paycut and you are worried you may lose your job. In addition, while daycare is still open, you are worried that sending your two children there will increase the risk of them bringing ... Open whole case

Chinese Chess - Airline Business During COVID-19

Solved 600+ times
Chinese Chess - Airline Business During COVID-19 Sky China, a government-backed Chinese airline, has recently seen profits plummet due to COVID-19. Profits are down 80% in the months of February and March, but are showing early signs of a rebound in April.  They've brought you in to first investigate what can be done immediatedly to prevent hemorrhaging cash and surive in the short-term. They are also looking to see how the current situation can be viewed as an opportunity, and what can be done to prepare for the future. 
4.3 5 15
| Rating: (4.3 / 5.0)

Sky China, a government-backed Chinese airline, has recently seen profits plummet due to COVID-19. Profits are down 80% in the months of February and March, but are showing early signs of a rebound in April. They've brought you in to first investigate what can be done immediatedly to prevent hemor ... Open whole case

YodaPhone

Solved 400+ times
YodaPhone Our client is Yoda's Phones, a national telecommunications company. They have embarked on a three-year, multi-million dollar digitization program. Unfortunately, two years into the program, they realize they are significantly behind schedule and over budget. You have been brought in to right the ship and ensure the digitization program is delivered as planned.
4.4 5 25
| Rating: (4.4 / 5.0)

Our client is Yoda's Phones, a national telecommunications company. They have embarked on a three-year, multi-million dollar digitization program. Unfortunately, two years into the program, they realize they are significantly behind schedule and over budget. You have been brought in to right the sh ... Open whole case

Hot Wheels

Solved 400+ times
Hot Wheels Problem definition: Our client is Korean Car Parts (KCP), a multi-national original equipment manufacturer (OEM) of car parts based in Korea. They've recently seen a decline in profits and have brought us in to understand how to address this falling profitability.
4.4 5 14
| Rating: (4.4 / 5.0)

Problem definition: Our client is Korean Car Parts (KCP), a multi-national original equipment manufacturer (OEM) of car parts based in Korea. They've recently seen a decline in profits and have brought us in to understand how to address this falling profitability. Open whole case