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Tips for structuring framework for McKinsey Wild Card Cases

advanced degree McKinsey McKinsey & Company
New answer on Mar 25, 2024
5 Answers
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Anonymous A asked on Mar 21, 2024

Hello everyone,

I'm an advanced degree candidate that was very fortunate to receive an invitation to McKinsey Insight 2024 in the U.S, which guarantees a superday interview for a full-time offer. I have been preparing diligently for both casing and PEI, however I know that McKinsey is quite famous for having “wild card” cases that can be non-business related. I am generally comfortable structuring frameworks from scratch for business cases, but I'm still intimidated by wild cards due to less materials available for practice. Any general tips on how to do well in breaking down and structuring these cases? Thank you!

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Gero
Expert
updated an answer on Mar 23, 2024
Ex-BCG │200+ Interviews & Interview Coachings @ BCG │ 25+ candidates coached into MBB │WHU/LSE/Nova │ Teacher & Trainer

Hello there,

Great question!

Background

One preliminary note: Unconventional cases that are not business-related are also used at other companies besides McKinsey. They are used to take out the business noise and really test the thinking of the candidate, which is the case interview's goal anyway. So the rationale is: Why not create an even playing field by posing a question that everyone is equally clueless about?

Success factors

To be successful in these cases, you must have built your frameworking muscle on unconventional case prompts using isolated drills. Take all the time in the world to create a framework, then self-criticize and revise, then repeat.
 

Types of questions

Practically, when receiving an unconventional case prompt you should make yourself aware of the type of case question being asked to make sure your framework follows an adequate logic:

Brainstorming - Usually break down the goal or issue into levers or drivers

Strategic decision - Look for the criteria that would imply a yes/no answer

Profitability/diagnostic - Look for the cause of the problem, then look for solutions and quantify them

Market sizing (or any sizing) - Look for a formula to break down the number to be estimated into numerical drivers

After having mentally clarified the case type, break down the problem as guided by the question type. Make sure:

  • that your framework answers the precise case question
  • that it is is tailored and relevant to the case topic
  • that points below a common higher-level point are of the same type, that means that they can be expressed by a single plural noun (e.g., ‘reasons’ or ‘levers’ - don't mix!)

Some guidance

To build the framework, you should iteratively apply:

  • Breaking down points into multiple lower-level points to add depth and concrete ideas for analyses
  • Finding neigbouring points to be exhaustive
  • Aggregating points that have a joint higher-level point (category) to make the framework easy to communicate and tidy

For learning how to do this in practice, case coaching is a proven method. Look for a coach who provides case prompts and gives written feedback on structuring excercises between sessions since this is, in my experience, particularly effective.

Hope that helps, fingers crossed for all unconventional cases coming your way!

Best,

Gero

(edited)

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Florian
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replied on Mar 22, 2024
1300 5-star reviews across platforms | 500+ offers | Highest-rated case book on Amazon | Uni lecturer in US, Asia, EU

Hi there,

The types of cases you are referring to is not unique to McKinsey but all MBBs and T2 firms employ it these days. The time of cookie-cutter cases (business and non-business context) is long over.

The key for any case structure is to operationalize the goal, then use a first principles approach to identify the key areas to understand the problem/answer the client question in a MECE way.

The goal for McKinsey (or any other firm) is to deliver a broad answer (covers the problem well) and deep (sufficient concrete ideas for each top-level bucket to look into), ideally in a 3-level structured framework. The framework also needs to be insightful (relevant and tailored to the question at hand).

Teaching how to structure properly is not something that can be done in a forum post extensively. I'd suggest you work with a coach or get my book (The 1%: Conquer Your Consulting Case Interview) where I break down how to structure any case, regardless of context or industry, in great detail and with many creative examples.

If you are interested to learn more about McKinsey interviews specifically, I have written these two articles here as well:

All the best and reach out if you need help!

Cheers,

Florian

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Ian
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Mar 22, 2024
#1 BCG coach | MBB | Tier 2 | Digital, Tech, Platinion | 100% personal success rate (8/8) | 95% candidate success rate

Well, remember that all firms have wildcard cases (aka unconventional cases).

It's the new norm.

You need to expect to have unconventional cases. It's literally how casing works nowadays…not to mention what happens in real life at consultancies!

I would highly recommend my case prep course here: End-to-end case interview training – from beginner to advanced (preplounge.com)

And here are some articles to help:

How to Shift Your Mindset to Ace the Case
 

Candidate-Led Cases: What to Expect With Example Cases

The Most Common Pitfalls in Case Interview Preparation

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Cristian
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Mar 25, 2024
#1 rated MBB & McKinsey Coach

Yes, first principles thinking. 

That's what I teach my candidates and I also run a targeted workshop on this. You can read more about it here.

First principles is what consultants also use on the job and what enables them to address any sort of business context (as opposed to relying on old-school frameworks). 

Sharing with you also a couple of cases that I wrote which are based on recent MBB interviews and which have a more unusual structure:

Best,
Cristian

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Pedro
Expert
replied on Mar 21, 2024
Bain | Roland Berger | EY-Parthenon | Mentoring Approach | 30% off first 10 sessions in May| Market Sizing | DARDEN MBA

If you are preparing correctly for brainstorming questions (and market sizing), you should be prepared for these Wild Card Cases. So my suggestion is to do a lot of brainstorming questions (and market sizing).

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Gero gave the best answer

Gero

Ex-BCG │200+ Interviews & Interview Coachings @ BCG │ 25+ candidates coached into MBB │WHU/LSE/Nova │ Teacher & Trainer
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