Tips on ow to be structured in a case intervew

Case Interview First Round McKinsey Structure
New answer on Aug 30, 2022
5 Answers
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Cilene asked on Aug 29, 2017

Hi! I recently did a 1st round interview at Mckinsey which I didn't pass. My feedback was that i had "lack of structure" on answering my case interview questions, althoug I did use a framework and the issue-tree to breakdown the problem into small pieces, as long as I was solving the case.

My question is: how to go further than drawing an issue tree or using frameworks so that I can show structure to my interviewer? Is there a step-by-step process I should follow to scructure a case (I had seen PrepLounge materials and Victor Cheng's videos prior to my interview) ? ANY tips on how to be well structured would be very helpful.

Furthermore, I have a Bain interview next week, is there any differences between this kind of evaluation in MBB's interviews?

Thank you!!


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Filip replied on Aug 29, 2017
Not preparing anymore, but willing to do interviews and give feedback occasionally


I am just hypothesizing here, but perhaps you did put out your framework, but you did not follow it while solving the case? It is important not to jump around through the different parts of your structure presenting your points, and rather go through them one by one in a fashionable manner. That is my primary thought; that you were not really structured enough while presenting your theses.

Also, when you get new questions, you quickly switch between different frameworks, and that could lead to some confusion for some perhaps; do not necessarily stick to the old one, but go over to a new framework, of course.

Another thing could be how you presented your math calculations. These needs to be as structured as a framework, if not more, and just as easy to follow, if not easier. Perhaps you did not explain sufficiently your steps and just ran through the math quickly?

Concerning Bain, they have candidate-led cases apart from McKinsey, which is a different type of interview. You lead the interview and decide where to dig in, but as I mentioned earlier; cut off each possible branch as soon as you can by digging as deep into one branch as possible.

Hope that helped!

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Cilene on Aug 30, 2017

Yes, I thought about it and you are probably right! Also, I am indeed a bit disorganized doing calculations, I hadn't thought about the importance of being structured in this part too. I Will work on that then. Thank you so much, Filip.

Content Creator
replied on Aug 31, 2017
#1 Coach for Sessions (4.000+) | 1.500+ 5-Star Reviews | Proven Success (➡ | Ex BCG | 10Y+ Coaching

Hi Cilene,

it is difficult to answer without knowing the details of what happened during the interview, however, as also mentioned by Filip and Vlad, the following points are potential reasons for which you may have not appeared structured:

  • Poor communication of the framework
  • Jumped around in different parts of the framework
  • Not properly presented second and third layer of the framework when dig in a particular area
  • Not structured when having to analyse graphs, math and final sum up
  • Not MECE in the framework – you presented hypothesis not mutually exclusive

In my experience, the first round with Bain was very similar to the one with McKinsey, with the only difference that was more interviewee led. The skills and preparation required were the same though.

Hope this helps,


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replied on Aug 30, 2017
McKinsey / Accenture Alum / Got all BIG3 offers / Harvard Business School


Agree with the previous on.

  1. Never stop using the structures. Make an initial structure and then dig deeper with the new structures
  2. Present the structure (literally, rotate your paper and show your structure)
  3. Use the structures for math / marketsizing / creativity questions
  4. Use the structure while communicating (i.e. top-down approach) and synthesis
  5. Use relevant structures (Industry / functional knowledge). For each industry, you should understand:
  • Revenue streams
  • Cost structure
  • Margins
  • Key performance indicators
  • Key revenue drivers
  • Industry trends

I strongly recommend practice drawing structures for each industry - profitability, value chain, etc

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Content Creator
replied on Aug 30, 2022
50+ successful coachings / Ex-Mckinsey JEM & Interviewer / Industry + Engineering background

Dear Cilene,

in general a good structure can be evaluated by a certain depth and breadth. The “depth” should be at least 3-4 levels while the “breadth” should cover the entire solution space. You can cross-check this with the MECE principles (For details see respective article on Preplounge), but the CE (collectively exhaustive) part is basically defining your breadth.

Finally, make sure to check for inter-linkages in your structure and point them out.


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Anonymous replied on Apr 28, 2020

Hi Cilene,

Generally, there are 4 key steps you can take to improve structure for case interview:

Use a MECE framework: group your thoughts in buckets.
Prioritize: hypothesize where the issue might be and decide on a vertical/leaf node to test.
Contextualize: your issue tree/framework should not be cookie-cutter. It should be specific to the case in question.
Be creative: this is the cherry on the cake. Incorporating some creativity when structuring your case is definitely a differentiating factor. Very few people/resources talk about this.

More specific information you can find on the Internet.



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