Tips on practicing identifying levers & drivers

practice tips prioritization success drivers
New answer on Mar 18, 2022
5 Answers
Anonymous A asked on Mar 17, 2022


I´ve got a week until my second round Interview at McKinsey and one feedback I´ve gotten from the first round was to get better at identifying levers + focus on them. 

Do you guys have any specific tips on resources/drills/exercises publicly available (for example like the case Interview fundamentals by crafting Cases) to specifically improve in that area and practive it? 

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CoachingPlus Expert
replied on Mar 18, 2022
Ex Bain & Company, AlixPartners Manager, and Special Forces | Currently MD at small-cap PE fund | INSEAD MBA | GMAT 780

First, reframe the objective you are facing: you have to come up with a structure that is going to bring you to solve the case

Many structures are spectacularly useless. I've seen many candidates talk about competition, internal capabilities, market share, etc. Although those items should be somehow covered, they are unlikely to bring you somewhere at the beginning of the case. 

What you have to do in a real case is to come up with a structure that addresses the objective of the case as much as possible. 
Therefore, my approach is to do as follows

  1. Define the goal. It should be clear what defines success in the case. If the goal is to reduce costs by x%, think about what cost items you have, how much they account for, what is addressable and what is not, etc.
  2. Think backward. What hurdles do you have to get to the end goal of the case? Those hurdles are your drivers.
  3. Ensure that your drivers are MECE. Your list of drivers has to be broad, thus encompassing the span of the problem, has to include items with zero overlap (not always possible but try it), and has to be insightful. This is the most complex part.
  4. Define a way forward for each of those drivers. Once you have a driver, you have to figure out how to align all the pieces of info you have or you can ask (with caution) against the objective of the case.

If you use a think-forward process, in most cases you just scout for data or you fumble around in the dark. If you think backward, your thinking process is essential and to the point.

If you want to work on it, feel free to schedule a session. Coaching sessions are the best way to work on this.

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Content Creator
replied on Mar 17, 2022
#1 rated and most recommended McKinsey Coach | 97% success rate (tracked) | Honest feedback: no sugar-coating

Hi there, 

Great that you have a clear view on what you need to work on for your second round. It's important that you actually improve on that because they specifically track whether you worked on the feedback they provided. 

Based on your description it sounds like you're struggling a bit with structuring. Unfortunately, this is not an easy fix. If you feel this was a problematic part of your first round, I'd perhaps consider postponing the second round and getting some more practice in. 

The best way to improve on structuring is not by reading frameworks or books. It's by actually doing good quality cases properly. Aim to go through 40-50 cases and focus only on the initial structuring question. Read the prompt, attempt the answer, then read the suggested solution and try to understand how is it better more sophisticated than yours. You can learn a lot from that. 

Additionally, I'd recommend you do a session with a coach. This will accelerate your learning and you'll learn how to create structures organically instead of trying to overlay a framework onto a case. 


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updated an answer on Mar 17, 2022
Ex-McKinsey |Former McKinsey Interviewer|Tailored Interview Prep| 7 years Teaching Experience

You have to practice on your structuring muscle, which cannot be done over a night. But to make it better read about different industry and business structures (main revenue streams, main cost components) also knowing types of question can greatly help.


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replied on Mar 17, 2022
Empathic coach, former McKinsey Engagement Manager |Secure offers from top consulting firms

Dear candidate,

great answers were given already. You can do self-drills like in crafting cases by practising frameworks and structuring in particular with a peer - so do the first parts of cases together, then implement their feedback, practise the same case prompt again. Also when you do your next full case, get feedback from the peer after every question you have answered - do not just go through it to the end and then seek feedback, instead answer a question, get feedback, then improve that same answer, before moving on to the next question.

Best regards


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Content Creator
replied on Mar 18, 2022
MBB | 100% personal interview success rate (8/8) and 95% candidate success rate | Personalized interview prep

Oh boy, do I ever! Feel free to shoot me a message, I have 30+ videos (10+ hours of content) that takes you through this. Not to mention the exercises we do live in a session.

Looking forward to helping!

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Maikol gave the best answer


CoachingPlus Expert
Ex Bain & Company, AlixPartners Manager, and Special Forces | Currently MD at small-cap PE fund | INSEAD MBA | GMAT 780
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