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What are some tangible ways to show you are leading the case?

Anonymous A asked on Aug 19, 2019 - 2 answers

Hi everyone,

I have had a few interview rounds so far and one feedback I keep getting is that I need to lead the case more. When I probe them for what specifically they mean by this, I find that their feedback is not that as detailed and therefore not quite actionable.

The obvious points I can think of are: (1) proactively asking questions to turn the direction of the case throughout, (2) after calculating a number, quickly go and try to connect it back to the original question & structure and offer some insight, (3) showing drive/passion for understanding the business problem.

Am I missing something? From your experience, what are some tangible ways (other than those above) to show the interviewer that you are "leading the case"? Perhaps it would be helpful to understand also if this should be different based on what firm you are interviewing with?

Thank you.

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Vlad replied on Aug 19, 2019
McKinsey / Accenture / Got all BIG3 offers / More than 300 real MBB cases / Harvard Business School
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Several things regarding interviewee-led cases:

1) It's even more important to ask the clarifying questions in the beginning:

- Clarify the business model (i.e. how the business works and what are the revenue streams / core products or business lines)

- Clarify the objective both in money terms and timeline (e.g. Our objective is to increase profits by 5M in 5 years). When you have a to select from several options in a case - clarify the selection criteria

- Clarify other possible limitations if you feel that it's necessary

2) You lead the case through the structure you've prepared a) asking questions and trying to identify the root cause of the problem in the branch of your structure b) making a transition to the next branch c) proactively calculating the data and making data-driven conclusion from the data they give you d) Making a conclusion when they ask you to finish a case

The general algorithm can be the following:

  1. Ask for a piece of data / info you've defined in a structure
  2. Compare the data with historical trend / benchmarks looking for an insight
  3. If you find an insight ask for the root cause or state the hypothesis
  4. If no root/cause at this point available - ask for segmentation or drill down further or make a new structure if needed to identify the root cause
  5. Once you are done with the analysis in one branch of your framework (found the root-cause / found nothing interesting) - summarize what you've learned so far and move to the next one or give the conclusion


replied on Aug 20, 2019
BCG | INSEAD | Carnegie Mellon University
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The important element in leading the case is showing foresight.

So yes it is important to proactively ask questions and link back to the original question and structure​ but I think even more important is to show your interviewers what is your motivation behind asking the questions that you are asking.

You need to provide proof to your interviewer that you did not just stumble on the correct answer but that you are methodical in your approach to the case. You can do this by communicating your thought process and where you are going. For example, if you are given data why did you zoom in on one piece of data and disregard the rest? When recommending a marketing channel, why that one and not the others? How does the new information help you move to the next step?

Related BootCamp article(s)

Interviewer-Led vs Candidate-Led cases

Case Interviews can be led by the candidate or by the interviewer: In Candidate-led cases the main challenge is the structure. In Interviewer-led cases the main challenge is to adapt quickly