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'What else?' question

Anonymous A

Hi!

Is the question 'What else?' is the indicator that you did not prioritize the answer and you are burying yourself in a pit. It seems that they ask this question with intention to fail you. Or it is just the question to ask for all possible answers? Should I prioritize and say that 'no else' questions shuld be asked)?)))

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Tadeus replied on 08/05/2017

Hi Anonymous,

This question is used commonly (especially at McKinsey) to put some additional pressure on you. There are many ways to simulate a "tough client situation", and let's face it - when you hear this question, you start sweating more - it's a perfect way to stress you more and see whether you can perform under stress.

One common place where this question is used a lot is a brainstorming part of a case interview. Interviewer will be asking this question to see how many ideas you can come up with.

Having said that, you need to treat "What else?" as a test of your convictions. If you are certain that you covered everything, you should state clearly "That's all", if you aren't - you should re-evaluate your approach and come up with points to add.

- Tadeus

Vlad replied on 08/07/2017
McKinsey / Accenture / More than 300 real MBB cases / Collected all Big 3 offers / Harvard Business School

Hi,

Most probably if you hear "What else?", the interviewer has asked you the question on brainstorming / creativity. The interviewer is testing if you'll get stuck or will be creative enough and possess business judgment.

Here is how you should answer these questions:

1) Ask an interview for a minute to think

2) Think of several buckets of ideas (e.g. scope / value proposition). Remember to think as big as possible

3) Narrow down to each bucket and generate as much ideas as possible (e.g. scope: vertical growth, horizontal growth, new products. Value proposition: additional services, improved quality, etc.)

4) Present the structure (buckets) and then your ideas

Creativity is in direct correlation with you business judgment that can be trained by solving various cases with partners / reading industry reports / reading about the typical case industries and functions (Retail, airlines, logistics, marketing, etc.)

Francesco replied on 09/02/2017
Ex BCG | MBB Specialist | #1 Expert for meetings done (900+) with 100% recommendation rate

Hi Anonymous,

as mentioned by Tadeus, some interviewers will ask “What else” just to put you pressure and see how you react – this could happened in particular if you are going well in the case. Most of the time though they will ask that question when you forgot some elements in your brainstorming. This is common when you are not structured enough as for your first layer of the structure. In other words, you can assume that the “What else” question is equivalent of “You are not very structured, please show me a better first layer before digging in details”.

My suggestion to face that would be similar to the one of Vlad, that is:

  1. Take one minute of time and/or repeat what you have found till that moment (eg. You asked me about ways to increase volume, so far I have identified discounts as a possible way to do so)
  2. Divide the possible options in a MECE way for the first layer (Actually, thinking it right now I can see that increase in volume could come from either increase of customers or increase in the amount bought by each customer)
  3. Present a MECE second layer for each option (Some additional options to increase the number of customers may be marketing and distribution; one additional option to increase the amount bought by each customer is bundling)

One word of caution though: you should prepare in advance the first layers for the most common “brainstorming questions” you may get (How to decrease costs? How to increase price? How to increase volume? How to react to a competitor?). If you end doing this for the first time during the interview, you will likely not perform well and this may put a big red mark on your performance.

Best,

Francesco

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