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What is a good duration for coming up with a framework while solving cases?

Anonymous A

Interviewer starts with the case, you ask for 'a moment to structure your thoughts'. Do you have to get back to the interviewer within a minute or is 2 minutes fair?

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Alessandro
Expert
replied on 07/26/2018
Bain & Company London | University of Cambridge | CV/Resume writing | 770 GMAT

1-2 minutes is normal. I would not try to rush the structure to try get it done quicker. While of course, all else being equal, being quicker is better, in the setting of a case interview rushing to try get it done in a certain time frame means that your structure likely won't be as good. It is always better to take an extra 30 seconds and make a very strong structure than to rush and make a weak structure. Even if your interviewer thinks you were taking a bit long, I can promise he/she will immediately forget if your structure is amazing.

In terms of what this means for you, two things:

- When you are practicing cases, you should try get quicker and manage to make structures in 1-1.5 minutes. The more you do cases, the more familiar you will be with this exercise and will start getting considerably quicker.

- When you are in an actual interview, don't try rush your structure or worry you are taking too long. Instead of worrying about how long you are taking, focus on making a great structure, even if this takes 2 minutes or more.

Anonymous B replied on 07/26/2018

Hi,

You want it to be about 1 min to 1.30.

I was actually around the 2 min mark most times, so to buy more time i would usually say something like "sorry..ill just be a couple more seconds" - most interviewers said, "no worries take your time".

Honestly, 2 mins is fine.... IF, the structure is great and really nails the case prompt. If you take 2 mins and its what others could do in 1 min, then this may cause issues.

Cheers,

Vlad replied on 07/26/2018
McKinsey / Accenture / Got all BIG3 offers / More than 300 real MBB cases / Harvard Business School

Hi,

Always take:

  • 1-2 min for initial structure. But the faster the better. 1.5 looks fine
  • 30 sec to analyze the graph / table. Very often you can come up with more than one conclusion from the graph / table(e.g. main conclusion, outliers, correlations)
  • 30 sec - 1 min for questions on creativity. It's really hard to be creative "On-the-go". Spend this time creating the buckets of ideas and then the ideas within the buckets.
  • Up to 1 minute for the conclusion. Again, the faster the better. But always take the time! Your conclusion should be very well structured and your arguments should include supporting numbers and you need time to collect them. Spend 1 minute on collecting the numbers for the arguments. Remember that 70% of your arguments should have numbers

It's a bit more tricky with taking time during the case:

  • It's not OK to take 30 seconds and then come up with just 1 or 2 ideas. And then if the ideas are not correct to keep the science again. This is called "Guessing"
  • It's OK to take 30 seconds, draw a new structure (or continuation of your previous structure) and come up with a structured way to approach the problem further.

Best,

Vlad

(edited)

Francesco replied on 07/26/2018
#1 Expert for coaching sessions (1500+) | Ex BCG | 650+ reviews with 100% recommendation rate

Hi Anonymous,

in general, you should be able to draw your structure in 1-1.5 minutes. 2 minutes is still ok but the interviewer may interrupt to ask if you have done with your analysis. Again, that’s generally not an issue (just say you would need a bit more time as Anonymous B suggested), just be aware this could happen.

Generally speaking, 2 minutes is quite some time to prepare a standard structure. If you are regularly requiring such amount of time, it could be due to the following reasons:

  • You are overcomplicating the structure
  • You aren’t using abbreviations for the key elements of the structure (eg writing Revenues and Costs instead of R and C)
  • You haven’t practiced enough in writing structures on paper
  • You don’t have enough knowledge of that particular type of case

Once identified the issue, you can work on that particular area to improve your speed accordingly.

Best,

Francesco

(edited)

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