When I am structuring the case, I struggled and get lost.

Case structure and frameworks Case Structuring case types Cases Framework insights MBB Practice cases solution structuring
New answer on Dec 31, 2023
12 Answers
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Anonymous A asked on Dec 10, 2023

Hi, I have a question. When I wanted to start structuring the case, I forgot all the information + frameworks that I knew. I struggled to brainstorm or memorize the frameworks. 

In most cases, I didn't have so much when I wrote the drivers for the case to be the insightful solutions and Pass the AIM Test that we shouldn't write any classic frameworks without some customization for each case. 

What Should I Do?

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Lorenzo
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replied on Dec 10, 2023
University of St.Gallen graduate | Learn to think like a Consultant | Personalized prep | CV review

It's not uncommon to feel overwhelmed or forget frameworks when faced with a case interview, especially when the pressure is on. Here are some strategies to help you overcome this challenge:

Practice Regularly:

  • Regular practice is key to building confidence and familiarity with case interview structures. Set aside dedicated time for case practice, and try to simulate a real interview environment.

Focus on Problem-Solving:

  • Instead of trying to memorize specific frameworks, focus on developing strong problem-solving skills. Understand the core components of a case (context, problem, analysis, recommendations) and practice applying structured thinking to various business scenarios.

Customize Frameworks:

  • As you correctly pointed out, using generic frameworks is not always effective. Work on customizing frameworks based on the specifics of each case. This demonstrates a deeper understanding and a tailored approach to problem-solving.

Develop a Case Approach Toolkit:

  • Create a toolkit of problem-solving techniques and structures that you can adapt to different cases. This could include brainstorming techniques, hypothesis-driven approaches, and frameworks that you've customized for specific industries or problems.

Break Down the Case:

  • When faced with a case, take a moment to break down the problem into its components. Understand the context, identify the key issues, and determine the relevant data needed for analysis. This step-by-step approach can help you structure your thoughts.

Ask Clarifying Questions:

  • Don't hesitate to ask clarifying questions at the beginning of the case. This not only helps you gather more information but also provides a bit of time to collect your thoughts and structure your approach.

Stay Calm and Think Aloud:

  • Even if you can't remember a specific framework, stay calm and think aloud. Walk the interviewer through your thought process, and they may provide guidance or hints to help you structure the case effectively.

Reflect and Learn:

  • After each practice session or interview, reflect on what went well and what areas need improvement. Identify patterns in the types of cases or structures that challenge you, and target those areas in your future practice.

Remember that the key is to develop a flexible and adaptable problem-solving mindset rather than relying solely on memorized frameworks. With consistent practice and a focus on refining your approach, you'll likely see improvement over time.

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Moritz
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replied on Dec 14, 2023
ex-McKinsey EM & Interviewer | 7/8 offer rate for 4+ sessions | 90min sessions with FREE exercises & videos

Hi there,

You should get training. It seems as though you're quite lost by the way you're asking for support.

Fundamentally, it seems as though you're detaching the framework from the problem at hand, which is exactly what happens when people rely on learning framework by hard. This is problematic on multiple levels to the point that even if you remembered all your frameworks, you would likely not do very well.

Also, it's important to understand that there's different kinds of frameworks regarding their purpose:

  • Inductive (bottom up): In candidate-led cases, you're typically asked to solve a specific problem during the interview. The framework serves as an analytical game plan for the duration of the interview to solve the problem at hand. As you go along, you uncover information and put together the pieces to form a conclusion in the end.
  • Deductive (top down): In interviewer-led cases (basically just McKinsey at this point), your framework serves an entirely different purpose. After the prompt, you're being asked a specific question. To answer the question, you're starting with a general theory and form hypotheses based on the info you have e.g. long prompt. Your framework is not an analytical game-plan and rather a structured and closed answer. Anything you uncover throughout the case can and should be referenced to the initial answer, when applicable.

Happy to talk more if needed. Best of luck!

_______________________________________________________
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Ian
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replied on Dec 11, 2023
#1 BCG coach | MBB | Tier 2 | Digital, Tech, Platinion | 100% personal success rate (8/8) | 95% candidate success rate

Hi there,

Very honestly, get coaching.

Frameworking is the hardest part of casing and super hard to learn on one's own.

Here's some more reading on casing: https://www.preplounge.com/en/articles/how-to-shift-your-mindset-to-ace-the-case

Watch both videos of the cases I have in the article here. You'll see how I approach frameworking: Candidate-Led Cases: What to Expect With Example Cases

Honestly structuring is the hardest thing to solve on your own. I highly highly recommend a coach because there's nowhere else you can get direct feedback/advice based on your specific frameworking/structuring.

I've collated some of my past advice on structuring/problem-solving here, which I hope can help you regardless of coaching or not!

Frameworking/Case Driving

First, remember that casing isn't just about memorizing every step, industry, case type, etc. It's about learning how to be adaptable and nimble. So, always be prepared for the unexpected.

1. All cases are structured, whether you realise the structure or not. It's your job to keep it organised and keep it to a good flow/framework!

2. Figure out what data/information you need and ask for it: The interviewer won't just give it to you (just like your client won't know what you need from them). Use your framework to dive into areas! If your interviewer insists they don't have data in that area (after you've gone specific), then go into another area of your framework (or expand out).

3.In this case try and keep a mini framework in your head. You can write as you talk as well.

When you say "not those kinds of questions an interview-led style would ask" this shows me that you're limited in your preparation....don't come in expecting a certain format/style! Be ready to drive your own case if needed. Think if you were on a real life project and asked to lead it...this is what they need you to demonstrate!

Frameworks

If there's anything to remember in this process, is that cases don't exist just because. They have come about because of a real need to simulate the world you will be in when you are hopefully hired. As such, remember that they are a simplified version of what we do, and they test you in those areas.

As such, remember that a framework is a guide, not a mandate. In the real-world, we do not go into a client and say "right, we have a framework that says we need to look at x, y, and z and that's exactly what we're going to do". Rather, we come in with a view, a hypothesis, a plan of attack. The moment this view is created, it's wrong! Same with your framework. The point is that it gives us and you a starting point. We can say "right, part 1 of framework is around this. Let's dig around and see if it helps us get to the answer". If it does, great, we go further (but specific elements of it will certainly be wrong). If it doesn't, we move on.

So, in summary, learn your frameworks, use the ones you like, add/remove to them if the specific case calls for it, and always be prepared to be wrong. Focus rather on having a view, refering back to the initial view to see what is still there and where you need to dive into next to solve the problem.

HOW to learn/think in the right way.

  1. Frame based on the objective: Identify exactly what the objective is, then think about the areas you would look at to solve the problem.
  2. Think of buckets as "building blocks" - understand the 10-odd buckets that exist out them (Market, Product, Company, How to Enter, etc.). Learn these, and what their used for, then think of them as ingredients that you then pluck out and tailor to your framework.
  3. Practice with Introduction, then End, then framework:
    1. ​ Practice a number of cases where you hear just the introduction, then build a framework.
    2. THEN, look at the end of the case and what conclusion was made, and re-do your framework.
    3. THEN, look at what framework(s) was/were proposed as the answer.
  4. Read the Economist religiously: The Economist is an excellent, longer-term base knowledge/thinking resource for you. I've found that reading the Economist over the years has been instrumental in helping to shape my thinking and holistically understand problems, whether political, economic, social, or anything in between. Feel free to throw in the Financial Times or BCG Insights into the mix!
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Pedro
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replied on Dec 10, 2023
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That's because you are doing the mistake of trying to memorize frameworks instead of trying to develop something to solve the problem at hand.

Memorizing frameworks is a terrible method popularized by “Case in Point” and honestly it leads to failure. 

Your preparation should consist on developing your ability to solve problems, not on becoming good at memorizing frameworks.

I'll put this very straightforward: no MBB is hired ever for a generic “framework” they have. They are hired because they develop specific approaches for the problems they have.

I used to spend 2-3 days to develop a proposal for a client (of course, not 100% of this was on develing the approach, but the approach was the starting point). Sometimes even more. 

In contrast, some of my lower value competitors would prepare a proposal in 2-3 hours. They would use a generic approach and as a result, charge much lower fees. 

In 99% of the situations, clients would keep the conversation going with me, not them. They were perceived as low value “template fillers”, not as problem solvers.

The same thing applies here. You are being tested for your problem solving and analytical capability, not your memory and template filling capacity.

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Frederic
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replied on Dec 11, 2023
ex Jr. Partner McKinsey|Senior Interviewer|Real Feedback & Free Homework between sessions|Harvard Coach|10+ Experience

Hi there, did you do peer coachings before? It's a different game doing cases by yourself vc. live infront of someone else. Ideally obviously with a coach ;-)

Here's why peer coaching, especially in a live setting, is beneficial:

Real-Time Pressure:

  • Peer coaching adds an element of real-time pressure that can simulate the stress of an actual interview. This helps you build resilience and perform better under pressure.

Immediate Feedback:

  • Getting instant feedback allows you to identify areas for improvement right away. It could be about structuring, communication, or specific case-solving approaches.

Different Perspectives:

  • Your peer might approach a case differently than you would, providing valuable insights and alternative solutions. This diversity of thought is beneficial for broadening your problem-solving skills.

Communication Skills:

  • Practicing with a peer enhances your communication skills. It's not just about solving the case but also about conveying your thought process clearly and persuasively.

Interactive Learning:

  • Engaging in a live case with a peer makes the learning process more interactive and dynamic. You're actively participating and adapting based on the feedback you receive.

Building Confidence:

  • The more you practice with peers, the more confident you become. Confidence is a crucial aspect of performing well in interviews.

Ping me a DM if you want some more tips, 

Warm regards,

Freddy

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Nicolas
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replied on Dec 10, 2023
40% off 1st coaching Promo | #1 MBB Coach Canada & MENA | 8y+ Coaching & recruiting | BCG + Senior Exec | INSEAD MBA

Hello! 

Great question and very normal when starting. 

I find it helpful when starting to NOT think of it as Frameworks. Take your time to think, put down your thoughts and then structure, it will get smoother and faster with time. 

1. To Start | You have work experience so leverage that and just think : “My manager gave me this problem, what should I look into to solve?”. Leverage your work experience, it is the same thing as you have been doing while problem solving at your current job, don't try to think of it as a NEW skill for Consulting → That should get you used to just “brain-dumping” potential areas of exploration

2. Then you can start bundling topics, and structuring them by areas of focus.

3. Once done, think “now if I can look only into 1 of those areas, which should it be, and why?” → that makes you prioritize and formulate your hypothesis as to WHY (as or more important than the actual framework itself) 

As you repeat that for different cases, your “mental library” of “framework buckets” and what goes in them will expand and you'll be able to just select the ones relevant for the given case. 

Let me know if you have any more questions!
Cheers, Nicolas 

 

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Raj
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replied on Dec 16, 2023
FREE 15MIN CONSULTATION | #1 Strategy& / OW coach | >70 5* reviews |90% offers ⇨ prep-success.super.site | MENA, DE, UK

Hi there! It's not uncommon to feel overwhelmed or forgetful when structuring a case. Here are a few tips to help you navigate this challenge:

Practice, Practice, Practice: The more you practice case interviews, the more comfortable and familiar you will become with different case types and frameworks. Regular practice will help you internalize the key components of a case structure and improve your ability to think on your feet.

Focus on the Basics: When you find yourself struggling to remember frameworks, go back to the basics. Start with a simple, high-level structure that includes key elements such as market analysis, competition, and internal capabilities. From there, you can customize and expand your structure based on the specific case details.

Develop a Mental Checklist: Create a mental checklist of key questions to ask yourself when structuring a case. For example, consider the industry, the client's objectives, and the available data. This checklist will serve as a guide to help you organize your thoughts and ensure you cover all relevant areas.

Use Shortcuts and Shorthand: To save time and mental energy, develop shorthand or abbreviations for common frameworks or concepts. This will help you quickly recall and apply them during a case interview. For example, you can use "4Ps" for the marketing mix or "PESTEL" for the external analysis.

Stay Calm and Flexible: Remember that case interviews are designed to test your problem-solving skills, not your ability to memorize frameworks. Stay calm and adaptable. If you can't recall a specific framework, focus on the underlying principles and use a logical, structured approach to analyze the case.

Seek Feedback: After each practice session or interview, seek feedback from your peers or mentors. They can provide valuable insights on areas where you can improve your structuring skills and offer suggestions for alternative frameworks or approaches.

Remember, structuring a case is a skill that can be developed with practice and experience. Stay confident, stay focused, and keep refining your approach. Good luck!

 

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Cristian
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Content Creator
replied on Dec 11, 2023
#1 rated MBB & McKinsey Coach

Hi there!

This is a challenge that many candidates have, but also one that is impossible to solve in a Q&A (not surprisingly I assume). 

I put together a masterclass specifically for this. Have a look here: https://www.preplounge.com/en/shop/coaching-packages-5/first_principles_structuring_masterclass

Also, you might find it useful to go through the following materials which explains some of the typical structuring methodologies:


Generally, don't worry - it's a skill that you can better at if you're willing to put the work in and have the right guidance. 

Best,
Cristian

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Alberto
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replied on Dec 10, 2023
Ex-McKinsey Associate Partner | +15 years in consulting | +200 McKinsey 1st & 2nd round interviews

Hi there,

First of all, don't worry since the situation you mention is quite frequent with candidates starting with case solving preparation.

I suggest you change your approach from memorizing frameworks to really working on your own frameworks for each case. A case coach definitely would be helpful here.

Happy to keep talking about this in private, just send me a message.

Best,

Alberto

Check out my latest case based on a real MBB interview: Sierra Springs

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Benjamin
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replied on Dec 31, 2023
Ex-BCG Principal | 8+ years consulting experience in SEA | BCG top interviewer & top performer

Hi,

Memorization is really not the right way to approach problem solving. Sure, there is some contextual knowledge that will be helpful, but what firms are really testing is the ability to think on the spot.

My take on this is that getting better at structuring (and problem solving) is a function of:

  1. Making mistakes
  2. Understanding why and where you made those mistakes
  3. Understanding what good looks like
  4. Learning and internalizing the lessons and putting it into practice

Essentially, this is the apprenticeship model of learning that MBB is based on.

If you are really struggling now - try and find someone (friend, coach, etc) that can help you especially on steps #2 and #3, as well as help give you great materials to practice.

All the best!

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Dennis
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Content Creator
replied on Dec 10, 2023
Ex-Roland Berger|Project Manager and Recruiter|7+ years of consulting experience in USA and Europe

Hi there,

you are experiencing symptoms that many people come across when they start practicing solving cases. There are some good general guidelines mentioned here that you should leverage. But on a standalone basis, they can often seem abstract and you might not know how to apply them to your specific situation/needs.

It would probably make sense to do a practice case with a coach so you can get tailored and actionable feedback as to what YOU can do in particular to help you continuously improve.

Best

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Nikita
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replied on Dec 16, 2023
MBB & Tier2 preparation | 85+ offers | 6+ years coaching | 1000+ sessions | PDF reviews attached

Hi, 

This is very common for most candidates.

Even if you prepare intensively before your interviews, there's always a chance you'll stress out in a real interview. The solution: keep attending case interviews at other firms until the process becomes less stressful for you

Also, don't disregard getting coaching at some points in your preparation.

Good luck!
Nick

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Lorenzo gave the best answer

Lorenzo

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