Why I think I possibly make a bad consultant :(

approaching a case Case Interview
Edited on Dec 26, 2023
5 Answers
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Anonymous A asked on Nov 18, 2018

Again, am new here. Been a while for me. Was exploring this site, looking around.

Found this. See link at the end re. market share.

Let's consider TMT. If I am asked this, I'd actually think that the "worst answer" mentioned in the commets actually makes sense, i.e. looking at market and company and whatnot first. An Asian telecom vendor gained market share by having rock bottom pricing (or free even!). They are now the world's largest vendor. I also came across a different thread, one on BCG TA or smtg, where things like Cloud and IoT were mentioned. Example, Caterpillar, they invested in IoT. Do they sell construction and agri equipment? Or do they provide agri & cons productivity services? With a different charging model?

I really am slow. Take time to think. Oh well... such is life.


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Mayer replied on Dec 26, 2023

In my consulting journey, I've pondered my effectiveness, realizing potential pitfalls. Communication plays a pivotal role; however, I find it challenging to convey ideas seamlessly. Striving for improvement, I recently explored "Remini," a video editor that metaphorically reflects my quest for clarity.  

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replied on Nov 18, 2018
McKinsey / Accenture Alum / Got all BIG3 offers / Harvard Business School


It definitely comes with practice.

I recommend the following approach:

1) Start with "Case in point" book - you can download this book for free everywhere. It's not the best guide on how you should approach the cases, however, it will give you the basic understanding.

2) Start practicing cases with partners here or find them locally. !!! Find experienced partners or coaches who can provide a good feedback!!!

3) Purchase and read Viktor Cheng Book (Amazon Kindle store) and listen to LOMS (his website). I recommend to reread the book and listen to LOMS every 15 cases. Every time, having more experience, you’ll be finding something new.

4) Practice fast math

  • Learn how to multiply double digit numbers (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ndkkPZYJHo)
  • Learn the division table up to 1/11 (i.e. 5/6 = 83.3)
  • Learn how to work with zeros (Hint: 4000000 = 4*10ˆ6)
  • Use math tools (Mimir math for iOS), Math tool on Viktor Cheng website to practice

5) Below you can find a list of the most common case types and some high-level recommendations on structuring:

  • Market sizing - structuring from the supply or demand side. Structuring using a formula or using an issue tree
  • Profitability - basic profitability framework. Remember about different revenue streams and product mix
  • Market context cases (Market Entry, New product, Acquisition, etc). Always start with the big picture "market". Finish with something specific to the case (e.g. How to enter?"). Structure it as if you are defining the work streams for the real project.
  • Operational math problem (e.g. Should we increase the speed of an elevator or just buy a second one? How should we reduce the queues? Etc.) - Structuring as a process / value chain, with inflows, operations, and outflows
  • Cost cutting - I provided the recommendations on structuring it here: https://www.preplounge.com/en/consulting-forum/operations-cases-mck-1105#a2134
  • Valuation - Purely financial structure with cash flows, growth rate, WACC / hurdle rate, etc.
  • Synergies - revenue synergies (price, qty, mix) and cost synergies (value chain).
  • Social / economics cases (e.g. How to improve the quality of life in the city? How to increase the revenues of the museum?) - huge variability. Practice 3-5 social cases before the interview

6) Also, I would try to focus on the most common industries in the following priority(sorted by probability of getting a case): 1-retail and CPG; 2-airlines; 3-Telecom; 4-banking; 5-natural resources; 6-tech

7) ! Important: don't forget about the FIT interview part. Crafting you stories and backups stories will require a couple of weeks!


Here is a good list of articles regarding the different parts of the case:

1) Start with clarifying questions:


2) Communicating while structuring. Here is a long post by me on how to communicate the structure during the case study:


3) Using hypothesis. I made a post about hypothesis here:


4) Communicating while making calculations:

  • Always tell the interviewer your approach
  • Check with the interviewer that your approach is correct
  • Come to the interviewer with some preliminary answers
  • Check your assumptions with the interviewer

5) Communicating during the analysis of graphs / tables

  • Take a minute to look at the graph. Read the graph title. Look at the graph type and define the type (pie chart, line chart, etc). Look at the legend (ask for clarifying questions if necessary). Identify what's going on on the graph. Look for: Trends, % structures. Look for unusual things - correlations, outliers,
  • Make 3-4 conclusions from the graph. Think out loud on potential hypothesis on what could be the root cause / what are the consequences
  • Prioritize the most important for your current analysis and move forward with the case

6) Communicating while having questions on creativity

  • Ask an interview for a minute to think
  • Think of several buckets of ideas (e.g. organic growth / non-organic growth / differentiation). Remember to think as big as possible
  • Narrow down to each bucket and generate as many ideas as possible
  • Present the structure (buckets) and then your ideas

7) Communicating your conclusion. You can find a good example I've posted here:


8) Communicating your FIT stories

Use the top-down approach while communicating your stories. "The Pyramid Principle" is the must-read by ex McKinsey on this topic.

I recommend using the STAR framework:

  • In Situation, you should briefly provide the context, usually in 1 or 2 sentences
  • Task usually includes 2 or 3 sentences describing the problem and your objective.
  • Then you provide a list of specific actions you took to achieve the goal. It should take 1 or 2 sentences per action (Usually 3-4 actions). Note that the interviewer can stop you any minute and ask for more details.
  • The results part should have 1 or 2 sentences describing the outcomes. This part is finalizing your story - make sure it can impress the interviewer and stay in the memory.


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Clark Kent on Nov 18, 2018

Hi Vlad. Thanks. "Structure it as if you are defining the work streams for the real project". Was thinking as much. Usually structure workstreams at the proposal stage. Takes more than 20 minutes or so, which is the case interview length. This is the bit where I'm struggling. If writing a proposal, even if just determining workstreams, it takes time. Lol, plus, I usually sit back and enjoy a G&T first :-) Thanks again. Will go through your very comprehensive post. Cheers.

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replied on Oct 13, 2023
Ex-BCG Principal | 8+ years consulting experience in SEA | BCG top interviewer & top performer


Everyone starts somewhere, and most of us start from zero. My first case interview was terrible, my first project as a new analyst was terrible, and even as a new manager I really suffered on my first project in that role.

Some good advice has already been given - but if you really want to be a good consultant, here are the tips I have:

  • Understand what good looks like and what the expectations are
  • Keep an open mind 
  • Keep your motivation up :)
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replied on Nov 19, 2018
Collected McKinsey & BCG offers/ Ex-McKinsey consultant/Harvard/WBS/MSU

Dear A,

That's a great wish. You have a long journey ahead! I share a guide how to become a consultant and what you need to have to be successful in this role.

Nail your CV and Cover Letter

Prepare for test (if you send me message, I will send a full guide with the links to docs avaialble for each section):

  • Download mental math for your Iphone and practice everyday -10 min
  • Practice GMAT for BCG and BAIN
  • Practice McKinsey PST


Ist stage. Theory

  • Wharton casebook 2010- you can check how all industries work there (airlines, retail etc)
  • Case-in-point – you can check what frameworks exist, try to practice and learn them (product launch, M&A etc.)
  • Check how former business consultant approaches different cases with best interviewers – listen to at least 3 cases
  • Check out MECE principle, top-down, bottom-up àpyramid principle (book Barbara’s Minto Pyramid)

IInd stage. Practice

  • Create your own case schedule (solve at least 1 case per day) with partners in local groups, universities/preplounge (extreme case)
  • Structure everything you do (how to go the shop, structure long-read articles you in Economist)
  • Solve at least 1 case per each case type you found in case in point
  • Learn how to analyze graphs (practice looking at graphs and asking so whats out of them) Check my answer: https://www.preplounge.com/en/consulting-forum/can-i-have-some-advice-on-how-to-make-insights-from-graphstables-2761
  • Brainstorming is a must = generate at least 10 ideas on an topic in 30 seconds

Link to casebooks

Additional to read:

  • Mind of a strategist
  • McKinsey Marvin Bauer

​All the best,


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replied on Nov 18, 2018
Ex-MBB, Experienced Hire; I will teach you not only the how, but also the why of case interviews

Not sure what the question is. Consulting isn't for everyone, you need a certain mindset, appetite for structure and brainpower - but amazing people would have made terrible consultants (Steve Jobs anyone?).

Beyond this, dont forget:

- there is often more than one answer

- business sense also comes with practice

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