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9/24/2017 How to Structure a Case Interview

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How to Structure a Case Interview
 by Victor Cheng

Question:

Thanks to your videos I made it to the nal rounds, but the feedback from the last interview
said that I needed more structure.

As you surely know, case interviews at McKinsey (at least in my country) are pretty
standard in structure. This structure is as follows:

1. They open with a business situation, ask you to come up with areas to investigate.

2. They ask a more speci c question, based on what you said at 1.

3. They give a numerical analysis and ask for conclusions.

4. Overall conclusions and recommendations.

Some steps may repeat during a case, for example instead of 1 2 3 4 it may be 1 2 3 2 3 4. My
point is that you don't really drive the case, they ask you questions which you have to
answer.

http://www.caseinterview.com/how-to-structure-a-case-interview?inf_contact_key=4d51300d4b8fd3c402a90303f8a74bd90a6d3d163fbcadf1304c6b00650c6f71#myreply 1/10

We moved on to 3 and 4 which went well. For my last case I had a wine producer that we had to asses for a private equity buy out. I asked what he meant by dimensions. He asked what else. and after we went through it. They gave me 2 weeks. but having in mind a case situation like you described) to do some mock interviews. So.caseinterview. I ruled out their suggestion. in this case study interview standard. the interviewer jumped to the question : "What are the dimensions in which this rm can grow?". because for example at the dimensions growth question. but he restated the question. So. I should have said that market share is an objective. how can I practice for gaining MECE structuring capabilities in just one week? They said I should nd a partner (which I have already been doing. my question is. and I came to you for help. and that he wanted to hear a MECE list like : Increase products. grow geographically etc.9/24/2017 How to Structure a Case Interview Which brings me to my question. not a dimension. He told me that I need more structure. although they don't conduct the interviews the standard way (in which I drive the case. increase product output. one already passed. http://www.com/how-to-structure-a-case-interview?inf_contact_key=4d51300d4b8fd3c402a90303f8a74bd90a6d3d163fbcadf1304c6b00650c6f71#myreply 2/10 . So. but did not tell me right away (I found out at the end of the case). He didn't agree. So. in which I should practice this structuring. and that was it. the rst thing that popped into my mind was market share. My Response: Your situation/question has several aspects to it. not them). so I said increase products and products output. for 1 I set up your standard framework.

) But you could have re-phrased the question to con rm if you understood the vocabulary. what I think he/she meant was what WAYS can this company grow? I personally wouldn't have used the term dimensions as an interviewer. This makes sense particularly in the case of evaluating an acquisition. the frameworks are a useful way to START a case.caseinterview. So I suspect if you said something like. etc. I have in the past started a case with the business situation framework but then switched to a supply/demand framework. target new market. Second. They key to making an acquisition work is to see if the acquiring company can nd a way to grow the target company that the previous management team did not or could not execute. The reason the interviewer probably repeated his question was he didn't want to give you the answers (like introduce new products. For example.. Other times I'll start with one of my standard frameworks and then make up a new framework on the y (an advanced skill only needed in perhaps 1 in 15 cases). It also sounds like he wasn't looking for an overall business assessment. but was looking speci cally to analyze the various ways the target company can grow. as the average person doesn't know what that means. You will want to listen carefully to your interviewer as they will often guide you in a different direction if your initial approach is wrong. If you did not understand the question. The other reason the interviewer might have done this is perhaps he (I'm just going to assume he for ease of writing) worked only on the revenue growth aspects of the actual http://www. when the interviewer asked about dimensions for growth. "Are you asking me which WAYS this company can grow?" "Is that what you're asking?" He  would have probably said "yes" (which doesn't end up revealing any of the potential answers).com/how-to-structure-a-case-interview?inf_contact_key=4d51300d4b8fd3c402a90303f8a74bd90a6d3d163fbcadf1304c6b00650c6f71#myreply 3/10 . you really should not proceed until you do.9/24/2017 How to Structure a Case Interview First.

. but it does organize the information in a different way. Interviewer: Okay. This is a different framework and certainly isn't wrong.caseinterview.... the team or interviewer used more of a revenue .9/24/2017 How to Structure a Case Interview client situation. http://www. what else? 2) They could grow through Y method. It seems to me that the interviewer really wanted to talk only about revenue growth opportunities and nothing else. Also it looks like in this case. And perhaps someone else had taken the competitive and industry aspects of the client situation... it is often useful to give a high level answer organized in a way that is easy to follow. When this situation comes up where it doesn't t a pre-existing framework perfectly.. As in: what are the revenues and costs under current management versus what would the potential revenue and costs be under the acquiring company. and thus wanted to guide you in that direction because in any other direction he wouldn't have had the background to answer your questions / requests for data. So the interviewer only had data for the portions of the case that he worked on...com/how-to-structure-a-case-interview?inf_contact_key=4d51300d4b8fd3c402a90303f8a74bd90a6d3d163fbcadf1304c6b00650c6f71#myreply 4/10 .costs = pro ts framework. Most people who answer the question "what ways can this company grow" will say something like this: 1) They could grow through X method.. This is the "more structure" the interviewer was likely referring to.

To use an analogy. it's very easy to get lost. in general to grow a business you can change what you sell (e. Let's see. So you'd ideally want to list the major categories of growth. Topic B. I will talk about 3 topics: Topic A.com/how-to-structure-a-case-interview?inf_contact_key=4d51300d4b8fd3c402a90303f8a74bd90a6d3d163fbcadf1304c6b00650c6f71#myreply 5/10 . "Let's see. To list all of them in detail would take up way too much time. you need to state the table of contents before you dive into the details of each chapter. "In what ways can this company grow?" up front BEFORE you dive into exploring any one answer.9/24/2017 How to Structure a Case Interview This is very much like a laundry list and is very hard to follow.. you want to say. when you give a speech.. then you say. I am going to talk about 3 topics: A." I probably would have listed this as a 2 x 2 matrix which is a more STRUCTURED way to present this kind of information. It is like reading a text book that has no table of contents and no chapter titles.caseinterview.. This is where the MECE Principle comes into effect. "In my speech..  Then in your speech you talk about topic A. Or to use a different analogy. Thus you need to "structure" your answer a bit up front before diving into the details. "As I said at the beginning." So basically you want to list all your answers to the question. Topic C" (notice the similarity to a framework). new customer/customer segment). you want me to nd all the various ways this company can grow.. So one possible answer would be.g. old product) or change who you sell to (existing customer/customer segment vs. C. as it presents it in a visual way that is more easily http://www. B. now I'm going to talk about topic B.. You want to use the MECE principle to organize your initial answer. new product vs. Now there are many ways a company can grow.. I've just nished topic A.

Existing vs.9/24/2017 How to Structure a Case Interview understandable to more people than describing it verbally." sometimes "MECE-enough" is good enough. particularly if there isn't a better way to organize the information at hand. (Click Here for more info on MECE framework). another possible way of organizing the answers to "what ways can this company grow" could be: Products/Services . New This approach has some structure to it. but it's neither mutually exclusive ("ME") or collectively exhaustive ("CE").Existing vs. New Other Ways to Grow* http://www. which I am having dif culty doing: Old Customer Segment New Customer Segment Old Product New Product This an example of a MECE framework in that in each dimension. You could improve it by using the following approach: Products/Services .Existing vs.. New Distribution Channels . New Customers . there is no overlap in each of the categories and when you add up all the categories.caseinterview. New Customers .Existing vs. New Distribution Channels . it covers 100% of the possible options within the category. For example.. While consultants are fond of "MECE-ness.Existing vs.com/how-to-structure-a-case-interview?inf_contact_key=4d51300d4b8fd3c402a90303f8a74bd90a6d3d163fbcadf1304c6b00650c6f71#myreply 6/10 .Existing vs.

caseinterview. frameworks) on the y. but there is still the potential for overlap across the three primary areas .. The same approach is reasonable in a case interview. customers and distribution channels.g.com/how-to-structure-a-case-interview?inf_contact_key=4d51300d4b8fd3c402a90303f8a74bd90a6d3d163fbcadf1304c6b00650c6f71#myreply 7/10 . before you get tempted to use a MECE enough approach. it makes the work collectively exhaustive (the CE part of MECE).. so a client (or in your case an interviewer) can never say your framework didn't cover every possibility. here are all the ways I love you: Section 1: Qualities about you that I love Section 2: Qualities about me that I love when I with you Section 3: Other "Where should we go to dinner tonight?" Here are our options: 1) Restaurants East of our current location 2) Restaurants West of our current location http://www.products. as consultants we often use MECE-enough approaches when a clean MECE approach doesn't come to mind. "Hi honey. In practice..9/24/2017 How to Structure a Case Interview The last category is a catch-all. By adding the "other" category.. take the effort to consider if you can make your approach 100% MECE rst. In terms of practicing how to create MECE ways to organize information (e. However. you can practice this very easily by using the MECE in everything you do in everyday life.

To get access to these free resources. but believe it or not.0 miles 3) Restaurants within a radius of 2. the actual frameworks I used to pass my interviews. just ll out the form below: http://www.01 miles+ This may seem ridiculously "STRUCTURED" to the point of being really absurd in everyday life. and end up working at McKinsey. I suggest becoming a registered member (it's free) to get access to the materials I used to pass 60 out of 61 case interviews. but many consultants will think in this way in their heads. Members get access to 6 hours of video tutorials on case interviews.com/how-to-structure-a-case-interview?inf_contact_key=4d51300d4b8fd3c402a90303f8a74bd90a6d3d163fbcadf1304c6b00650c6f71#myreply 8/10 . Additional Resources If you found this post useful. this is how consultants think.01 miles to 2. You can see examples of cases being structured in the Look Over My Shoulder® audio recordings.caseinterview. and over 500 articles on case interviews. land 7 job offers.9/24/2017 How to Structure a Case Interview 3) Restaurants North of our current location 4) Restaurants South of our current location or 1) Restaurants within a 1 mile radius 2) Restaurants within a radius of 1. You may now want to use the approach out loud in a social setting...

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