It is quite common for Firmsconsulting to receive the following emails, questions or comments from clients and readers. When reading the comments below, try to think about why a reader would have these questions. In other words, what are their underlying assumptions?
When should I use a structure versus explaining the thinking of my approach?
When do I use the should, could and would approach?
I presented my structure and hypotheses but the McKinsey interviewer wanted something else. How do I handle that request?
Why does the 4P’s framework not work in this case when this case is the same as other cases where the framework was used?
When someone asks questions like this it is fairly obvious they are using the technique, most commonly taught in books and blogs, to use structures or broad frameworks to solve a case. Mainly, they are trying to force-fit an approach/technique/methodology on the answer.
The problem with this approach is that interviewees are being trained to approach cases as if the interview is solely about solving the initial case presented to them. They are obsessed about understanding, dissecting and completing the case. That is an incorrect approach. The correct tactic is to approach the case as if it is an evolving problem controlled entirely by the interviewer.
Consider the following evolution of a case:
• 00:30 seconds: The case is entirely determined by the initial written or verbal case question presented, since the interviewer has not had much time to change the direction of the case by adding new information in the first 30 seconds.
• 03:30 minutes: The case is determined by both the written/verbal case question and more so by the data, additional clues, emphasis and additional facts provided by the interviewer.
• 07:30 minutes: The case is almost completely determined by the data, additional clues, emphasis and additional facts provided by the interviewer. The new case information presented by the interviewer exceeds the initial case question information by a factor of 3 to 1.
• 12:30 minutes: The case has been so heavily adapted by the interviewer that it bears no semblance to the initial question. In other words, the initial data about the case provided at the beginning has now been supplemented by new information from the interviewer and that new information makes up >80% of the case information. If that is the situation, which it usually is, clearly most of the attention must go to the majority of new information, which is mainly provided by the interviewer over the duration of the case.
This evolution of the case explains the importance of paying attention to, and following the interviewer. You need to follow the interviewer and not assume the case is fixed from time 00:30 seconds. Most candidates are obsessed about solving the initially case presented and routinely ignore the interviewer.
We present a useful 3-step process to integrate the initial question, your insights and the interviewer’s advice.