Did you enjoy the program? If yes, how?
Yes, I enjoyed the program. There are two main reasons for this:
a) It helped me greatly improve my case interviewing (more than expected at the outset of the program). This was the reason I joined the program.
b) It taught me valuable lessons which I can and will apply to my daily life (both professionally and outside of work). I was not expecting to learn these “lessons” from a case interviewing program. But I was pleasantly surprised when I did. By “lessons” I mean a range of things, such as:
• the importance of communication in the workplace and outside, and how to communicate more effectively;
• how to brainstorm and applying brainstorming in everyday life;
• it re-emphasized the importance of values. It is admirable how the program (and Michael) live and breathe values.
Did the program meet your expectations? If yes, how?
Yes. The program met and exceeded my expectations as set out in my response to Question 1 above. In addition, the program helped me to improve my case interviewing by:
• Teaching a very structured and easy to learn a method for market sizing questions (the best I have seen)
• Teaching brainstorming! It is the only time I have ever seen this being taught so well.
• Teaching communication in both a case and generally in an interview. Again, it is the best resource I have seen on communication.
• The coaching sessions are targeted to me personally and Michael gives me very direct feedback.
What was the most important learning’s from the program?
Please see my responses to Questions 1 and 2 above. My enjoyment and expectations regarding the program were mainly determined by the important lessons I learnt so my responses above cover this question.
Do you feel the program provided an advantage for you versus your own/other preparation? If so, in what way?
Yes. Some of the main advantages (and in what way) are:
• it greatly improved my structure, brainstorming and communication as detailed in Question 2 above. The training videos were very useful and were well combined with the coaching sessions. The recent move to put the podcasts in sections which align with the training program is also very useful.
• it effectively teaches how to answer certain types of cases and as a result of learning how to brainstorm I am now confident of facing any case, no matter what type of case it is;
• it has improved the way I do the PEI interview (although I have only spent limited time on this in the coaching sessions so I cannot comment fully); and
• I could ask Michael all of my questions the answers to which are not easily obtainable (for example, should I defer my interviews and, if so, how do I go about doing this without upsetting the firm). Having access to Michael’s pool of knowledge was very useful.
Can you recall any memorable moments?
No moments in particular stand out. The program is very consistent throughout.
What would you like changed in the program?
In general, the program is great. However, there main things I would like changed in the program are set out below. I would like to emphasize that the first two bullet points are the areas I feel particularly strongly about:
• The program teaches building blocks in order to successfully solve a case. However, I feel that the program could do a better job of teaching how to link these building blocks. I feel that the program sometimes assumes that the candidate can link these themselves (I often feel like I don’t know how these should be linked). For example, a lot of the videos show how to start a case and give good explanations of why you would approach a case in a certain way, but the video often does not pull all of the pieces together. For example, the McKinsey restaurant case starts by showing some very good initial hypothesis and teaching how to arrive at these. That part is excellent. What I feel is missing is showing the next steps: How does the candidate progress the case after stating the initial hypothesis? What if those hypothesis prove incorrect, how do you stop from “stalling” and manage to get back on track? What would be very useful are some “best practice” videos which show how to nail a case from start to finish without any coaching tips or lessons (ie, the whole case is done as if it was done in an actual interview). I feel this is something that is missing from the video library at the moment. It would be very useful to have a second video for some of the cases (ie, leave the “coaching” video for the restaurant case in the library and then also upload an additional new video which shows how a candidate nails the case from start to finish).
• It would be extremely helpful to watch some Command and Control (McKinsey style) case interviews and have some coaching sessions on this style. I feel like this is currently a gap in the program. I am particularly unclear as to how long I should talk about my approach for, how detailed this discussion should be, if I always need to state my hypothesis up front, how general that hypothesis can be, if I cannot state it up front when to state it, how to adjust other aspects of the case interview for Command and Control etc. It would be ideal to be able to view both coaching videos and best practice videos (ie, showing a candidate nailing a case from start to finish a candidate).
• It would also be very useful to listen to some audio of best practice PEI responses. Whilst the podcasts on PEI interviews are very good, as with the videos, they coach effectively but there are no examples of best practice from start to finish. It would be particularly useful to also have audio which involves an interviewer and a candidate (two people on the recording) and have the interviewer “drill down” into the candidates responses (ie, a McKinsey grilling).
• It would also be beneficial to have more case videos showing how to approach some common cases (eg new product). However, I appreciate that there are already many great videos covering many different cases and that it must take a lot of time to produce these. Also, it would be useful to see some more detailed examples of how the Profit framework is used together with “customer”, “competition” and “industry”. This is introduced in later videos but I feel that it is not shown in detail how to effectively use this approach.
• The program could have more material on how to solve written cases (which are common at Bain in Australia in the last round).
Do you believe your coach was effective?
Yes. Michael was an extremely effective coach. In short, because of Michael’s coaching my performance in cases has improved dramatically. Some of the reasons why I believe Michael is an effective coach are:
• he gives very specific and direct feedback;
• he is extremely knowledgeable;
• he identifies my strengths and weaknesses, makes me aware of these, and focuses on improving my weaknesses;
• he gives great personalized advise and answers my questions regarding the application/interview process (see my response to Question 4 above)
• he is very responsive.
Do you personally believe the sessions were tailored for your own development?
Yes. The sessions were tailored to my own development.
What are your thoughts on using former McKinsey/BCG worldwide practice leaders to coach clients?
In short, excellent! Unfortunately I was not invited to participate in the mentoring program so I cannot comment in detail but it is simply an outstanding move on FC’s behalf. I’m sure that anyone who is selected to be mentored will benefit greatly. However, I did learn a lot from the video with Kevin Coyne on the Firmsconsulting website.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
One of the most useful experiences through the program was being put in touch with another candidate in the program (on a no names and completely confidential basis) to practice cases with. This was incredibly useful. I cannot emphasize this enough. I understand that this is not usual practice for Firmsconsulting but Michael was very kind in arranging this for me on request.
The reason why I believe this was so useful is that when I practice with people who are not in the program, I often have the feeling that it does more harm than good because they have not undergone this program and do cases in a very different way so their feedback is often contrary to some of the training in the program.
By being able to practice with a case partner who has also undergone the training in the program, they were able to provide really effective feedback and refer to certain parts of videos that are relevant. This has helped me to greatly improve my case interviewing.
Please let me know if you would like any further feedback on any particular area. I would be happy to provide this.
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