Friday, December 09, 2005

Deep dive, stress testing and huge response

Generic CP:

Yesterday’s workout was a very good kick-off session for this year’s consulting preparation. The level of commitment shown by people who stand to derive no direct benefit from their effort is inspiring to say the least. Anant, our alum, had flown down from Delhi despite having worked the whole day and Gautam, who is a senior person at McK and not even an alum, wanted to be here but wasn’t able to make it due to some bizarre circumstances. In addition, Rohit also made it a point to be present for the entire session despite the fact he had just gotten his son back from the hospital. To top it all, we had a huge turnout and a deluge of entries! Hats-off guys! I hope that we are able to set some new records this year given our current energy levels.


There are several advantages to recording a case:
· it helps people analyze their performance and improve
· it helps people see other’s performance and either improve themselves or give constructive feedback to the concerned person
· it helps people track their progress through the prep season, and
· it will help the junior batch if we can pass on a library of even 10 top-notch case videos

We have also got some great feedback which we will try to incorporate in the next rounds.


Below are some notes I took during yesterday’s workout session. I have jotted down some basic points about each case and the feedback given by the team as well as Anant and Rohit marked as "< rohit >".

Over All Takeaways:
o Define the problem.
o Take 30 secs to structure the problem.
o Identify buckets into which you can categorize the problem areas.
o Formulate some hypothesis.
o Then go about attacking one sliver after another.
o Ask if you are unsure.
o Finally synthesize by stating what the problem was, followed by what facts were stated, followed by which slivers were identified, followed by what analysis was done, and finally followed by the conclusion.
o Don’t try to fill silence with obvious questions.
o Structuring thoughts will help you avoid trivial questions.
o A good place to find out if the case is a quant / quali case is the problem statement. If there are lots of data points in the problem statement then you can guess that this is a quant case.

Wonder eye drop. Client has done R&D for 10 years. By using the eye drop for 10 days the user doesn’t need to use the spectacles ever. Competitor is 2 years behind in R&D. You have to market the product. How will you do it?

Team’s Comments:
· Interviewee was not initially sure about pricing.
· Interviewer did a good job.

Alum’s comments:

About Interviewee:
o Should have taken 30 seconds to organize your thoughts.
o Should have categorized your approach into three different buckets and then approached them separately.
o Appeared to be engaged in solving the problem.
o Body language was good – didn’t appear to be flustered, appeared to be driving hard towards a solution, lively interaction.
o Didn’t state hypothesis upfront, synthesize in the end.
o This was the problem, this is how we approached it, these were the facts and therefore this is our recommendation.
o Choice of language is important – make your language sound professional.
o Cases will be a mix of quali and quanti.
o Use a structure implicitly and not explicitly.
o Give a basis for your thinking.

SRIDHAR – SHANKAR --- ( awesome stress testing :D )

Case: ATM Public Sector Bank. Newly installed ATMs. No one is using them. How to increase ATM usage?

Team’s Comments:
Jot down the intermediate solutions. Helps in assimilating in the end.

Alum’s Comments:

· Very good problem statement and then asked for a minute to think about it.
· Asking relevant questions but didn’t structure it upfront.
· Too much silence.
· It was good to ask ‘is there something I am missing?’
· Good body language. Seemed to want to solve the problem.
· Did not synthesize.
· Good creativity.
· The interviewer was able to confuse the candidate very easily. It would have helped to bucket the problem in multiple categories.
· Think through the process of issuing and using the card. Take a sliver and ask questions on that sliver. Ask for the process wrt to this particular branch.
· Ask questions about the industry average.
· Use the word hypothesis while stating your hypothesis.
· Introduce some quant questions from your side. Even if the quant is not relevant, asking about quant will indicate that you are comfortable with a quant.
· Ask questions about an industry that you are not aware about.
· If you miss out on some bucket in the analysis then introduce it later up front and state that you would like to include it in your analysis now.


Pharma sector. New product. Two products with same functionality but different segments. Low market share. How to increase it?

Alum’s Comments:

· Initial questions good. Did not follow up with time to structure the problem.
· Kept asking too many questions.
· Should have taken time out to build hypothesis.
· Never say ‘I have no idea’.

MANI’s CASE: (dude what was the problem statement? i forgot pls mail me)

Team’s comments (self analysis):
· Structure missing.
· Not addressing the questions directly.
· Candidate did not take the hints when the interviewer offered hints thrice.
· Did not ask for some key data points.

Alum’s comments:· Very serious feel to the case.
· The candidate should show resolve for problem solving, communication, rapport, creativity in getting at the solution.

To be helpful to the candidate.

o Ask for help if needed.
o Good to have clarified the question.
o Asked for too many facts.
o Essential to frame the problem statement in your words right at the onset.
o Structure was missing in the answers. Started shooting in the dark. There was no basis for asking some questions.
o Summarize the approach right away and take the interviewer’s view.
o Asked for too much time. Be ready with a quick and dirty answer.
o You didn’t appear to be interested in solving the problem à lack of enthusiasm and interest in solving the problem.
o Make it very interactive. Get the interviewer to talk more.
o Summarize your findings.
o End the interview on a good note.
o Writing for too long a time and therefore loss of eye contact.
o State a hypothesis upfront à this is where I am going, this is the direction in which I think the solution lies “I think it’s a distribution problem and here are my reasons and here are the questions I want clarified so that I can solve the case.”
o Don’t state the solution upfront. Just state the options that you want to explore

Final Questions and Answers:

o Should a wild card question be asked, such as “should I know something more about the case”?
It is a fair thing to ask, because as a consultant you can ask this question to your client.

o How do you start seeing improvement?
You will see improvement within two weeks. Start structuring your problems and you will see improvement. Be regular. Always get someone to ask you questions and some people to observe. It’s a good idea to start with Vault and Wetfeet frameworks. But don’t try to force fit some framework.

o You need to be comfortable with the sector from which you have come from. You need to be comfortable with at least two sectors.

-- Yash

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