need to give someone practice case, how do BCG questions differ from McK?

Hi all, just a quick question. A friend (engineer, master's deg.) has asked me to give him a practice case for his BCG interview. I myself am a recent post-graduate hire for one of the big consulting companies, but have not started yet. I know for example, how McK cases are like -- how should I modify the questions to be more like BCG? (I didn't get any interviews with them)

For example, the McK interview usually goes something like:
-- small talk, hellos, resume chat
-- tell me about a time you had to use leadership skills to solve a difficult problem
-- case portion, a company is thinking of adopting this new technology, what general issues can you identify to be examined?
-- ok, you mentioned production issues. Here are some numbers about their production capacity, can you tell me how the new technology will affect their profit margin?
-- what initial thoughts do you have for the CEO this afternoon?

So I'm basically trying to come up with something for him to practice realistically for BCG. One thing I noticed is that McK interview was not very framework or typical case-based. Is BCG more? Somewhere I read that with BCG you will be "driving" the case more, like having to ask, "is it this factor or that factor", "ok, can you tell me more about the segmentation of that". Is that right?

Thanks for your help in advance!

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Comments (6)

Nov 5, 2009 - 3:48pm

Don't over-think it. Go with what you know. The differences aren't meaningful enough to worry about. You're right in that McKinsey interviewers hate to hear people whip out canned frameworks and force the case into that framework. BCG interviewers are the same. Frameworks are a reference for certain types of cases, not the solution.

Here's one person's perspective on how they approached their interviews

The Case Study Interview framework I used to get offers at McKinsey, Bain & BCG -

Tell your friends to practice as many cases as possible with real human beings, ideally people like yourself who have been successful in the interview process with a major consulting firm. He can't neglect the behavioral/fit side of the interview however. It's the "easier" part of the interview, but one you can blow if you don't spend time preparing for that as well.

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Nov 5, 2009 - 4:02pm

Agree with the above, on the case side, it's all about practice, practice, practice. The more you use the "frameworks", the more comfortable you will become with them and more knowledgeable about when to apply what framework. I would echo formerMD, that canned frameworks really don't help that much, it's much more important to know how to recognize what problem you are trying to solve, and take a logical approach to solving the problem.

Remember case interviews are not for testing your ability to memorize frameworks, but to test your ability to structure problems and utilize "brainpower". The best help you can give your friend to just spend time on cases and practice his problem solving approach.

Nov 6, 2009 - 4:14pm

Having recently interviewed with both BCG and McK, I do think that BCG makes you drive the case much more. You will get questions, like anything else, anything else? they want you to identify new factors. McKinsey is much more structured...when they ask you for factors, they want to hear your "3 big buckets" that are MECE and then a description of what is in those buckets.

The McK cases are much more structured...question #1,#2,#3 whereas BCG cases were much more conversational and seemed like they didn't have as much structure to them...especially in the later rounds.

Nov 21, 2009 - 12:43am

BCG is a lot more free flowing. McK often have data sets that mark out the various steps in the case and you're kind of taken from one to another - they'll drag you on to another handout etc. even if you're pushing in another direction. BCG tend have some data at the start but let you structure it from there - asking questions etc. but they don't normally have any more prepared data set "milestones", so to speak. E.G. Mck will might stop you half way through and say, okay so the case team ran an analysis of the marketing strategies of competitors and here are the resutls, even if you never mentioned marketing. BCG don't really do that, in my admittedly limited experience.

Also, there's a massive difference between the McK personal interview which goes over a single incident in depth and the regular CV based interview at BCG. IMO this is more significant than the case differences and really worth highlighting for your friend.

Dec 10, 2009 - 4:23pm
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