Client Interpretation Question

1. What is it?

In every consulting project, communication with the clients’ top level (usually the Chairman or CEO) is always important. During my time with McKinsey, we usually hear an update every one or two weeks from our Project Director (usually a partner) on his meeting with the clients’ top level. Messages from those meetings are important on-going steers for the project. No surprise it makes up an entire question category in the Problem Solving Test.

Client Interpretation questions test your ability to read, understand, and interpret the messages the client is trying to convey in the case question or description. To some extent, this is very similar to GMAT verbal questions.

Question formats:

  • Which of the following best summarizes the CEO’s concerns?
  • Which of the following statements best describes the thoughts of the CEO regarding…?
  • Based on the opinion of the head of Department, which of the following statements is valid?
  • Which of the following statements best describes the CEO’s aims for the McKinsey research?

2. Technique

Technique No.1: Read the facts in the case description first before going to the multiple choices!

Normally the strategy of scanning through the answers first before going back to the case description works when you have a very long case description and don’t know where to look for the right information. Scanning through the answers helps you get a more focused read on the case description. However, the client’s assertion is typically found in a very short and specific part of the case description. So once you realize it’s a Client Interpretation question, go back to the case description and find that very specific part of the client’s assertion. Make sure you understand it very well. Then the rest of the work is just determining which of the four choices has the same meaning as the original assertion.

Technique No.2: Recognize a few words or short phrases that make a choice incorrectly reflect the client’s assertion

The techniques that would allow you to quickly and correctly cross out the wrong choices will take a bit more practice. Typically, a choice is wrong simply from a few key words or short phrases. Notice that even though what they suggest can be likely or even true in the context of the case, if they are NOT mentioned by the client, they are the wrong choices.

When practicing, try to identify those critical words or phrases.

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