Case Interview Fundamental Case Interview Framework

When solving cases in case interview, framework is what candidates first think of. However, sometimes it is necessary to form your own framework. For example, if you are asked to find the solution to “utilize all the country's resources to foster the economy”, what will be your framework?

A quick glance

    1. Definition of case interview framework
    2. Common misconceptions
    3. Common frameworks
    4. Your Framework

1. Definition of case interview framework

Case interview framework is a standard template to help structure and break down common business problems.

2. Common Misconceptions

Myth No.1: The more frameworks I know, the better.

You should place more emphasis on the ability to draw specific case interview frameworks to suit to each context. By doing this, you will be well-prepared for any cases that interviewers ask.

Myth No.2: There must be a framework out there that fits this case.

The simple truth is this: there are a lot of cases to which no framework ever built can be applied.

Myth No.3: The fancier the framework, the more impressed the interviewers would be.

Whether a framework is fancy or not is none of their concern. What would impress them is an appropriate framework that really applies to the context.

Myth No.4: The ability to draw frameworks is only relevant to the candidate-led format. In interviewer-led cases, I am not driving, so why would I need the map?

Even in interviewer-led cases, the interviewer may still ask “framework” questions.

3. The Most Common Framework

A. Comprehensive Framework

Profitability framework

The idea behind this well-known framework is to mathematically break down profit until you have gathered enough information to conclude, or to switch to a more qualitative framework. Specifically, in this case interview framework, we break profit down into Revenue and Cost. Then Revenue can be split up into Price and Unit Sales, while the Total Cost can be divided into Fixed Cost and Variable Cost.

3Cs & P

This is an extension of the famous 3Cs: Company, Customer and Competition. The P stands for Product. Of all the frameworks ever developed, this is probably the most comprehensive and applicable. This can be applied to almost any cases. However, along with its applicability is unfortunate generic nature. A really high level of customization and flexibility is needed to successfully use this framework.

McKinsey M&A framework

There are 3 major aspects:

First, how is the targeted company doing? What are their values, core strengths, and weaknesses? The term we often use at McKinsey to refer to this box is the “stand-alone value” of the targeted company.

Second, is it a good fit? Collectively, is the whole more than the sum of each individual company? The official term for this box is “synergy”.

The third box is for any other miscellaneous factors, such as feasibility, cultural fit, legal issues, etc.

B. Mini Framework

External & Internal

When you need instant structure or when you are not sure which approach to use, breaking down factors into external and internal groups is a good place to start.

  • The internal often refers to the company itself, but sometimes it can refer to an individual, a department, or any entity.
  • The externalthen refers to anything outside of that entity.

BCG 2×2 framework

A BCG matrix helps business to decide which areas of business deserve more investment and resources.

To create your matrix, first identify the two criteria of your priority and name horizontal and vertical line correspondingly.

Qualitative & Quantitative

Though can be widely used in various contexts, this framework is particularly good for structuring reasons and evaluations.

For example, in an M&A analysis, you have to evaluate the stand-alone value of the targeted company. A very good way  is dividing your work into two groups:

  • Quantitative factors like profit, growth rate, debt ratio, etc.
  • Qualitative factors such as brand name, human resources, strategic position, etc.

Cost & Benefit

Like other mini-frameworks, this one can be applied in many different contexts. However, the Cost & Benefit framework is particularly helpful in decision making.

Comparing costs & benefits between options based on your priorities help you to choose the most suitable approach.

See our video above for a more detailed explanation!

4. Your framework

“How do you utilize all the country’s resources to foster the economy?”

This question apparently can not be applied with any aforementioned framework. The fact is that in real life, consultants rarely use pre-defined frameworks to solve their client’s issue. Rather, they create a unique framework based on MECE principle specific to their problem. This may sound interesting but indeed intimidating and challenging.

There are few things you should bear in mind to shortcut the way to your own framework

Create your framework as MECE or structural as possible.

Use the issue tree to sketch your framework.

Break down your problem in a top-down style.

Practice this step-by-step with any real-life issues. 

Want to learn more? Check out our article on Case Interview Concepts or join millions of others on our Case Interview End-to-end Secret Program. You can also subscribe to our newsletter or our YouTube channel for updated content on your management consulting needs!

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