Management Consulting Prep

Case Interview Fundamental Case Interview Hypothesis

It is not economically feasible to run thorough investigations for every single aspect of business. Therefore, consultants often hypothesize where they can find the insights. Hypothesis is not only a useful tool for consultants but also candidate in saving time for Case Interview.

A quick glance

    1. What is hypothesis?
    2. What are principles needed to follow? 
    3. How can hypothesis be applied in case interview?

1. What is hypothesis?

A hypothesis is an educated guess where the root-cause of problem might be. In case interview, hypothesizing helps to save time. 

2. What are principles needed to follow?

No.1: Hypotheses need to follow the framework chosen

To illustrate this point clearly, we will look at the example below

Background information: Suppose you need to find your car key. You have sketched a location-based framework with 3 branches

  • 1st Floor
  • 2nd Floor
  • 3rd Floor

Additional information: Your brother borrowed your car key yesterday.

Hypothesis 1: Your brother is keeping you key. 

This is an acceptable hypothesis in real life. However, it is a bad one in case interview as it doesn’t link to your framework. 

Hypothesis 2: Your key may be on the 3rd floor as your brother lives in 3rd floor.

This is a good hypothesis because it shows a connection with your chosen framework. 

No.2: Hypotheses should be top-down

Follow the case above, we have another information: Your brother has a habit of putting the key on microwave oven. 

Hypothesis 3: The key is on top of the microwave in the kitchen. 

This is still not a relevant hypothesis with your framework. Your next hypothesis should lie under the first layer of your framework, not anywhere off the beaten track. 

No.3: Hypotheses do not have to be right.

Hypotheses are supposed to be wrong and to open up a better one. If you are reluctant to make a hypothesis because “wrong” hypothesis can downgrade your performance, you should think again.

No.4: Hypotheses should be based on the information provided.

The fact is: the level of pressure in case interview is so high that even the brightest and most organized candidate can forget and ignore important original data.

3. How can hypotheses applied in the case interview?

A. Candidate-led case interview

In candidate-led case interview, rules stay the same. However, you should explicitly indicate when you intend to make hypothesis to avoid misunderstanding. 

B. Interview-led case interview

Since you do not set up the approach and direct the flow, hypotheses exist mostly when the interviewer explicitly asks hypothesis questions. 

Some most common hypothesis questions are:

Why do you think that happens?
What are some hypotheses you can think of that explain abc?
What are some possible reasons for xyz?
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To answer these questions, you can follow 4 steps below:

No.1: List all the hypothesis (preferably more than 1) 

No.2: Structure your hypotheses in MECE way

No.3: Mention even “wrong” hypothesis

No.4: Form hypotheses based on provided information

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