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McKinsey & Company Interview Questions & tips

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Interview Details

I was interviewed on Jul, 2011.

Interview Process

Technical Interview → Case Study Interview → Case Study Interview → Technical Interview

Technical Interview

Interview Experience

The first interview involved a case on acquiring land for a B-School. The case was mainly qualitative and the HR questions were also straightforward. Giving a thought to goals and aspirations helped

Case Study Interview

Interview Experience

The second interviewer was an IIT Delhi alumnus and asked me a case on whether a telecom company should go for exploring the 3G license option. He provided me with information as and when I asked for it. Later during the interview, I asked him about his experience with McKinsey

Case Study Interview

Interview Experience

My third interview was with a partner. Again, standard PI questions: something about yourself, why consulting, what if not McKinsey, important attributes of a good leader, why should we hire you etc. The case was on the design on entry and exit gates for Delhi Metro.

Technical Interview

Interview Experience

My final interview was again with a partner and there was no HR part. It started with a case, and then there was nothing else to discuss. Anything and everything that could possibly go wrong did. I did badly in the case and towards the end made errors with simple calculations as well. It is important to think on your feet even if you are not able to make much headway with the case. This case had sealed my fate and by the time they declared the results, I had made my plans as to what will I do next.
Intel

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25.4k views


Interview Details

I was interviewed on Oct, 2011.

Interview Process

Resume Shortlist → Technical + HR Interview

Resume Shortlist

Experience

McKinsey looks for a spike in your resume, people who have commendable achievements is their field of choice, academics, extra curriculars or sports. So be sure to make your resume accordingly. McKinsey adds a lot of weight-age to formal awards, scholarships, achievements (like inter-IIT) etc. But if you don‟t have them (like me) you just have to make extra effort to show that you have equivalent achievements.

Technical + HR Interview

Interview Experience

First I was asked about myself and mostly my connection to dance and the dance club. (Some interviewers do this to make you comfortable at the same time analyzing your personality). In the first interview I was given an estimation case about the dish TV industry. Here the interviewer was mostly interested in my approach to solving the problem and if applicable my numerical skills. The second interview was a pure business case about the printing business. Here my creativity and business sense (read common sense as applicable to a business situation) was put to test.

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15.9k views


Interview Process

Case Study Interview → Case Study Interview → Case Study Interview → Other Interview

Case Study Interview

Interview Experience

We started the interview with a 3-4 minute chat about how painful it can be in the morning to travel and start working right away (He had just arrived).

He then quizzed me about leadership instances at work and in academic career; then I took him into what he believed leadership was. We had a long chat about why leadership was important in consulting. We also spoke about how I was to translate a very explicit form of leadership displayed at work (I was leading operations in a factory) to an implicit environment (like consulting). We talked about what leadership skills are transferable and ones which are not.

The case was about a global heavy vehicle manufacturer. The firm was planning to enter India; my job was to devise a strategy for it. A simple case to begin with I thought, but I knew very well that the challenges are higher in a simple case.
I started off with a simple framework (nothing great, decided the marketing mix and the way to enter – organic was the better route). I also identified the capabilities of the manufacturer that could be transferred to this setting. This went on for about 10 minutes. Here it was important to structure the problem well, following a MECE structure. I also shared some experience of a project with him that we had done in Competitive strategy project that we had done on cars and shared some uniqueness of thenIndian market with him. I am not covering this in detail as it was pretty standard and I just had to do the basics right. Then he told me to size the truck market in India. I told him that I will follow the stock method of analysis, by which I will estimate the number of trucks currently in operation throughout India. Since I was doing a demand side analysis, I divided the trucks into
variable loads (where capacity utilization is less than equal to 100%) or fixed loads (construction equipment carriers, petrol loads, car containers, etc.). He said that they normally don’t do it this way but he wanted me to proceed as he found it interesting.

Then, he told me that he wanted me to do it for the car carriers for paucity of time. I went ahead and assumed a certain number of carriers that are bought every year (the number wasn’t important, I assumed 1000 for ease of analysis). I understood the supply chain from him and he explained the dealer system to me. Then, I told him that I will assume steady state, as in the number of cars sold are the number of cars manufactured and distributed. I then divided it as per the number of manufacturers, number and location of manufacturing locations, distance, speed distribution, capacity of trucks, capacity utilization, number of hours driven in a day, maintenance days and the average number of days that a truck is driven in a year to arrive at the number of trips made and hence, the number of trucks that were plying. It was important to note that the trucks generally came back completely empty. I also told him that the transporters will like to keep some number of trucks on a standby. He asked me to estimate that as well. I gave him a framework to analyze that. I gave him a framework depending on locations, routes, failure time and MTBFs. He was ok with that. The case was extremely quantitative and was very intensive numerically. I also did a sensitivity analysis on one of the
parameters showing him that the whole estimate was sensitive to a few parameters.
Then, I told him that if I link both the cases together, then it gives me an interesting sight into what value proposition the truck
manufacturer can give to the Indian transporters. I told him that let’s look at each of the variables that I had estimated earlier and
see whether we can reduce them. Then, I said that we can try to increase the mileage and increase the size of the truck as well. Then, I told him that both the things might be inversely related. It can also be done that the truck speed can be increased on the back journey. Maintenance days can be decreased. He asked me for a few creative recommendations, which I gave – I don’t really remember them now but the method was as stated above.

Then, he asked me for a feedback about the case and discussion overall. I told him about how different the case would have been
had the case between about variable loads. He was ok with it.

He then told me to ask him a question. I asked him about the project specifically and to what detail McKinsey went. I also asked him how McKinsey keeps a tab on how clients implement suggestions. The overall case lasted about 25 minutes. I then linked it with one of the questions asked in the personal interview. I told him that it is a challenge that line managers like us will face in a
consulting environment, wherein we do not necessarily get to implement. Then, I shared a few jokes that I had played with consultants (mostly technical) and how it might be my turn to be on the receiving end now

Case Study Interview

Interview Experience

We started the interview with a conversation about my career at IIT and my times in Cuttack (Orissa), my hometown. He was hooked onto my JEE rank and asked me why the number was unique. I don’t think he wanted a particularly great answer but he wanted to check my ability to think on my feet. He asked to give him 5 different uniquenesses.

He also asked me why Cuttack wasn’t doing as well as a Bhubaneswar. To this I replied taking geographic, political, cultural and economic reasons into account. We then discussed about my Summer Project with Reckitt Benckiser (this was an automation project with a FMCG major). He asked me to explain the labor implications of implementing automation. He then went ahead to ask me my experiences in dealing with unionized labor at ITC. He was also interested in one of the papers that I had written about
BOP and presented at XLRI. This was about how to bring your best people to the BOP. He asked me to explain the paper and then told me to explain how useful it can be to the corporate world. My observation had told me that he was very practical and won’t like flowery answers that this is the idea of the millennium! I gave him all the strengths and weaknesses of the idea (and real ground level ones) in implementation.

After that he asked me why I was looking forward to a consulting career. I told him that it links well to my long term goal, which is
leading a NGO. I told him that this is one of the reasons that McKinsey stands out for me as a firm, with all the public policy and
pro-bono work. We discussed a bit about India’s policy change from the ‘50s to the ‘70s. I gave him some funda about what I had
seen in the Commanding Heights video, though he was doing most of the talking.

He was visibly happy with the fact that I said public policy (Later I realized that he specializes in public policy at McK) and told me
that he will give me a case on it. The whole experience lasted 15 minutes.

He started off the case asking me what I knew about the Bharat Nirman Project. I told him that my knowledge is limited to what I have read in the papers over the past few weeks and I do not know in detail about it. He told me that this case will enhance my
learning about the challenges facing somebody working in public policy.

The case was about rural electrification. He said the objective of the central government has now shifted to putting an electric bulb in every Indian home by Feb, 2008. He asked me how the Government should go about it.

I started off telling him that the idea looked unrealistic to me. Assuming that 1 billion is the Indian population and 65% lived in
villages, 650 million is the current rural population. Assuming that there are 5 members per rural household, there are 130 million
households. Then assuming that 30% of rural India is electrified, 91 million households remain. We just have two years, which is
approximately 700 days. Even if we work throughout, 1.3 lakh households have to be electrified every day. This is by no means
easy. Add to this fact that there is huge geographic dispersion and the current state of the SEBs, the plan looks nonviable. I told him that I found it impractical. To this he replied saying that most public policy projects are such. They lack thinking about the design phase itself. He asked me to go ahead with the problem assuming it is doable.

I approached the problem saying that I would see the project from three standpoints – economic, organizational and operational. On the operational point, I would divide the project into generation and T&D phases. On the economic standpoint, I would look at the ways and means to fund this project. On the organizational front, I would like to see who would own this project. Here, he told me that the question should not be treated like any other consulting case and he is looking for completely creative solutions.

I asked him whether I should go ahead with the analysis the way I had structured or he wanted me to do something different. He
replied that he is looking for specifically the Generation area. I told him that when it comes to generation, there are four issues
that need to be looked at – Performance of conventional energy generation units, New conventional energy units, isolated units and non-conventional sources of energy. He said that I should discuss the non-conventional energy sources first.

I told him that I was aware of solar, wind and bagas (sugarcane by product). He asked me to describe the economics of Solar. I showed it to him that at the current rate, it’s unprofitable. Then, we went to Wind energy. I told him that the issues to look for
here are technology, fixed costs and practical viability (availability of areas) where they can be installed. We discussed each one of
them in greater detail from then on.

I told him that when it comes to buying technology, it would be very costly and technology transfer has to be on a mutual basis.
Then, we went it to the details of the windmill technology and its advantages in the Indian context. He was doing most of the talking here.

He asked me to do a commercial evaluation of all these technologies. I did the same considering three parameters – speed (because the industry has an external effect), cost and future viability (to incorporate learning curve effects). After shedding
some light on each one of them, he asked me to move on to the funding aspect in generation.

I told him that the money here can be drawn from four areas – government, Indian private, Foreign players and debtors. I told him how each one of them was different (most of the logic was thought on the spot). We then discussed about the amount of privatization that should be allowed. I was of the opinion that wherever private participation is allowed, it should be in both R&D and generation. Having only one of them was not of any use. He didn’t agree to it and he was of the opinion that we weren’t ready yet. We closed the interview on an argumentative note.

He asked me to ask a question at the end. I asked him what kind of persuasive powers consultants enjoy when it comes to public policy projects. He smiled and gave me a lot of insight into public policy consulting. He appreciated the fact at the end of the interview that I could make people talk. The whole experience lasted close to 20 mins

Case Study Interview

Interview Experience

He asked me about the problems that dealing with a union entails. There were a few more specific questions about my resume, in
which I had to describe the work I did. I spoke for some time – maybe 2 minutes.

Then he asked me the kind of preparation that our batch had done for consulting. I gave him some feedback about how the interview workshop process done by McKinsey could have been better and how different it was from other colleges (stressing on poor institutional memory and ways to deal with it). He asked me what my last case was about. When I told him that it was about public policy and I had like it. He said that he also wanted me to do a case in that. The whole conversation lasted close to a little over 10 minutes.

An extremely short case. It lasted less than 10 minutes. He asked me what a government could do to improve the banking
policy of a third-world country. To begin with, I told him that there is no generic answer and the policy has to be case specific. I also told him that I got a feeling that he was speaking from personal experience.

He said that I was right and asked me to take the case of Bahrain. He asked me what I knew about Bahrain and its banking industry. I told him that I knew it was a Muslim country and was staunch in protecting Muslim values (I used to collect stamps; I knew that they did not have a word of English – I told him that).

Then he gave me a good overview about Bahrain (lot of tangential stuff) and told me that the Finance minister was worried that the industry might lose it. He told me it was majorly into fostering corporate banks.

To begin with I told him that it was a case of B2B marketing and banks would stay if they get a good value proposition in Bahrain.
But then, if they get a better value proposition elsewhere, they’ll shift. He said I was right and asked me to think ahead. I asked him who these banks were. He told me that they were the Middle East bases of MNC banks. I asked him why the banks were there in the first case. He told me that it was centrally located and had liberal laws. I analyzed the geography and told him that what struck me was the fact it was close to Dubai. I asked him why not Dubai?

He told me that there was an announcement by the Dubai officials that they would make their policies freer than Bahrain and would make it a free trading zone.

I inferred from this saying that this might be a symptom of the real issue but wasn’t the actual problem. To this, he agreed. I told him that first of all I need to analyze the Dubai threat more closely. I told him first that we need to establish whether Dubai’s threat is credible or not (look at their history and look at the economic impact). He asked me to assume that they can do it. Then, I told him to look at the value proposition (including the switching cost to Dubai – local knowledge, skill base) that Bahrain provides and compare to the value proposition that Dubai gives. I told him that it is important to keep a futuristic view in mind. Then, I told him that what strikes me about the case is the fact that in this industry, it is very important to build your local clientele and not rely on foreigners. He said fine.

Then, I quizzed him about how developed was Bahrain’s retail and corporate banking was. I told him that it would relate very closely to the economic development was in Bahrain.

I told him that I felt that the real issue with Bahrain was the fact that the industry relied too much on MNCs without first satisfying local demand. I told him that I would like to create a policy keeping this in mind.

He asked me to stop the interview then and there

Other Interview

Interview Experience

I was told at the beginning that I won’t have a case. He asked me to ask a few questions that I felt were relevant.

I asked him how McKinsey makes the environment conducive for knowledge sharing. He gave me a few inputs.

I told him what I had read about McKinsey’s knowledge management in a HBS case. He heard it attentively. He then gave me an idea about the state of affairs now and particularly in India. I asked him about how sharing gets linked to performance initiatives. I also asked him how other firms (esp. consulting) do it. He then asked me to narrate a few instances about ISB. I told him that any education program is incomplete without pranks. I told him a few pranks that I had played on a few friends in ISB (and vice versa)

Overall Experience

1. One of the key facets is to make the case completely seamless, wherein you have to link both the PI and cases and both the cases together.
2. Structuring is very important.
3. The other thing is to make the interviewer comfortable.
4. Do not speak a little too much.
5. With seniors, I think it is very important to listen.
6. It is also important to observe as you go along the interview process that every interviewer is looking for a particular skill or dimension in your personality.
7. It is also important that whenever you give a radical thought, you should back it up by sound strong logic.
8. Control the interview.
9. A bit of formal attitude would help.
10

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Interview Process

Case Study Interview → Case Study Interview → Case Study Interview

Case Study Interview

Interview Experience

The case started on a very generic note and on the outset seemed like a standard profitability case. I started with some clarifying questions such as
: What does the company do? The company is into magazine publishing (2nd highest selling weekly magazine, in addition to
few other magazines.
: Who are the competitors? There are a few other competitors. 2 other large competitors, 1 larger and another smaller than our
company and the segment is dominated by these 3. There are a few other smaller players too.
: How long have they been facing the problem? Facing it for the past few years.
: How are the competitors doing? Doing fine. Have been more or less constant.
I started with structuring the problem in a standard profitability problem (profit = revenue – cost). He told me that the revenues have been fine and they have actually seen an increase in revenue over the past few years (he threw some numbers here such as % increase in revenue etc). Then I told him that I would focus on the costs. In order to handle the costs part, I created a value chain of the complete process from the time of collection of news and articles (reporting) editing printing distribution. Here he asked me to think if there could be something else also in the value chain. I realized that after distribution there should be something related to ‘returns’ also. He was expecting the same answer. Then I went through the various parts of the value chain to understand
the costs involved in each part and if something had changed or could be improved there, but there were no major issues. Since he had asked me specifically for the returns part, I asked him a little more about the returns policy and what happens if the vendor/retailer has overstocked the magazines. He told me that the company takes them back and the value is practically zero for those magazines. (Throughout the discussion he was giving me numbers on how much it costs per magazine at each part of the value chain).). At this point, I asked him if there had been an increase in the number of returns (overstocking at the retailer’s end and he gave me some data which indicated that was the case). I told him that at this point, we can evaluate the implications of
both under-stocking and overstocking at the vendor’s end and find if the company is supplying the optimal quantity. This was basically an application of the ‘newsvendor problem’ we studied in the basic operations course. Post this it was simple, I completed the calculations and he looked satisfied.

It’s very important to listen carefully during a case interview. Most interviewers will give away hints and will try to help you solve a case. Catching those hints and solving the case together with the interviewer is the key. Another thing that I think went right was the conversations before and after the case interview. I was done with the interview in 12-15 minutes. For the remaining time, I chatted with him about his experience interviewing at ISB and how he found it different from interviewing at the IIMs. And then we went on to talk about the different models that the schools operate on and how the education sector in India has evolved
etc etc. All of this helped me strike a note with the interviewer. Finally the fact that I could remember what the newsvendor problem was

Case Study Interview

Interview Experience

A majority of this interview was PI. He asked me a lot of questions about my work experience and about my company (Trilogy). He then asked me about what I thought was the best way to encourage innovation in a technology company. Although this was a PI, I tried to put a structure to my answer. I basically divided the reforms into a few buckets, like organizational changes (incentive structures), employee focus, customer focus etc. And then elaborated under each of the sub- headings. There were also other questions related to the biggest challenges at work etc.

This was a very small and simple case. He was primarily looking for ways to not just reduce cost but how to approach a radically different problem. I went through the standard set of cost reduction measures throughout the value chain but told him that this would only achieve only so much cost reduction. In order to create a one lakh car, they need to look at something from the scratch. It needs to be a fresh design (not just of the engine, but also design of how the various processes work today, including where the assembly happens, how distribution works etc).

Most of this interview was about my work experience (Software product development and technology consulting), and my views on the technology sector. It helped to have researched the various trends in the sector and having an opinion on the various things.

Nothing much, though it may have helped to go through the casebooks from earlier years in detail, because this case was very similar to something that was asked in one of the previous years, but I heard it for the first time in the interview.

Case Study Interview

Interview Experience

This was again a small case, where interviewer did most of the talking. I started with telling him that there would be two key aspects to this project, the first being the financing (sources, procedures) and the second being the revenue generation, and both of these together need to contribute to a self financed metro project. I started with the revenue part first. I approached this through an asset monetization approach (basically analyze the various assets that the project would own and look at ways to monetize each of them). Here I talked about the train, the tracks, the land near the tracks and the stations etc and suggested ways to monetize these. The most important thing that came out was the land that is allocated to the metro project, and which is not used directly for
the project and can be developed as a commercial property to monetize the project. Once we reached this stage, interviewer talked at length about how this worked at the Mumbai metro project where he was involved and how they were able to collect many times more revenue than the amount needed for the project. Then I talked about the financing part. Here I basically started with the
pecking order and suggested ways to finance. I told him that given that government guarantees could be explored and this could lead to ways of reducing the cost of financing. This turned more into a conversation, where interviewer talked about the various kinds of securities that could be used and how the government often provides sops in the form of tax breaks etc.

Again, listening helped. He kept giving me hints and helped me progress through the case. Also, during the case prep sessions, we had touched upon the asset monetization strategy, which helped here.

Nothing really went wrong. It would have been nice to know about the various securities that interviewer mentioned could be used for financing such a project

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Interview Process

Case Study Interview → Case Study Interview → Case Study Interview → Case Study Interview

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Interview Process

Case Study Interview → Case Study Interview → Case Study Interview → Other Interview

Case Study Interview

Interview Experience

We started the interview with a 3-4 minute chat about how painful it can be in the morning to travel and start working right away (He had just arrived).

He then quizzed me about leadership instances at work and in academic career; then I took him into what he believed leadership was. We had a long chat about why leadership was important in consulting. We also spoke about how I was to translate a very explicit form of leadership displayed at work (I was leading operations in a factory) to an implicit environment (like consulting). We talked about what leadership skills are transferable and ones which are not.

The case was about a global heavy vehicle manufacturer. The firm was planning to enter India; my job was to devise a strategy for it. A simple case to begin with I thought, but I knew very well that the challenges are higher in a simple case.
I started off with a simple framework (nothing great, decided the marketing mix and the way to enter – organic was the better route). I also identified the capabilities of the manufacturer that could be transferred to this setting. This went on for about 10 minutes. Here it was important to structure the problem well, following a MECE structure. I also shared some experience of a project with him that we had done in Competitive strategy project that we had done on cars and shared some uniqueness of thenIndian market with him. I am not covering this in detail as it was pretty standard and I just had to do the basics right. Then he told me to size the truck market in India. I told him that I will follow the stock method of analysis, by which I will estimate the number of trucks currently in operation throughout India. Since I was doing a demand side analysis, I divided the trucks into
variable loads (where capacity utilization is less than equal to 100%) or fixed loads (construction equipment carriers, petrol loads, car containers, etc.). He said that they normally don’t do it this way but he wanted me to proceed as he found it interesting.

Then, he told me that he wanted me to do it for the car carriers for paucity of time. I went ahead and assumed a certain number of carriers that are bought every year (the number wasn’t important, I assumed 1000 for ease of analysis). I understood the supply chain from him and he explained the dealer system to me. Then, I told him that I will assume steady state, as in the number of cars sold are the number of cars manufactured and distributed. I then divided it as per the number of manufacturers, number and location of manufacturing locations, distance, speed distribution, capacity of trucks, capacity utilization, number of hours driven in a day, maintenance days and the average number of days that a truck is driven in a year to arrive at the number of trips made and hence, the number of trucks that were plying. It was important to note that the trucks generally came back completely empty. I also told him that the transporters will like to keep some number of trucks on a standby. He asked me to estimate that as well. I gave him a framework to analyze that. I gave him a framework depending on locations, routes, failure time and MTBFs. He was ok with that. The case was extremely quantitative and was very intensive numerically. I also did a sensitivity analysis on one of the
parameters showing him that the whole estimate was sensitive to a few parameters.
Then, I told him that if I link both the cases together, then it gives me an interesting sight into what value proposition the truck
manufacturer can give to the Indian transporters. I told him that let’s look at each of the variables that I had estimated earlier and
see whether we can reduce them. Then, I said that we can try to increase the mileage and increase the size of the truck as well. Then, I told him that both the things might be inversely related. It can also be done that the truck speed can be increased on the back journey. Maintenance days can be decreased. He asked me for a few creative recommendations, which I gave – I don’t really remember them now but the method was as stated above.

Then, he asked me for a feedback about the case and discussion overall. I told him about how different the case would have been
had the case between about variable loads. He was ok with it.

He then told me to ask him a question. I asked him about the project specifically and to what detail McKinsey went. I also asked him how McKinsey keeps a tab on how clients implement suggestions. The overall case lasted about 25 minutes. I then linked it with one of the questions asked in the personal interview. I told him that it is a challenge that line managers like us will face in a
consulting environment, wherein we do not necessarily get to implement. Then, I shared a few jokes that I had played with consultants (mostly technical) and how it might be my turn to be on the receiving end now

Case Study Interview

Interview Experience

We started the interview with a conversation about my career at IIT and my times in Cuttack (Orissa), my hometown. He was hooked onto my JEE rank and asked me why the number was unique. I don’t think he wanted a particularly great answer but he wanted to check my ability to think on my feet. He asked to give him 5 different uniquenesses.

He also asked me why Cuttack wasn’t doing as well as a Bhubaneswar. To this I replied taking geographic, political, cultural and economic reasons into account. We then discussed about my Summer Project with Reckitt Benckiser (this was an automation project with a FMCG major). He asked me to explain the labor implications of implementing automation. He then went ahead to ask me my experiences in dealing with unionized labor at ITC. He was also interested in one of the papers that I had written about
BOP and presented at XLRI. This was about how to bring your best people to the BOP. He asked me to explain the paper and then told me to explain how useful it can be to the corporate world. My observation had told me that he was very practical and won’t like flowery answers that this is the idea of the millennium! I gave him all the strengths and weaknesses of the idea (and real ground level ones) in implementation.

After that he asked me why I was looking forward to a consulting career. I told him that it links well to my long term goal, which is
leading a NGO. I told him that this is one of the reasons that McKinsey stands out for me as a firm, with all the public policy and
pro-bono work. We discussed a bit about India’s policy change from the ‘50s to the ‘70s. I gave him some funda about what I had
seen in the Commanding Heights video, though he was doing most of the talking.

He was visibly happy with the fact that I said public policy (Later I realized that he specializes in public policy at McK) and told me
that he will give me a case on it. The whole experience lasted 15 minutes.

He started off the case asking me what I knew about the Bharat Nirman Project. I told him that my knowledge is limited to what I have read in the papers over the past few weeks and I do not know in detail about it. He told me that this case will enhance my
learning about the challenges facing somebody working in public policy.

The case was about rural electrification. He said the objective of the central government has now shifted to putting an electric bulb in every Indian home by Feb, 2008. He asked me how the Government should go about it.

I started off telling him that the idea looked unrealistic to me. Assuming that 1 billion is the Indian population and 65% lived in
villages, 650 million is the current rural population. Assuming that there are 5 members per rural household, there are 130 million
households. Then assuming that 30% of rural India is electrified, 91 million households remain. We just have two years, which is
approximately 700 days. Even if we work throughout, 1.3 lakh households have to be electrified every day. This is by no means
easy. Add to this fact that there is huge geographic dispersion and the current state of the SEBs, the plan looks nonviable. I told him that I found it impractical. To this he replied saying that most public policy projects are such. They lack thinking about the design phase itself. He asked me to go ahead with the problem assuming it is doable.

I approached the problem saying that I would see the project from three standpoints – economic, organizational and operational. On the operational point, I would divide the project into generation and T&D phases. On the economic standpoint, I would look at the ways and means to fund this project. On the organizational front, I would like to see who would own this project. Here, he told me that the question should not be treated like any other consulting case and he is looking for completely creative solutions.

I asked him whether I should go ahead with the analysis the way I had structured or he wanted me to do something different. He
replied that he is looking for specifically the Generation area. I told him that when it comes to generation, there are four issues
that need to be looked at – Performance of conventional energy generation units, New conventional energy units, isolated units and non-conventional sources of energy. He said that I should discuss the non-conventional energy sources first.

I told him that I was aware of solar, wind and bagas (sugarcane by product). He asked me to describe the economics of Solar. I showed it to him that at the current rate, it’s unprofitable. Then, we went to Wind energy. I told him that the issues to look for
here are technology, fixed costs and practical viability (availability of areas) where they can be installed. We discussed each one of them in greater detail from then on.

I told him that when it comes to buying technology, it would be very costly and technology transfer has to be on a mutual basis.
Then, we went it to the details of the windmill technology and its advantages in the Indian context. He was doing most of the talking here.

He asked me to do a commercial evaluation of all these technologies. I did the same considering three parameters – speed (because the industry has an external effect), cost and future viability (to incorporate learning curve effects). After shedding some light on each one of them, he asked me to move on to the funding aspect in generation.

I told him that the money here can be drawn from four areas – government, Indian private, Foreign players and debtors. I told him how each one of them was different (most of the logic was thought on the spot). We then discussed about the amount of privatization that should be allowed. I was of the opinion that wherever private participation is allowed, it should be in both R&D and generation. Having only one of them was not of any use. He didn’t agree to it and he was of the opinion that we weren’t ready yet. We closed the interview on an argumentative note.

He asked me to ask a question at the end. I asked him what kind of persuasive powers consultants enjoy when it comes to public policy projects. He smiled and gave me a lot of insight into public policy consulting. He appreciated the fact at the end of the interview that I could make people talk. The whole experience lasted close to 20 mins

Case Study Interview

Interview Experience

He asked me about the problems that dealing with a union entails. There were a few more specific questions about my resume, in which I had to describe the work I did. I spoke for some time – maybe 2 minutes.

Then he asked me the kind of preparation that our batch had done for consulting. I gave him some feedback about how the interview workshop process done by McKinsey could have been better and how different it was from other colleges (stressing on poor institutional memory and ways to deal with it). He asked me what my last case was about. When I told him that it was about public policy and I had like it. He said that he also wanted me to do a case in that. The whole conversation lasted close to a little over 10 minutes.

An extremely short case. It lasted less than 10 minutes. He asked me what a government could do to improve the banking policy of a third-world country. To begin with, I told him that there is no generic answer and the policy has to be case specific. I also told him that I got a feeling that he was speaking from personal experience.

He said that I was right and asked me to take the case of Bahrain. He asked me what I knew about Bahrain and its banking industry. I told him that I knew it was a Muslim country and was staunch in protecting Muslim values (I used to collect stamps; I knew that they did not have a word of English – I told him that).

Then he gave me a good overview about Bahrain (lot of tangential stuff) and told me that the Finance minister was worried that the industry might lose it. He told me it was majorly into fostering corporate banks.

To begin with I told him that it was a case of B2B marketing and banks would stay if they get a good value proposition in Bahrain.
But then, if they get a better value proposition elsewhere, they’ll shift. He said I was right and asked me to think ahead. I asked him who these banks were. He told me that they were the Middle East bases of MNC banks. I asked him why the banks were there in the first case. He told me that it was centrally located and had liberal laws. I analyzed the geography and told him that what struck me was the fact it was close to Dubai. I asked him why not Dubai?

He told me that there was an announcement by the Dubai officials that they would make their policies freer than Bahrain and would make it a free trading zone.

I inferred from this saying that this might be a symptom of the real issue but wasn’t the actual problem. To this, he agreed. I told him that first of all I need to analyze the Dubai threat more closely. I told him first that we need to establish whether Dubai’s threat is credible or not (look at their history and look at the economic impact). He asked me to assume that they can do it. Then, I told him to look at the value proposition (including the switching cost to Dubai – local knowledge, skill base) that Bahrain provides and compare to the value proposition that Dubai gives. I told him that it is important to keep a futuristic view in mind. Then, I told him that what strikes me about the case is the fact that in this industry, it is very important to build your local clientele and not rely on foreigners. He said fine.

Then, I quizzed him about how developed was Bahrain’s retail and corporate banking was. I told him that it would relate very closely to the economic development was in Bahrain.

I told him that I felt that the real issue with Bahrain was the fact that the industry relied too much on MNCs without first satisfying local demand. I told him that I would like to create a policy keeping this in mind.

He asked me to stop the interview then and there

Other Interview

Interview Experience

I was told at the beginning that I won’t have a case. He asked me to ask a few questions that I felt were relevant.

I asked him how McKinsey makes the environment conducive for knowledge sharing. He gave me a few inputs.

I told him what I had read about McKinsey’s knowledge management in a HBS case. He heard it attentively. He then gave me an idea about the state of affairs now and particularly in India. I asked him about how sharing gets linked to performance initiatives. I also asked him how other firms (esp. consulting) do it. He then asked me to narrate a few instances about ISB. I told him that any education program is incomplete without pranks. I told him a few pranks that I had played on a few friends in ISB (and vice versa)

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Interview Process

Case Study Interview → Case Study Interview → Case Study Interview → Case Study Interview → Case Study Interview → Case Study Interview → Case Study Interview

Case Study Interview

Interview Experience

How would you evaluate the first year revenue potential for a new investment in the business of leasing cranes for commercial buildings in Beijing? The interviewer gave a background that commercial building activity was coming up at a frantic pace in Beijing.

Clarification questions:
Are there any investment constraints on capital investment?
What is the investment horizon?

Structure:
- Identification of revenue streams
- Estimation of demand for the identified revenue streams
- Determining competitive landscape for similar services being provided by existing competition and potential competitors
- Based on the above analysis and specific competence area of the Company, determine the market share that the new Company
could achieve in one year’s time.

Revenue streams:
- Income from renting/leasing of cranes
- Regular
- Overtime

Income was basically broken up into - Price X Volume. Since the price could vary significantly across the regular and overtime.

Demand estimation (Volume – Number of buildings)
The interviewer asked me to identify three approaches in which demand estimation could be done. This was further broken down into new infrastructure and replacement infrastructure. Again, here the interviewer asked me to concentrate only on new infrastructure.

- Top down approach – Using Macroeconomic factors
Growth rate expected in the region -> Level of infrastructure investment required to sustain expected growth rate -> Number of new investments in building for given investment -> Supply constraints in terms of area available, number of construction companies, manpower required, capital/credit availability etc. to be accounted for -> Determine number of buildings that are expected to be constructed in the next one year.

- Bottom up approach – Using Supply based factors
Determine the real estate space available for development -> Identify area that could be developed in the next one year based on other supply constraints -> determine the number of buildings that would be developed given average building size (based on historical data and regulatory guideline) in the next one year.

- Using analyst data

We then decided to crack the numbers using the second approach:
The buildings have to be developed in a square real estate space measuring 3 sq. km. (assume end to end coverage)
Regulatory requirement – Only 1/3 can be developed
Average building size - 150 x 150 sq. m
Number of buildings that can be developed:
(1000 X 1000)/(150 X 150) = approximately 49 (7 X 7) streams, I identified these discreetly.
- Ancillary services from the business
Interviewer asked me to concentrate only on regular income from leasing of cranes

Case Study Interview

Interview Experience

A small hospital chain is looking to expand geographically. What would be the decision criteria / metrics that you would look at to prioritize the locations?

Few clarification questions:
- What kind of hospital is this? General or specialist? General
- What kind of reach does it currently have? One metro
- Is the amount of investment a constraint? No

I structured the problem essentially in two parts:
1. As a financial problem, trying to derive the maximum net present value from investment in each geography/location.
- Revenue: Market potential which would require demand estimation, existing penetration by existing players and opportunities to take share from existing players based on this hospital chain’s competencies.
- Costs: Cost involved in entering each geography since these are likely to be different.
2. Strategic decision to preempt competition in terms of resources such as location, doctors as well as customers since capacity utilization is one of the major drivers in this business.
- Analysis of competition, both existing and potential(based on competitive intelligence)

There was discussion regarding demand estimation in each location.
Population -> Income classification -> Disease incidence in relevant income bracket (no numbers, just a discussion).
We discussed alternatives if disease incidence data is not available.
I suggested we could draw benchmarks from similar countries where this data was available or data from developed countries
during their developing stage.

Remaining was an open ended discussion. The interviewer then asked me to make an assessment, based on my general knowledge and reading, about the locations I would consider this hospital should foray into

Case Study Interview

Interview Experience

Life Insurance Company which has been in India for a few years wants to understand whether there is a real opportunity in this business in India and what are the strategic options available to it.

Structured the problem in the following way:
- Determine the market size.
- Identify the degree of regulation in the industry and its impact.
- Identify the current levels of penetration & therefore the existing potential.
- Determine the level of existing and potential competition.
- Based on own strengths identify the strategic options as below:
- Exit market.
- Stay in market – to determine whether to operate on scale or niche.

We proceeded with market sizing:
No of households -> No of households with required income capacity -> Percentage of income saved -> percentage of saving
used on insurance.

The interviewer then focused on whether the market opportunity was only as much as the current sizing or whether there was
potential to improve the same. We explored this line of thought.

Major reason for life insurance policy in India : Savings
Then we analyzed what uses are the total savings of an Indian household put to:
- Deposits
- Mutual funds
- Real estate
- Insurance (12%)
- Others

Deposits & mutual funds represented a clear opportunity for increasing the market size for insurance. I identified that we could use data from other developing markets to understand the savings behavior and potential for insurance. Interviewer clarified that in similar economies about 30% saving were being spent on insurance.

Calculated the real market opportunity with 30% savings and identified that opportunity exists given the current levels of penetration

Case Study Interview

Interview Experience

Case 1
The case was relating to the baby food segment (product like cerelac) market in India for which the potential was visibly huge since 80-90% of the children in the 1-2 years old segment who this segment serves lacked the nutrient requirement and 40-50% the calorie requirement. The interviewer wanted the following things to be done:
- Identify the market potential for this segment
- Delineate the marketing plan for a fast moving consumer goods player (like HLL) to enter this industry

Market sizing:
Population (1 billion) -> Children in the 1-2 years old segment (1.5%) -> Identify daily requirement per child (80 gms per day) -> Determine pack size to calculate market for number of packs (400 gms) -> Requirement came to 1.08 million packs of ₹100 each i.e. ₹108 billion.

I also identified that we would need to identify the future potential
going forward as well through the population growth rate and
more importantly growth rate in the Children in the 1-2 years old
segment due to the favorable demographics in India. A proxy for
that could be taken to be the birth rate. (we did not build this into
the calculation)

The interviewer informed me that the market was served only to the extent of ₹1 billion.

I identified that the reason was that monthly expenditure required was ₹600 (80 gms x 30 days x ₹100 per pack/400 gms per pack) whereas the average spending capacity of the parents of these children on this food was ₹200 per month. Therefore, pricing was a critical barrier.

Marketing plan:
Build the following non compensatory structure for the marketing plan i.e. the final reach of the product would be a function of the following three variables:
% of Aware population X % of population that can afford the product X % of population that is reached by the distribution
channel = Market share

I then explored ideas for improvement of each of these:

Increasing awareness: Through the following three initiatives:
- Tying up with Non governmental organizations involved in reaching this segment.
- Information dissemination by tying up with the extensive Public health infrastructure (since the Government is likely to have an incentive in such an initiative).
- FMCG’s own publicity initiatives such as media, radio etc.

Increasing affordability:
Internal measures: Identified major cost components where cost reduction measures could be taken:
- Raw materials: 30% of cost
Using recipes of local product variants with same nutrient and calorie value which utilize lower cost raw materials.
- Manufacturing : 20% of cost
This cost could be reduced through product innovation.
- Taxes & duties: 15% (refer external measures)

External measures: Seeking relief from the government on various tax components in the cost structure. This could shave costs to the extent of 12-15% (since the Government is likely to have an incentive in such an initiative).

Availability: Being a major FMCG player, it was assumed that the Company has a sufficient and capable distribution network.

Case 2
Market sizing for a drug used during surgeries in ICU

Determine the number of hospitals that would have ICU -> Determine the number of ICUs -> Utilization % of the ICUs (60%)->Proportion of surgeries which require the use of this drug (30%)->Average usage per day ( ₹5000 per day)

Case Study Interview

Interview Experience

The Tatas Rs 100,000 car requires substantial cost reduction measures from the Rs 150,000 Indica materials cost. How will you go about analyzing the cost reduction plan?

Structure:
- Identify the various cost components and proportion of costs they represented.
- Determine cost components which are avoidable due to fewer facilities/accessories that are likely to be provided than in the
Indica. Identify cost reduction from this.
- Explored cost reduction possibilities for all materials components based on 80/20 rule.

We discussed the following options for each component (engine, axle & gear, auto components & plastic body parts) :
- Aggregation benefits due to larger scale at which these cars will be manufactured. The interviewer mentioned these had already
been exhausted to the maximum possible.
- Explored whether each of the components were manufactured internally or externally. Wherever possible, identified cost differentials between internal and external manufacture. The interviewer informed me that there were significant cost differential in in-house and third party manufacture in case of axles & gear, in-house production cost being significantly lower.

I tried to veer the discussion towards possible reasons for cost differential, however, the interviewer asked me to consider corrective action for this problem.

We then discussed following two corrective actions:
- All axle & gear production could be transferred in-house. However, I identified that this was already running to capacity.
Therefore, this was considered as a long term option and identified that significant investment would be required to consider this option.
- Work with the suppliers to transfer best practices from in-house production to the supplier to reduce his cost of production.

Interviewer terminated the case discussion at this point saying that we had figured out the general format in which to proceed which was sufficient

Case Study Interview

Interview Experience

Cheque processing facility of a bank had the following operation:
Receive cheques at branches, collect all cheques, send then to a processing centre and processing centre would enter all cheque details in the system forward the cheques to RBI clearing house. RBI now requires scanned images of the cheques instead of physical copies. There are two options available to meet this requirement:
- Option A: Receive cheques at branches, scan at branches, send scanned images to the processing centre as and when they were scanned. Processing centre would enter all details as earlier and forward the images to RBI clearing house by 4 p.m.
- Option B: Receive cheques at branches, forward physical cheques to the processing centre by 10 a.m. PC would scan as
well as enter all cheque details and forward the images to RBI clearing house by 4 p.m. How will you evaluate which option to choose from? First up, I clarified cheques from how many locations were being aggregated at the processing center. The interviewer clarified that there were 150 branches.

I discussed with the interviewer that I would like to analyze the problem along two dimensions:
- Time taken under both options
- Incremental cost to be incurred under the two options

After doing a costing analysis under both the options, I concluded that taking only costs into account, Option B would be more cost efficient.

The interviewer asked me to make an assessment of which of the above two options I would take. Here I brought in some operations perspective on aggregation of scanning process at the PC

Case Study Interview

Interview Experience

This one really rattled me…especially at that stage of the process.
Very intense case interview.
Client is a Financial planning & management software company with the following revenue streams
Products:
- Large enterprises – highly customized, large business customers, direct sales force used
- SMEs – industry specific package- sold through dealers/ distributors
- Individual customers through regular off the shelf retail channels.
Services: IT consulting – maintenance & support.

Question 1: Declining revenue and profitability. What kind of data analysis would you perform in order to identify the source of
decline?
a. Products vs. Service
b. Along large, SME, Individual customer base under products
c. Geographical segments
d. Sales force effectiveness analysis
e. Industry segment wise analysis
f. Whether we are losing old customers or not getting new customers
Question 2: Assume Enterprise segment is losing revenue. What hypothesis can you generate …Broke these down into two parts:
Internal causes:
Product based + People based (developers,salesmen)
a. Lack of scalability of the product
b. Perceived quality of product/service not optimum
c. Sales force incentives not appropriate
d. Lack of ability to technical staff to understand customer requirements.
External causes: Explored these on the following three lines Competition + Customers + Context
a. Change in requirement of consumers/obsolescence of product
b. Competitor actions on pricing
c. Changes in customer industry regulation
He asked me to come up with atleast 15 reasons, don’t know how many I came up with, but I tried to think along this structured
fashion.

Question 3 : Suppose you find out that the sales force has been spending more time selling simpler product to SME than attend larger customers…enterprise product needs greater effort. what would you do…?

Identified the indifference point for the sales men between the two incentive structures and accordingly change incentive structure… Did the calculation and then he asked me for other ways in which it could be implemented other than through change in incentives

Overall Experience

1. Keep a strategic perspective.
2. Be persistent while through the whole interview.

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30.4k views


Skills Tested

Case Solving Ability

Case Analysis

Interview Process

Case Study Interview → Case Study Interview → Case Study Interview → Case Study Interview

Case Study Interview

Interview Experience

I asked him some clarificatory questions on where all in the world have the plants to get an idea of the kind of local areas. He replied in US, Indonesia, Trinidad etc. I then proceeded to succinctly put the problem statement to he and he was ok with it. Then I asked for “some time to structure my thoughts” ☺. The structure I laid out was: 1. What is meant by ‘organizational structure’? Is our end goal to figure out the number of levels in an organization, the number of people at each level and the skill they require? 2. Understand the goal of the organization: a cost focus or a responsiveness focus, whats important in this industry? 3. Map the existing processes that the company is involved in (value chain) and look at how best the goal of the organization can be served with: a. Existing company people redeployed to the new countries b. People from the acquired companies to continue working c. New people to be hired It seemed that he was looking for something else in the structure that I missed as indicated by his body language. However, he answered my queries – For point 1 he said I should look at a broader picture of what an organizational structure means. What I had defined was a very micro view. For point 2 he said I can assume an undifferentiated product market and that cost is the main focus. Here I pointed out that since we are acquiring he plants, the main concern in the short term maybe quick ramp up of the plant. He liked that and said that there are actually 3 measures that we will rate our structure on: - Ramp up time - Cost - Accountability of the plant employees of its performance For point 3 he said it might not be so relevant to our discussion!! Clearly I was in a situation where I didn’t know what hit me since I thought I completely missed what he wanted on 2 of my three points. However I kept calm and asked him what is the way to understand the org structure? He said think about how it was organized in ITC. So I said: 1. Since ITC is a conglomerate, it has a structure of various businesses or divisions which function independently. A ‘Corporate’ division is common to all. 2. Within each division there are functional verticals like the Marketing function, Technical function, HR, Finance functions. Shirish liked the way I described the structures in ITC so he said good. He said that that is a macro ‘Product’ structure of businesses around products like cigarettes, paperboards, clothes. Then he probed me on what could be other structures? I replied that the sub-structure of ‘Functions’ like marketing, HR etc could be the macro structure itself. He said that’s the 2nd, what else? Then we had a discussion on other kind of structures and he led me to two other kinds – ‘Geographical’ and ‘Type of Customer’. Then I started to list of pros and cons of each structure. However he said are you missing the criteria, so I quickly referred my notes and realized that he had given the 3 measures to rate each structure earlier – ramp up time, cost and accountability. I then ranked each on the above and after a discussion with him concluded that we should start with a functional set up to ensure quick ramp up and then move towards a geographical set up to ensure the local accountability, and minimization of costs. He was happy with the way I recovered and synthesized. He then went on to explain that actually they went in with the geographical setup directly, and the functional setup was a pseudo layer on top, as there were ‘functional specialists’ that traveled to a location to ensure quick ramp up. Then He said is there anything else I wanted to know from him. Then I told him that in our previous meeting we had not talked about the challenges of working with the govt sector. So he talked on that for around 5 mins.

Case Study Interview

Interview Experience

Clarificatory questions from my side helped me understand what happens when a company sponsors the tournament. He replied that the tournaments might be branded like “Gold Flake Open”, and the company gets rights like logos on uniforms and on the cricket grounds, title rights etc. I asked about the duration of the tournament etc. Then I took time and laid out the valuation framework. Discounted cash flow analysis and NPV calculation, for which we will discuss the revenues, costs, and the discount rate. I gave details of revenue sources, cost heads. He said lets focus on the revenue sources. Here my proposition was that there could be an increase in the number of people (Users) or the number of times existing users smoke (Usage) due to the advertising in the IPL. He seemed satisfied with this hypothesis and asked me to go on. So I sought to define first the target segments. There was a simple quant test here. I used the urban Indian population (since rural people smoke bidis predominantly) of 30% of 1B, and assuming a life expectancy of 60 years and that smokers start from the age of 20 years got a figure of 200M smokers in India. Out of this assuming 1:1 male-female ratio, we arrived at 100M male smokers (assumed females don’t smoke). He now told me that actually there are only 10M smokers in India. So then I discussed that now we have to delineate the factors why people take up smoking (purchase drivers), and clearly figure out those people who took up smoking by seeing the IPL advertisements or related promotions. Also I mentioned that this would be a challenge to do practically on the ground. So how does the 10M number change (market expansion or increase in users) was part 1, and how much more do the 10M smoke (usage) was the other effect we need to consider. Then heasked me how we can make sure that we convert the advertising into sales. I knew he wanted to get some creative answers, so I said maybe stock up in the shops outside the stadiums, or mobile vendors (and more suggestions I don’t remember now). I did mention that advertising is banned in India for cigarettes and we would have to be careful in the suggestions. He was happy with the discussion on the revenues part. He asked me where would the new smokers come from? Would they be new or would they come from competition brands? Then we discussed a lot on the kind of up-trading that happens in cigarettes, namely, people who smoke bidis move onto cigarettes, and people who smoke small length cigarettes move up and start smoking ‘kings’ type cigarettes. Finally we came onto the valuations part to understand what should be the money ITC should be willing to pay. I explained the free cash flow formula, and how we would use it over the years to calculate the NPV. We had a small summary discussion here. Then he asked me if he had any question for me. I asked him does he feel the urge to do more ‘implementation’ work in McK since he is a doctor, and that I feel that I might get bored of doing only ‘strategy’ kind of work. He resonated the feeling and explained in depth what projects he had done and that a large % is implementation.

Case Study Interview

Interview Experience

Clarificatory questions included understanding the types of products sold in the point of sale, the various stakeholders involved in the transaction. The 2nd question hit a chord with , he smiled and said that there are three stakeholders, the Retailer (Tesco or someone else), the Consumer Finance Company, and the Consumer. I knew at this point that I had to concentrate on each one separately. I laid out a simple structure of looking at the costs and benefits (or positives and negatives) for each stakeholder by getting into the scheme. He was ok with this, in fact he said this is exactly how it should be looked at. I started with the Retailer and said that there are only benefits since they get the sales revenues that earlier were not got since the consumers did not have funds. So the Retailer clearly wanted the scheme. For the Consumer Finance company I said that the cost would be the cost of raising the money to fund the loans which would depend on the default rate of these consumers. The benefit would be the interest that the consumer would pay on the loan. Then we had a discussion on how to estimate this default rate. Here I said we could use data from similar loan schemes in other countries since the type of product and the cost of the white goods (20-40K in this case) plays a role, or default rates on loans on other products in the particular region, since location and local demography also plays a role. Another benefit could be that a consumer finance company could occupy mind space with the consumers who might buy other products like home loans, car loans etc from the company in future. Overall, a consumer finance company might be keen to enter into this loan. For the consumers, He asked why would a consumer buy a loan from this company and not go the branch elsewhere and take a loan. I said that the convenience of getting the loan at the point of purchase was the single largest factor for the consumers. Also I added that now they would be able to purchase high value items higher in prestige value that they could not afford earlier, so impulse purchase might increase.On the whole, based on a discussion with he, I concluded that the consumer finance company would need to be cautious in proceeding with the loan since the default rates are not predictable. He inquired a way to solve this problem and I suggested that the loans be launched for selected products and consumer segments to start with as a pilot, and then expanded to other products and consumers.

Case Study Interview

Interview Experience

Since this was not a typical case, I broke out of the case mould and immediately asked for some time to think of the questions. I told him that I would follow a predecessor-based questioning model, simply put, subsequent questions would depend on the answers of the previous questions. He liked this approach. My 5 questions were as follows:
1. Select the business which has a large contribution to the conglomerate’s overall revenues, and ask the business head (who reports to the chairman): How many decisions has he independently taken in the last 12 months vs how many has he just implemented decisions of the chairman?
2. Based on the response of the first question, ask the business head what has been the impact both: a. On the individual business (to the company) performance: Company is not doing well, and the situation needs to be corrected/company is doing average/company is doing good. b. On the business head himself (to the individual) morale: He is thinking of quitting immediately/in some time/not at all. Based on these questions we would come to know the real impact of the chairman’s behavior on the company and the immediate reportees.
3. If the problem is serious, ask the business head which section of the employees are affected the most by the chairman’s decisions, say, mid level and shop floor level
4. and 5. Ask the mid level and shop floor level employees the same two sub-points as in question 2.
The questions should seek to address: - Verify whether there is a problem at all - Verify the extent of the problem - Verify the seriousness of the problem.
He seemed satisfied by the questions and the summary. That’s all he wanted to hear in the case, and I was also relieved☺.

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28.7k views


Skills Tested

Ability To Cope Up With Stress

Case Solving Ability

Case Analysis

Interview Process

Case Study Interview → Case Study Interview → Case Study Interview → Case Study Interview → Case Study Interview

Case Study Interview

Interview Experience

The first thing I did was to clarify the expectations of the client and any associated constraints. Priyanka clarified that we need to focus on EBIT and ROI improvement. The current EBIT and ROI were negative and our goal was to take them to 25% and 30-35% respectively. There were no financial constraints for the particular case. Structure: ROI = After Tax EBIT / Invested Capital Invested Capital = Working Capital + Net Investments I clarified that I would be looking to increase EBIT by increasing revenues or reducing costs or both. Then I would look at decreasing Invested Capital through analyzing components like Receivables, Cash, Inventory, Payables, Fixed Investments and Depreciation. She agreed and asked me to start by picking up one of the drivers. I picked revenues because there were considerable improvements required in both EBIT and ROI and cost cutting might not suffice. She nodded and we proceeded. I listed the various revenue drivers in a hospital: Diagnosis, OPD and Procedures (she helped me a bit here with correct terminology). After some discussion it was clear that the revenues from procedures, which was a major contributor to hospital’s income, were declining. The price of procedures had been constant so it was an issue with the number of procedures. Also, the other hospitals had lower prices for the same services hospital seemed to be charging a premium for their services and I had to find out why. I elaborated the various factors that would drive premium such as patient care, diagnosis authenticity, convenience and future tests required. She asked be to elaborate patient care. I listed 5 factors: doctors & nursing staff, length and time, accommodation, flexibility of meeting close ones, and miscellaneous things such as food etc. I also prioritized these putting doctors and nurses on the top. It was here that she revealed that some key doctors had left an year back and the hospital’s premium was to be attributed to the presence of these doctors when they were in service, This nailed down the key reason of decline of procedural revenues. Next, she asked me to look at reducing costs. I elaborated the entire value chain of the hospital: 1. Supply Side consisting of utilities, drugs and equipments 2. Operations consisting of procedures, labor and R&D. 3. Marketing and promotions After a brief discussion on the factors driving supply side costs, I identified that the procurement of drugs can be optimized through consolidating purchase. On the operations side, we figured out the wage structure was pretty much fixed and I detailed out a few recommendations here to improve labor efficiency. One was to use a performance based incentive structure with the use of balance scorecards and leading indicators to assess performance. She was quite happy on hearing this as this was part of the recommendations they had given to the client. The case ended here.

Case Study Interview

Interview Experience

I tried to scope the problem down but Rajiv wanted me to structure my thoughts first and come up with an approach on a broader level. I came up with the following structure Structure: 1. Strategic Goals: a. Short term: Solve some existing problems and build a talent pool b. Long term: Impact on society and economy 2. Organizational: a. Supply of Labor Pool b. Attracting and sustaining employees i. Salary and Incentives j. Personal Development through trainings k. Challenging assignments l. Exit Options c. Execution to meet the expectations of the 4 stakeholders: District collectors, Pan-IIT, Government and Employees i. Management j. Teachers / Training k. Program Structure: Curriculum, Length, intensityl. HR m. Administration 3. Financial: Source of Finances, debt and equity distribution. Rajiv was fairly satisfied with the comprehensive structure and after a brief discussion, clarified that the focus of the present case was to just think about the building blocks of the organization. Since I had listed down quite a few things, he just wanted me to have a discussion on the various aspects of the problem and we chatted for 15 minutes on what should be the issues in each of the elements of the Organizational part and recommendations to tackle them. Detailing out an exhaustive structure and explaining my approach in detail gave the confidence to the interviewer. After that I just had to engage him in discussion on various aspects till he decided to close the case.

Case Study Interview

Interview Experience

Since the problem given to me was very open ended, I started asking a lot of questions on the objective of the client and any constraints we need to consider in our analysis. Adheet revealed the following information: The suburb is still under development and there is no infrastructure as of now. The client is actually a large hospital chain in the country and is not looking for immediate profits but eventually within 3-4 years. Financial constraints not an issue. Hospital again! But the good part was that I had got some confidence on the business after having interviewed with Priyanka earlier.
Structure: a. NPV > 0 b. Determine cash flows: Revenues, Costs, Working Capital and Capital Expenditure c. Determine appropriate discount rate for cash flows: an appropriate way would be to use industry comparables of similar hospitals. He agreed and asked me to discuss the revenue aspect. I laid down the following approach: 1. Identify customer disease patterns and demographics. 2. Pick up the attractive opportunities that could ensure long term sustainability. Identify the customer segments to target. 3. Check if the opportunity aligns with business vision and company’s capabilities. 4. Determine the appropriate price for these services based on consumer willingness to pay To simplify things he gave me an additional data point here. The real estate developer of the area had predicted the following growth of population in that area: 100,000 in 3 years 500,000 by 6 years 1 million by 10 years. He then asked me to determine the healthcare requirements of these potential customers. I listed down 3 factors here: Socio Economic Status, Age and Idiosyncratic factors such as family history. He was impressed and asked me how I could determine the Socio Economic Status. I gave a lot of options here but he kept pushing that we had no access to any formal databases and some proxy was needed. After a bit of thinking I told him that the kind of apartments being bought by the families could proxy for their socio-eco status. This was what he was looking for and immediately gave me the following information. Super luxury flat (1 crores): 10% of families, luxury (50 lacs): 40%, 1 bedroom apartment (20 lacs): 50%. I asked about the average number of people per household and he gave me the numbers of 5, 4 and 3 respectively. I told him that even the relatively poorest of families were actually quite well to do as they could afford a 20 lacs flat. He agreed and asked me what kind of service on a broad level would suit our target customer segment. I told that 2 kinds of services should suffice here: Deluxe and Regular. Deluxe would include some premium procedures that could be utilized by either of the segments. Regular Procedures would be more day to day services provided to a wide spectrum of the population. He mentioned that regular procedures would need a breakeven volume to turn profitable and asked me to develop a timeline for introduction of the two kinds of services. Based on the population immigration information he had provided me earlier, I recommended that the client should start with deluxe services when the customer base would be small and eventually move to other regular services and customer base grows big enough to achieve breakeven. He asked me if there were any risks involved here and I mentioned that competitive threat could always be a concern here. I recommended that such a threat could be conquered to an extent by making appropriate arrangements for customers to receive these services at a nearby hospital of the same chain. He liked the idea since the hospital could bear initial losses. We had some more discussion on other issues of such as real estate, supplier contracts, equipments etc. before he closed the case. And as always, he discussed about movie making experience and also my work at Microsoft.

Case Study Interview

Interview Experience

I started by laying down my hypotheses on why a 5th terminal should be built:
1. Reduce congestion on existing terminals by increasing capacity
2. Facilitate Growth of air traffic and passenger traffic
3. Achieve optimization between traffic on runways and terminals He wanted me to test the first hypothesis. I confirmed whether airport capacity can be defined in terms of passenger flow rate. He agreed but wanted me to look at another measure of capacity which is the air traffic flow rate. In simple terms, this was the maximum number of airplanes that can land or take off from the airport in a day.
I asked for specific information and got the following data:
1. Air traffic operates for 17 hours in a day.
2. Each terminal has 50 gates I said to figure out whether there is any real capacity increase we need to find out whether New Capacity = MIN{ Total number of airplanes determined by total gates, Total number of airplanes that can use the runway in a day} > Current Capacity He asked me to make the required assumptions and proceed. I made 2 specific assumptions:
1. Both runways are identical and capable of serving same traffic.
2. All airplanes on an average take the same amount of time while standing on gates and similarly while using the runway (take off or landing)
He then gave me the following data: A plane takes 90 sec on average on the runway while landing or takeoff. This meant that the runways can support a total of 17 * 2 * 3600 / 90 = 1360 planes per day. Next, he told me that every gate can support 5 planes on an average. This meant that with 5 terminals a total of 5*50*5 = 1250 planes can be held on the gates. This gives the new capacity = Min{1250,1360} = 1250 an additional capacity of 250 planes. So one part of the hypothesis was verified that there would be additional capacity added by building 5th terminal. Now we had to establish whether it would reduce congestion. We started discussing the various sub hypotheses that would need to be true for this to happen. Things such as feasibility of movement of passengers and staff from one terminal to another, movement of infrastructure(shops etc) to the new terminal and so on. We chatted for almost 10 minutes on this and he asked me to synthesize the case. The hypothesis had been proven right.

Case Study Interview

Interview Experience

I clarified what all businesses the client was running, the relative share of revenues in each and the competitive landscape in each. Then I laid down my approach:
1. Identify the attractive businesses for the future. This can be done using a 2X2 matrix of competition vs. growth opportunity.
2. Choose the ones that are feasible to focus on in the next 5 years based on company’s capabilities.
3. Chart out an execution strategy for these businesses accounting for challenges and the effect on bottom line.
4. Consider divesting the unattractive businesses considering the risk of impact on the existing ones since there is lot of interdependency in the web space. He was satisfied with the overall structure and drew out a chart with lots of customer and growth data on the existing businesses. It’s difficult for me to explain our discussion over here because first, the chart was fairly comprehensive and second, he asked me to hand over to him everything I had written while solving the case. On a broad level, we discussed the attractive business opportunities and what challenges we would have to consider. He asked me to give 10 specific challenges in one particular business and it was here that my Web 2.0 course learning and software experience helped me.

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Interview Process

Case Study Interview → Case Study Interview → Case Study Interview

Case Study Interview

Interview Experience

Looked at auto-components industry on my resume and said he would give me an auto-comp case.
Case: Client is a leading auto component manufacturer. It wants to increase profits in the next few years and wants to reach a target of $5 bn in revenues. It is currently at $1 bn.
I suggested there are 2 basic ways to do so:
- Increase volume
- Increase value add and thus margins (elaborated below)
Clarifying questions
Me: Asked what was the core capability of the manufacturer and
the kind of products it manufacturers.
The Interviewer (TI): Forging and forged components
Me: Geographic presence?
TI: India and some acquisitions in Europe.
Me: Is it into auto- comp outsourcing business?
TI: Yes
Me: Increase Volume as follows:
I said can we assume is it meeting demand?
Was asked to make assumptions and proceed. Now I moved into a monologue – coz I gathered that’s what he wants
Increase volume:
- So I said if we know it is lagging in demand, we should explore expansions options – add domestic capacity, acquire capacity externally – (also a increase value add option – refer below)
- Enhance product offering (all types of forged components based on core forging capability)
- Increase share of wallet ( Does a single OEM outsource all types of auto-components) ; Have we exploited any potential to cross sell – if he is buying power train (engine) components, should he also buy axle and chasis components from us
- External acquisitions: Dual shore manufacturing – have a low cost mfg base in India and China, acquire plants in Europe and America which has good customer relationships – thus improve customer intimacy by being geographically close to customer and improve share of wallet.
Increase value add:
- Any change in product mix – make more of critical safety components which provide higher margins
- Provide full end to end support – from design of components to testing – make attempts to support the entire life cycle of car platforms – this will also enhance value add and thus margins ( Explore options to acquire or build R&D centers)
- Compare costs in India and China, add capacity in China, if it reduces costs and enhances margins

Case Study Interview

Interview Experience

Case:Client is an insurance company. They want to know how big is the insurance opportunity in India? Finally, given the size of the opportunity, what would you recommend as the next steps.
Me: Let me ask the usual clarifying questions, is the company into life insurance or non-life? Private company or a public company?
Interviewer: Life insurance, the client is a private company.
Me: To understand how big the opportunity is I would want to estimate the size of the insurance market.
Interviewer: In what denomination you would estimate the market.
Me: $ mm of life insurance premium
Interviewer: Great. So go ahead and do it.
Me: Sir, before I get into the number work, it will be useful to pictorially or graphically understand where does India stand on insurance penetrations relative to the world.
Interviewer: How would you do that? (It seemed he was very open to new ideas
as seen from his body language because he always sounded excited to hear
something new)
Me: You plot all the countries by insurance penetration ratios and see where India is in the stage of evolution in the insurance market
Interviewer: How would you define the penetration ratio?
Me: Insured population by Insurable population
Interviewer: Great. Now lets get to the number work.
Me: I took some time to think at this stage.
Usual method: Indian population, 30% urban, for now lets focus on the urban market, % of people who cannot afford insurance, I suggested if insurance premium exceeds a particular% of your annual income, then its not affordable, such population should be excluded or alternatively people below the poverty line. I suggested we could break down the population by Income class. As we discussed, it stood out that age cannot be a right basis, as people get their children insured and old people can also be insured albeit at a higher premium.
Interviewer: Great, let us assume you have done all that and the total size of
the market comes to $210mm. LIC’s market is 180mm and has 80%
market share. So what would your conclusion be?
Me:(I wasn’t very fluent at this stage …..somehow I got a bit confused at this stage…no particular reason…probably I wasn’t thinking calmly enough…. Later, with some push from him…this is what I concluded…
Me: Ok, so total insured market is then 180mm/ 0.80 which comes to approximately $205mm. Insurable market is $210mm. So penetration ratio is very high close to 95%. This leaves private insurers a market of only $5mm to pursue. So now how many private insurers are there?
Interviewer: 12/13
Me: Fine, then it is evident that private insurers are competing quite hard and each has a very minuscule share of the private market….and the nature of the game is to arrest market share from LIC, which may be very difficult.
Interviewer: We have now run out of time, so what would you suggest to the company?
Me: As of now, the market is very small and competitive for the private insurers. Going forward, the client would have to arrest market share from LIC and would have to do it better than other private players. So the key question client should ask itself?
- Do I have enough distribution capabilities to gain market share from LIC…coz in Insurance distribution pipeline is most critical. (Things like alliances with corporates, third party distributor alliances etc)
- Secondly, Insurance being a capital intensive business, due to solvency ratios, and unexpected insurance claims, do I have the deep pockets to sustain this market till I become profitable? – high shelf life before break even in insurance business
- Finally, Do I have the ability to offer innovative and customized insurance products to attract the customers?

Case Study Interview

Interview Experience

In round 2 i was directly given a case to solve. The case was:
Our client is a Chocolate confectionary manufacturer started in 1980. It did quite well till 1990. Post 1990, it has seen a revenue slowdown and a profitability slowdown. Can you help them figure out why?
Me: I drew the usual profitability tree. Revenue and costs.I took him through volumes ( Market size, market share, production) Price changes, if any? Variances in costs ?
Interviewer: Fine, lets look at the costs
Me: Let me list down the various heads of costs Variable costs: Direct material, labor, variable overheads Fixed costs: SG&A including distribution costs, interest costs, I also highlighted the overlap.
Interviewer: Fine, let me provide you some data. Write it down. Raw material costs (% of revenue) For the client is 25%, for competitors 20% Distribution cost (cents per bar): For the client 0.25c and for the competitor 0.15c. Let us explore the distribution cost first.
Me: How does the client distribute its products?
Interviewer: It has its own distribution infrastructure….the trucks, manpower etc.
Me: So can I say the client does distribution in-house. So do our competitors not do it in-house?
Interviewer: Yes, you are right, the competitors are outsourcing distribution. What do you think is happening here?
Me: Is it that distribution agent is operating at a higher scale because he is sourcing the business from various manufacturers. If yes, then this could be the cause of difference in cost.
Interviewer: That’s right. What else? Give me one more reason for difference distribution cost.
Me: Is it that transporters are making more number of trips, since our batches of production are small or not synchronized?
Interviewer: Fine, give me one more.
Me: On what basis do transporters charge us?
Interviewer: Based on hourly rate.
Me: This leads me to the hypothesis, that they may be spending lot of time waiting, at the factory without doing any productive work.
Interviewer: You are thinking right.....go on
Me: Phew! Is it that turnaround time per truck is too high compared to our competitors.
Interviewer: Why do you think that is happening?
Me: Distances are too far from our customers or our suppliers. We are not located at the optimal distance from either customers or suppliers.
Oliver: Great, now lets talk about the raw material cost.
Me: So what kind of chocolate is this? Like a Mars bar or something?
Interviewer: Perfect.
Me: So let me list down the ingredients ……..Milk, cocoa, and sugar would be the main ingredients
Interviewer: So lets talk about each ingredient separately.
Me: Milk is a commodity…..
Interviewer: Is Milk a commodity? Is it traded?
Me: No, its not traded, so its not a commodity (This was my clue….thankfully I picked it up…..you will see below how it was a useful)
Interviewer: Go on…think specifically about each ingredient
Me: Cocoa and sugar are commodities.....because they are traded.
interviewer: So?
Me: After a pause of thinking......... Have the prices gone up of late? If yes, “ They are not hedging the commodity costs”
Interviewer: Excellent...You are right...either they are not hedging it or not hedging it as much as they should.
Me: yah....may be not even things like long term supply contracts.
Case part II:
Interviewerr: Great fresh page………note down these numbers…..gave me a full profitability statement to make for 2 factories….one in UK and one in France…..with capacity utilization to be calculated, units produced, price, RM costs as % of revenue, Labor based on per hour etc.
Me: I did the numbers in a very traditional school boy like fashion, did not try any quick calculation tricks…..was very transparent and vocal about my calculations …..helped a lot in showing my comfort with numbers
Interviewer: So what is your conclusion?
Me:
UK France
Capacity utilization 54% 39%
Profitability % 46.2% 33%
This shows a correlation between profitability and scale utilization.
Interviewer: So what would you suggest?
Me: Why don’t we integrate the facilities…. I did a ball park calculation to see if capacity in UK would be enough to handle production in both UK and France. However, there could be a downside to shutting plant in France…
Interviewer: So what are the downsides?
Me: Transportation cost, labor retrenchment cost, loss of customer intimacy in France resulting in loss of certain customers…he kept saying what else….i kept giving him more and more reasons
Interviewer: Only one thing you missed out real option value, if the French market picks up again…
Me: Ya right….I agree.
Interviewer: Thanks Gautam. Excellent. I liked your idea of integrating capacity. I am very happy with the way case has turned out.

Overall Experience

1) Use the Challenge-Action-Impact framework to prepare answers for teamwork, leadership etc. Prepare beforehand
2) Keep telling yourself…. So what? When you prepare these kind of answers
3) Don’t sound rehearsed for such questions. Pick up
something, you are genuinely proud of….It will show
through.

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