McKinsey & Company Will the interviewer intervene if I use the wrong formula? Some of these casebooks define metrics differently, so different formulas result in different answers McKinsey & Company

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What’s an example?

If the problem is set up to have one right answer, then you should work toward that answer. It’s your responsibility to correctly understand the inputs and expected output.

If it’s interpretable/open ended, then the interviewer cares more that you share your assumptions and logical thinking.


So if the case is about ROI you would first present your idea of how to solve the calculation without any numbers. In there you’d say you will use X/Y as your formula for ROI. If that’s in line with the case the interviewer will agree. Otherwise he’ll say that you should use another one



Your interviewer won’t be thinking about formulas. Generally they will think much more simply- for example gross margin is sales less cost of goods sold. They will think of this as the definition of gross margin, not as a formula. They will be looking to see if you bring a useful concept to the problem. In some cases gross margin will be useful - in others it won’t or it will only be part of the story.

If you’re looking around for the right formula to apply I would generally interpret this as not understanding the basic ideas.

A good carpenter isn’t the one who knows which screwdriver to use or how to make a dovetail joint - it’s the one who knows what can make doors stick and what to about it (for example painting the parts you can’t see).


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