Many people wonder how they can go above and beyond in an interview to stick in an interviewer’s mind. Knowing how to do a case interview merely puts you on the same level as everyone else. However, enhancing your communication through the use of diagrams and charts can put you over the top. Most interviewers’ eyes will immediately light up when they see you use the charts discussed below because this is the way consultants think and even how they communicate points to clients!
Market Share Pie Chart (Gaining Share vs. Growing The Pie)
This is probably the simplest, and most commonly applicable chart, but rarely anyone uses it! It’s low hanging fruit you can take advantage of. It’s great for demonstrating the various strategies available for:
- Increasing sales (steal share or grow the total market?)
- New product launch strategy (take a small slice of a big pie or a big slice of a small pie?)
- Pretty much anything involving changing the levers on the percentage of the market you own or influencing the size of the total market.
The chart is super easy to draw. The hardest part is recognizing the opportunity to use it. These situations happen all too often, but most of the time people overlook them. A good trick is to keep it in mind whenever you read business news. Today I read an article on Bing’s search strategy and there was an example right in front of me.
Stefan Weitz (Bing spokesman): Competing with Google in classical ranked algorithm search isn’t a thing we spend tons and tons of time thinking about. We obviously try to understand what they’re doing so we can match or better that.Really, the question about how we compete with the traditional engine assumes some type of zero-sum game. We think by enabling all these other decision type scenarios, we’re actually increasing the overall pie.
BAM! That’s a reference to the pie chart above. Bing can either compete on ranking algorithms in a zero-sum game (try to gain market share from Google), or focus their energies on different ways of searching (growing the search pie by bringing in people who do not currently use search). These examples are EVERYWHERE!
Profitability over time chart
A useful chart for declining profitability type of problems is to draw revenues and costs over time. For example, let’s say the client is experiencing declining profits, and you have come to the conclusion that it is due to rising costs (see first panel). You can illustrate the two ways of tackling the issue through method A and method B.
- Method A: Do a short term fix by increasing profits through reducing costs (ie. cutting staff, using less materials, etc.). However, since this is just a shift of the cost curve, costs will continue to rise because the main issue still exists (ie. rising wages, rising cost of materials)
- Method B: Use a more innovative approach to tackle the main issue of rising costs and rotate the cost curve (ie. use a different material that is stable in price, renegotiate with suppliers to lock in prices, switch from human labor to machine automation, etc ).
But be aware that you can pretty much use a 2×2 matrix for any problem involving 2 dimensions. It’s great for putting structure around a complex topic and making it easier for the interviewer to follow what you are saying.
For example, the Wharton 2006 Casebook has an offshoring case from a BCG 2nd round where this works well (Wharton Casebook 2006, case 8). The question at hand is whether a US software company should enter the Indian market and whether it should offshore its engineering unit to India. In order to organize your thoughts in evaluating such a decision, you should create the matrix below and gather information to fill in the boxes. When you explain your decision, the interview can easily follow your thought process.