One of the skills that's being tested during a case interview is something I call data sufficiency.
Basically, you have a bunch of data and the question is do you have ENOUGH data to make a particular conclusion.
This is certainly something that is tested during a live, in-person, face-to-face case interview.
It is also a skill that is often tested in a variety of formats including written tests before the first in-person case interview question is asked.
An example of this is the McKinsey Problem Solving Test which evaluates your data sufficiency skills (among others).
In parts of the McKinsey Problem Solving Test, you are given a bunch of data and some possible conclusions.
Your job is to figure out which conclusions are or are NOT supported by the facts presented.
Now this test is not intended to torture you (though I know some people might argue with me on this one).
It turns out this is a very important skill once you're on the job as a management consultant, especially as a first year analyst or associate.
In addition to a live case interview, the McKinsey Problem Solving Test, other firms have used similar tests (Monitor has done this from time to time) OR have given an in-person case interview where the candidate is presented with a written document consisting of various facts, figures and other data… and the data sufficiency skill is tested verbally.
These are all variations of the same thing.
Given a set of data, will you determine the correct, logical, and factually supported conclusion every time?
So bottom line, this skill is pretty important and based on the many emails I've been receiving from aspiring consultants around the world, it seems many people are having a difficult time figuring out how to practice these skill.
So just for kicks, I thought I'd give you an actual data sufficiency type question that a McKinsey Partner in the Los Angeles office asked me when I interviewed there for my final round several years ago.
Before I give you the question (which is posted on my blog), I strongly recommend that you read the question and then immediately hit the "post comment" button to post your answer on my blog.
(You can do so with just your first name or initials if you want to be a anonymous)
The key is to post your answer WITHOUT seeing other people's answers!
(otherwise it sort of defeats the purpose of practicing, and there really are very few opportunities to practice this skill.).
I will be "grading" all the answers posted in a day or two.
Here's the question:
Volvo recently ran an advertisement that said:
Volvo - The Safest Car in the United States*
* New US government report shows that fewer people die in a Volvo than in any other car brand in America
(Note: A prior version of this blog post indicated that Volvo was the Safest Car in the World. My intention was to write U.S., so some of the answers you see may reflect this.)
Assess the validity of this statement, you have 3 - 5 minutes to do so. You are NOT permitted to ask any clarifying questions. Please be SPECIFIC in your answers. Go!
Click Here to Post Your Response
(Remember: Don't cheat by looking at everyone else's response first, look at them AFTER you post your response.)
Scroll down to see the hundreds of answers submitted by readers of my blog.
To see my answer to this question (ideally AFTER you try to answer the question yourself FIRST), click here: McKinsey Problem Solving Test - Example 1 Answers.