I came across the following television interview the other day.
The person being interviewed is a leader of a group of college students demanding that all student loans in the U.S. be forgiven, and that college tuition be free.
She was not prepared, and ended up humiliating herself on live national television.
Specifically, she was not familiar with the relevant facts on the issue, did not do her math, and presented her opinion as a conclusion.
The interviewer asked her a few legitimate questions, which quickly revealed her lack of preparation.
In short, she violated every rule of the CEO Code, and all my guidelines for what NOT to do during a case interview (which is a proxy for interacting with senior level clients).
First, the video is worth watching because it discusses a controversial issue. Such issues are precisely when consultants are called in to help make a decision.
Second, the interview very much illustrates the dynamic between an MBB partner and a first year consultant or intern that isn't prepared. In this case, the TV interviewer plays a role similar to an MBB partner, and the student being interviewed plays the role of the new consultant.
Partners do not like people who waste their time (CEOs hate it too). They absolutely will let you humiliate yourself, in part out of a morbid curiosity to see if you will recognize you screwed up and acknowledge it, or continue to insist on the validity of an argument you haven't thought through yet.
Third, rather than solely using this video as an example of what not to do, I thought it would be more constructive to hold a contest to re-write the student leader's argument.
Because you and I don't have access to factual data, it's not realistic to expect anyone to rewrite her entire argument. However, what is reasonable is to structure this "case" and lay out how you would determine your conclusion, what analysis you would do (if you had the data), and why.
In other words, state your hypothesis and how you'd structure a way to test it. For the purposes of this contest, you must assume the same position as the student leader. Your hypothesis must be that it's a good idea to make college tuition free and to forgive all student debt.
The winner gets a $100 donation made in your honor to the U.S. charity of your choice, and will be publicly acknowledged (with your permission) by me for your excellent case structuring skills.
If you're one of the approximately 10,000 people reading this that currently works or previously worked at MBB, you are not eligible to win the prize (but are welcome to participate).
I will post the winning entry on my blog and include it in my email newsletter.
I've never held a contest like this, so I'm curious to see what happens. To submit an entry, post your answer as a comment below.
I will contact the winner privately first to offer my congratulations and to communicate with him or her before posting the winning answer.
UPDATE as of Tuesday, November 24TH AT 8AM ET: New entries are welcome, but not eligible for the prize, as contest has closed.