A Quick Look At Case Interview Frameworks – Are Generic Frameworks Useful?
Case interview frameworks are considered as a method for problem-solving. They are used for structuring approaches to a problem and breaking them down into smaller elements that are easier to operate with.
They represent a defined and well-organized approach to complex problems, helping you avoid chaotic methods and ideas that could jeopardize your structuring or the final answer to the problem.
Case Interview Framework Types
There is one basic division where case interview frameworks are concerned. Generic and Custom. And you can be sure that whatever case you get in your case interview will require you to create a custom framework of your own, adapted to the needs of that particular case. For a more detailed look into case interview frameworks and why you shouldn’t rely on them solely, take a look at this My Consulting Coach case interview framework article.
Custom case interview frameworks are what you will be using, or shall we say creating, in most cases. Especially in your case interview, the recruiting manager will want to see how you think logically and create structures of your own, not just apply generic frameworks to solve a problem.
If premade frameworks could take care of any problem that comes up in business, do you think anyone would actually spend money on consultants? No, they wouldn’t.
However, since they are not really able to work on any truly complicated problems, your occupation (or future occupation) is still a necessity to many companies and businesses.
Certain case types can be initiated with generic frameworks – for instance, you notice that the problem is related to profitability, and you can start working on it with the profitability framework.
This, however, will not be enough to break the problem down completely, and you will need to adapt your structure to that case and create a custom framework that will handle the problem fully.
Generic frameworks, also called premade frameworks, are used on simpler cases and rely on sorting them into one of the predefined structures for breaking that problem category down.
It mostly comes down to experience in recognizing the category and then applying the adequate framework.
Generic Framework Types
There are more generic framework types than we could go through in this short article, however, we will cover a few of the more common ones.
This could probably be considered as the most used generic framework available out there. There’s even a decent chance you’ll get to apply it in your case interview, as a lot of consulting problems are connected to profitability issues. Money makes the world go round, and every company (especially the ones that hire consultants) will always be looking to maximize their profit.
This particular framework is based on breaking down the profits into two simple elements – revenue and cost. Cost is the sum of all the fixed and variable costs, while revenue is equal to the price of the product multiplied by the quantity sold.
Cheng’s Business Situation Framework
Unlike most other premade frameworks, this one does not help the candidate make a recommendation. It serves more as a list of important factors that you have to keep an eye on. Those factors are:
The business situation framework is optimized for solving business case questions in the case of launching a new product, entering a new market, establishing a business strategy, or growing revenue.
As far as the case interview is concerned – simply using the business situation framework will not cut it. Just like the profitability equation, it may come useful for a fraction of the case questions but will need additional structuring to solve an issue.
The BCG (Boston Consulting Group) Matrix, also referred to as the growth-share matrix, is a framework type that focuses on helping a business set its focus in order to shape their strategy efficiently and maximize their growth.
It operates by sorting businesses into four different categories that are based on industry growth and the relative market share. The four categories are:
Low market share in an equally slow-growing market. These are best discarded.
High market share, but in a slow-growing market. These are considered profitable and should be managed in order to maximize profit.
High market share in a fast-growing market. This group should be invested in, as they are likely to become Cash Cows in the future.
Low market share in a fast-growing market. These are either discarded or built up into a Star.
Porter’s Five Forces
This framework serves to help determine whether an industry is attractive based on the competitive forces at play. For entering a new market, this is most likely the best framework you can rely upon. Porter’s five forces are:
- New Entrants
The forces are pretty straight-forward. Based on the number of customers and suppliers, products that can be considered as substitutes for the company’s product, any new entrants in the market, or the power of competitors it can determine how likely the company is to be profitable.
The 4Ps Framework
The 4Ps framework is also known as the Marketing Mix. It is commonly used to build a strategy when launching a new product. If the strategy is to be effective, the four components of the 4Ps framework need to be aligned. The components are:
- Product (i.e. design, quality, features, packaging, etc.)
- Promotion (i.e. advertising plan)
- Place (i.e. distribution channels, logistics)
To Sum It Up
Case interview frameworks are the basis of any problem-solving method in consulting. Generic frameworks are something you should master early on and learn to spot a case where certain premade frameworks can be implemented to save yourself some time.
However, custom frameworks are something you should focus on, as lots of cases will not fall into premade categories and will require you to use your logical thinking and structuring skills to organize your approach to complex problems. The more different cases you go through – the better you will become at recognizing patterns and structuring your approaches efficiently.