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A vast portion of a consultant’s career is spent analyzing data and summarizing information and facts. Being able to turn graphs and tables into comprehensive information is important but even more so, being able to identify and draw insights from the information. A few minutes into your interview, the recruiter slides a chart across the table and asks you share the insights that you can draw from the information contained in the chart, are you prepared enough to respond to the questions completely and confidently?

In General 

Typically the slides used during case interviews for McKinsey, Bain, and BCG’s contain leads or a significant bit of information attached to the diagram. This is usually stated as the header with the diagram below. In other Instances, the lead does not appear on the diagram, leaving you only with the charts. The point is, that every chart, whether there is a lead noted or not, the shart serves as a source of insights. In the instance where the lead is unnoted, you will be required to reverse the process and come up with the lead for the charts. 

The Common Mistakes

Some of the most mistakes an individual make when interpreting graphs are:

  • To look for patterns in the values
  • Not taking into consideration all the other data represented on the diagram 
  • Taking into consideration the perspectives of the data 
  • Drawing wild assumptions from information rather than basing the findings on the facts
  • Not being able to identify what the different sources of data represent 
  • Not practicing basic case interview mathematics

Things To Remember

  • Always keep in mind the question
  • Analyze with understanding
  • Comprehend the information before attempting to identify a solution or carry out calculations. 
  • Take note of the most obvious information first. Read the title first and start with the axes and units of the data included in the chart 
  • Take into account the format of the data
  • Consistently follow the most efficient approach to carry out the calculations
  • Look at other noticeable trends in the data
  • Take into consideration the numbers, general trend, and context of the comprehensive case
  • Do not state the obvious as the answer
  • Base your calculations on the facts 
  • Not all the information will be needed to make the calculation (One of the core functions of a consultant is to know how to separate the useful data from the rest. Take the time to practice, this is one of the key objectives when preparing for your case interview)  
  • Taking into context the core objective, make a quick hypothesis based on the key metrics 

Key Elements Of The Chart

  • Title
  • Axis descriptions (units)
  • Legend
  • Values

Remember: Title/Axis Descriptions (with units)/Legend/Values

Drawing Insights

  • View the charts taking into consideration the title, axis, descriptions, and legend
  • Draw the elements/details from the chart that you need for the interpretation

Communicating The Interpretation

The following needs to be taken into consideration while communicating your interpretation of the diagram: 

  • Always take into consideration the question when delivering your answer
  • Make sure your communication and answer is clear and logical
  • Take the time explain the logic behind your answers

It is important to remember, seeing the whole graph with all the details and values can be intimidating, so break it down.

Take the time to break it down and use only the data needed to calculate only the facts needed to draw your insights.

Not all the data is useful, take time to practice how to interpret and extract the useful data. 





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