Case Structure vs Case Framework

One of the most vital components of consulting case interviews is how a candidate structures and develops their framework to the business simulation they are confronting. These structured strategies are instrumental in developing organized insights, unpacking the business challenges, and offering direction toward long-lasting recommendations. However, knowing when and how to appropriately use structure and framing is a balance and skill that must be mastered for aspiring candidates.

Case Structure vs Case Framework

Case Structure v. Case Framework: What’s The Difference?

As candidates approach how to successfully navigate case interviews for consulting and strategy roles, understanding the distinction between a framework and a structure is vital. The framework aspect of a case interview refers to established industry methodologies and approaches that can be used to break down and solve a problem at its roots. These are formulated strategies from years of industry-focused expertise that can provide an excellent foundation for analysis. As cases become less traditional, the case interview structure is about applying and manipulating these frameworks in a manner that is designed specifically for the case at hand. It is a framework that is constructed in real-time to support an interview in navigating the posed challenges—not a carbon copy of existing case frameworks. Consequently, case structure necessitates an excellent understanding of the industry problem, creativity, flexibility, and adaptability as new information is revealed and clarified throughout the interview.

To effectively master case interview structure, candidates should avoid merely applying a carbon copy framework for a case study but should learn to customize it and draw both depth and breadth. This concept is known as making the framework mutually exclusive and collectively exhaustive (MECE). MECE involves breaking down the case problem into independent, non-overlapping considerations (mutually exclusive) while maximizing all possible considerations (collectively exhaustive).

A strong case structure will prove to become the backbone of a strong candidate because it frames the strategic recommendations you will eventually offer to your interviewer. In doing so, success in structure demands practice and understanding of various industries to build comfort with during a candidate’s real management consulting case interview.

Should You Always Use A Framework?

As candidates think through how they want to structure their framework for a given case in an interview, it is vital to recognize that commonly learned frameworks like profitability, market-entry, growth, and merger and acquisitions are not a one-size-fits-all solution. Often they are unable to provide tailored analysis for a specific industry, client, and objective. Thus, the decision to use a framework for case study should be informed by the specific nuances of the specific case. Candidates are better off using these frameworks for foundational direction, but leaning too heavily on them will stifle the creative thinking and problem-solving that is necessary to successfully navigate a consulting case interview. To best prepare, aspiring candidates should attempt to step away from traditional and pre-established frameworks and issue trees and begin getting comfortable developing their own frameworks that are aligned with the unique challenges and complexities of any case scenario.

Framework Mistakes to Avoid

Avoiding common mistakes when developing frameworks will be vital for successful analysis in future management consulting case interviews.

  1. Firstly, unlearn the temptation to force-fit the case into a preconceived framework. Too often, candidates will feel the need to use cookie-cutter frameworks to cut down their time or as their only analysis. Interviewers can often see through this primarily because not every scenario will align neatly with those frameworks. By trying to fit these cases into traditional frameworks, it is very easy to overlook the most important considerations for analysis.
  2. Secondly, do not overlook the tailoring of the framework. Even if a case is a market-entry strategy, you should be adapting your issue trees to the specifics of the case at hand. While frameworks can provide a guideline for the direction of the case, your framework and structure should prove to interviewers that it cannot be used to solve any other case but the one at hand.
  3. Lastly, do not rely solely on frameworks without building the acumen needed to unpack them. Too often, candidates will memorize frameworks without having a strong grasp of how the framework may evolve depending on the industry or function. Relying on frameworks as a crutch may often lead to shallow and irrelevant analysis.


To wrap, a large component as to why management consulting case interviews are as dynamic as they are is due to the requirement to build creative yet comprehensive approaches to distinct business challenges. While the application of frameworks in your structure will prove beneficial, aspiring candidates ought to avoid the common framework mistakes that often come with the consulting interview process, and ensure their structures provide space for robust, tailored, and insightful processes.


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Filed Under: Case Interview