Factor questions usually start with “What factors influence …” or “What key issues would you consider when …” Factor questions are gaining popularity, particularly with non-consulting firms such as Johnson & Johnson, DoorDash, Coach, Taco Bell, and Amazon, which use cases when interviewing for finance, marketing, client relations, or supply chain analysts.
Factor questions are used when time is short and interviewers can’t devote significant time to walking you through an entire case, but want to see you think in broad strokes. They may also pop up in place of stand-alone market-sizing questions during first-round interviews. Factor questions last five to ten minutes, where a full case could last up to forty minutes.
The interviewer is not only looking for the factors, but in what order you present them. Do you just say them as the pop into your head, or do you prioritize them in your mind first? You can ask for a minute to think. You might even want to write them down.
Even though these questions are more conversational, the firms are still looking for the four key things: structure of thought, confidence level, communication skills, and creativity.
Let’s try one. DoorDash, an on-demand prepared food delivery service asked – “What factors would you consider for an ideal merchant partner?”
My initial thoughts …
- Stability – how long the restaurant has been in business
- Popularity – how busy are they
- Number of locations – it’s better to sign a deal with a restaurant that has 100 locations than one that only has two locations
- The price of the items on the menu – because they get a percentage of the total bill
- Where the restaurants are located – cities, suburbs or rural areas, this dictates time of delivery and number of stops per trip
- How well the food travels – this is huge. Not all food travels as well as pizza. Some items get cold and soggy. DoorDash will take the blame. Which will hurt them with other restaurants and consumers. However, DoorDash’s competitors will have the same problem.
- Competition in the area – how many other Thai restaurants are there
How many did you get? Did you have others that I didn’t think about? Did you prioritize them? Did you add a little color, or explanation to each one? Such as for number 1.
- Stability – how long the restaurant has been in business. Restaurants seem to come and go at an alarming rate. We don’t want to make an investment, time and money, in a merchant partner only to have them go bankrupt after six months.
Factor questions can be fun and thought provoking – enjoy!
About the Author
Marc, the world’s foremost authority on case interviewing has twenty seven years of experience with case questions. He has written well over a hundred cases, while coaching, preparing and training more than a hundred and fifty thousand students and alumni. He has written three books involving cases and consulting. Cosentino has given workshops to students at colleges and MBA programs for the last twenty seven years and has held training sessions for career services professionals on how to give cases and how to analyze a student’s performance.