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Consulting Jobs Require You to Name Microsoft’s Worst Product, Coffin Math

How many people will buy coffins in a country with five million people? What’s Microsoft’s worst product? These are just a couple of the questions M.B.A. graduates and prospective interns from New York University’s Leonard N. Stern School of Business were asked by consulting companies in recent months.  If you can answer them and the others below, you may have a shot at a job with the likes of an IBM, Oracle or Bain.

  • A coffin company in a little country called Moldavia makes budget-priced, machine-made coffins and hand-made, high-end coffins. The company’s craftsmen who make the hand-made coffins are slowly retiring and new people are harder to find. The company is thinking about revamping their factories to install machinery to manufacture high-end coffins. What issues would they have to think about to make this decision? How could we estimate the market size for coffins in Moldavia if there are 5 million residents, people only live to age 75 and coffins are sold at $1,000 each (you have to make your own assumptions)
  • How profitable would it be to serve a cup of coffee to a tourist on Alcatraz?
  • Should you get an offer from multiple consulting firms how will you decide which firm?
  • A private equity firm is looking to acquire a company that installs and operates independent banking machines/ATMs. It is looking to get a 25% return over the next five years. What factors should it be looking at when considering the acquisition?
  • How would you prepare a proposal for a client who is manufacturing a special cable which can be used in power lines and telephone lines? The client wants to evaluate the future of this product.
  • You’ve been hired by a PE firm to evaluate buying a dormant cell phone network in a city of 5 million people for $50 million. They plan on offering a $30 a month plan that offers free calls anywhere in the metro area but nowhere else. Market penetrations of cell phones is 40%, max is 60%. There are 3 players in the market. The average customer life is 3 years. Acquisition cost is $500 per customer, 20% of non-cell phone users would be interested in the plan, 10% of users would switch. Should they do it?
  • Tell me about a poorly marketed product. What do you think was the rationale behind this marketing?
  • Tell me a Microsoft product that you hate? How would you fix it?
  • The new CEO at Apple is asking you for help on continuing Steve Jobs’ legacy through Apple’s products and services. Where do you begin?
  • You have a company that is the number one producer of baby nutritional products in Europe. You would like to launch your product in the U.S. What are the issues around launching that product? Given these issues, would you recommend launching the product?

(Note: Some questions were altered for grammar and readability purposes)
Check out our previous post on interview questions posed by asset managers, commercial banks, private wealth managers and other finance firms.

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