blog Bonorum et Malorum

3 Tips to Crack a Guesstimate Question During an Interview

Written by Fmi.Online

What is the average number of Nike shoes sold in Delhi?

A seemingly impossible-to-answer question like this has lately become an important part of interviews for a certain set of roles. Known as guesstimate (guess + estimate) questions, these are asked in consultant and analyst interviews as well as for most interviews during MBA placements. Guesstimates are estimates based on a mix of guesswork and calculation. 

The question, as seen in the above example, can be random, weird, confusing, and at times, you may not know where to start at all. But, it’s doable. That’s because no one cares whether you get the answer right or not. The focus rather is on the method you use to get to the answer. Interviewers are simply interested in learning how you solve a complicated challenge problem as many of these roles require that you have a problem-solving mindset.

So, if challenges excite you, let’s help you learn 3 quintessential tricks to ace guesstimate questions during an interview:

1. Think Logically: 

The interviewer or panellist will have plenty of time to get to know you personally during the behavioural interviews. But guesstimate questions are their way to assess your ability to construct a logical flow. 

That means every step should naturally lead to the next step and make sense, somewhat like solving a Mathematics equation. In most cases, the logical sequence will comprise 3-5 steps, where you begin from a broad pool and narrow it down to get to your answer (as explained below). But remember that the journey matters more than the destination because chances are the interviewer also doesn’t know the correct answer. Hence, the priority is clearly getting the process right. 

2. Write and Speak:

You will get a pen and paper for solving guesstimate questions. Use this to illustrate, think, write down your calculations etc. What you write is a reflection of how you think, so make sure you have a few tools in your arsenal and try to keep things tidy. We find flowcharts to be quite useful and can be deployed to visualise almost anything.

Further, when we are nervous during interviews or exams, we tend to write as we please and scribble on rough paper. Yet, you want to show the interviewer that you are meticulous in your thinking. So, avoid untidy and haphazard writing. 

Finally, performing calculations like these requires a person to think out loud. So don’t worry about speaking as you try to solve guesstimate questions. The interviewer, after all, is trying to gauge your thought process, and your commentary can help them immensely. This also brings to the fore your communication skills. You should also ask questions, preferably in the beginning, to rule out any confusion. For example in the above question, are we talking about any particular type of Nike shoe such as running shoes or sneakers? Do we account for shoes sold in Delhi but worn outside the city and vice-a-versa? 

3. Stay Calm:

Once again, the magic lies in the process and not the answer. Hence, if you’re flustered while solving the question, that is worse than getting the answer wrong. Remember this before and during the interview. Roles like management consultants, financial analysts and the like require that you stay calm in high-pressure situations. 

You always want to be able to demonstrate that you are in control of the situation no matter how outlandish the question may seem to you at first. So, ensure that keeping your composure is part of the practice. Many aspirants will often practice hundreds of guesstimate questions but forget to master any tips to prevent panic. Ensure that during mock interviews, you practice ways to keep a positive and stress-free mindset because the better your mind functions, the faster you’d be able to get cracking on the answers. 

A Solution in Action: 

Let’s consider our original question: What is the average number of Nike shoes sold in Delhi?
At FMI, we have devised the CSAC framework to solve guesstimate questions:

Clear all your doubts with the interviewer such as what type of month are we looking at. For example, more people will buy shoes in Delhi in the winter than in summer. 

Quickly decide which approach you want to use. The top-down approach works the best in questions that require you to find out a smaller number from a large pool. The trick is to use the method that calls for the least number of assumptions. 

This is the most important step. Here’s what that might look like for this question:

Step 1: From the branded and non-branded shoe stores in Delhi, consider only branded stores
Step 2: Divide branded stores into Nikes only and those selling Nike shoes along with other brands
Step 3: Calculate the average monthly sales for each of the above stores and add them
Step 4: Calculate the average monthly sales in Delhi for Nike shoes online 
Step 5: Add 3 and 4

Once you are confident in your approach and answer, be ready to present your findings to the interviewer. 

Strategy to solve guestimates


More Articles

How you can get a front-facing role in a top investment bank without any experience in 2023

Learn how to get a front-facing role in a top investment bank without any prior experience. Understand what front desk jobs in finance are and the skills required, get the right qualifications, internships, network, and build the right skill set. Show your willingness and dedication to the role through internships, and make a good impression through networking.

Read more
Interview Prep

How to make a successful career in the derivatives market in 2023

A career in the derivatives market offers job paths of derivatives trader, derivative operations analyst and derivatives risk analyst. Traders need finance/economics degree, financial market knowledge and technical skills. Operations analysts need business administration/accounting degree and derivative knowledge. Risk analysts need risk management experience and education. The career is demanding but offers high compensation and growth opportunities.

Read more

Here are the top investment banking internships you should be aiming for in 2023!

Explore the top investment banking internships for 2023, including JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, and Bank of America. Learn about the duration, requirements, and responsibilities of these highly competitive internships, as well as the benefits of gaining experience with one of the top investment banks in the world. Discover how an internship with a top investment bank can boost your resume and improve your odds of landing a full-time job in the industry.

Read more
Interview Prep

How an investment banking simulation can train you for your dream career in IB

Simulation replicates the real world to deliver a specific experience in a controlled environment. It prepares candidates to answer case study questions asked during the investment banking interview.

Read more

Here’s what your resume should look like as an investment banking aspirant in 2023

Here's what your resume should look like as an investment banking aspirant | Fmi Online

Read more

Here are the top 3 investment banking interview questions in 2023

Here are the top 3 investment banking interview questions Investment banking interviews are designed to evaluate how fit a candidate is for the leading job role in the field of finance, and therefore should be attended with a decent level of preparation.  Candidates must have a solid understanding of corporate finance fundamentals, and company valuation, […]

Read more
Interview Prep

What you might be lacking in your IB interview prep

Going through the fundamentals of finance, working on DCF calculations, and preparing financial models are some of the more obvious things that an aspiring investment banker prepares for before interviewing for a job at a top investment bank. But what about the subtle nuances that could determine whether you will land a job or not? […]

Read more
Investment Banking

You should be aiming for these 5 investment banks this year?

It is vital to start your career in investment banking with the right organisation, one that not only offers a healthy corporate culture but also supports your personal goals. Some of the critical aspects which you must consider while selecting an investment bank are corporate culture, compensation, core areas of focus, size of operation, history […]

Read more
Investment Banking

How can an investment banking course help you land a job in 2023? 

With consolidation in global markets and alterations in the supply chain, businesses are exploring the path of M&A to exploit synergies with their global counterparts and achieve efficiency. This has led to an increase in corporate transactions, fuelling the demand for investment bankers. The size of the global investment banking industry is estimated to be […]

Read more

4 Ways to Analyse How Your IB Interview Went

After a job interview is over, you will have some time to reflect how your interview went. You might feel confident about certain parts and nervous about others. You desperately want to understand if the interview went well or not. Are there cues that can help you analyse how you performed? To some extent, yes. […]

Read more
Our Courses are designed to boost your career

Launch your career with Fmi’s Learning Pathway

Choose a learning pathway that best meets your needs and ambitions. Not sure which Fmi learning pathway is right for you? Explore our CareerBuddy videos for help and advice.

Investment banking pathway

Investment banking pathway

Monthly Subscription
  • courses-clock60+ hours
  • courses-desktop9 courses

Investment banking offers many exciting career opportunities for students. From Financial Analysts to Investment Management, and Sales & Trading to a wide range of roles in infrastructure such as IT, Risk or Compliance. This pathway is designed to help you understand the investment banking industry, the roles investment banks are recruiting for, and most importantly, help you to develop the practical skills you need to get into the industry and your preferred role whether this be as part of a school leaver, intern or graduate program.

FMI Online Student join-student-img2 FMI Online Student
55,000+ students currently enrolled
Global markets pathway

Global markets pathway

Monthly Subscription
  • courses-clock70+ hours
  • courses-desktop10 courses

Global markets provide a range of important products and services to corporates, institutions and governments worldwide from executing trades and managing risk to providing quality research content. A key business area in all investment banks, global markets offers a wide range of career paths for students to consider across all functions and at all levels from school leavers to internships through to graduate programs.

FMI Online Student join-student-img2 FMI Online Student
85,000+ students currently enrolled
Asset management pathway

Asset management pathway

Monthly Subscription
  • courses-clock50+ hours
  • courses-desktop8 courses

The asset management industry is a global industry worth over 100 trillion US dollars. It plays a crucial role in managing the assets of retail and institutional investors, offering a wide range of exciting careers in doing so. If you’re looking to forge a career in asset management, our Asset management pathway is perfect for you. We help you build the skills all asset managers are looking for and explore everything you need to know about the industry and the wide range of roles available in the sector

FMI Online Student join-student-img2 FMI Online Student
100,000+ students currently enrolled