Thursday, May 9, 2024

How To Do A Case Study Interview

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Maintain Confidence When Delivering Your Presentation

How to stand out in your case study interview

After spending all of that time building your presentation, you dont want your efforts to go to waste with a shaky delivery! According to a recent study published in HBR, 76% of your perception is based on your delivery . No matter how you feel about your recommendation and the process you took to get there, sell it to your interviewers. Its exactly what youll have to do on the job as a consultant.

Take Time To Think Through All The Key Aspects Of The Problem

Ask for a moment to consider your approach to solving the clients problem. During this time, write down what you want to learn about the clients situation before you answer the interview question.

Your approach can lean on business frameworks youre familiar with during your case interview preparation.

For instance, in the example of a fast-food chain with declining sales, you should break sales down into price and unit volume to understand whether the client is not selling enough units of their products or whether prices have fallen

But you dont need to use familiar frameworks. In fact, its best to develop your own structure for breaking down the problem as it shows you can solve a case without forcing a standard framework on the problem.

For more information on business frameworks, you might want to become familiar with during your case study preparation, see Case Interview Frameworks.

When Choosing A Case Study Subject Pick A Raving Fan

Your sales and marketing team should know which clients are vocal advocates willing to talk about their experiences. Your customer service and technical support teams should be able to contribute suggestions.

Clients who are experts with your product/service make solid case study candidates. If you sponsor an online community, look for product champions who post consistently and help others.

When selecting a candidate, think about customer stories that would appeal to your target audience. For example, lets say your sales team is consistently bumping into prospects who are excited about your solution, but are slow to pull the trigger and do business with you.

In this instance, finding a client who felt the same way, but overcame their reluctance and contracted with you anyway, would be a good story to capture and share.

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What To Expect On The Day Of The Case Study Interview

The case study interview session will likely begin like a standard interview, with introductions and a small talk to help put you at ease. The location will usually be an interviewing room or a vacant conference room.

The interviewer will introduce the business situation and provide exhibits, which often include an excerpt from a financial statement, and perhaps a bullet-point summary of the facts of the case. The interviewer will ask if you have any questions, and then you will be prompted to begin working on the case.

Cases are usually self-contained, so it is unlikely you will need internet access to do research. However, you will likely have to perform calculations, and will either be provided with paper and pens or allowed to use the calculator on your mobile phone or the whiteboard in the room.

During the case, the interviewer may stay in the room to address any questions you have. The interviewer may also offer prompts, guide you to the next step, or provide hints.

Many interviewers will offer verbal or tacit feedback along the way, and it is important to pay attention to it. You may occasionally find yourself getting stuck, and it is entirely appropriate to ask questions of the interviewer to help get back on track.

At the conclusion, you may be given feedback on your overall performance, or an opportunity to debrief with the interviewer.

How Casecoach Can Help

Written Case Study Interview

CaseCoach is the market leader in case interview prep. It was founded by a former Interviewer with McKinsey and headhunter who has placed more than 100 experienced candidates at the top-3 management consulting firms.

Through its Interview Prep Course and Coaching services, helps candidates succeed in their interviews.

The Interview Prep Course provides all the resources candidates need to prepare. It covers both the fit and case aspects of these interviews and includes detailed training on how to succeed as well as interview videos with real candidates. The course also contains 65+ brand new cases with top-mark answers and an extensive set of practice drills.

The Resume and Cover Letter courses for Students and Experienced Hires provide the inside scoop on what it takes to get through the first round of the recruitment process at top consulting firms to be one of the top 10% invited to interview. They include templates and examples of successful resumes and cover letters.

CaseCoachs team of case coaches are former consultants, handpicked from among the alumni of top firms such as McKinsey, BCG, and Bain. They are available to deliver mock interviews in a realistic setting to put candidates preparation to the test, providing the personal feedback and practical advice needed to get on top of the game.

For free consulting interview resources, sign up to the CaseCoach mailing list below or on

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Practice Explaining Your Work

Prepare to narrate your case analysis to the interviewer by explaining your thoughts aloud while completing your work. Explaining how you interpreted the information and brainstormed solutions gives the interviewer insight into your ability to use logic and overall consulting mentality. Practice speaking clearly and simplifying complex ideas to share your advanced expertise with others.

What Type Of Jobs Have Case Study Interviews

Case study interviews have been traditionally used as a part of the application process for associate-level jobs in the consultancy industry. These roles are usually directly involved in generating income for the business by collaborating with clients in a consultant capacity, so the case study interview is an in-depth work sample.

In recent times, case study interviews are also being used in the recruitment of analysts, where strategy and business acumen are needed alongside analytical skills for success in a job that provides detailed support for senior management in terms of internal problem solving and external profit growth.

You might also expect to deal with a case study interview if you are looking for a role in IT, especially at higher levels with some level of business-wide decision making. Managers in many industries might be provided with an employee-related case study to deal with as part of the interview process to assess leadership style and understanding of typical HR processes and procedures.

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Learn And Keep Track Of Your Progress

You can do as many cases as you like, but if you do not learn from them, you will not going to improve your case performance. This is why you should do the following: At the end of each case that you solve, whether it is on your own, with a case partner or expert, write down in your own words what mistakes you have made and what you learned. After a few days, redo the case and apply your learnings to ensure that you are making progress. Keeping track of your improvements will keep you motivated and make sure that you dont repeat the same mistakes.

Case Interviews Assess Individual Reasoning

Interviewing with McKinsey: Case study interview

So, we have considered the demands of the question, but we should also consider theintention behind posing case questions. Remember that the whole point of case interviews is to assess the candidate’s ability to think on their feet and come up with creative solutions to new problems . If consultancies wanted to simply test memorised knowledge, it would be a lot cheaper for them to set written tests, rather than divert working consultants to act as interviewers.

Given all this, an interviewer is not going to be impressed by you parroting the same script they have already heard from the past five candidates who were also using the same framework . Consulting firms are simply not interested in hiring candidates who distinguish themselves only by learning a dozen generic recipes!

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Example Handling Revenue Data

Suppose youre working on a profitability case , and youre trying to dictate whether the root cause comes from the revenue side.

The interviewer gives you this data:


Thank you for the very interesting data.

It seems that our clients revenue has been increasing steadily throughout four years around the mark of 20% annual growth, in fact.

This suggests that the problem may not come from this side of the issue tree. However, in order to fully reject the possibility, I need the figures on the revenue of other companies in this industry around this time. Do we have those numbers?

They Get Good Feedback

Too many candidates waste time practicing cases and receiving feedback from people who dont know what great looks like for case interviews.

The speed and ability to improve case solving skills are directly correlated with the quality of feedback received. It is important to practice with and to receive feedback from people who know what to look for.

Its possible to do this by practicing cases with current and former consultants, doing interviews at Tier 2 firms or other consultancies less preferable to the candidate, or working with a coach to receive detailed feedback and coaching.

Implementing the four strategies outlined here practice, learning the theory, developing the skills, and soliciting high-quality feedback will put any candidate well on their way to succeeding in their consulting interviews.

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Effective Time & Resources Management

Every consultant works hard, so the only way to stand out is to work smart.

Yes, I know its a buzzword, and I know its cliched, but the 80-20 rule really does apply in this line of work. The best performers are always the ones to identify the most important lever and focus on it.

With the intense workload and up-or-out policy at major consulting firms, this skill is vital. Dont be surprised if you pull all-nighters and work hard all the time but still get fired, while that one guy who goes home at 5 gets promoted. If you want to survive, learn from him.

What Are The Types Of Case Interview Formats

Case Study Questions For Analyst Interview

There are a few different formats for a case interview. The format of your case interview will depend on the firm that you are interviewing with, and the specific round. Keep in mind that regardless of format, the same thinking process applies to all interview types.

The interviewer is looking for the answer to this one question: Do you have the skills to be a good management consultant?


An interviewer-led case interview features a highly-structured format where the interviewer controls the focus, tempo, and sequence of the problem-solving process. This format typically consists of five distinct phases.

Heres an example of the typical interviewer-led format.

  • The interviewer would first ask, Why is profitability in Company X falling? What would be your approach to solve this issue?
  • Regardless of how Question 1 is answered, the interviewer would ask you to estimate the market size of the industry.
  • Then, you would be asked to do some quantitative analysis on a particular area, e.g. the effect that raising prices would have on sales .
  • After that, you would be asked to list some broad suggestions of ways to increase revenue .
  • Last you would summarize your conclusion.
  • While the same problem-solving, analytical, and leadership skills are tested across all case interview formats, the primary difference between this format and the others is that you must be prepared for a sudden change of style. You have to be able to transition from one question to another.

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    Inside The Case Interviewers Mind Consulting Culture

    The best way to impress your consulting interviewer is to act like a consultant. And to do that, you need to know what goes on inside their mind both the conscious and unconscious then install it into your own personality.

    In this chapter, Ill guide you through 15 ingredients that make up a consulting mind. However, I wont tell you how to apply this in case interviews because it will sound fake what you need is to immerse yourself in a consulting environment, and incorporate these ingredients into your own mindset.

    Develop Personal Interview Scripts

    Every tip Ive mentioned in the previous 7 chapters are for recurring situations in case interviews, and they can be dealt with using formulaic responses.

    What that means for you the candidate is that you can make personal scripts and learn them by heart until they all become your second nature. That will save you a lot of brainpower to use on the issue tree.This approach has proven successful with all of my coachees, and its also a major part of our Case Interview End-to-End Secrets Program. You will find my own personal script I used back in the day, and I will also personally give feedback to scripts of members of the program.

    So open your document tool and start writing now. Once youve finished the scripts, learn them by heart one at a time. When you feel comfortable with every one of them, you can move up to a higher level and practice with whole cases.

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    What Do Case Study Interviews Assess

    Working through a case gives you the opportunity to display problem-solving skills, quantitative reasoning skills, analytical skills, logical reasoning, communication skills, creativity, and the ability to think on your feet and work through a problem in real time.

    The interviewer may also be assessing the personal qualities you display during the process of solving the case, like your ability to stay calm in a stressful situation and your general interpersonal skills.

    Practiceand Grab A Buddy

    CASE STUDY Example | How to crack Case Study Interviews

    Read through cases yourself, do cases with your friends, and try out the cases on a companys website. Often, business schools will compile case books and circulate them as well. Case in Point by Marc P. Cosentino is a good place to start. The more you practice, the more variants you will see, and the more comfortable you will be on the day of your actual interview.

    Also, theres no substitute for talking through cases out loud. Reading cases on your own, or doing them online, can be great for helping you practice your structures and your math, but theres nothing like having to articulate your thought process in real time. Do yourself a favor by simulating the interview environment beforehandgrab a friend and give each other cases. Youll also be surprised by what you can learn from sitting on the other side of the table

    And finallyhave fun. Yes, doing your fourth practice case in a row can be a drag. However, you should also get a sense during your practice if you really like problem solving through a case. If you enjoy your consulting interview, chances are higher you will enjoy the actual consulting work as well.

    The New Rules of Work

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    Questions You Should Ask Yourself Before Diving Deeper Into Case Interview Preparation

    Right now, you may be thinking to yourself that consulting interviews sound impossibly difficult. Or you may think that they sound like interesting business problems that youd enjoy solving.

    Perhaps youre not sure.

    If you think that answering case interviews is not something that would come naturally to you, dont worry, youre not alone!

    Getting good at consulting interviews requires a lot of preparation.

    Before you commit to putting in the time required to prepare for the management consulting interview process, you should ask yourself if a career in management consulting is right for you.

    Key Questions to Ask Yourself Before Pursuing a Career in Consulting

    • Do you enjoy solving the types of business problems asked in case interviews?
    • Do you have a background in business principles or are you willing to invest the time it will take to develop one?
    • Are you passionate about pursuing consulting as a career?

    Management consulting jobs might pay well and provide the opportunity to pursue attractive careers, but if you dont like solving business problems, you probably wont like the work youll do as a consultant. If you dont enjoy analyzing business cases, save yourself a lot of preparation time and frustration.

    Focus on career options that better meet your interests.

    Or, perhaps solving business problems with smart, driven professionals sounds like its your dream job.

    If so, move onto the deeper dive into case interview prep below!

    Applications & Interviews: Case Study Interview Tips

    The interview process is a dialogue aimed at getting to know you personally, learning more about your analytical capabilities and also introducing you to the company, the people and the work. You are assessed on your ability to listen, communicate effectively and present yourself with tact, energy, and persuasiveness.

    The interviewer looks for intellectual curiosity and creative thinking. And sometimes, they just want to find out what it would be like to spend a week on the road with you, working together on a client project. Interviewers value a sense of humour and a bit of sparkle in your personality.

    Most interviews are divided into three parts: personal background, consideration of a case study, and an opportunity for the applicant to ask questions.

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    Your Goal Isnt To Prove An Academic Point Its To Gain Buy

    Dont fall into the trap of trying to prove why your recommendation is correct by utilizing all of the data. Your goal in this process is to display your ability to identify whats most important for the client and only include data in your presentation that directly backs up your main recommendation. This isnt an academic project its a proxy for how persuasive youll be on the job!

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