Tuesday, May 14, 2024

How To Prepare A Case Study For An Interview

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Secret #: Case Prompts Are Always Ambiguous

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When the interviewer stops sharing the case prompt with you, your assessment begins.

It means that:

Because your interviewer wants to see:

  • How you cope with ambiguities
  • If you are able to ask the right questions to get the missing information
  • Your ability to identify the irrelevant information and put this information aside

Youll learn how to clarify a problem in the Clarify The Problem By Asking These Questions section in this case interview prep guide.

Case Interview Market Sizing

This question sometimes shows up, but not always. Its a quantitative question but when youre not provided with any data.

This type of question tests similar skills as Calculating Math does, but youll need to make assumptions to solve the problem.

Example – Market sizing / estimation question:

Could you estimate the market size for dishwashers in the US making assumptions?

Heres how a case interviewer will assess you in this section:

A good response:

  • You make some relevant and reasonable assumptions

  • You are somewhat effective with calculations

Case Opening Example Script

Now its time to see how you can put all those steps into action!

Thank you for this very interesting case, I am really happy to get a chance to solve it!

The first step in solving any business problem is to make sure we solve the right one, so before diving into the problem, I would like to first recap the case, then ask a few clarification questions to make sure were both on the same page, and lastly announce my overall case approach.

So here is my understanding of the case:

Thank you for the clarification. Is there anything else I should be aware of?

< wait for answers>

Thanks for all the insights. Its great that we all agree on the key details.

For the overall approach to this case, to completely wipe out the problem for a long-lasting impact, we will need to find out the root causes of this problem. To do that I will try to break the problem down into bite-size pieces with issue trees, in order to quickly isolate the root causes inside the branches, then drill down accordingly to gather information until we can draw actionable solutions.

So before I go on to establish my first issue tree, does that approach sound reasonable to you?

< assumes the interviewer agrees with your approach>

Its great to see that were on the same page regarding the key details as well as the overall approach to the case. I do need some time to gather my thoughts, so may I have a short timeout?

Get Your Free Materials Now!

Prospective Candidate

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Role Play With A Friend Or Colleague

Another great way to prepare for a case study interview is to practice role playing with a friend, family member or colleague. Give the person you are practicing with several potential case study questions to ask you and then practice answering these questions out loud. Be sure to include each step in your process of coming to a solution to the question. It can be especially helpful to practice with someone who is familiar with case study interviews or consulting in general, as they will be able to give you valuable feedback during your role-playing sessions.

What Is A Case Study Interview

Case Study Questions for Write ups HCEMBA

A case study interview is a form of interview often used by consulting firms during the hiring process of new consultants. This type of interview involves providing the candidate with a real-life situation and asking them to solve the problem. This interview type often involves the simulation of a probable client scenario that the candidate would encounter if the firm were to hire them for the position. Candidates must analyze the situation and devise workable solutions within a set amount of time.


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Case Studies For Interviews

Service firms in various industries hire specialists in specific management and IT services roles. Employees applying in these fields have the opportunity to show their skills and experience through case study interviews. Understanding how to prepare case studies for interviews can help you impress the hiring manager and get the job you want. In this article, we explore what case study interviews are, outline how to prepare for them, highlight tips to help you provide impressive answers, and offer helpful case study interview questions and example answers.

Ready Your Case Study Interview Questions

After youve thought about potential objections and any key notes you really want to focus on with your case study, you can put together your case study interview questions.

Well discuss specific case study interview questions and templates a bit later on, but prepare these in advance. Ideally, do research on each individual case study subject in advance and try to ask questions that will be relevant to them.

This is important- write your questions down, even if youll be having a phone call. Organize them with the natural progression you expect the call or conversation to take so you dont lose your train of thought, and check back before the call is over to make sure youve asked everything you need to.

At the end of the interview, ask if theres anything else theyd like to share. Dont forget this some of the best parts of case studies can end up being a surprise to the interviewer at the time!

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What Are The Best Ways To Prepare For Interviews With Management Consulting Firms


If youre on this page, youre probably considering a career in management consulting or are already in the middle of the interview process.

Were here to help.

Were a team of more than 20 former McKinsey, Bain, and BCG consultants and recruiters and we put together this guide to help you prepare for getting your consulting offer.

After reading this, we hope congratulations is also what youll hear when you leave your final interviews.

Case Study Interview Questions About The Environment Before The Purchase

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There are different ways to solve a problem, and when the readers see that the client considered other tools and processes before arriving at your service, it will build trust.

Learn which products, tools, and processes the customer used before purchasing your product. This will highlight the business needs they had to fulfill.

  • What was your team’s process prior to using our product?
  • Were there any costs associated with the process prior to using our product?
  • What were the major pain points of your process prior to using our product?
  • Did our product replace a similar tool or is this the first time your team is using a product like this?
  • What other challenges were you and your team experiencing prior to using our product?
  • Were there any concerns about how your customers would be impacted by using our product?
  • Why didn’t you buy our product or a similar product earlier?
  • Were there any “dealbreakers” involved in your decision to become a customer?
  • Did you have to make any changes you weren’t anticipating once you became a customer?
  • How has your perception of the product changed since you’ve become a customer?
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    Bcg Written Case Interview Characteristics

    ~3 questions on free slides

    The first page of a BCG written cases is a printed email from a BCG Partner who asks for your help to put together a few slides for a client presentation. The printed email is actually quite realistic and looks a lot like what you could receive from a Partner on the job.

    In the email, the Partner asks you to answer 3 or 4 questions about the client situation in a short presentation of 3 to 5 slides. Here are some examples of the type of questions the Partner could ask:

    • “I believe the US should be the client’s number one priority. Is this correct? What makes this country so attractive for them?”
    • “Which products have the highest chance of being profitable and competitive in the US?”
    • “What are the strengths that make Australian wines competitive in the US market vs. their main competitors?”

    One important aspect of BCG written cases is that you will need to decide how many slides to write and what to put on them. The slides are completely free. This won’t be the case at Bain for instance where you will get more guidance.

    ~40 pages, 2h prep

    In addition to a Partner email, your BCG written case will also typically include ~40 pages of documents. These documents include a mix of tables, graphs and texts from industry and company reports as well as press articles.

    40mins presentation + Q& A

    Calculators allowed

    Note: we also recommend reading the following guide if you are preparing for BCG interviews more broadly.

    Case Study Interview Questions About The Decision Process

    Readers of the case study will be interested in what influenced the decision-making process for the client. If they can relate to that process, there’s a bigger chance they’ll buy your product.

    What factors did the customer consider before choosing your solution? The answers to these questions will help potential customers through their decision-making process.

  • How did you hear about our product?
  • How long had you been looking for a solution to this problem?
  • Were you comparing alternative solutions? Which ones?
  • Would you describe a few of the reasons you decided to buy our product?
  • What were the criteria you used when making the decision to buy our product?
  • Were there any high-level initiatives or goals that prompted the decision to buy? For example, was this decision motivated by a company-wide vision?
  • What was the buying process like? Did you notice anything exceptional or any points of friction?
  • How would you have changed the buying process, if at all?
  • Who were the decision makers from your team that were involved in the buying process?
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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.

    What Case Study Interviews Assess

    Case study questions_6

    While the primary purpose is to assess candidates problem-solving skills, case study interviews also provide a read on whether candidates have the presence and communication abilities necessary to give a positive and professional impression.

    Interviewers use scorecards that track key problem-solving dimensions to assess a candidates performance in these areas. They include:

    Additionally, if a candidate is interviewing for a role focused on a specific industry or function, their expertise in that area might be assessed as part of the case.

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    Secret #: Structured Problem

    Consultants consider themselves as problem-solving professionals.

    To begin with, it does NOT mean that they solve problems by luck or because they have 20 years of work experience in a specific industry.

    However, it DOESmean that consultants solve problems using a logical and structured approach.

    Thus, your interviewer expects the same and will test your ability to:

    • Break down a complex problem into smaller, easier-to-solve problems
    • Organize these sub-problems in a logical way
    • Explain the relationship between an issue and the overall problem

    To break down a problems and organize its key components in a logical way, you need to know how to build MECE issue trees.

    This case interview prep guide will define what MECE means and how to build MECE issue trees in the Develop Your MECE Issue Trees section.

    Research The Framework Of Case Study Interviews

    A case study interview, also known as a fit interview, is laid out like a brief. Youll be informed about a business scenario. You, in turn, need to review the necessary materials and present a solution to the interviewer. However, there may be other elements to the interview such as slideshow presentations, where you may have to summarize the importance of each slide like you would with the client. So, make sure youre prepared for all kinds of potential scenarios by thoroughly researching the company beforehand.

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    Before The Case Interview

    Thereâs plenty that you can do before a case interview to ensure your success. Make sure to take the following steps in the days leading up to the interview:


    If youâve been given the question ahead of time, make sure to research everything you can about it. For example, if given the wireless headphones question outlined above, you could look into real companies in that space and learn about their products, pricing, financial reports, challenges theyâve encountered, etc. All of this can inform how you answer the question. If you havenât been given a question to prepare for in advance, look up Glassdoor interview reviews to see which questions previous candidates have been asked, or simply search online for âcase interview questions.â Look at how others have answered them, and think about how you would answer them yourself.

    Understand Frameworks

    With questions as broad as the ones youâll hear in case interviews, your answer might be long-winded and rambling if youâre not careful. Thatâs why âthe development of a problem-solving structure or framework is at the core of acing a case interview,â according to Chancey. âThere are numerous theoretical frameworks out there, for example, the 3Cs, 4Ps, Porters Five Forces, Pricing Framework, Market Entry Framework etc.â

    Look up some of the most common frameworks, and think about how you can apply them in a given situation.


    Come Equipped

    Tips For Answering Case Interview Questions

    How to Prepare Boston Consulting Group (BCG) Case Study Round & Interview

    Your case interview may be less stressful if you have an idea of whats going to happen. Here are some tips for handling case interview questions:

    Understand the question. Paraphrase the question before answering to make sure you understand the problem. If youre not clear on the question be sure to ask for more information.

    Be prepared to take notes. Most companies allow interviewees to take notes during the interview if so, you should be prepared. Bring lined paper to the interview for notes and bring some graph paper as well, in case you need to draw any charts.

    Theres no need to rush. Take your time answering each question logically think through the problem before arriving at a solution.

    Ask questions. Case interviews are interactive feel comfortable asking your interviewer clarifying questions to gain more information. In fact, your interviewer will expect you to ask questions.

    Always explain how you arrived at a solution, even if you are simply estimating a number. Remember that how you arrived at your answer is generally more important than the answer itself.

    Stay professional. Although this is different from a traditional interview, its not the time to act too casually. Remain as professional as you would during a regular interview. Sit up straight, speak clearly, and make eye contact with the interviewer.

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    Know What Skills They Will Test In The Interview

    There are a few key skills that are tested in nearly every case study interview. Being prepared to use these skills will support your ability to solve case study problems and set yourself apart from other candidates. The most common skills evaluated in case study interviews include:

    Creativity: Hiring managers want to see how creatively you can think about certain situations. The more creative you are, the more likely you will be to come to a viable and unique solution that hasn’t been thought of or implemented in relation to a particular issue.

    • Problem-solving: A large component of being a consultant is the ability to problem-solve. You must know how to identify issues and the causes of these issues and then use that information to come to workable solutions. Good problem-solving skills to work on before a case study interview include prioritization and establishing conclusions.

    Related: 10 Skills You Need to Ace Your Next Interview

    Case Study Example Topics

    Case study questions are most likely to cover general business strategy topics. Candidates can expect any of the following during their case interview:

    • Build a business case for developing a major new product, service, technology solution, or customer experience

    • Build a business case for a developing new line of business, spinning off an existing one, or creating a subsidiary business

    • Recommend whether to pursue a purchase, divestiture, acquisition, merger, joint venture, strategic alliance, or major partnership

    • Recommend whether to enter a new market and if so, by what competitive strategy

    • Determine how best to improve company or business unit growth, and how it might affect critical areas of the companys financial statements, especially revenue, gross margin, EBITDA, or profitability

    • Determine how best to price or segment a new product or service offering Determine whether to rehabilitate a brand

    • Determine how to respond to a major competitive threat

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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.

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