How To Prepare For A Case Interview
Case study interviews are no easy ride, but candidates can give themselves the best chance of success by dedicating time to prepare for case interviews.
It is generally accepted that it takes 60+ hours of preparation to truly master consulting case interviews. Heres how successful candidates spend this time:
Think On Your Feet First
You should only ask leadership assistance only after youve thought well about the problem.
Just pause for a second and think: would you be more ready to help someone who really tries their best at the job, or someone who does nothing and relies solely on you?
The same thing is true in consulting work, and even in case interviews: the interviewer will assist you if you can deliver well-informed opinions.
With that said, asking without thinking first is a very common mistake in case interviews, which you can see in the numerous examples from our End-to-End Secrets Program.
A Guide To Tackling Case Interviews With Ease
If youâre interested in consulting, youâve almost certainly heard of a case interview â a job interview in which you are presented with, and asked to solve, specific business challenges. But increasingly, case interviews arenât just for consultants. Professionals in finance or business operations, as well as those seeking high-level positions within an organization may very well encounter these challenging interviews as well.
The tough part about case interviews is that youâll have to be specific and demonstrate hard skills â you wonât earn any points with vague or fluffy answers, no matter how charismatic you are. Interviewers want to see analytical thinking, creative problem-solving and data-driven reasoning.
So, what do you need to know to succeed in a case interview? Read on.
Recommended Reading: What To Ask A Cfo In An Interview
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.
Sticking To The Big Problem
There are two ways to keep yourself on-track all the time in those high-stress case interviews
That last point brings us to the next issue: how to take notes.
Read Also: System Design Interview Prep
Our Case Interview Method
You can start reading about our Problem Driven Structure approach to case cracking and the building blocks that accompany it our website articles. However, the best place to learn everything you need to know about these tools, as well as all the background knowledge and skills you need to excel in case interview, is in our MCC Academy course.
Our MCC Academy case interview course was developed with a single goal in mind to help candidates succeed by teaching them to think, act and communicate like a world-class strategy consultant. After completing our course, youll be equipped not only to ace the interview process, but also to hit the ground running on day one of the job.
The idea of getting hired by acquiring the fundamental skills associated with the job might seem obvious. However, our approach is actually in stark contrast to the old-fashioned case interview systems you have probably have run into already.
These other methods simply have you memorise perhaps a dozen standard frameworks. This shortlist of generic recipes is supposed to allow you to answer any case question the interviewer comes up with. This is in spite of the fact that that cases will be based on real engagements, where major firms were forced to call in consultants as they couldnt solve the problem in-house In short, frameworks are unlikely to give you correct answers.
Should You Learn Case Interview Frameworks By Heart
Be aware that framework templates were applicable 10 years ago, the era of Victor Cheng and Case in Point. McKinsey and other top-tier firms have long caught up on this and the cases you will get during the interviews are tailored in a way to test your creativity and ability to generate insights, not remember specific frameworks.
In fact, it will hurt you when you try to use a framework on a case that calls for a completely different approach. Also, it gives a false sense of security that will translate to stress once you figure out how your approach wont work during the real interview We have seen this so many times
Your goal should be to learn how to build custom issue trees and frameworks, interpret charts, and perform math no matter the context, industry, or function of the case. Our approach teaches you this and trains your ability to come up with deep, broad, and insightful structures for each case individually.
Now, if you come from a non-business background, it certainly does not hurt to glance over the classic frameworks once to become familiar with the terms and phrases as long as you are aware that their usefulness ends there.
Don’t Miss: What Should Females Wear To A Job Interview
Where And Why Case Interviews Are Used
From the clients brief, through the analyses, all the way to the recommendation, case interviews simulate the job itself. MBB firms use the case interview as its a statistically-proven predictor of how well a candidate will do on the job.
Top consulting firms, however, did not invent the case interview. They only adapted it from the concept of the Case Study Teaching Method, which was invented at Harvard Law School in the late 19th century. When they were created, top management consultancies mirrored their organizations on law firms, creating many parallels between law and consulting.
Today, case interviews are used, as well, by employers outside of management consulting including spaces such as tech, financial services, or nonprofits, particularly for the recruitment of employees involved in shaping strategic initiatives. The following employers are known to use case interviewing:
This trend is expected to continue as the ranks of management consultant alumni grow and their methods spread to the industries they join.
When To Do A Case Study
A case study is an appropriate research design when you want to gain concrete, contextual, in-depth knowledge about a specific real-world subject. It allows you to explore the key characteristics, meanings, and implications of the case.
Case studies are often a good choice in a thesis or dissertation. They keep your project focused and manageable when you dont have the time or resources to do large-scale research.
You might use just one complex case study where you explore a single subject in depth, or conduct multiple case studies to compare and illuminate different aspects of your research problem.Case study examples
|What are the ecological effects of wolf reintroduction?||Case study of wolf reintroduction in Yellowstone National Park|
|How do populist politicians use narratives about history to gain support?||Case studies of Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orbán and US president Donald Trump|
|How can teachers implement active learning strategies in mixed-level classrooms?||Case study of a local school that promotes active learning|
|What are the main advantages and disadvantages of wind farms for rural communities?||Case studies of three rural wind farm development projects in different parts of the country|
|How are viral marketing strategies changing the relationship between companies and consumers?||Case study of the iPhone X marketing campaign|
|How do experiences of work in the gig economy differ by gender, race and age?||Case studies of Deliveroo and Uber drivers in London|
Don’t Miss: Design Interview Preparation
Case Interview Preparation Time
One of the most common questions we get is how much time is needed to prepare for case interviews?
Our response is that proper preparation gives you a significant advantage.
Your competition is not the case, it is simply other very smart and very-well prepared people.
This means you need to outperform in as many of the sub-areas of the case as possible, consistently, and while under pressure.
Heres our suggestion on how to best allocate your time, given the amount of hours you have to dedicate to case interview preparation:
If under 10 hours of time:
Competition For Jobs With Top Consulting Firms Is Fierce So Preparation Is Essential
But attractive jobs are usually highly competitive, and thats definitely the case in management consulting.
Top firms typically make offers to only about 1% of the people who apply. Its not impossible to get a job with firms like McKinsey, Bain, and BCG , but it requires preparation.
In particular, successful candidates know that consulting firms use a particular type of interview question the case study interview and they know what recruiters are looking for in answers.
In this article, well help you prepare for management consulting interviews by answering the following questions:
- What is a case interview?
- How do I answer a case question?
- What is the best approach for case interview prep?
Well also provide tips and tricks that will help you to ace your case.
Whether youre aiming for a job at one of the MBB firms , with other consultancies such as AT Kearney, L.E.K. or Oliver Wyman, or with the consulting arms of the large accounting firms such as Deloitte, Accenture, PwC, Ernst & Young, or KPMG, we can help you get there.
You May Like: What To Ask A Cfo In An Interview
What Is A Framework In A Case Interview
A case interview structure is used to break the problem you are trying to solve for the client down into smaller problems or components. It is the roadmap you establish at the beginning of the interview that will guide your problem-solving approach throughout the case.
A structure usually consists of a top-layer and several sub-levels.
To illustrate, the most common and basic structure you might find in some preparation cases is:
Profit = Revenue Cost
This high-level structure is used for profitability cases when you are tasked to solve an issue with the clients profit development. For instance, client profit has gone down over the last year and we are not sure why that is the case.
The structure above represents the top-level. In order to analyze the problem, you would need to go deeper and figure out what sub-levels influence the variables you are looking at.
It is important to tailor the structure and associated sub-levels to the case questions. Framework templates were en vogue 5-10 years ago and consulting firms have moved away from asking generic cases that would fit the frameworks taught by Case in Point or Victor Cheng .
In terms of format, the best-practice approach to structuring a case is to build an issue tree with branches, which are split into several sub-branches. To stick with our example from above, check out our profitability framework below.
The Seven Types Of Case Interview Questions
All case interviews from the top consulting firms consist of the same 7 types of case interview questions.
Here they are:
Case Interview Recommendation – Question
Lastly, there is the occasional: Case Interview Market Sizing – Question
So what makes the great candidates different from all the other merely good candidates ?
The ones who land offers simply learned and internalized how to consistently outperform in each type of case interview question.
In other words, if you know how to outperform during each type of question, you by virtue end up outperforming on the overall case.
Its this reason why many of our students have landed offers not just at McKinsey, not just at BCG, not just at Bain, but have landed offers from ALL three firms.
What we call hitting the MBB Trifecta!
Heres a recent quote from one of our students:
I ended up getting offers from all three firms – McKinsey, Bain, and BCG.. Now just have to choose! Thanks Brian!
This particular student was actually a consulting club officer at a top 5 MBA program.
Despite the amount of career service and consulting club resources, students often get lost in separating the signal from the noise.
More importantly, the majority of these resources will not push you to great.
So now, lets dive in and understand what each of these 7 types of questions are in more detail. Youll also learn what we case interviewers look for in each.
Read Also: Interview Questions For A Cfo
Preparation For Case Study Rounds In Interviews
I’m applying for Salesforce roles and I have 3 years experience. And one of the rounds is case study round and I failed miserably two times that I got the opportunity. I don’t know how to prepare for those and what the things I should learn and improve my knowledge and how to present the solution. Can anyone guide me ?
1st company gave me a case study where a watch company wants to implement Salesforce and asked me a presentation which I did and presented. 2nd company gave me a case study where I have to build a support system along with integrating the possible solutions to their webpage. For which I suggested either link webpages to Salesforce button or using Experience cloud. The interviewer told Experience cloud is a better solution and discussed the solution with me but decided not to proceed with my candidature.
I don’t want to fail in more interviews.
Auto Manufacturer Profitability Decrease
- Pay special attention to how I made spontaneous challenges to Bruno after his answers. Most mock interviews, even with consultants, dont have that. So candidates end up getting surprised by them in their actual interviews. You might even want to show this to your peers so theyll do more realistic mock interviews with you
- In 9:00 I challenge Bruno to see if hes sure whether customer loyalty was good or bad for the acquisition
- In 16:22 I challenge Bruno to find even more ideas other than the ones he had already given
- Due to being interviewer-led AND having great benchmark answers, this is the best video in this list for solo practice
- Super structured brainstorming, which showed me he would not leave any important area behind and helped him give me a ton of creative, insightful ideas
- Insightful framework answer
The next case is one of the unmissable videos in this list for two main reasons.
Number one, the candidates answers are great, good enough to be benchmarks to your own.
Number two, its a difficult M& A case .
Read Also: Interview With Cfo
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.
What To Do When Receiving Data
Suppose the interviewer agrees to give you data. Now what?
Time to shine! If you do these following 3 steps, even just once, in the interviewers mind, you already pass:
Lets dive into each separately.
Recommended Reading: Interview Attire Women
Maintain Confidence When Delivering Your Presentation
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.
How To Prepare And Practice Effectively:
Performing a case study interview on a candidate helps in analyzing the approach which they use to business problems. Tackling the problems effectively show your working pattern of how you would be handling the firms clients.
Some of the best ways to practice case study interviews are as follows
Don’t Miss: What To Ask A Cfo In An Interview
Summary Of The Root Causes
Dont go into detail about your analysis show them the results first.
CEOs are busy people, they have no time for a 15 minutes break-down of your issue tree. They only care about the big picture why is the problem happening?.
You need to sum up root causes in a structured manner, with a numbered list in the case interview context, thats one characteristic the interviewer looks for, and in real projects, it helps the listener follow your pitch.
After careful analysis, we have found X root causes for the companys problem: 1 2 3 X.
Dont Forget About The Personal Fit
It doesnt matter how much you ace the case, but if you are not a personal fit to the company, you will not get the job offer. After all, consulting is a peoples business, that includes teamwork and spending a lot of time with your colleagues. In order to ace the personal fit part of the interview, it is important that you understand whatany interviewer is looking for in a candidate to decide that he or she is a personal fit. Typically, the interviewer has three primary questions in mind.
Then, you have to learn how to convey to the interviewer that you comply with what he or she is looking for. Practice your answers to personal fit questions with other candidates or experts:
- Why management consulting?
Also Check: Best System Design Interview Prep