The famous case interview is a strategy-related exercise to be solved directly in front of the interviewer, which all consulting firms (McKinsey, BCG, Bain, etc.) love using.
You do not receive any prior instructions, so do not panic if you have no knowledge of the sector of activity related to the case on the D-day.
Strategy consulting is a demanding, high-impact profession that recruits so-called “excellent” profiles capable of advising all types of companies in all types of sectors.
These firms are therefore very careful and meticulous in their recruitment. You will surely have to go through a big number of interview rounds (between 3 to 7) because these firms want to make sure how consistent you are.
Succeeding once is not enough for them, they want to be sure that you can reproduce your reasoning systematically.
I, therefore, immersed myself in their selection process with the famously dreaded case study to try to highlight the reasoning you need to know and the method to be applied for all types of cases. This, with the aim of helping you do a thorough case interview preparation.
To do this, I checked some online material and studied the book of Victor Cheng, former Mckinsey consultant, Case Interview Secrets. I have taken from his book the points that will be essential for you to master.
But keep in mind – Reading this post or Victor’s book is not enough.
Be aware that you must do some extensive practice beforehand so that you automate the process of case interview preparation and providing the structured answers that the recruiter expects.
“Automate” does not mean learning by heart. The case interview preparation is a thinking game, not a memory game.
So buy reference books:
- Case in Point by Marc P. Cosentino
- Case interview Secrets by Victor Cheng (the one I studied to write this article)
- Vault Guide to the Case Interview by Mark Asher and Eric Chung.
Practice until you feel comfortable in the exercise and practice, if possible, in front of friends who can give you relevant feedback. This is one of the cornerstones of case interview preparation.
How to be best prepared for the exercise?
I’d break it down into 3 steps:
Before practicing you must understand the expectations of recruiters, the concepts you should know.
Find a role model you can reference
Watch case interview preparation mockups that give you a reference on how you should be structuring your answers. Ideally, if you know someone in a consulting firm, ask them to play the candidate. Take notes and pay attention to how they solve cases.
If you don’t know anyone, no worries. Youtube will be there for you 🙂
Practice as if it were the actual interview
You must absolutely do mockup cases in front of someone, you must not under any circumstances remain on the theory – It is relevant, but it won’t take you far if it’s your only weapon.
The day of the interview is stressful, but if you have practiced it many times before (and read my article on stress management), in conditions that are as similar and with a person who challenges you, you will have done your case interview preparation the right way and, therefore, will be more serene.
Also, if possible, try to practice at least once with a real consultant. They will be able to better guide you and will give you valuable information that you wouldn’t otherwise acquire.
Additionally, knowing the essentials of an interview in general will give you a head start.
Before getting to the heart of the matter, you need to understand what recruiters expect. Understanding their expectations is just as important as the case interview preparation.
What recruiters are looking for and why
How you optimize your time
In firms and even more in consulting cabinets, time is money, and the idea is to be as efficient and as quick as possible. So you need to know how to manage your time.
The interviewer may ask you questions such as “Given the problem at hand, what key information do you need in order to find both the root cause and a potential solution?”.
Many candidates start listing all the options they think about… Wrong! Consultants are teaching juniors not to do this because it is too time-consuming.
If you start listing every single thing that comes to your mind, you risk elimination. Comply with the instructions, focus on the objective and list only the most relevant elements.
Candidates who are comfortable with “accurate enough”
Read this section carefully to avoid misunderstanding. There are some fairly classic calculations where you will have to answer quickly and accurately.
On the other hand, there are questions where it will be assumed that you can accept the approximation. This seems surprising, but I will explain it to you.
Many consulting recruiters ask “What should we do?” questions.
- Should we merge?
- Should we close?
- Should we enter?
Recruiters (and consulting clients) expect “directional answers“. For example, a client might say “is it worth entering X market if we can generate at least $200 million a year within 7 years?“.
The client didn’t ask how much the opportunity would be worth. Instead, the question refers to whether the market will be worth at least $200 million a year within 7 years.
Let’s say that after 1 month of work you found out that X market is likely a $300 to $400 million a year market opportunity. Thus the client should do it. You have your answer.
A person accustomed to precise math would spend 3 weeks more to determine more precisely the question and figure out if the opportunity is worth $327.1 million or $381.5 million a year. This is not what a consulting firm wants!
Being accurate enough will get the job done. The client will be satisfied because you will have answered their main concern in a quicker manner.
Time is money, so recruiters will try to make sure that you are comfortable with “accurate enough” to save time and therefore money. Those who cannot tolerate approximate accuracy will not be regarded as a potential good consultant.
Candidates who provide factual justification for their statements
We have often spoken in this blog, you must be able to justify everything in an interview in a factual way.
It is the same for cases interviews, every statement will have to be justified, so you must choose your words carefully.
You need to look confident but I advise avoiding words that can lock you such as “always, never, insuperable“.
Use a cautious vocabulary, consider saying “under most circumstances” rather than “always”.
After cautious statements, proceed to support them with factual arguments. Do not speak for the sake of speaking. Statements without arguments are like a computer without internet. Nice, but what can you actually do with it?
Recruiters are looking for good communicators who can provide clear and understandable recommendations for their client. Therefore, this must be part of your case interview preparation process.
You can be brilliant in your analyses. If in the end, the customer does not understand them, it is useless. The client has to be able to follow your line of reasoning easily.
The recruiter will, therefore, try to see if your reasoning and conclusions are understandable. Even if your logic is complex, you must make it easy to follow.
Moreover, it is important that you express your reasoning aloud, even when you have made a mistake, it allows the recruiter to follow your logic and see your ability to rebound.
Their future colleagues
We have already seen it for more traditional interviews. You must be able to create a link for the interviewer to project themselves with you.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that the right resolution of a case will be enough to be hired.
The recruiter will observe your attitude. All along they must consider you as a future colleague, a pleasant person for the team to work with and obviously for the clients.
Certainly, creating a link is more difficult during the resolution of a case than during a traditional interview. But smile, be polite, listen and you will make a difference.
The case study is an exchange that allows the recruiter to analyze how you structure your thinking and how you formulate your assumptions and recommendations.
What is more important is not so much the solution but the reasoning used to get there.
Consultants value what Victor Cheng calls “the process excellence“. They seek full coherence in your reasoning. According to the author, “your ability to use a successful process consistently is substantially more important than it is getting the right answer”.
The methodology and process used to arrive at your answer is, therefore, more important in case interview preparation than a good answer without structured reasoning and not replicable elsewhere.
Consulting firms are looking for candidates who demonstrate quiet strength, or put in other words, confidence.
Be careful, being confident does not mean being arrogant or stubborn, you must be able to challenge your own assumptions. If the data disproves your hypothesis, your hypothesis is wrong. Don’t try to stick to it despite all the disproving facts, it’ll make you look illogical.
Similarly, you must be assertive and confident.
Why? Clients pay a high price to find a solution to their problems but also to reassure themselves psychologically about the validity of their decisions.
The client is not buying just analysis but also confidence and serenity. You must, therefore, bring them just that through the certainty of your answers.
How to develop this “confidence”?
There is no secret. The more you train, the more confident you will appear because you will have developed excellent technical skills. Enough case interview preparation is the key.
You must spend 50, 60 or even 100 hours if necessary preparing your cases. And if these hours of preparation frighten you, then this job is probably not for you, because consulting is one of the most time-demanding jobs out there.
You should view the training hours as an exciting challenge and not as something you can’t wait to get rid of, because if you don’t like case resolution, then ask yourself about your interest in the job in the first place, whose daily goal is to solve problems.
Important aspects to consider during case interview preparation
You must put into perspective the importance of being recruited or not. In other words, do not take life so seriously.
Some candidates are overwhelmed by stress, which paralyzes them. Beware that if you are not recruited, you will find something elsewhere. It is not a life or death issue!
Similarly, see recruitment as a reciprocal evaluation. You are not only the appraisee but also the appraiser. The power of decision is on both sides.
You also have to determine if you like the people, the atmosphere, the job itself. By understanding that decision-making is a two-way street, you will put the situation into perspective and it’ll empower you to make decisions that better serve your own interests.
Now that you know what recruiters are looking for, let’s get to the core of the subject: The methodology for solving the case.
The Case Resolution Methodology
Although the cases/issues differ (introduction of a new product, drop in profitability, desire to reduce costs, etc.), the mental structure that you need for these exercises remains the same. That’s where you should focus your case interview preparation on.
In each case resolution, you must follow a framework that can be broken down into 6 different steps:
1. Clarify your understanding
You need to verify your understanding of facts in order to ensure you understand the client’s situation, as well as the specific question you need to answer. Plus, you’ll be able to make some time to think about the next steps while rephrasing the context of the case.
Example: First let me be sure I understand the problem… our client wants to … and we are here to help them evaluate…
2. Ask quick questions!
Example: Before I lay down my hypothesis, I would like to ask a few clarifying questions.
Could you explain to me how…?
Be very careful, some candidates waste too much time on this stage. Sometimes surprised by the answers, they keep asking questions and forget that time passes.
It’s a very quick step that should take you around 2 to 3 min. During step 5, you will be able to ask any other questions.
3. Lay down your hypothesis
You may find it paradoxical to start your hypothesis before you’ve even analyzed the subject.
How do you make a hypothesis without exploring all possibilities first? Analyzing everything means taking the enormous risk of not finishing on time and not being able to formulate your conclusions.
By starting with the hypothesis, you will quickly be able to determine what is wrong through an elimination process that will narrow down the range of possible conclusions, allowing you to be as precise as possible in your recommendations.
This step should take place at the beginning of the case interview.
If you have sufficient information to state a well-informed hypothesis you can say “My initial hypothesis is… to test that hypothesis I want to…”
If you don’t have enough information to establish a well-informed hypothesis, you might say something like the paragraph below:
“Given the limited information we have so far, I am going to state an arbitrary hypothesis in which the client should…
The arbitrary hypothesis will help me organize my analysis and I will revise it as I discover more information”.
4. Explore your hypothesis’ structure through a Logic Tree and frameworks
You need to test and experiment with your hypothesis in order to find logical arguments that support it.
If your logical arguments are correct, they will prove the validity of your hypothesis.
The mental structure you should follow while exploring your hypothesis is coined by Victor Cheng as the “Logic Tree” and is best described by the chart below:
The validity of each logical argument will be tested through data analysis in the next step.
If all conditions surrounding your hypothesis are proven true, then your hypothesis must be true.
The if/ then constructions show that your logic is clear and structured.
Before testing the validity of a condition, it is essential to present all of your logic to the recruiter. Many candidates build their framework but only develop their first branch (condition 1).
This is a mistake because recruiters want to see the complete skeleton of your case in order to assess your ability to structure the resolution of a problem.
Even before your analysis begins, you will score points by presenting all your branches because you will show that you know how to organize your thinking.
Example: My hypothesis is that the client should move forward with the price-increase strategy of their best-selling product. I would like to draw this logic tree to show you both scenarios: Increasing price vs Remaining with the same price. I will start with the price-increase scenario and circle back to the no-price increase scenario.
This shows that you’re considering all possible outcomes and that you will address them in a structured manner.
The Logic Tree is the mother framework, in the sense that no matter what the nature of the case is, you must always follow the structure of stating your hypothesis and diving into its conditions in order to validate or disprove.
Now, depending on the nature of the case, there are frameworks you can use in order to structure your analysis and test your hypothesis in an orderly and coherent manner.
The Logic Tree is the WHAT, and these frameworks are the HOW.
I’ll give you an overview of the three most common ones, namely:
- Business situation
- Mergers and acquisitions
If only a portion of the framework is necessary to test your hypothesis, use only that portion.
On a similar note, don’t lock yourself with just one framework. Depending on the circumstances, you might have to combine them as one can give you quantitative arguments and the other one qualitative arguments. Flexibility is an important part of case interview preparation.
Always keep in mind putting the frameworks at the service of your hypothesis. No more, no less.
If you use a framework without it testing your hypothesis, you’ll promptly be rejected.
With those quick tips, we’re ready to have a look at them in more detail:
The Profitability Framework
This Framework is useful for cases in which there is a drop in profit, when a client is losing money. It allows for a quantitative understanding of the case, a numerical approach.
The Profitability Framework contains 2 main branches in its structure: Revenues and cost. If you have a profit problem you need to figure out if it is a revenue problem, a cost problem, or a combination of both.
The Business Situation Framework
The Business Situation Framework allows for a more qualitative understanding of the case.
For instance, you will be able to determine the presence of a competitor with a lower cost structure but you won’t be able to determine how much lower is the competitor’s cost.
This framework helps you both understand the context of the case and uncover information that’ll be used to support your arguments. That will contribute to the adjustment and refinement of your initial hypothesis.
There are several use cases for this framework: The evaluation of a new market, the introduction of a new product, the assessment of your competition in relation to your capabilities, etc.
The structure of the Business Situation Framework contains the following main branches:
Here’s how it looks:
Let’s check the main dimensions of this framework into more detail, as well as the questions you should be asking yourself along the way:
The questions you ask yourself in this dimension will help you qualitatively analyze customers in the market.
Who is the customer ?
You need to identify not only the customer but also the key customer segments and quantify them. If there are 4 customers segments, for instance, you need to estimate the size of each one of them.
What are the customer’s segment needs?
You need to understand what they want, what’s their buying criteria, why do they buy.
What’s the preferred distribution channel for each segment?
A distribution channel is the way a company reaches its customers. Different segments of customers can prefer buying through different distribution channels.
There can be a conflict between the channel in which the customer would like to buy and the channel that the company is using to sell.
If the conflicts exist, you have to highlight it and see how it can be resolved – Either the company changes its approach or it will end up in potential profit loss.
What is the concentration of each customer’s segment?
Customer segment concentration relates to how many customers exist within each. It is relevant to know if there’s a big number of small customers or only one or two big ones.
Once you know how concentrated the segment is, it might come in handy to compare with the concentration of suppliers.
The more concentrated one, either customers or suppliers, tends to have more power in the industry’s value chain.
If customers are more concentrated, they can be more demanding (low price, different distribution channels, new services, high quality).
By contrast, if suppliers are more concentrated, they have the power to sell at a high price and customers have no choice but to buy at those prices.
What is the nature of the product?
What does the product do? Why do people buy it? Why is it useful? Is it a nice-to-have product or a must-have?
Are there any complementary goods?
Can other products be used in complement with the client’s product? Use this type of question to think of possible partnership strategies with other players in the industry.
Are there any substitutes?
What are customers doing if they’re not buying your client’s product? Are there any indirect competitors?
What is the product’s current stage in its lifecycle?
It’s interesting to evaluate where is the product standing in its lifecycle. When you know the product’s stage in its lifecycle, you can time your strategic decision more easily.
How is it packaged?
What products and services are sold together? Is the benefit generated by the two together greater than the sum of its factors independently?
You need to understand what differentiates your client’s company and value proposition from others, what the company is good at (product, services, culture, image, a combination of all…)
A few lines above I mentioned that we need to know what the customer’s preferred distribution channel is. Thus we need to know that of our client’s company, in order to have a better insight into whether our client is addressing its customer-acquisition efforts in the right direction.
Cost structure and financial situation
Understanding the ratio between its revenue and its fixed and variable costs is especially helpful to assess our client’s financials. Profitability is the main measure of a business’ health.
How many competitors are there? How big are they (oligopoly, monopoly…)?
Who are their customers, what products/services they sell, what distribution channel they use, what’s their pricing strategy?
What are they doing that our client isn’t? When we find out it doesn’t mean we have to copy and follow them, sometimes we actually have to do the opposite.
If the client’s competitor sells at the lowest price with the lowest cost, it is unbeatable at a price level. Therefore, you could position your client at the higher end of the spectrum, with high-quality providers and high-quality products.
Barriers to entry
If you know what barriers to entry the competitors have, you can define an entry plan that avoids those.
As I studied law, I have to talk about that!! You need to be aware of the relevant laws and keep yourself informed of constant evolution. It can restrict you or create opportunities if a prohibitive law changes.
Beware! Take a step back on all of these questions. Not all of them will be useful to you, you must let your hypothesis guide the relevance of whether asking some of the questions explained here.
Perhaps some questions that aren’t present in this overview will also have to be explored to test your hypothesis.
In short, adapt your framework to the case. It must be flexible.
Depending on what you discover from the case and the elements given by the interviewer, you will choose the questions most suitable to help you test your hypothesis with factual data.
The purpose of the framework is not to complete it by answering all the questions but to test your hypothesis.
For example, during your analysis, you realize that the customer’s problem is internal and not related to its competitors.
So, it will not be useful to ask all the questions related to competitors but rather to review your hypothesis and focus on the questions related to the company.
The mergers and acquisitions framework
As its name tells, this framework is useful when a company wants to acquire or merge with another one. It is necessary to determine the fit between the two companies. Cases of this sort are very common, so make sure you include this framework in your case interview preparation.
But it does not quantitatively measure the impact of the qualitative discovery.
It is a small deviation from the business situation framework (see above), so you will use the same 4 factors (Customer, Product, Company, Competition) but this time for two different companies.
After having analyzed the two companies separately, you will do a third analysis summarizing the data of the two companies which will give you an answer to the relevance of a merger or acquisition.
5. Analyze the data
When you have a clear structure on how you will address the case, the next step is to analyze the data that you’re given in order to validate or disprove the conditions related to your hypothesis.
This is an elimination process where you will review your hypothesis and correct your arguments until you find statements that are consistent with the data. Repeat this process during your case interview preparation until you become a master.
Consulting firms value the “process of elimination” big time!
To do this, you’ll make use of your Logic Tree to dive into one of the branches (conditions) until getting to a conclusion. Then, you’ll proceed to do the same with all other branches until you have solid arguments to support all conditions of your hypothesis.
For example, let’s go back to our Increase vs Remain Price case. In order for you to determine whether increasing prices is a better strategy than remaining with the same price, you must evaluate both possibilities of your Logic Tree (branches) and make a parallel of the results.
You need to dive into both branches of the tree until you have enough information to prove or disprove your hypothesis.
Therefore, you should analyze the data for the Increasing price scenario; go back to your main hypothesis and dive again into the Remaining-with-same-price scenario.
When you work your way through one of the branches of the Logic Tree, consider isolating and segmenting.
In our Increase vs Remain case, let’s assume you have segmented one of the branches into revenue increase and cost increase, and that you have determined that a revenue increase will be more relevant than a cost increase.
By saying that, you have isolated one of the branches through the process of elimination. It’s a profit-friendly scenario, not a loss-friendly one.
You can do segmentation in a lot of different ways. Sometimes the recruiter will suggest a particular way of doing so. When they don’t, feel free to ask/suggest what type of segmentation should be done. You’ll score points for recognizing that segmentation is necessary.
While in the process of working your way through the branches of your tree, keep in mind the following tips:
Use both quantitative and qualitative data
The good candidate verifies qualitative intuition with numerical data. Balance is key and can it be achieved through exhaustive case interview preparation.
You must ask yourself two types of questions:
The ones that answer to the WHAT and HOW MUCH
Example: What percentage of the profit = Quantitative analysis
The ones that answer to the WHY and HOW
Example: Why transportation costs have gone up for the client = Qualitative analysis.
Compare your metrics to something else
It is good to find out about numbers and results, but you have to put them into perspective. At some point in the case, you will discover numbers that you need to interpret.
For example: The recruiter tells you that your revenue uplift considering the price-increase scenario is $8,000 per month. Is it a good thing or a bad thing, given the circumstances?
Here are two useful ways to put things into perspective:
- Compare metrics in relation to a previous period
- Compare metrics in relation to the rest of the industry
If I told you that the revenue variation in the previous year was +3,000 per month, you will understand that this might, therefore, be a good sign.
Math your way through the hypotheses
Math and numbers are like muscles, the more you train them, the stronger they will be. You should train with GRE, GMAT practice tests, which are highly available online. Yes, case interview preparation entails refreshing your number skills!
The key to solving complex calculations quickly and accurately is to break them down into several components that are easier to calculate. You must get used to transforming a seemingly difficult calculation into its simplest form.
For example, what’s the result of 13 x 72? Apparently mentally difficult, right?
You should translate that into several components that involve calculations with the numbers 2, 5 or 10, which can be calculated more easily and quickly.
With that in mind, I’d bring 13 x 72 down to 13 x 10 x 5 + 13 x 10 x 2 + 13 x 2.
That way, you can easily state that:
13 x 10 x 5 = (13 x 10 x 10) / 2
= 1,300 / 2
13 x 10 x 2 = 130 x 2
13 x 2 = 26
650 + 260 + 26 = 650 + 200 + 60 + 20 + 6
= 850 + 80 + 6
= 930 + 6
Looks like a lot of calculations to do, but they’re all simple. And with it making part of your case interview preparation, you’ll be able to do this in less than 30 seconds!
Find the right balance
Do not stop diving into a branch until you have reached a conclusion, and do not go deeper than what is necessary (gotta be comfortable with “accurate enough”, remember?).
Example: If we find out that increasing prices will ultimately be more profitable than remaining with the same price, we can conclude that the client should move forward to execution.
For the purpose of the case, there’s no need to analyze if profitability will be 15% or 23% higher.
Take notes the smart way
Victor Cheng’s got a method I found pretty cool. Here it is:
Take 2 different sheets:
- One that must be clean and focused on the framework you’re gonna draw
- One where you will do your calculations at lightning speed!
You must draw your framework and turn the paper 180 degrees to show the recruiter what you are drawing and writing.
Describe the structure and how it will test your hypothesis.
When you have eliminated a hypothesis or a branch, put a cross next to it. That way, you explicitly show your recruiter your elimination process.
Write legibly on your draft and frame your results (this shows that your reasoning is structured 😉
I have repeated it several times, you must mandatorily express your reasoning aloud because it helps the recruiter have a positive perception of your performance in two different ways:
- It allows them to see the structuring of your thinking, crystal clear.
- They are included in the process. “People support what they help build”. So, if you involve the recruiter in the process, they will be more likely to support your conclusion.
If you have trouble expressing your reasoning aloud, make sure you practice this during your case interview preparation.
6. Synthesize and conclude
A great conclusion is a concise action recommendation supported by 3 easily understood arguments and the restatement of the conclusion.
The synthesis is like a sandwich! The upper bun is what the client must do, the patty is your 3 arguments and the lower bun reiterates what the client must do!!
- What client should do: Your recommendation
- Why the client should do it: Argument # 1
- Why the client should do it: Argument # 2
- Why the client should do it: Argument # 3
- And restate your conclusion.
- Based on my initial analysis, I recommend that the company executes the price-increase strategy of its best-selling product for the following reasons:
- Costs are highly scalable.
- Revenue projection is exponential.
- If the company remains with the current strategy, it will become a low-end referent in the industry, which is not in line with the overall strategy.
- And that is why I recommend moving forward with a price increase.
You must synthesize not only at the end but also when you change arguments or revise your assumptions.
Why do I insist on the importance of being concrete as part of case interview preparation?
Because the interviewer will be very attentive to it. If you take 25 min to explain something that could have been explained in 5 min, you’re wasting 20 min of your client’s time and lots of money to the company, so they are always looking for people who can be concise.
Bonus: The presentation-only case interview
In the case interviews we studied, the interviewer follows your reasoning all along (Hypothesis, framework, analysis, recommendation).
In a presentation-only case, by contrast, you are alone for one to three hours and you have to solve the case using a set of documents and data provided and give a presentation about your recommendation to the recruiter.
Be careful, this does not mean that you have to skip the steps we’ve been discussing throughout this post, they will be essential to the success of a relevant and well-synthesized presentation. The case interview preparation you’ll have done will work for this one too!
The difficulty here is that you will be challenged on every word, and every number put forward during your presentation.
The recruiter wants to ensure that you can back up your words with rigorous analysis.
Whether it is a 1- or a 40-slide presentation, the overall structure is the exact same that we’ve been discussing.
Do not read your slides, the interviewer has eyes.
The exchange must be alive, you will be analyzed on your ability to appropriate your presentation and make it lively.
You will be led to make it in front of your clients, so the interviewer will be attentive.
- What client should do: Your recommendation.
- Why the client should do it: Fact # 1
- Why the client should do it: Fact # 2
- Why the client should do it: Fact # 3
- Summarize arguments and restate your recommendation.
You could have one slide for each of the elements of your case. Here’s an example:
- Slide 1: Recommendation: Client should sell off X divisions
- Slide 2: Supporting fact 1: The division has never been profitable
- Slide 3: Supporting fact 2: Competitors have an unbeatable cost advantage
- Slide 4: Supporting fact 3: We will perpetually lose money
- Slide 5: Restate recommendation: Given these factors we recommend selling off X division
Bonus 2: Common mistakes during case interviews
Forgetting to make a hypothesis
A scientist must always state a hypothesis before conducting a scientific experiment. You must do the same! A hypothesis is a guiding light during your case.
It helps you remain focused and helps the recruiter understand what you’re trying to achieve.
Not adapting your framework
Your framework must be flexible! You will have learned a number of questions to ask, but you need to adapt them to the circumstances of the case.
For example, if you’re using the business situation framework, the questions about the product might not be relevant at all for the case you’re working on.
Not being qualitative enough
Do not forget to develop a qualitative understanding during your case interview preparation. In the practice, this will help you discover what is going on with the client.
Not being quantitative enough
Once you know what is going on qualitatively, you must use math to measure, quantify and justify your statements.
Use quantitative data for each branch of your issue tree. Don’t make any mistakes, it’s better if you take a little more time and the result is right rather than the other way around.
Not stopping your analysis when you get your response
I have often repeated it, but time is money, so when you have your answer don’t go any further.
Don’t develop an analysis that is not necessary to test your hypothesis. Don’t forget that firms are looking for candidates who are comfortable with “accurate enough”.
Not being concise in your conclusions
Many candidates conclude by listing everything they have discovered and how they have discovered it.
The interviewer doesn’t care, they want to understand simply and concretely your “action-oriented recommendations”.
I hope this article has given you some relevant advice for your case interview preparation, and I really look forward to receiving your messages telling me that you have been recruited by the firms you were targeting!
You can be very proud because you have faced a very demanding exercise!
What’s waiting for you as a consultant
If your process has been successful, a new life as a consultant is waiting for you 🙂
You are going to strengthen your analytical skills and develop highly effective working methods… yes, even more than while doing case interview preparation!
You will be involved in a variety of thrilling assignments, and learn from top decision-makers and managers.
You will evolve in a culture of performance and results where there is no place for approximation.
Consulting is an amazing career accelerator for young graduates looking for great responsibilities in a short time.
It is certainly a demanding environment but it also offers immense opportunities to develop your skills, build a qualified network and face high stakes on a daily basis, all while benefiting from very attractive salaries.
It is commonly said that a year of consulting is worth 24 months in a normal company, and two years, therefore, will allow you to apply directly for management positions in a large company if that is in the best interest of your happiness.
Consulting is a mid-term investment that certainly requires some sacrifices at the beginning but is profitable for young people who want to manage teams and lead major projects quickly.
What if you don’t make it?
Since the process is so selective, you may not be recruited. But be assured, you will find your way ;).
There are many other options to develop your skills and gain responsibility (fortunately! Otherwise it would be complicated for 90% of us!!!)
And contrary to what you may think, not having been recruited does not show a “lower intelligence capacity.”