The Consulting Case Interview
Mastering the Case Interview
Purpose: It allows the company to view your analytic and communicative skills in a situation that simulates problems you might encounter on the job.
Goal: To break problems down into relevant issues, assess the importance of each issue and offer solutions based on the most significant issues. Make sure you talk through each step of your analysis and ask insightful questions that will enable you to gather information and solve the problem.
Types of Cases:
- The Brain Teaser: Calculate a number that you would not ordinarily know, making assumptions as you go along. e. g. How many car tires are sold each year in the U.S.?
- Business Problem: Analyze a business problem that was probably encountered by the interviewer. e.g. Your client has developed a new diet soda. How should it be marketed?
- Economics-Based Problem: The interviewer wants to assess your ability to apply economic principles to a real life situation. These problems are usually reserved for students who majored in economics. Questions might include "Your client is an airline that wants to lower its prices on leisure fares by 10%. If no other airline lowers prices, would you expect overall revenue to increase or decrease and why?"
General Advice for Case Interviews:
- While there are no "right" answers, often one answer will be more "right" than others. In other words, the interviewer is looking for certain types of responses.
- Begin all problems by clarifying the approach of the question.
- Approach the problem as if you and the interviewer are on the same team; if you're hired you will be on the same team.
- If you say something completely wrong, admit it and try again. Don't worry that your wrong answer will "ding" you. If the interviewer calls for a time out, he/she is giving you another chance.
- If the interviewer suddenly says "Let's look at this from another angle," it is often a sign that you're doing well with your current analysis and she wants to try something different.
- Practice case questions with a friend until you feel comfortable with the approach.
Case Interview Links & Resources
- BCG Interview Tips Tips and case examples for interviewing for business
- Case Questions Tips on how to interview to be a consultant
- Case Study Tips Case study tips from McKinsey
- Ace the Case [pdf] Case interviewing tips from Bain
- Team Leader game Are you ready to manage a team? Try out this online game from McKinsey.
- Interactive case interview from Oliver Wyman
- CaseInterview.com Tips on case interviewing
The CDO Resource Library, Section 9, has many resources to help you prepare for the case interview. You can also review a list of case interview resources on the Career Access Resource Library (CARL) online database. Good starts are the Vault Guide to the Case Interview and Vault Case Interview Practice Guide, available for free download through the CDO's online Vault Career Insider Library or you may check them out in the CDO Resource Library in the office.