Do’s And Don’ts Of Case Interviewing

Interviews are difficult – they involve researching the company, preparing for informational interviews, and practicing behavioral questions. If you are aiming for a consulting internship or full-time job, there is also an unavoidable hurdle you will need to jump – case interviews. These evaluate a candidate’s thought process, business acumen, familiarity with frameworks, communication skills, and overall fit with the consulting industry.

Case interviews can be stressful. There are a variety of cases that target specific topics such as market sizing, profitability, mergers and acquisitions, market analysis, brain teasers, and consulting math. Moreover, there are a variety of frameworks that interviewees can use.

In this article we will be going through the main do’s and don’ts of case interviewing.

5 Things To Do

1. Ask questions

Do not expect your interviewer to give you all of the available information. You need to know what specific information you need in order to give a recommendation to your client. Ask questions with confidence and be prepared to explain to your interviewer why you need the information in case they ask.

2. Research the company’s specific case frames

Famous consulting companies such as BCG, Bain, and Deloitte have their own way of conducting case interviews. Some are candidate-led and others are interviewee-led. Some use specific frameworks. It helps to be prepared and know what you’re up against in order to know how to approach the interview in the right way.

3. Explain your thought process

Organize your thoughts in a structured way. It can be as simple as “I have two main buckets, now I want to dive into the first one’. By talking through your approach you give the interviewer more of a chance to see how you are thinking. This allows them to assess your communication skills as well as your thought process.

4. Practice

Practice as much as you can. Ask to practice case interviews with consultants who are already working at the companies you are targeting. You can ask them first for an informational interview and towards the end ask for another meeting to practice a case. The employees have already gone through this process and some of them will gladly help if they have free time. You can also case prep with peers who are going through the recruiting process.

5. Concentrate on details

When given the case prompt, focus on key information that stands out. For example, if the interviewer states that “one of their most important costs is X”, make sure to ask about the other costs as well. Small details can give you more context and help you to frame your case better and ask the right questions.

3 Things Not to Do

1. Don’t get scared

Sometimes you might get an interviewer who has a tougher approach. It is normal to hear the phrase “We do not have that information” when you ask a particular question. Just explain why you asked and move on to the next question.

2. Don’t talk through your math in detail

The interviewer doesn’t need to know your approach to calculating 120 times 60. You can simply say something like “Now I’m going to multiply, I’ll take a few seconds” and do your math quietly. The first time you do a calculation, for example 2% of 200,000, you can talk through your approach, but not every time there is a calculation to do.

3. Don’t give a recommendation without reasons

Whatever final recommendation you provide make sure you have a logical structured set of reasons to support it. It is not enough to simply state your recommendation – you have to back it up with information discussed during the case. Something along the lines of “I support the decision for company X to acquire company Y for three reasons …” and then explain your reasons.

Final thoughts

If you are looking to work in consulting, start practicing case interviews as soon as possible. There is a lot to learn but you already know the steps needed to solve these questions thanks to the academic knowledge gained at school. Now you simply need to focus on structuring your thoughts, getting familiar with frameworks, and confidently start crushing those interview cases.

– Written By Tringa Krasniqi

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