If you are on your way to becoming a consultant, there is probably one thing that frightens you the most – the upcoming case interview. One of the hardest job application processes out there, the case interview will test your problem-solving skills, your communication, and most of all the way you approach problems and think them through.
This is why you need to take your case interview prep very seriously and devote a hefty amount of time to it. You need to be up to the task in all areas – analyzing the problem, working on the solution, structuring your answer, and communicating it to the interviewer. Be sure that they will be paying attention to every step you take, as they’ll be looking to evaluate your knowledge and abilities down to the last detail.
Ways To Prepare Yourself
There are a few approaches to your preparation for this type of interview. All of them will certainly involve solving a gargantuan number of case examples, working on your communication skills, and building up your experience and confidence for the upcoming interview day.
You can do this all by yourself, but this is something we would not recommend. Since at your case interview you will need to communicate your answers, go back and forth with the interviewer with your approach and your answers, it is wise to get a partner at least for some segments of your preparation. This will give you the opportunity to say everything out loud, to organize your thoughts into coherent sentences, and work on your expression.
The ultimate form of preparation would certainly be case interview coaching, where you can hire an experienced consultant to simulate the case interview for you down to the last detail. The consultant’s job there is to evaluate your knowledge and then raise it to the required level while giving you the full experience of an interview by acting as your interviewer during your case interview prep.
Should you deem this too much for you, we recommend doing this with a friend or a colleague, as having someone to work with on these cases can do you a whole lot of good, and help you evaluate your own level of knowledge.
Solving Case Examples
To successfully handle your case interview, you will need to master solving any complex problems that you might come up against. This involves going through as many case interview examples as you can, analyzing them, trying different approaches and frameworks, and working on communicating your answers, as well as your whole thought process.
On your interview day, it’s not all about the final answer. As the matter of fact, there is no perfect answer most of the time, there will be multiple good answers. But what the interviewer will be paying the most attention to is how you get to those answers. It’s about the way you think, the way you approach the problem, how you structure it, and how you react to your own mistakes, should there be any.
Naturally, every consultancy will do its best to avoid repetitive cases and generic forms. However, we can sort most of the cases into several archetypes that tend to show up on your case interview, based on the type of the business problem.
- Profitability issues
- Acquiring a company
- Strategies for growth
- Starting a new business
- Entering a market
- Developing a brand new product
- Pricing strategies
There is no fixed frameworks or a structure that can get you through any complicated problem you’ll come across, but working on all of these archetypes can certainly give you a head start. You will gain the necessary experience in approaching each and every one of these problems, and therefore learn to adapt your frameworks to meet their requirements.
Keep Track Of The Industry
Frequently working on your finance and accounting skills is a big recommendation, as these are very often connected with most cases, and will help you in picking out the most relevant details from large chunks of data you will be getting during your case solving.
Since you can’t know for certain what industry your case will be involved in, it’s pretty much necessary to keep track of news and developments in more common types of industry, such as trade, economics, and the like.
Picking up the habit of reading the papers such as The Economist every week is a good start, as this will help you keep in touch with the latest major trends in most industries from all around the globe.
Working on Communication
In the consulting world, it’s not all about maths, frameworks, and problem-solving. It’s equally important to present your case in the same manner as you solve it, and communicate your solutions to your clients. It should all be well thought-through and organized.
Consulting is an occupation that involves working with lots of clients. Very often you will find yourself explaining certain situations to them and giving them advice which they need to understand very clearly. This is why on your case interview, the interviewer will be paying attention to the way you present your answers and the way you ask any additional questions.
This is why we must once again highlight the importance of having a partner during your case interview prep, as it will make a whole world of difference having someone to present your answers to.
Case interview prep can be very demanding and perhaps intimidating, but it is important to go into it with a positive and determined attitude. There are a few corners you can cut here and there, such as the consulting services which can help guide you onto the right path, but however you turn it, you have a lot of work to do to prepare yourself.
The competition in the MBB consultancies is huge, and sometimes even the most prepared of applicants can fail due to a small lapse of judgment. This is why you should take your time to learn everything you need to, evaluate your knowledge, then work on your weak spots again just to build up your confidence. By the time your interview comes, if you’re sure you’ve done everything right, your nervousness just might be replaced with the feeling of excitement.