10 Tips For Nailing the Case Interview

10 tips for nailing the case interview

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ARE you preparing for consulting interviews?

In this post we provide 10 tips for nailing the case interview, written in stone.

1. Practice, practice, practice

When it comes to the case interview, preparation is crucial for three reasons:

  1. The interview process is extremely competitive. You are unlikely to succeed without a lot of practice;
  2. Case problems are indicative of the type of work that you will have to do as a consultant, and so your ability to answer case problems indicates your readiness to hit the ground running; and
  3. Your preparedness for the interview is an indicator of your passion for consulting. If you can’t be bothered to prepare, then you probably don’t want the job badly enough.

2. Take notes

You should take notes when the interviewer is giving you the facts of the case. Remember to bring graph paper and a pen to the interview so you can write things down.

3. Don’t make assumptions

Your interviewer will most likely leave information out when giving you the facts. You should not assume facts that have not been given to you.

4. Ask questions

Your interviewer expects you to ask questions in order to understand the situation and to clarify vague information. For example, if you don’t know the first thing about the automobile market, ask how much it costs to manufacture an engine. If you are asked to estimate the demand for hamburgers in Sydney, feel free to ask how many people live in Sydney and the surrounding areas. Your interviewer is likely to direct your line of questioning to a specific area, but you must be ready to control the conversation if the interviewer does not direct your reasoning.

5. Engage in active listening

Don’t ask a pre-prepared list of questions. Listen to the information that the interviewer provides and assess how it affects the problem. What is unclear and what do you still need to know? Make sure you respond to the information you receive and incorporate it into your analysis.

6. Maintain direct eye contact

Eye contact is important because it demonstrates confidence and authority. As a consultant you will meet with upper management and boards of directors regarding matters that you have been briefed on only hours before. The case interview is practice for the real thing.

7. Take your time

At the beginning of the interview, it’s okay to take anywhere up to 90 seconds to collect your thoughts. It is more important to give a well thought out and structured response than to respond immediately.

8. Clearly structure your answer

Structure your answer by setting out a framework for analysis. For example, “firstly I will consider X, secondly I will consider Y, and finally I will consider Z.”

A large part of a consultant’s job is to explain complex ideas clearly and succinctly. By structuring your answer, this will help you to structure your thoughts and may alert you to factors that you would have otherwise failed to consider. Providing a clear structure will impress your interviewers and help you to avoid giving them the impression that you are making it up as you go along.

9. Think out loud

The case question is an opportunity to show the interviewer how you think. As you analyse the elements of the case, be sure to talk out loud and explain your reasoning. This is the only way the interviewer can assess your performance.

10. Summarise your conclusions

You should be able to summarise your conclusions at any time, supported by the key findings that have been noting down or highlighting as you progress through the case.

[For more information on consulting interviews, please download “The HUB’s Guide to Consulting Interviews“.]

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