The second stage of a consulting case question, after setting it up, is to solve the problem.
Here are six (6) tips for successfully tackling a case question:
- Find the source of the problem – You might get asked a question such as “Profits have declined, what should we do?” Before diving head long into an analysis of the company’s revenue and cost drivers, try to better understand the source of the problem. What’s been happening in the economy? Is the problem company specific or industry wide?
- Find the trend – If you are given figures for a particular year, it is important to understand how things have changed over time. You might say, “I understand that industry growth for 2015 was 10%, how does that compare with growth in prior years?”
- Break things down – Aggregate figures can hide important details. For example, you might know that total revenues have been flat. Can you segment revenues by product line, distribution channel, customer type or region? When looking at costs, can you segment by value chain activities or into fixed and variable costs?
- Think out loud – State your hypothesis, and state your assumptions as you progress through the case. The interviewer is trying to assess the quality of your thinking, and you can’t score points for things that you think but don’t say.
- Keep it simple – When doing numerical calculations, use round numbers where ever possible. For example, assume that the population of America is 300 million not 316.1 million.
- Highlight key findings – As you progress through the case, record key findings so that you can refer back to them later. You might do this by noting key findings on a separate piece of paper, or by circling or highlighting them as you progress through the case.
[For more information on consulting interviews, please download “The HUB’s Guide to Consulting Interviews“.]