Case Interviews

To land a management consulting position, all hopefuls must clear the dreaded case interview hurdle. Case interviews are situational-based, and are used to evaluate a candidate’s analytical ability, reasoning skills, confidence, and knowledge of business concepts. In addition to allowing for the consistent evaluation of candidates, these interviews test an individual’s ability to utilize logical structure and an intelligent approach to solve the types of complex problems that arise in real-life situations at consulting firms. Because case interviewers necessarily care more about how you arrived at your answer than your answer’s inherent accuracy, it is imperative to audibly articulate your thought processes.

 

A typical case interview is structured according to the following format:

  1. Direct fit and/or behavioral questions (5 minutes)
    • Why consulting? Why this firm? Why you?
  2. Case questions (15-25 minutes)
  3. Business cases: Often relate to common business issues that may inhibit profitability –Why are our profits falling in division ABC? To which site should we relocate?
  4. Market Sizing/Guesstimates: How many golf balls are made in the US each year?
  5. Brainteasers: Why are manhole covers round?
  6. Questions for the interviewer (3-5 minutes)

 

During the case interview, you will likely be evaluated in relation to several of the following areas:

  • Logical reasoning
  • Creativity
  • Quantitative skills
  • Business judgment
  • Pragmatism
  • Ability to structure problem-solving
  • Intellectual curiosity
  • Enthusiasm
  • Ability to think quickly
  • Ability to perform under pressure

 

Preparing for the case interview is critical:

  • Utilize books and online resources to start your initial learning process (see below)
  • Practice live cases with a partner (this can be a classmate, roommate, friend)
    • One-on-one practice provides the best case interview simulation, as you actually have to verbalize a plan of action, drive the case, and state a conclusion
    • Giving cases to a partner is just as helpful as receiving cases
    • Utilize casequestions.com’s “The Roommate’s Interview Guide” to learn how to give cases:  http://www.casequestions.com/cp_guide.cfm
  • Read the newspaper/online material to keep up with current events
  • Attend case interview workshops that are held at the beginning of each semester by various firms.
  • Practice mental math!  It is important to be able to do math quickly in your head during the interview

During a case interview, it is especially imperative to:

  • Maintain your composure; never become flustered or express uncertainty about your skills, as this gives the interviewer reason to question your confidence and abilities.
  • Listen and/or read carefully when presented with a question or lengthy case study, be sure to listen and/or read carefully, identify and understand the problem(s) and relevant facts.
  • Ask clarifying questions
  • Clearly verbalize your assumptions, thought processes, and hypothetical solutions
  • Be coachable – read cues from the interviewer to make sure you are heading down the right path and adjust as necessary
  • Relax and enjoy the challenge as there is ultimately no wrong or right answer.

 

A wide variety of online/print resources are also available to assist you with your preparation for case interviews, and include the following:

 

Notre Dame Consulting Consortium:

www.ndconsultingconsortium.com

The Consulting Consortium is a peer-to-peer resource that works with The Career Center to serve Notre Dame students interested in or pursuing a career in consulting. By providing industry information, networking events, and interview preparation resources, the Consortium prepares its members for a successful entry into consulting.

 

Case Preparation Websites:

http://www.caseinterview.com

http://www.caseinterview.com/look-over-my-shoulder

http://www.mbacase.com/index.htm

http://acethecase.com/

 

Mental Math Practice Websites:

http://caseinterviewmath.com

http://www.mathtutordvd.com/public/department155.cfm
http://www.thatquiz.org/
http://freestylemind.com/mental-math-tricks

 

Books:

Case Interview Secrets by Victor Cheng (preferred)

Crack the Case:  How to Conquer Your Case Interviews by David Ohrvall

Case In Point by Marc Cosentino

 

Company Websites:

Bain and Company Practice Cases

http://www.joinbain.com/apply-to-bain/interview-preparation/default.asp

 

Boston Consulting Group Cases:  http://www.bcg.com/join_bcg/practice_cases/default.aspx

 

Capital One Practice Cases

http://www.careers.cam.ac.uk/sectors/banking/files/capitalone.pdf

http://www.slideshare.net/Shelly38/case-interview-these-interviews-will-give-you-an-opportunity

 

Deloitte Practice Cases: http://mycareer.deloitte.com/us/en/students/gettingthejob/caseinterviewpreptool

 

McKinsey Practice Cases: http://www.mckinsey.com/careers/apply/interview_tips/practice_case_studies http://www.mckinsey.com/careers/apply/interview_tips/case_interview_tips http://www.mckinsey.com/careers/what_youll_do/case_studies

 

Oliver Wyman Practice Cases:

http://www.oliverwyman.com/careers/61.htm