In my opinion, preparing for consulting interviews can typically be very rigid, which limits the creativity and problem solving abilities that can be brought into interviews to create a great impression. While we have all always been taught to read “Case In Point” and watch Victor Cheng's YouTube videos, there has been a lack of uniqueness in structuring problems and being able to think quicker on your feet.
The structure that I take to consulting cases is a little different, and goes beyond a typical approach to preparing for interviews. The first step is to make sure you are able to think of businesses in a correct yet creative way - how does this company make money? What are some risks to the growth of this company? Who are the competitors? How could products be differentiated in this industry? Once you are confident in this, the next steps can be studied.
The next step is to start thinking of the framework for the approach - this is the most critical part of the interview where the best impressions are made! The goal is to learn how to structure any problem or prompt without bringing the same rigidity that 95% of other candidates would bring. This is especially important as case questions in later rounds of interviews are often complex and dynamic, with interviewers adjusting their questions on the fly.
The third step is mathematical prowess - demonstrating quick thinking and the ability to get to an 80/20 calculation in the fastest way possible leaves a strong impression. While practicing mental math is a strong model that should continue to be used, the goal of this step is to ensure there is enough structure in the problem to keep the interviewer on track with your stream of thoughts.
The final and most crucial step is adapting to curve balls. In my opinion, this is a point that most all consulting resources miss. While there may be no easy way to teach this, there are pieces to keep in mind in order to ensure that success is maximized when interviewers throw curve balls (as a former interviewer myself, trust me, this is important)!
I believe that the rigidity of consulting interview prep should be stripped away - while intimidating, there are learnings from everyday experiences and knowledge that can be directly applied to create good impressions and maximize chances for success in the interview process.