The Case Interview

If you're looking for your dream job as a consultant, you'll first have to master the case interview. PrepLounge provides you with all the necessary information to become a pro at all case types and ace your job interview. But first, lets take a look at what we're dealing with.

The Case Interview

What is a Case Interview?

A case interview is a specific kind of job interview that is commonly used in consulting firms. The applicant is given a question, problem or business situation which has to be solved by asking questions, applying structured frameworks and thinking out of the box.

Case interviews are well suited to evaluate a candidate's quantitative and qualitative skills, which are necessary in consulting jobs. Case Interviews are used in job interviews for management consulting jobs, but also in interviews for investment banking jobs. A consulting case study usually contains a primary question, which can be categorized as one of three types:

Case Interview Questions

The three core types of cases are:

  • Business cases
  • Estimating cases
  • Brain teasers

A business case revolves around estimating a company's profitability and opportunities of investment and often portraits a business problem that requires solving. An estimating case, also known as market sizing case, confronts the applicant with the challenge of estimating the potential and profitability of a certain market for a specific product. A brain teaser is usually a riddle which requires logic and out-of-the-box thinking to solve. Overall, all three case types require applicants to thoroughly analyze the problem and find a well-structured approach to solve it. The way you deal with consulting cases reflects a part of your later work as a consultant. Eventually, it comes down to two questions that the case helps answering:

  • Do I trust the applicant to work independently with a client?
  • Is the applicant personally and professionally suited for intensive teamwork?
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How to approach the Case

A case interview has no "correct" or "standard" answer. Instead, you might just end up exploring issues and walking down several paths. There are always multiple answers or recommendations to give in a case study. It might also be a different solution from what interviewers expect. In the end, what matters is particularly how you get there.

How to solve a Case Interview

When it comes to case interview solutions, tackling a case is similar to a real work day in consulting: You meet with the consultant and both of you work on solving a client's problem. During the interview, act as if you are already a consultant working at the conpany: Pretend you are solving a real case in a face-to-face conversation with your interviewer. The case questions are usually quite general in nature and cannot be solved on your own, so you'll need to initiate a dialogue, ask specific questions and present ideas and hypotheses.

So your interviewer is not looking for a "correct" answer. However, there are certain skills he will be assessing in analyzing the way you approach the case.

  • Maths and analytical skill
  • Skills in reasoning, presentation and communication
  • General understanding of business and economical thinking

Case structure

Case Interview Prep

Case interviews usually follow a similar framework: You'll start off with a light conversation, involving a consultant who acts as interviewer. He will start with estimating whether you are a personal fit, followed by the actual case question. You have paper and pen available, so you should start taking notes at this point. Usually, your counterpart also collects them after the interview and uses them to judge the structuring of your method. Once you have received your question, repeat it and get clarification, to make sure you start off correctly. Clarify the objective of the case and take a moment to lay down the strucutre for the case solution. Afterwards, the interviewer will provide you with sufficient time to let you present your approach. The rest of the interview is intended to be a dialogue. Most of the questions have to be asked by you, in order to get closer to a solution. However, the consultant is willing to guide you through the case with his answers or by asking questions himself.

Apart from the types of cases described above, there are two major ways a case may be led:

  • Interviewer-led case
  • Candidate-led case

In an interviewer-led case the interview will have a more classical Q&A style. Hence it structurally differs from a candidate-led case interview, in which the applicant plays a more leading role in integrating participants and progressing the interview. You can find more information on interviewer-led cases vs. candidate-led cases in our Bootcamp.

Some case interviews may be conducted as group exercises. In that case applicants are briefed together as a group and discuss possible approaches. As being a team player is a very important skill for future consultants, including the group in solving the case may be your key to success here.

Case Interview Preparation - Why practice Case Interviews?

Whether you aim for a career in consulting with one of the small firms or you want to work for one of the big players like McKinsey, BCG, Bain, Oliver Wyman, Roland Berger or Deloitte: Case interviews prepare you for the daily reality of your future work as a consultant.

Application and Job Interview process

Depending on if you are aiming for an internship or a full-time position, you'll have to participate in up to six case interviews in two or more rounds. Each interview is set to take 30-60 minutes. However, do not rush through the case and concentrate on what the interviewer says. Usually, he provides you with important details that will help you solve the case. Try to be proactive and lead through the case in a steady pace, because you will be provided these details only for showing effort: The interviewer estimates whether you ask for the data yourself and if you focus on crucial information only.

The perfect allround Case Interview Preparation

With PrepLounge you get a holistic training for your job interview. There are crucial skills to consider improving when practicing for your case interview. With the resources and Prep Plans available at PrepLounge you get a complete preparation instead of solutions for selective cases:

Why PrepLounge - What we have to offer

PrepLounge offers you a wide variety of possibilities to get ready for your career start in a top consulting firm:

Become part of the Consulting Community

Case Interview Preparation

Join our case interview community and practice case interviews with expert coaches or peers from all around the world. Prep for the various challenges that await you in the interview: Start with our huge variety of brain teasers, market sizing cases and more. Exchange experiences with peers from around the world in our consulting Q&A, or prep with mock-interviews. PrepLounge gives you the platform to successfully start your career in consulting.

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