Get Active in Our Amazing Community of Over 462,000 Peers!

Schedule mock interviews on the Meeting Board, join the latest community discussions in our Consulting Q&A and find like-minded Case Partners to connect and practice with!

Asking permission from interviewer in case interviews?

communication
New answer on Jul 13, 2024
6 Answers
73 Views
Anonymous A asked on Jul 11, 2024

Hi all,

I would like to seek your views on a topic regarding case interviews. Do you think it is appropriate to ask for permission from the interviewer?

I usually do this around 3 times in a case interview, asking questions such as:

"My next step is to XXX, is that fine with you?"
"I suggest we further investigate XXX. Does this direction align with your thoughts?"
"My assumption is XXX, does that make sense to you?"
"If it’s okay with you, I would like to proceed with XXX."
 

The reasons I ask these questions are:

1. To engage with the interviewer. I have heard that it is important to keep the interviewer in the decision loop, similar to how you would co-create decisions with a client. The principle I've learned is to ask question with potential solutions in mind, but the “client” will have their own preference.
2. To avoid going in the wrong direction by clarifying with the interviewer.
 

However, I am concerned that this approach may make me appear not confident and overly cautious.

In a case interview, do you think it is more important to:

1. Co-create decisions with the interviewer and always keep them in the loop, or
2. Act like a consultant in a real business setting, showing certainty, drive, and suggesting next steps firmly?
 

I would appreciate your insights on this topic!

 

Overview of answers

Upvotes
  • Upvotes
  • Date ascending
  • Date descending
Best answer
Hagen
Expert
Content Creator
updated an answer on Jul 11, 2024
#1 recommended coach | >95% success rate | most experience in consulting, interviewing, and coaching

Hi there,

I would be happy to share my thoughts on your question:

  • First of all, and contrary to what some coaches have said, I would highly advise you not to ask for permission for the following two reasons: 1) you are supposed to guide through the case study, and 2) a well-trained interviewer will not respond to your questions (with a clear answer).
  • Moreover, the way you engage the interviewer is by sharing your perspective, taking on hints from him/her, if there are any, etc.
  • Lastly, as for your fear of going in the wrong direction, the interviewer will steer you if needed.

You can find more on this topic here: How to succeed in the final interview round.

If you would like a more detailed discussion on how to best prepare for your upcoming interviews, please don't hesitate to contact me directly.

Best,

Hagen

(edited)

Was this answer helpful?
Dennis
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Jul 11, 2024
Roland Berger|Project Manager and Recruiter|7+ years of consulting experience in USA and Europe

Hi there,

I like that you are trying to be transparent with the interviewer letting them know what your next step is and why. But I would honestly leave out the validation question. The interviewer will interject if they are not clear on something or if you are at risk of taking a completely wrong path.

However, an interviewer might also be reluctant to give your approach their “blessing” before they can gauge how you actually intend to go about it in practice.

Plus if I were a client and you were my consultant, then I wouldn't want to have to confirm every portion of your proposed solution. Walk me through it in a confident manner and be transparent about it - then you can discuss it with me in greater detail in case I have questions or a different opinion.

I know this perspective is a bit different from other coaches' feedback but here you have it, it's been added to the mix now :)

Best

Was this answer helpful?
Florian
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Jul 11, 2024
1300 5-star reviews across platforms | 500+ offers | Highest-rated case book on Amazon | Uni lecturer in US, Asia, EU

Hi there,

Every now and then during the interview, it is okay.

However, you don't need the buy-in from the interviewer all the time. 

Why?

A case interview mirrors a client situation. Imagine asking the client all the time if they are okay with your insights and analysis. It is your role to present this confidently and LEAD THEM in this process, not the other way round.

Also keep in mind how you come across, which is not just about what you ask but how you ask and present yourself (phrasing and framing plays an important role here).

Cheers,

Florian

Was this answer helpful?
Ariadna
Expert
replied on Jul 11, 2024
BCG | Project Leader and Experienced Interviewer | MBA at London Business School

Hi there, 

Short answer: I don't think 3 times is too much throughout the interview. But would definitely avoid doing too often. 

To your 2nd set of questions: option 1 and 2 are not mutually exclusive. In real client situations you would very much do both - even during a single meeting, and definitely throughout a project. 

During the interview, option 2 would be assessed more, but you still need to show you are able to involve the interviewer (or potential client) in the process. 

Good luck, 

Ariadna 

Was this answer helpful?
Michael
Expert
replied on Jul 13, 2024
Ex-McKinsey EM | Experienced Interviewer and Coach

Hi there,

It is good to engage the interviewer and clarify where necessary. But it is very important to distinguish between having the interviewer to help answer the question and guiding the interviewer through your process. There's nuance in the way you communicate.

It is ok to:

  • Ask for time to structure
  • Say “I'd like to approach the question this way… if that sounds ok with you, I'll proceed to…”
    • You can pause a little bit here, if the interviewer does not agree with your thoughts, you're likely to hear “why…” “Why not…” “How about…”

To answer your question, it is important to keep the interviewer in the loop and acting like consultant in the real business setting. 

Was this answer helpful?
Pedro
Expert
replied on Jul 11, 2024
Bain | EY-Parthenon | Private Equity | Market Estimates | Fit Interview

Hi there,

I think that's exactly what you should be doing throughout the interview.

Of course, don't do it for every question / assumption. But engaging the interviewer / making sure you are aligned regarding key points or assumptions definitely makes sense.

Was this answer helpful?
Hagen gave the best answer

Hagen

CoachingPlus Expert
Premium + Coaching Expert
Content Creator
#1 recommended coach | >95% success rate | most experience in consulting, interviewing, and coaching
588
Meetings
19,354
Q&A Upvotes
103
Awards
5.0
503 Reviews
How likely are you to recommend us to a friend or fellow student?
0 = Not likely
10 = Very likely
You are a true consultant! Thank you for consulting us on how to make PrepLounge even better!
^