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B School Case Books Plus MBB Interview Approach to Digital

Anonymous A

I have been spending some time going through some of the old B School case books that are readily found on the internet (Darden, Fuqua, Insead, Wharton, HBS etc). These books have a decent list of cases, some which are claimed to be actual cases from the various consulting firm's case interview library. The case book also have a suggested solution and an example dialogue akin to Victor Cheng's LOM's.

A few questions regarding these books

- I assume these are written by students from the management consulting clubs?

- The case presentation doesn't seem to have the polish I would expect from an MBB. Is it because these books/cases aren't actually released by the MBB's themselves (or aren't released by a professional interview advisor like the onese we have here?

- The case approach, dialogue and solutions seem very prescriptive. They can also vary in detail and can go on to tangential points. While the overall solution reads great I get the impression that the solutions were written in a manner to wow, or even scare, the reader. Reading the solutions I get the distinct impression that many hours were spent on creating a solution that reads like a chatty 30 minute dialogue between candidate and interviewer. Are the case solutions presented in these books realistic? If they are realistic, are those the approaches average candidate who got an MBB offer or the aproaches from the cream of the cream offered candidates (i.e top 5% of the MBB 2015 intake)?

I am really getting confused with all the case interview material. The biggest challenge is actually understanding where the bar is for MBBs. All case materials of greatly differeing levels of difficulty and greatly varying quality of answers. I'm not sure how we can define or quantify it, but can anyone provide a clearer picture of the standards of the MBBs with respect to cases (say for eg number of creative answers, number of possible solutions)?

And a final question. My background is in innovation and entrpreneurship. Nutting out a case isn't a problem per se. My approach, however, is Silicon Valley style, not Fortune 500 style. The real problem for me is going through cases in the MBB's structured, framework driven style. I am interviewing for a digital group with an MBB. This group works with large incumbents clients on large scale digital transformations so they can compete against the digital natives (and startup) and be relevant in the innovation intensive 21st century world. The MBB's thought leadership articles acknowledge the changing employee/employer landscape, the new ways of working of the digital experts and that hiring needs to fundamentally change to attract these digital experts. I suspect they are applying some of the advice to clients to their own business - I am non traditional for an MBB hire, them picking up my CV shows a different approach to their hiring. But do they go the full way and adjust their interview style, interview metrics and hiring approach (like they advise their clients to do) to cater to digital natives? And will this new way of working have been filtered down to, and applied by, the Principals interviewing me. (Not sure if I am interviewing with someone from the Digital area or a general consultant just yet).

Thanks all. A lot of questions here but hopefully someone can shed some light on this.

(edited)

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Anonymous C replied on 09/27/2017

Hi,

That is a long question and many facets to it. I will tackle the recruitement bit, here. I see you are interviewing with the digital team. They will definitley want to focus on your expertise and do the cases focused on those. However, they are unlikely to change the format of the case. For consistency and since it is tried and tested method, the mode of the cases will be the same. What they will look for that your business judgement and brainstorming is addressing the issues that the digital companies are facing. You also have to look at the client base for MBBs. Hence my hypothesis is that clients are mostly big MNCs or PE/VC houses who are able to pay the fees. Quite unlikely, you will be in MBB and advising a pure start-up on how to enter market.

Also, if you have an unusual CV, you still have to network and get in touch with your target firm to secure an interview. It is unlikely that your CV will be selected unless you have very specific knowledge that the firm wants or you are in the stream from where interview candidates are selected.

Francesco replied on 09/30/2017
Ex BCG | MBB Specialist | #1 Expert for meetings done (1000+) and recommendation rate (100%)

Hi Anonymous,

please find my answers below:

  1. There is not a rule here; in most cases the handbooks are done by students, but they may have also been reviewed by consultants, potentially alumni of the universities
  2. As you noticed, not all handbooks are done in the same way; some of them are not structured as a real case interview, some are pretty well done (eg INSEAD or MIT ones); ideally you want to get some live interviews on PrepLounge as well with experience candidates/experts, in order to understand which is the actual format, and deduct as a consequence which handbooks could be closer to MBB actual interviews
  3. Same as point 2
  4. In general you should able to both answer properly to the fit part (showing commitment for consulting, good communication, drive, leadership and problem solving in your answers, just to mention few topics) and case (structuring, communication, analytical skills, graph interpretation, ability to clarify questions, just to mention few topics). A good path to work on this would be the following:
  • General understanding of the process: get a general idea on what a consulting interview is about
    • Resources: Victor Cheng free videos, PrepLounge Resources section
  • Learning structures and main fit questions
    • Resources: Victor Cheng Look Over My Shoulder, MBA Handbooks, PrepLounge Resources section, Expert sessions
  • Practicing with live partners to apply knowledge and improve communication
    • Resources:PrepLounge P2P interviews, friends preparing for consulting
  • Final review to eliminate the last mistakes
    • Resources: PrepLounge P2P interviews (experienced users), friends working in consulting, Experts sessions

As for your final question: they will likely ask you industry questions, but the core of the interview will probably still be based on the traditional fit+case interview, including areas different from digital, to see how you can structure unfamiliar topics.

Hope this helps,

Francesco

(edited)

Anonymous B replied on 09/27/2017

tl;dr