Former BCG decision round interviewer with 300+ real interviews in 8 years
Book a coaching

Bad Experience with Victor Cheng Case Interview Material - alternatives?

Anonymous A

Hi everyone!

About two years ago prepared for an internship case interview. Back tehn I used Victor Chengs LOMS and his book case interview secrets as prep material. While I managed to land the internship offer in the end, I really struggled during the interview. I noticed that hearing other candidates solve cases doesn't really help to solve them myself...

So now I'm applying for entry level positions at MBB and I want to be the best prepared I can be. PrepLounge seems like a good start as it is more practice oriented... do you agree? How should I go about it? What would you say is the best source and way to prepare at the moment?

Looking forward to get some help!

  • Upvotes
  • Date ascending
  • Date descending
Andrea
Expert
replied on 06/08/2018
Former BCG decision round interviewer with 300+ real interviews in 8 years

While I understand where you come from, I still believe to go through that program is a good starting point. And i underline starting. Below my suggestions for a more complete and holistic preparation schedule:

1. Read the fundamentals (cosentino, cheng (yes, I still list it here), MBA consulting club books)

2. Practice 10-15 cases with peers

3. Have first check-in with expert to nip in the bud any vices in your form

4. Practice 10 more cases with peers

5. Start alternating 5-10 cases with peers with 1-2 with experts (according to time, ability and willingness to invest, capability with case-type interviews). I’ve seen people be ready to go with as little as 20 cases in total and I’ve seen people who practiced 150 cases and I could tell that they would need a dose of luck to pass their interview (even though they would have made amazing consultants)

6. Finish off with just expert interviews according to need

7. Do not do anything besides relaxing and sleeping the 24-48 hours before interview

Take the above with a grain of salt, one size doesn’t fit all and the above is clearly a high-level, albeit prescriptive, structure that I would recommend to someone I do not know but that I would like to set up for success.

hope it helps,

Andrea

Sidi replied on 06/11/2018
McKinsey Engagement Manager & BCG Consultant | Interviewer at McK & BCG for 7 years | Coached 45+ candidates secure MBB offers

Hi Anonymous,

a lot of helpful comments already! I just want to emphasize one central point that candidates unfortunately nearly never understand when using Victor Cheng or Case in Point: these sources provide you with a very good basic toolbox in terms of which areas to look into for certain types of problems. However, they are very poor regarding HOW TO APPROACH a case and HOW TO DRAFT A ROADMAP for solving the case. This needs to be rooted in rigorous logic, and unfortunately the "framework learning philosophy" brought forward by, e.g., Case in Point, is the very reason why an overwhelming majority of candidates will not get an offer.

By and large, most (or probably all) casebooks on the market are teaching a fundamentally flawed way how to think about business / strategy / organizational problems! A framework as such is worth nothing if it is not embedded into the specific context of the situation! This means, each element that you want to scrutinize ("building blocks" of the framework so to speak) needs to clearly relate back to the question that you want to address!

This is why you ALWAYS start from the specific question that you want to answer! From there, you define the criterion or criteria that need to be met in order to anwer this core question in one way or another.

In 95% of cases, value creation will be the central element. Ultimately, this is nothing else than profit generation over a specific time frame. You then draw a driver tree for profitability in order to isolate the numerical drivers for your solution. And then, only after you have drawn out the driver tree, you can map out the relevant qualitative "framework elements" to the sub branches. This approach, visualized by means of a rigorous driver tree, is much much clearer then any framework you will find in any case book. And, contrary to such frameworks, which are hanging in the air and do not logically relate back to the specific question, this is a bullet proof approach when done rigorously.

The caveat is: this requires time and qualified coaching to internalize. But ultimately, this is how consultants think about problems - how can we optimize for value creation?

Cheers, Sidi

Vlad replied on 06/09/2018
McKinsey / Accenture / Got all BIG3 offers / More than 300 real MBB cases / Harvard Business School

Hi,

Viktor Cheng material is good, however, it is definitely not enough to pass the interview. I recommend rereading and relistening Cheng every 10-15 live cases you do - you'll find many new things there.

In addition to cheng it may help:

1) Start with "Case in point" book - you can download this book for free everywhere. It's not the best guide on how you should approach the cases, however, it will give you the basic understanding.

2) Start practicing cases with partners here or find them locally. !!! Find experienced partners or coaches who can provide a good feedback!!!

3) Practice fast math

  • Learn how to multiply double digit numbers (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ndkkPZYJHo)
  • Learn the division table up to 1/11 (i.e. 5/6 = 83.3)
  • Learn how to work with zeros (Hint: 4000000 = 4*10ˆ6)
  • Use math tools (Mimir math for iOS), Math tool on Viktor Cheng website to practice

4) Below you can find a list of the most common case types and some high-level recommendations on structuring:

  • Market sizing - structuring from the supply or demand side. Structuring using a formula or using an issue tree
  • Profitability - basic profitability framework. Remember about different revenue streams and product mix
  • Market context cases (Market Entry, New product, Acquisition, etc). Always start with the big picture "market". Finish with something specific to the case (e.g. How to enter?"). Structure it as if you are defining the work streams for the real project.
  • Operational math problem (e.g. Should we increase the speed of an elevator or just buy a second one? How should we reduce the queues? Etc.) - Structuring as a process / value chain, with inflows, operations, and outflows
  • Cost cutting - I provided the recommendations on structuring it here: https://www.preplounge.com/en/consulting-forum/operations-cases-mck-1105#a2134
  • Valuation - Purely financial structure with cash flows, growth rate, WACC / hurdle rate, etc.
  • Synergies - revenue synergies (price, qty, mix) and cost synergies (value chain).
  • Social / economics cases (e.g. How to improve the quality of life in the city? How to increase the revenues of the museum?) - huge variability. Practice 3-5 social cases before the interview

5) Also, I would try to focus on the most common industries in the following priority(sorted by probability of getting a case): 1-retail and CPG; 2-airlines; 3-Telecom; 4-banking; 5-natural resources; 6-tech

6) After solving 15-20 cases start preparation for the tests (Serch for PST / BCG online test here on preplounge)

7) ! Important: don't forget about the FIT interview part. Crafting you stories and backups stories will require a couple of weeks!

PS

Here is a good list of articles regarding the different parts of the case:

1) Start with clarifying questions:

https://www.preplounge.com/en/consulting-forum/clarifying-questions-1786#a3956

2) Communicating while structuring. Here is a long post by me on how to communicate the structure during the case study:

https://www.preplounge.com/en/consulting-forum/how-to-communicate-its-structure-for-the-case-study-1313#a2806

3) Using hypothesis. I made a post about hypothesis here:

https://www.preplounge.com/en/consulting-forum/how-to-state-a-hypothesis-and-match-to-the-structure-1156#a2268

4) Communicating while making calculations:

  • Always tell the interviewer your approach
  • Check with the interviewer that your approach is correct
  • Come to the interviewer with some preliminary answers
  • Check your assumptions with the interviewer

5) Communicating during the analysis of graphs / tables

  • Take a minute to look at the graph. Read the graph title. Look at the graph type and define the type (pie chart, line chart, etc). Look at the legend (ask for clarifying questions if necessary). Identify whats going on on the graph. Look for: Trends, % structures. Look for unusual things - correlations, outliers,
  • Make 3-4 conclusions from the graph. Think out loud on potential hypothesis on what could be the root cause / what are the consequences
  • Prioritize the most important for your current analysis and move forward with the case

6) Communicating while having questions on creativity

  • Ask an interview for a minute to think
  • Think of several buckets of ideas (e.g. organic growth / non-organic growth / differentiation). Remember to think as big as possible
  • Narrow down to each bucket and generate as many ideas as possible
  • Present the structure (buckets) and then your ideas

7) Communicating your conclusion. You can find a good example I've posted here:

https://www.preplounge.com/en/consulting-forum/how-much-answer-first-should-the-conclusion-be-1231#a2493

8) Communicating your FIT stories

Use the top-down approach while communicating your stories. "The Pyramid Principle" is the must-read by ex McKinsey on this topic.

I recommend using the STAR framework:

  • In Situation, you should briefly provide the context, usually in 1 or 2 sentences
  • Task usually includes 2 or 3 sentences describing the problem and your objective.
  • Then you provide a list of specific actions you took to achieve the goal. It should take 1 or 2 sentences per action (Usually 3-4 actions). Note that the interviewer can stop you any minute and ask for more details.
  • The results part should have 1 or 2 sentences describing the outcomes. This part is finalizing your story - make sure it can impress the interviewer and stay in the memory.

Best!

Guennael replied on 06/09/2018
Ex-MBB, Experienced Hire; Case prep seminar leader; I will teach you not only the how, but also the why of case interviews

My answer will be slightly different here:

1. I strongly suggest you disregard Consentino's book, except perhaps for the market sizing question. Knowing how to crack a case isn't rocket science, and I question anyone who says otherwise. KISS!

2. LOMS is what got me into MBB. 5 BCG friends of mine who all gave me a case before and a case after agreed: I wasn't making process before I got that product, but became a new person after

3. You still need to put it in practice though. I listened to LOMS 3 times in repeat, and by the end knew the candidates' answers before they said them. Yet I also kept practicing my math skills, and kept doing mock live interviews as well

4. Bonus 4th part: I wish something like PrepLounge had existed back then. The amount of material and knowledge present here is phenomenal. I can't recommend enough that you spend the time to leverage that.

Good luck

G.

ex-BCG Dallas

(edited)

Related BootCamp article(s)

Putting It into Practice

There are 2 quick ways to schedule case interview meetings on PrepLounge throughout the stages of skill development

0 Comment(s)