Bain and BCG written cases include 20+ pages of documents which you need to analyse to answer a few client questions on 3 to 5 slides and present them to your interviewer.
In addition to the skills that are tested in standard oral case interviews, written cases also test two extra skills:
- ability to identify key pieces of information that are in pages of less relevant content in order to develop insights
- ability to develop and deliver high quality slides
Most candidates overlook this two points without preparing for the written case.
The specific characteristics of Bain written case might vary depending on country but in general:
- Part 1 - preparation (45min up to 1.5h depending on country): you will be given ≈20 pages of documents and ≈5 pre-filled slides to complete. Some of the slides are pre-filled with a title; other slides include graphs and tables that you need to fill with your calculations. Because the slides are pre-filled means that, differently from BCG, you don't have to worry too much about the overall story for your presentation but instead you have to focus on creating the content that will support the titles. In general, Bain written case interviews include less documents than BCG cases (~20 vs. ~40 pages). Nevertheless, Bain allows less time compared to BCG so that the time pressure is very similar
- Part 2 - presentation and Q&A (30 min): you will walk the interviewer through your slides and then discuss with him/her about your conclusions/additional points
- Calculator not allowed
How to prepare for written case interview:
- Train quick reading skills and maths: if you are preparing for consulting interviews you are probably already working on your mental maths speed (if you are not yet you will find plenty of suggestions and material on this forum). In addition to that, you could invest some time to reduce the time spent looking for information. In my experience, focusing on these two points helps:
- diagonally read the documents with a specific objective
- improve your reading speed (you can easily find resources online on how to do that). If you don't have time to work on that, you will find helpful to focus on graph and table titles – that will help a lot to identify the important exhibits
- Train slide-making skills: consultants live on PowerPoint; some basic rules they follow to write their slides:
- the title should be straight to the point and conclusive (for example, ‘Carrefour's 2016 margin went down 10%’ is a poor title because it is not conclusive; it only repeats information available somewhere else in the slide. A good title is: ‘Carrefour’s 2016 margin went down 10%, mainly driven by cost of labour increase in France’ – this title provides and interesting insight by stating the problem and its cause)
- the content of each slide should support its title by displaying relevant data
- all your slide titles should be part of a coherent story when put together. My recommendation to train on this skill is to download some reports from Bain (ideally that you are interested in :) ). These reports are usually 10-15 slides. Try to summarise their content in 3-5 slides using the tips above.
- Practice written cases: unfortunately there are not many written cases available online. You can find a Bain written case (also largely available online) on my public folder here https://www.dropbox.com/sh/bk3q9ijqa4a6tri/AACCymvYb6Vyyz87F0IX1ktFa?dl=0
In addition to that one, you will also be able to find a couple of written cases from BCG on this forum (that have been previously shared by other experts and are also largely available online). In addition to those written cases, I believe that the best alternative is MBA case studies (MIT website has some for free) as they include a business situation with graphs, tables and text. You can identify 2-3 questions to answer about the case and then allow yourself 1h-1.5h to develop your answers in slides. You can then present them to a peer (ideally) and discuss with him/her about conclusions/implications
Additional training resources: as an expert, I have some real written Bain interview cases (coming from my own experience while at Bain and other colleagues) but unfortunately I won’t be able to share the details here :)
Some final tips to pass the written case interviews:
- Manage your time
- Identify the issue and turn it into a structured problem
- Crunch the numbers
- Build a storyline and back it up with data/insights
- Project confidence during the presentation and be ready to discuss your slides
I hope this helps!