Hola, guys!

I'm about to have a written case with Bain Moscow office. Does anyone has experience with it except their posts in social media? Not so many companies use it, so it's quite hard to prepare. It will be great ot get a sample case and some tips on it. Thank you in advance and good luck with applications!

(edited)

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Anonymous replied on Jan 31, 2017

My top tips for the written case are:

  1. The trick to written cases is to have a filtering system to find the data you need from the worthless data, and of course, recognising that not all the data is useful. Written cases mirror cases done in case-method schools like Harvard. Lots of data is provided in those cases, but not all is useful. Your job is to find the useful data and that means having a framework upfront.
  2. THERE IS NO ONE “RIGHT” ANSWER; THERE ARE MANY POTENTIAL ACTIONS YOU COULD TAKE. The goal is for you to present a persuasive recommendation and participate in a discussion about how to improve the client
  3. Be concise. Have your key messages outlined in your summary. Save the details for your discussion.
  4. Be pragmatic. Craft a recommendation that can actually be implemented by the client.

In order to prepare yourself for written cases I recommend the following:

  1. Read articles in the FT, Economist, etc. then summarise the three key points or 'takeaways' from the articles. This will get you really good at scanning info and pulling out the most important factors.
  2. Practice going through written cases under high time pressure - synthesise a recommendation.
  3. Present your recommendation to someone and get feedback on your ideas and clarity of expression.

Agree with the points above. Having successfully gone through a Bain written interview, let me highlight a couple more — Srihari on Feb 01, 2017

Originally answered:

Bain Written case

Jacopo
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updated his answer on May 25, 2018
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Hi,

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:

  1. 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
  2. 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.
  3. 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!
Cheers,
Jacopo

(edited)

Originally answered:

Bain writing case

Vlad
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replied on Mar 16, 2018
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Hi,

Bain has a written case, that looks kind of a test. You can find an example here (ask me for a password):

https://www.dropbox.com/sh/zor4m49eyx5qxal/AABeUN6mtiGkWhEklRjszX2Oa?dl=0

Bain Written Case has 2 main parts:

  • Case information you have to go through
  • Slides with the missing info you have to complete

Since each question in a written case has an exact correct answer, the success criteria is the number of questions answered correctly.

The best way to prepare is the following:

  1. Check if the calculator is allowed. If not - you have to train mental math. I posted the main tips here: https://www.preplounge.com/en/consulting-forum/tips-to-do-big-multiplications-in-my-mind-726#a1422
  2. Practice solving the cases - basically, preplounge website is about it
  3. Practice reading cases fast and prioritizing the information. You can use 2 sources:
  • Written cases you'll be able to find in google or in case books. I've seen a couple in "Vault Guide to the Case Interview" and "Insead Business Admission Test"
  • Harvard cases - either buy or try to download for free. You can find a couple of MIT cases here for free: https://mitsloan.mit.edu/LearningEdge/Pages/Case-Studies.aspx The main problem - these free cases don't have any pre-defined questions.

Good luck!

Francesco
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replied on Sep 20, 2017
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Hi Amos,

as for a previous post I wrote, I would recommend you to focus on 5 areas to crack a written case; I have reported them below with some suggestions on how to prepare for each of them.

1. Learn how to define a plan of action and stick to that

The first thing you should do in a written case is to define a plan and allocate in the best possible way your time. Assuming 60 minutes for the analysis, a good approach would include:

  • initial quick reading – 5-10 min
  • structure the approach – 5 min
  • make slides/answer to the questions adding detailed analysis and math – 35-40 min
  • final review – 10 min

You should then practice to stick to the time allocated, in order to maximize your final performance.

2. Practice graph interpretation

You will normally have to analyse graphs in a written case. The best way to practice is to take graphs from online resources and use a timer to test in how much time you can understand the key message. McKinsey PST graphs could be a good practice for that.

3. Work on quick reading and understanding of key information

You will not have time to read and prioritize everything (some information may even be misleading), so you have to understand where to focus. The ideal way to practice is to use long cases such as HBS ones, and practice on reducing the time needed to absorb the key information that can answer a defined question. Quick reading techniques could also help.

4. Practice math

You will normally have math to do in a written case. GMAT and McKinsey PST math should work well to prepare on this.

5. Learn how to communicate your slides/answers (if required)

You may have to present your findings at the end of the case. I would apply the same structures of final sum up in a live interview case, that is:

  1. Sum up the main questions you have to answer
  2. Present your proposed answer and detail the motivation behind
  3. Propose next steps for the areas you have not covered

As you will not be able to double check hypothesis with the interviewer as in the live case before the presentation, it could make sense to clearly state when you are making hypotheses and that you will have to verify them with further analysis.

Hope this helps,

Francesco

Srihari
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replied on Feb 01, 2017
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Hi,

Victor Cheng had a great article on this

http://www.caseinterview.com/written-case-interview

In addition, having successfully gone through a Bain written case, here are a few additional pointers

The prompt is likely to be something like this: We are in xxx situation... Look through the attached slides and craft 5 recommendations. You can bring 6-8 slides for the actual discussion. I had a 1-on-1 discussion with the interviewer - sometimes others have made more formal presentations.

1) Go through everything quickly, first. You will have like 45-60 slides. Start noticing key themes/trends - they will naturally pop out to you.

2) Develop some of your recommendations based on those themes and then re-visit the supporting data (slides) and scrutinize it in more depth to pressure test your conclusions. Typically a few recommendations will be pretty easy to get to.

3) Parse through the remaining slides to see what isn't that significant and what is - consistently ensure you can defend your prioritization and explain why you are recommending certain things, ignoring others (typically, they are rooted in rationales such as "bigger market size, target segment" or "we can ignore this because it is less critical to our growth, we will target that customer through other means, etc")

4) Develop the "presentation" - pick out specific slides to defend your conclusion, develop your story and ensure your presentation highlights the most critical things. Ensure you have quantitative justifications highlighted for your thinking when available.

5) Time permitting - think about potential concerns or blind-spots - be ready to say "we need to further look into x, y, z". And review what you didn't present - you should know the topics you left out, in case they are asked about and you should be able to respond confidently to them.

As for delivery - be very confident - in traditional consulting style, it's "Recommendation, rationale" for each thing. Stay pretty high level when you start and then dive in more deeply through the conversation/presentation.

Originally answered:

Bain Test - How to prepare?

Sidi
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updated his answer on Aug 08, 2018
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Quirin replied on Sep 17, 2017
Preparing for full-time interviews at Bain & BCG (1st & 2nd round)

Hi,
I successfully went through internship interviews at L.E.K. earlier this year. Written cases were not specifically a part of my interviews but one included printed-out charts which I had to interpret. There is a firmsconsulting podcast called "strategies for written case interviews" which I used as part of my preparation.

Hope this helps,
Quirin

Originally answered:

Bain Written Case Prep

Ben replied on Sep 16, 2016

I haven't done Bain's written case, but I did do AT Kearney's 2nd round case, which is written.

In both cases you have roughly an hour to review material, then have give a 10-15 presentation, followed by 10-15 minutes of questions.

I've heard, though I'm not sure, that Bain's cases tend to be really long. My AT Kearney case was about 6 pages, and 3 or so more with figures/exhibits. Not insurmountable. AT Kearney's case also had roughly 6 questions on it that, if you thought about it, helped to guide you through the insights they wanted you to see.

If the case is really long like I've heard Bain can be, the strategy is basically: 1) Read the executive summary, 2) Go through the exhibits / figures / charts, 3) See if you have answered the question / have a hypothesis and supporting info. If the answer to 3 is yes, then I'd start with your presentation then; once you have that in a skeleton form,t hen perhaps scan the text to see if there are details you'd want to include; if the answer to 3 is no or youre not sure, perhaps scan the text first (before starting presentation) to see if that answers it.

Regardless of how much material is, some things to remember:

1) State your big conclusion at the beginning

2) Make sure you answer all the questions posed (how you do this is personal preference and depends on how many questions there are... you may want to answer em up front, you may do it at the end, or you may integrate as you go)

3) Limit yourself to 3-4 slides. And make them simple. Most of your presentation should be talking points. Slides should be clear, organized, basically client-friendly

4) Don't be surprised if they stop you mid-presentation and throw some doubt or new information at you ; just like an actual case, they're going to want to see you think on your feet. If you need a second to consider that, ask for it. Good cop/bad cop routines are common too.

5) Confident and concise, just like any case.

6) Leave notes / sticky notes / highlight key figures, sections, and areas from the case. In some cases you may want to refer to it (usually answering a question after your presentation).

Victor Cheng does have a youtube video up about the Bain written case, IIRC

If you have any more questions, let me know. Cheers, GL. I might actually be able to 'give' you a written case if you hit me up.

Ben

Astrid replied on Feb 02, 2017
PrepLounge Community & Marketing Manager

Hola Victor,

thanks for asking your question in our Consulting Q&A :)

I found some old Q&As that might be relevant for you.

Ben, one of our users, shares his experience and gives great tips:

[You] have roughly an hour to review material, then have give a 10-15 presentation, followed by 10-15 minutes of questions. [The] strategy is basically: 1) Read the executive summary, 2) Go through the exhibits / figures / charts, 3) See if you have answered the question / have a hypothesis and supporting info. If the answer to 3 is yes, then I'd start with your presentation then; once you have that in a skeleton form, then perhaps scan the text to see if there are details you'd want to include; if the answer to 3 is no or youre not sure, perhaps scan the text first (before starting presentation) to see if that answers it.

Regardless of how much material is, some things to remember:

1) State your big conclusion at the beginning

2) Make sure you answer all the questions posed [...]

3) Limit yourself to 3-4 slides. And make them simple. [...]

4) Don't be surprised if they stop you mid-presentation and throw some doubt or new information at you ; just like an actual case, they're going to want to see you think on your feet. If you need a second to consider that, ask for it. Good cop/bad cop routines are common too.

5) Confident and concise, just like any case.

6) Leave notes / sticky notes / highlight key figures, sections, and areas from the case. In some cases you may want to refer to it (usually answering a question after your presentation).

You can find the original Q&A here: Bain Written Case Prep

In another Q&A, some of our experts give hints:

Guennael (Ex-MBB, BCG/Bain/Experienced Hire specialist):

We are looking for the same qualities in the written case as in the verbal one. You should have 1 hour to prepare so there's a little more time, but obviously you must actually prepare slides for the presentation. It comes down to time management. For example, agree in advance you will allocate 5 minutes to figure out what's going on, 30 minutes to the actual case prep, another 5 to confirm the order of the slide (story line) and the remaining time to go into pure slide-development mode. Ultimately though, if you can crack a regular case, you should be able to crack the written one as well.

Meghan (Ex BCG):

[...] We're also looking for decent presentation skills and ability to answer questions or be open to feedback without getting too nervous or (on the other end of the spectrum) coming across as arrogant. So, practice a case interview by yourself start to finish [...], then present your slides aloud, to yourself! [...]

Nick (Ex McKinsey):

Verbal or non-written cases pressure tests 3 elements, your LISTENING, thinking and verbalization, typically in a 30 minute interview; however, the written cases test only 2 elements, your READING and thinking, in 45 minutes period followed by a separate verbalization evaluated afterwards. Hence, by design the written is much easier - you just have to practice the key elements that gives you the advantage to do well. [...]

You can find the original Q&A here: Best Preparation Method for Written Cases at Bain and BCG?

Hope this helps!

Best of luck for your interview!

Astrid

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Victor replied on Feb 02, 2017

Dear Astrid and Sri, appreciate your advice it is really helpful!

Please let me know if I can help somehow!

Best wishes,

Victor

Originally answered:

Bain Written Case Prep

Anonymous A replied on Sep 17, 2016

Hi Ben! Thanks for the info - it was very helpful. I will definitely take you up on that offer to run through a written case. I will PM you.

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