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Bain written case

Victor

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!

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Ignacio
Expert
replied on 01/31/2017
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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.
Srihari
Expert
replied on 02/01/2017
Former BCG consultant and adult trainer with experience in US, India, and Middle East

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.

Victor replied on 02/02/2017

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

Please let me know if I can help somehow!

Best wishes,

Victor

Astrid replied on 02/02/2017

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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