#1 Expert for coaching sessions (1800+) | Ex BCG | 900+ reviews with 100% recommendation rate
Book a coaching

Best Practices for solving case on your own

Anonymous A

Hi experts,

Can you recommend good approaches to solving a case on your own? How to maximize the learning experience? How to balance self-solutions with solving a case with a partner...

  • Upvotes
  • Date ascending
  • Date descending
Francesco replied on 07/04/2018
#1 Expert for coaching sessions (1800+) | Ex BCG | 900+ reviews with 100% recommendation rate

Hi Anonymous,

the following should be a good mix of self and peers preparation:

  1. Read Case In Point or Case Interview Secrets for a general understanding of what a consulting interview is. Don’t focus too much on the structures proposed in the books though, as they are not good enough nowadays
  2. Start to read MBA Consulting Handbook – you can find several for free online (Insead is a good one to start). Read the cases and try to apply your structure. Whenever you see there is something missing, upgrade your structure with the new insides. Try to read at least a new case per day – in this way you will absorb a lot better the information with constant learning
  3. After having read the first 10 cases in books/handbooks and basic theory, start to practice live. There is a relevant part of the interview score that is based on your communication, which you cannot practice at all if you read cases only. Keep track of your mistakes and see if you repeat them. If so, try to identify the source of the mistake (feedback of experienced partners would be particular useful for this)
  4. Once you feel you are not improving anymore, if you have a tight time constraint or if you want a realistic assessment of your level, consider using experts’ support to strengthen your performance

Best,

Francesco

Vlad replied on 07/04/2018
McKinsey / Accenture / Got all BIG3 offers / More than 300 real MBB cases / Harvard Business School

Hi,

I strongly don't recommend spending too much time prepping solo. Rather practice solo a certain type of a case and then practice them with a partner.Repeat the process multiple times

1) In terms of resources - Start with Case in point, Victor Chengs books and LOMS.

2) 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

3) In terms of case types, I would start with either market sizing or with profitability cases since they are much easier and you can practice them even on your own. Then I will switch to Market context cases (Market Entry, New product, Acquisition, etc). After that I would look at other case types: 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.), Cost Cutting, Valuation, Private equity due diligence, Synergies, etc.

4) Reflect on each case - remember, it's not about quantity but rather about quality. Revisit each case after the session with a partner and think how you would structure it in a perfect way (not only the initial structure but also the structures throughout the case).

5) Look for the external resources while reflecting on the case:

  • Books - one good book about airlines with numbers and industry analysis can give you all needed industry knowledge
  • Company reports, equity reports, etc - usually have a good overview of company and industries. E.g. if you've solved the case about retail - download the Wallmart annual report, study it and then revisit the case.

6) Have a feedback log, where you can put all the feedback from your partners, calibrate it and track the improvements

7) Every 5-10 cases revisit the previous cases and think how you would structure them differently, having the new experience and having solved the new types of cases

8) Reread Viktor Cheng book and listen to LOMS every 15 cases. Every time, having more experience, you’ll be finding something new.

Best!

(edited)

Patricio replied on 07/08/2018

Hi Anonimous,

I think Francesco and Vlad have covered all the best practices that are out there. I will only add a method that personally helped me while I had to prep solo (I tried to solve 2-3 cases per day and sometimes it was difficult to be free at the same time).

I call this simulation. I just grab a case I haven't solved and read the problem statement. From there, first I imagine what are the initial questions that I should ask (this was one of my weak points). Then, I play both interviewer and interviewee role and keep developing the case until coming to a solution. Lastly, I give myself 30 secs to come up with the summary and recommendations. I do this out loud (I even speak my thoughts out loud), so I would advise not to do this in a public place (people will think you are crazy).

This by no means replaces practicing and solving cases with other people, but I believe it helps to train your mind in using the case solving process.

Good luck with your interviews. All the best,

Patricio

Related BootCamp article(s)

Getting Up to Speed

In order to repeatedly demonstrate prerequisite skills under the pressure of a real case interview, you need to learn the basics and practice cases.

4 Comment(s)