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Case Prep Newbie: Prepping Solo

Anonymous A

Hi there,

I am entirely new to case prep, and would like some advice on how to get started.

Some MBB associates have offered me some prep sessions, but I figured those sessions will be more productive if I do some solo prep first.

How do I prep solo?

PS- I apologize if this question has been asked before.

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Vlad replied on 07/02/2018
McKinsey / Accenture / Got all BIG3 offers / More than 300 real MBB cases / Harvard Business School

Hi,

Don't spend 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

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

In terms of case types I would start with either market sizing or with profitability cases since they are much easier:

1) In market sizing cases I would try to understand the basic approach:

  • How to structure market sizing case
  • Key tools (Assumptions, Households, using personal experience, adjustments, age groups, Income split via 80/20, peak / off-peak calculations, replacement rate, using size of the area to calculate markets, calculating adjacent markets, sanity checks, etc).
  • How to do math in the case interview

2) In Profitability cases, I would learn

  • How to ask clarifying questions
  • How to structure profitability cases
  • How to work with data (Comparing with competitors, segmentation, historical data)
  • How to answer the questions on creativity
  • How to provide recommendations

3) Then I will switch to Market context cases (Market Entry, New product, Acquisition, etc). In addition, I would learn how:

  • Structure market context questions
  • How to analyze graphs and tables

4) 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.

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

Also, several things that you should be doing on a regular basis:

1) Every 10 cases revisit the previous cases and think how you would structure them differently now having the new experience and having solved the new types of cases

2) Build business judgment. Read about different industries and functions. I strongly recommend practice drawing structures for each industry - profitability, value chain, etc . Then I will switch to getting functional knowledge and key concepts in Marketing (Brand and trade marketing tools, etc), Supply chain (Ops metrics like cycle time and throughput time, distribution and delivery specifics, etc), Finance (Basic Accounting and Valuation). Good sources might be:

  • 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.One of the best sources to prepare
  • HBS cases - quite useful, but not sure if lot's of them available publically. Probably worth buying

Again, every 10 cases revisit the previous cases and think how you would structure them differently now having the new knowledge

3) Practice fast math

  • Learn how to multiply double digit numbers (google fast math tips)
  • 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) Read Viktor Cheng Book and listen to LOMS. I recommend to reread the book and listen to LOMS every 15 cases. Every time, having more experience, you’ll be finding something new.

Best!

Francesco replied on 07/02/2018
#1 Expert for coaching sessions (1600+) | Ex BCG | 800+ reviews with 100% recommendation rate

Hi Anonymous,

I would recommend the following to get started:

  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 with). 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. You can use at this stage PrepLounge first and then your contacts in MBB once got some practice.
  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