Case studies vs Real Life

case studies
New answer on May 28, 2021
4 Answers
Anonymous A asked on May 27, 2021

Hello everyone,

I am currently preping cases and I was wondering how similar these cases are to the case I will actually encounter at MBB if I get a position? Do consultants use the same frameworks and approaches in real life? Also given the fact that cases are supposed to be solved in a matter of minutes, how to explain the differences in timelines (minutes vs weeks) to present a viable plan?

Thank you!!

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Content Creator
replied on May 27, 2021
McKinsey | MBA professor for consulting interviews

Hi, they are a great simulation of what happens at work, but of course it's a super simplification (we are talking about a 20-minute case vs a 3-month project). However, the brainstorming during real engagements can be really similar


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Content Creator
updated an answer on May 27, 2021
BCG | 100% personal interview success rate (8/8) and 95% candidate success rate | Personalized interview prep

Hi there,

The answer is yes and no.

Cases are mini projects. Frameworks are mini project plans. Of course that explains the different timelines. That said, even on a large project, you're expected to have a viable framework/approach within a few hours and iterate through it in the first few days.

It's really hard to explain this in writing, but, essentially, everything you learn/practice in a case is representative to some degree of what you'll do on the job (that's why it exists!). That said, you're expected to do different things to different degrees.

For me, the biggest commonalities were 1) Always having to have a structure/framework and a way of organizing thoughts and 2) Never really understanding what you're talking about on a deeper level, but having to figure it out as you go!

In terms of getting ready for real life cases, I love using case learnings as an analogy:

1) Understand the context/prompt (what role are you in, what company, who's watching, etc.)

2) Understand the objective (what, specifically, is expected from you...both day to day, and in your overall career progression)

3) Quickly process information, and focus on what's important - Take a lot of information and the unknown, find the most logical path, and focus on that.

4) Be comfortable with the unknown, and learn to brainstorm - think/speak like an expert without being one

In summary, there will always be a flood of information, expectations, competition etc. and not enough time. Find out which ones matter when. (i.e. be visibile and focus efforts on the things that people care about)


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Anonymous B replied on May 27, 2021

If you have an MBA, you know that the answer to anything is: it depends.

Usually the case interviews are inspired on a fraction of a real engagement, and the engagement team must go on a very deeper level to provide insights to the client (ie., MBB would never present on steering committee that the client's profitability issue can be a cost/revenue problem).

Further, do not underestimate the time needed to drill down the analysis, get the data, talking, learning and convincing client stakeholders, aligning all the ppt shapes in 250 slides (and often changing/deleting slides you spent a week doing - "plsfix"). Yes, most of our work is not as posh as the partner wants you to believe in the campus company presentation.

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CoachingPlus Expert
Content Creator
replied on May 28, 2021
Accenture, Deloitte | Precision Case Prep | Experienced Interviewer & Career Coach | 15 years professional experience

Consulting companies use the case interview to get an idea of how actually you will perform in real life- structured thinking, problem solving, communication skills and cominrg across as trust worthy.

So, think of the case study as the trailer of the actual film. Real life is similar but more complicated and often with more time (than 45-60min) to solve the problem (obviosuly).

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Antonello gave the best answer


Content Creator
McKinsey | MBA professor for consulting interviews
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