It's a bit unclear whether you are talking about the written case or a one on one case.
Even if the case seems more like a discussion, and comes from the partner's previous experience - you should be always structuring. That's what they are looking for.
You should have:
- Initial structure
- Structures to drill down into the problem further
- Structures to answer any additional questions
During the discussion interviewers can ask you the following questions:
Let's generate 10 ideas how to…
How will you get this data if you are at the real project…
How will you check the following assumption…
Do you have some ideas on how to… Any other ideas?... Tell me more...
I recommend the following approach to creativity questions:
- Ask an interview for a minute: "Can I take a minute to structure my thoughts?"
- Think of several buckets of ideas. Remember to think as big as possible
- Narrow down to each bucket and generate as many ideas as possible. If the idea is too high-level, you can come up with examples
- Present the structure (buckets) and then your ideas
- Generate more ideas within the buckets if required by the interviewer
You may be wondering how to develop creativity?
Although most of the companies would say that you don't need any specific business knowledge, in reality, it is hard to solve a case purely based on common sense. The lack of business knowledge becomes a very common problem, especially among people with non-business backgrounds
Business Acumen is all about building proper industry and functional knowledge. Here is how you can do that:
- Practice more cases with the other candidates. Try to start with the most common industries - Retail, Consumer Goods, Airlines, Banking
- Study the annual reports of the public companies in each industry. They have a good overview of the company and the industry.
- Get the industry information from relevant books, magazines, etc. We'll recommend some good reading in the next lessons.
- Study MBA cases. They have a good industry overview. You can purchase HBS cases here: https://hbr.org/store/case-studies
- Follow this course further and you'll learn a lot about different industries
For each industry, you should understand:
- Revenue streams
- Cost structure
- Average margins
- Key Performance Indicators
- Industry trends