Engage interviewer during the case interview

Candidate-led interviews Experts
New answer on Sep 16, 2020
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Anonymous A asked on Oct 21, 2018

What are the ways through which interviewers can be better engaged while solving the case especially during the candidate-led cases?


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replied on Oct 22, 2018
Ex-MBB, Experienced Hire; I will teach you not only the how, but also the why of case interviews

You can ask soft questions; for example:

"is it fair to assume ...?"

"if that is ok with you, I'd like to look at ..."

Don't forget also to take the interviewer through your thought process and math calculations. Few things bore and annoy me more than a candidate doing 10 minutes of math without telling me anything, then coming back with "the" answer... except the math was wrong from the beginning

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replied on Oct 22, 2018
McKinsey / Accenture Alum / Got all BIG3 offers / Harvard Business School


It's all about the proper communication:

1) Start with clarifying questions:


2) Communicating while structuring. Here is a long post by me on how to communicate the structure during the case study:


3) Using hypothesis. I made a post about hypothesis here:


4) Communicating while making calculations:

  • Always tell the interviewer your approach
  • Check with the interviewer that your approach is correct
  • Come to the interviewer with some preliminary answers
  • Check your assumptions with the interviewer

5) Communicating during the analysis of graphs / tables

  • Take a minute to look at the graph. Read the graph title. Look at the graph type and define the type (pie chart, line chart, etc). Look at the legend (ask for clarifying questions if necessary). Identify whats going on on the graph. Look for: Trends, % structures. Look for unusual things - correlations, outliers,
  • Make 3-4 conclusions from the graph. Think out loud on potential hypothesis on what could be the root cause / what are the consequences
  • Prioritize the most important for your current analysis and move forward with the case

6) Communicating while having questions on creativity

  • Ask an interview for a minute to think
  • Think of several buckets of ideas (e.g. organic growth / non-organic growth / differentiation). Remember to think as big as possible
  • Narrow down to each bucket and generate as many ideas as possible
  • Present the structure (buckets) and then your ideas

7) Communicating your conclusion. You can find a good example I've posted here:


8) Communicating your FIT stories

Use the top-down approach while communicating your stories. "The Pyramid Principle" is the must-read by ex McKinsey on this topic.

I recommend using the STAR framework:

  • In Situation, you should briefly provide the context, usually in 1 or 2 sentences
  • Task usually includes 2 or 3 sentences describing the problem and your objective.
  • Then you provide a list of specific actions you took to achieve the goal. It should take 1 or 2 sentences per action (Usually 3-4 actions). Note that the interviewer can stop you any minute and ask for more details.
  • The results part should have 1 or 2 sentences describing the outcomes. This part is finalizing your story - make sure it can impress the interviewer and stay in the memory.


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Anonymous replied on Sep 16, 2020

The easies thing is to imagine yourself like in a life discussion:

  1. Develop a point of view
  2. Validate your assumptions
  3. Discuss the conclusions

Something like, can I confirm my assumptions with you? This is my thought would you think this make sense? etc

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Anonymous replied on Sep 15, 2020

Hi A,

Indeed, the best way to engage an interviewer is asking the right questions and proper communication.

Asking clarifying questions at the start and walking the interviewer through the whole process of your thinking and calculations.

It should be clear how you came up with the ideas you present and also that your thinking process is logical and structured. Communicate through the whole process.

Best, André

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Guennael gave the best answer


Ex-MBB, Experienced Hire; I will teach you not only the how, but also the why of case interviews
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