First steps - baby steps?

Anonymous A

Hi, I am just starting out with case interview prep. Should I practice or read theory?

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Paulo
Expert
replied on 08/30/2016

Hi there,

There are typically 3 steps to cover for you to be prepared: (1) reading materials and frameworks, (2) listening to or reading interview experiences and (3) practicing actual cases. Also, on top of how you can prepare yourself, it is crucial to have in mind what skills you need to master to get accepted into a major consulting firm and how each of the 3 steps will help you in that task. In my perspective there are four key skills:

a) Clarifying the problem at hand b) Structuring an approach to the problem (a.k.a. find / apply a framework to the problem) c) Based on the approach structured, conduct the analysis d) Draw, synthesize and communicate conclusions / insights / recommendation or next steps

Steps 1 & 2 will give you a good perspective on what is expected from a top-notch candidate in each of the four skills. Step 1 will help you with understanding what is a good and structured approach to the different problems. Step 2 will help you understand the best ways to clarify the problem at hand, how to go about your approach conducting the analyses and how to synthesize your findings, conclusions and recommendations. Finally, Step 3 will help you become fluent in all the four skills.

When should you move from one step to the next? There is no general rule, as those three steps will probably overlap (i.e. you'll probably refer back to the frameworks while practicing actual cases). Anyhow, my advice would be:

a) read the materials that you find relevant (I personally recommend Case Interview Secrets by Victor Cheng, that will cover steps 1 & 2); b) Start practicing after having read the materials - this should take ~80% of your prep time (e.g. if you have ten days to practice, you should dedicate ~8 days for practicing cases)

I hope it helps!

Best regards,

Paulo

Guennael replied on 08/30/2016
Ex-MBB, BCG/Bain/Experienced Hire specialist

Paulo just gave a really solid anwser obviously, and you can't go wrong reading Victor Cheng's books (or watching his 6 hours of free video on YouTube).

Beyond this though, a good rule of thumb - no matter the topic - is you should learn 30% of the time, and test your learning 70% of the time (or 20/80 as Paulo suggests - close enough). Doing a case is akin to testing yourself -> this is absolutely where you need to spend most of your time and energy. Review prior feedback, read books and articles and whatnot, but DO NOT overlook the actual practice.

Good luck!

Guennael -

Ex-BCG Dallas

Paulo
Expert
replied on 09/01/2016

Hi Falak,

In this link (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fBwUxnTpTBo&list=PLL1jLM18SWP1uF1ReVpWY9MSpFXWdmEfW), you'll find 4h30 worth of Victor Cheng's videos.

However, I cannot stress enough how good his book is. You can find it at different prices on Amazon (https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_5_14?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=case+interview+secrets+by+victor+cheng&sprefix=Case+interview%2Caps%2C140)

Best regards and good studies!

Paulo

Falak replied on 09/01/2016

Hi,

Can someone please share the links to Victor Cheng's videos.

All the ones I find are really short and ask me to login to some website for the complete access.

Elias
Expert
replied on 09/21/2016
Experienced consultant, now running own consulting business

Hi there,

just one more thing and more on the broader strokes:

It immensely helps (for interviews, but overall life and career even more) to read some of the seminal books and articles that have shaped how we approach business and economics. The frameworks that consultants use are often a destillation of this.

Good examples are:

- The Innovators Dilemma by Clayton Christensen

- From 0 to 1 by Peter Thiel & Blake Masters

- Competitive Strategy by Michael Porter

- The McKinsey Mind by Paul Friga

- High Output Management by Andrew Grove

- Blue Ocean Strategy by W. Chan Kim

- Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely

- Crossing the Chasm by Geoffrey Moore

- Winning by Jack Welch

If you really want to read stuff on the cutting edge (great for small talk), you might want to look at things like

- Superintelligence by Nick Bostrom

- The second Machine Age - by Brynjolfsson & McAfee

- Elon Musk by Ashlee Vance

Have fun,

Elias

Anonymous A replied on 09/02/2016

Concerning step 1, i.e. reading materials and frameworks, I'am also working a lot with preplounge's boot camp. You have a good overview there. However, I'll also order Victor Cheng's book as the combination of both is certainly more effective!

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.

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