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How can I be more confident during the case interview?

Anonymous A

Hi community and experts,

I really hope you can help me with this.

I've had my first case interview this month. It was unsuccessful and the main reason they gave me was that I need to be more confident. I actually thought I was well-prepared and I felt confident enough (of course I was nervous, but it was not too bad), but now after this feedback I feel very insecure... do you think the confidence comes with more practice or is there something I can do in particular to convey better that I'm actually sure of what I am saying?

Any tipps are highly appreciated!

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Andrea
Expert
replied on 01/13/2018
Former BCG decision round interviewer with 300+ real interviews in 8 years

Assuming that you are well prepared and crack your cases, then confidence won't come with further refining your case skills but will come with more practice of full interviews. By agreeing upfront with your interviewer to give you specific feedback on this dimension in upcoming practices you can address the verbal and non-verbal cues that make you come across as insecure.

In the past, when I gave the same feedback to interviewees it was because I could tell they were more worried about the interview outcome and about giving me the answer they believed I wanted to hear vs. being concerned about the case at hand itself and find joy and satisfaction in solving it. That also showed in fit questions where instead of being excited of sharing a personal experience to answer my question, they seemed focused on weighting carefully the words they were using.

My recommendation (and I am aware it's extremely hard to put in practice) is to try to enjoy the interview as much as you can by focusing on the challenge of solving the case and the satisfaction it brings you when you solve it and the joy of sharing your life experiences with someone else. If you are able to do focus on these aspects, and not think and care for those 45 minutes about what is at stake, then (usually) you will come across as genuine and confident.

Hope it helps,

Andrea

Francesco replied on 01/22/2018
#1 Expert for coaching sessions (1700+) | Ex BCG | 850+ reviews with 100% recommendation rate

Hi Anonymous,

I totally agree with Odeh, confidence is a matter of different elements and most of them are non-verbal. The main elements that can influence your confidence perception are:

  1. Sound of your voice. Monotone voice is one of the major elements of poor communication. Speaking fast is also another element that can give an impression of lack of confidence. If you notice you have issues on this area I would suggest to listen to podcast with great speakers for 30min – 1h per day with headphones. After a couple of days you will start to speak in a similar way, as you will absorb their communication style.
  2. Smile. Smiling can be a powerful element to show you enjoy the interview (and interviewer) and are not afraid. You can force smiles (obviously not too much) in case you get feedback you are not doing that.
  3. Eye contact. You should not necessarily always look the interviewer in the eyes, but you should not look away when he/she asks you something (in particular in case you get the question “Why should I hire you”)
  4. Ability to break the ice. Confident people are not afraid to start small talks with interviewers from the beginning. Keeping silence create less connection and may be considered a sign of lack of confidence
  5. Posture. Main sign of lack of confidence is leaning too much towards the interviewer. You should try to keep straight in the chair most of the time.

For the majority of these elements you will need to get feedback from the people you are practicing with, as they are very difficult to spot by yourself.

Hope this helps,

Francesco

Amir
Expert
replied on 01/16/2018
McKinsey & Company / Harvard Business School / +200 real life MBB cases / Focusing on Case+FIT+interviewer psychology

Hi,

personally in my own interviews and in helping candidates through the prep process all the way to interviews- it's all about finding your own style.

- For example, for some folks, this means to try and have fun during the case and interview.

- For others, it may mean speaking at a comfortable slow pace, slower than your interviewr on purpose perhaps to set the pace, (this could be difficult when the interviewer is a fast talker).

- For some, it means getting really creative and giving examples from real life when you bring up ideas - this buys you time, let's you talk about something you're 100% comfortable with and as a great byproduc shows ability to empathsize, improvize and ability to relate to the specific case.

These 3 are just examples of, but whatever it is that works for you, you should try and find it with your case partenrs / experts you talk to - with the goal of both developing confidence and showing it off to the other side of the table, (magically sometimes this is also a cyclical thing)!

Good luck!

:)

Odeh replied on 01/19/2018

Confidence comes from two main sources: knowing how to answer the case and how you present yourself. Andrea & Amir have both touched upon the case aspect and indeed the more you practice the more confident you will become. But then there's the aspect of how you present yourself.

Body language is 2/3rds the communication. Sitting with your back hunched over, speaking in a low voice and not making eye contact all reflect a lack of confidence. Why is this important? Because one needs to instil confidence in the client. It is important for the client to feel that you know what you're doing and trust what you're saying. Consulting is a people job as much as it is an analytical job.

Here are a few tips to help you gain confidence. There are other ways of course, but these can help you get started:-

1. Practice walking with purpose. No swaying. No bouncing. No shuffling steps, or long awkward strides.

2. Have a firm hand shake.

3. Sit up in the interview, hands clasped in front of you. Plant your bum on the whole seat - not just the edge, and push your back against the back of the seat. This will force you to sit up with an erect spine and shoulders back. It is ok to lean in from time to time to show that you are engaged in the conversation.

4. Don't hold on to a pen or anything else - you will start fiddling with it and it will exacerbate your anxiety.

5. Make eye contact. Don't stare them down though.

6. Speak in a clear, calm and unrushed manner. Don't whisper but equally don't shout. Also don't mumble. Think before you speak - count to 5 in your head if you must.

Hope these tips help!

(edited)

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