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How important is the case interview in the practical consulting experience

Bain BCG Mck RolandBerger
New answer on Jul 23, 2020
5 Answers
1.2 k Views
Anonymous A asked on Jul 20, 2020

How relevant the case interview scenario in the consultant field work practice? Maybe the specific question are

1) How important our approach in the case interview (structuring thing) related to the fieldwork?

2) Is consultant do the mental math all the time?

3) The lift scenario (you meet the C level in the lift, he/she ask you about the project, you need to explain it in structure way) - How often consultant meet this scenario in the fieldwork?



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Content Creator
replied on Jul 21, 2020
#1 BCG coach | MBB | Tier 2 | Digital, Tech, Platinion | 100% personal success rate (8/8) | 95% candidate success rate

Hi there,

Super super relevant!

The appearance of cases as a way to test applicants is not random! In fact, thinking about a real-world project, picturing yourself there, is one way I get my applicants to shift thier mindsets :)

Here's a few ways in which the skills you learn (and are tested on) while casing are relevant:

Unclear/obtuse problem, non-specific objective - You will absolutely be put on projects where the question isn't quite clear. Objectives need to be formed, context needs to be understood, and teams need to align on what they're driving towards.

Lots of information, not enough time - Just like in a case, you will be thrown into a world with tons of work already done on the project before you, extensive history about the company, many datasets and opinions, etc. etc. You'll need to quickly figure out what information you want/need, how to get it, and how to use it.

Evolving + ever-ready hypothesis - Over the course of days/weeks the hypotheses will change. The objective itself might even change. You need to always know what the company's view/position is. This isn't just for elevator CEO bump-ins (never happens). It's actually for all the meetings, workshops, etc. you'll have when stakeholders ask "Why are we even doing this? Wait, what's the point? Wait, what are we meant to be doing"

These are just some (but not all) of the ways in which casing applies to real-world consulting projects :)

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Content Creator
replied on Jul 20, 2020
McKinsey | Awarded professor at Master in Management @ IE | MBA at MIT |+180 students coached | Integrated FIT Guide aut


This is indeed a very interesting question, and I used to wonder this myself when I was preparing back in the day.

To your specific questions:

  1. Not sure if I understood your question here. However, is totally true that at the beggining of each engagement, you do a tree similar to the ones in ther interviews.
  2. Nope, almost never. You leverage Excel most of the time.
  3. For sure it happens, and frequently, in the Steercos that are sheduled througout a project. However, is not the analyst who attends this meeting, but rather senior stakeholders.

In any case, even if cases don´t reflect 100% the reality of a consultant, this is not the point of them. They are targetted at seeing whether you have the attributes and approachs to things that would make you excel as a consultant. :)

Hope it helps!



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Anonymous replied on Jul 20, 2020

Agree with Clara. Interviews are aimed at testing specific skills - structuring, creativity, logic, analytics etc which you need to succeed not replicating your day to day work.

Although the cases you work through typically reflect real cases - the actual questions you solve in the interview differ significantly from what you work on day to day

1) Having a structured thought process is important. You will work on complex problems with oftentimes no clear answers or approach

2) No but you need to be analytical in order to build excel models. Even in the interview - you are not judged for 'mental maths' but accurate calculations which can be done on paper

3) You will speak to senior clients all the time. A professional communication tone is critical regardless whether it is CEO or another senior executive

So in a nutshell - the interview process does reflect the skills you will be assessed on within consulting and if you enjoy the interviews - it is typically indicative that you will enjoy the work

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Content Creator
replied on Jul 21, 2020
McKinsey offers w/o final round interviews - 100% risk-free - 10+ years MBB coaching experience - Multiple book author

Hi Anonymous,

1) The whole case-interview idea is centered around representing a small, simplified consulting project in an interview setting. So many similarities exist. Structured thinking is what you need all the time. For a mere brainstorming I don't need to get a highly paid consulting.

2) Not all the time but still frequently. Think about having discussions especially with CFOs - all the time you are talking about some numbers, and it's an absolutely vital skill to do ballpark calculations and ratios on-the-fly to get the picture and any implicit trends.

3) Occassionally - not only limited to C-levels in elevators. Any important stakeholders somewhere around in the office.

Hope that helps - if so, please be so kind and give it a thumbs-up with the green upvote button below!


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Anonymous replied on Jul 23, 2020

Dear A,

I will be brutally honst with you and say actually the case interviews and waht you've learned during the preparation for consulting interview is NOT in fact that relevant for the actual consulting work. In fact, as for 3 of your question my answer is now. it doesn't happened that often. Therefore it is a good skill which you can develop in order to get into consulting company, but it has not so much to do with the reality which you will face at your job. In order to prepare for the reality of consulting life on the job, I've designed the program called "Get ready for 100 days and long-term successful career in consulting".

I'm happy to share insights with you.

Please, drop me a line,



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Ian gave the best answer


Content Creator
#1 BCG coach | MBB | Tier 2 | Digital, Tech, Platinion | 100% personal success rate (8/8) | 95% candidate success rate
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