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How many mock cases until I am "ready"?

Anonymous A asked on Mar 08, 2018 - 3 answers

Hi all,

I wonder how many cases candidates typically need to solve before they are "ready" for the real case interview at the big firms? How many hours of practice should I expect before considering myself good enough to show up at McKinsey et al.?

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replied on Mar 08, 2018
McKinsey Engagement Manager & BCG Consultant | Interviewer at McK & BCG for 7 years | Coached 100+ candidates secure MBB offers
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What I have seen again and again is the following:

It is much more important to focus on quality, rather than quantity! If you fail to build the right routines and habits, the effect of more mock case will be actually detrimental at some point. So finding an outstanding partner or booking an expert should come very early in your process! This will allow you to double down on your problem areas from the start!

Most people that I helped getting into MBB reached a solid "offer-ready" level by the time they had solved about 30 full ~45 minutes cases with an experienced case partner (and also doing revisions after getting good feedback on every case).

Cheers, Sidi

This might be specific to BCG...I was on a call with BCG and they mentioned we should not loose sight of the fact that it is a conversation and they value creativity. That said, you want to practice the right way by not trying to memorize problems, but rather mastering how to approach problems, how to ask probing and clarifying questions, and how to think creatively. — IBRAHIM on Mar 08, 2018 (edited)

What are your thoughts on that Sidi? — IBRAHIM on Mar 08, 2018

Ibrahim, this is exactly what I mean! What you need to build is a methodic muscle regarding a bullet proof approach towards cases. It is not about memorizing! Creativity is always valued, and the best way to be creative is to brainstorm within a certain "thinking frame" - thereby one can generate much more ideas to literally any problem! — Sidi on Mar 08, 2018

Thanks Sidi! — IBRAHIM on Mar 08, 2018

Francesco replied on Mar 08, 2018
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Hi Anonymous,

I agree with Sidi on the general importance of quality over quantity. Consulting interview preparation is similar to going to the gym: you may even hurt yourself overtraining or focusing on the wrong elements, independently by the hours you put, while you can speed up your results with the right trainer/coach/partner.

To directly answer your question: the number of hours depends mainly on (i) your status before starting the preparation and (ii) what you use for the preparation; among the most relevant elements I would consider:

  • Initial business acumen level
  • Initial communication skills
  • Previous experience in structuring problems (eg consulting experience)
  • Ability to absorb new information
  • Quality of material/partner used for the preparation

Based on my experience, the range goes between 20 cases/ 30 hours (with experts/very advanced partners) and 100+ cases / 150+ hours (on our own/average partners).



Vlad replied on Mar 08, 2018
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It's more about quality rather than quantity:

  1. Don't count the cases you've done yourself
  2. Don't count the cases you've done from the casebooks
  3. Count the cases you've done with experienced candidates (50+ cases solved / passed the first round) who can give you a real case and a good feedback.

In that case, you need 40-50 cases depending on the role, office, etc (e.g. MBAs in top schools need just a bit of practice compared to regular candidates. Both because of their knowledge and because the on-campus hiring is not that tough)

If you take a good coach, you can make it in 20-35 cases. The coach will give you the right knowledge. Partners will help you integrate the skill. At the end of the day, it's just a skill that can be trained.

Why do you even need partners and coaches? When you are stressed during the case interview and out of energy having the 3rd case in a row, 90% of your questions and reactions should be fully automatic. Otherwise, it's extremely hard to solve the case, trying in find out what you've memorized from v.Cheng book.