How much of energy related knowledge is required to succeed at the interviews with ECON? Are all cases on the energy sector?

Nike asked on Aug 14, 2018 - 1 answer
Looking for newbies to practice cases together

Dear ECON.

I would like to know more about the cases that you typically use for your case interviews.

How thoroughly should I brush up my knowledge on the energy sector? What do you recommend me to prepare?

Thanks for answering my question!

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Anonymous replied on Aug 16, 2018
Project Manager

Dear Nike,

Many thanks for your question. While some of our cases are based on real projects and therefore related to energy, others are based on a wide range of situations. Ahead of the recruiting day, our HR colleagues will provide you with prep materials on energy, which I’ recommend to read to gain some basic knowledge. This includes having a basic understanding of the most common units used in energy (e.g. kWh, mWh) and think about some basic industry facts (e.g., what’s the average energy consumption for a family per year (in kWh)? What’s approximately the retail price for energy (per kWh) in Germany?

When preparing for the interviews myself, I also followed the company on Google News and had a look at the latest investor presentations published on the company website in the month ahead of the interview. This also helped me preparing questions to my interviewers.

To succeed in the case part of the interviews, it is important that you know how to develop a structure to a problem (-> issue tree), are able to do some written calculations (including multiplications and divisions) for quantifying the problem and/or your solution proposal and come up with a conclusion. Most important, however, is, that you show us that you can think creatively for yourself and not just provide us a “textbook framework” answer! While a framework can be a useful starting point, there are typically more dimensions to a case – so practice creative thinking rather than spending time memorizing frameworks.

Most cases can be solved by following the above tips and applying your common sense. Deep expertise in energy is therefore no requirement.

In my experience, candidates typically fail the case part of the interview due to one of the following mistakes. Hence, I’d focus my preparation on these areas:

  • Mistake #1 - Sloppy structure: As in real consulting life, each problem (case) seems huge and complex and potentially chaotic at first. Hence, giving it a good structure is crucial for success – both in the cases and real life. Practice structuring issues and drawing up issue trees. Ideally, you don’t only do this in a case practice session, but also in your daily life as “brain jogging”. E.g. you grab a coffee at Starbucks: Ask yourself what’s driving the pricing of the beverage…? In my experience, such practice will help you getting routine and make your thinking more flexible.
  • Mistake #2 – Sloppy calculations: In each and every case there is a calculation, which you potentially cannot do in your head. As no calculators are allowed, practice the basic maths of adding, substracting, dividing and multiplying in writing. It is important and a surprising number of candidates can’t do it and messes up the calculations.
  • Mistake #3 – no common sense applied: Don’t forget to ask yourself “does this make sense in real life?” (e.g. a number, assumption you make, …) and “if it was me doing this for real, what specifically would I need to do to make this work”? Many candidates only use “buzzwords” without having thought them through and are surprised when getting asked what this means as specifically as next steps for the client.

Hope this helps.