How to prepare a written case interview?

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New answer on Mar 01, 2021
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Anonymous D asked on May 16, 2018

Hi, I just received an intercview day invitation, there is one part called Written Case, could anyone share some hints for me to prepare this kind of interview form? Many thanks!

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Vlad
Expert
Content Creator
replied on May 17, 2018
McKinsey / Accenture Alum / Got all BIG3 offers / Harvard Business School

Hi,

I've uploaded some samples here:

https://www.dropbox.com/sh/zor4m49eyx5qxal/AABeUN6mtiGkWhEklRjszX2Oa?dl=0

(ask me for a password)

The best way to prepare is the following:

  1. Check if the calculator is allowed. So far it was. If not - you have to train mental math. I posted the main tips here: https://www.preplounge.com/en/consulting-forum/tips-to-do-big-multiplications-in-my-mind-726#a1422
  2. Prepare for a regular case interview - it helps a lot. Basically, prep lounge website is about it
  3. Practice making slides. Look for publically available MBB presentations for reference. Good books are "Pyramid Principle" and "How to make it with charts"
  4. Practice reading cases fast and prioritizing the information. I found useful two sources:
  • Written cases you'll be able to find in google or in case books. I've seen a couple in "Vault Guide to the Case Interview" and "Insead Business Admission Test"
  • Harvard cases - either buy or try to find online. You can find a couple of MIT cases here for free: https://mitsloan.mit.edu/LearningEdge/Pages/Case-Studies.aspx Unfortunately free cases don't have the prep questions.

The appropriate structure for BCG written case is:

Slide 1: Context, Objective, Recommendations

Slide 2-4: Analysis (Usually 1 slide with a table, 1 slide with graphs and 1 slide with pros and cons)

Slide 5: Next steps or risks & mitigation

Good luck!

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Fei on Sep 16, 2018

Hello Vlad,

Fei on Sep 16, 2018

Would you share the password? Or how much does it cost?

Fei on Sep 16, 2018

Thank you!

Somya on Sep 17, 2018

I would like to access the material on drop box. Pls share the password. How do i pay

Jasmine on Oct 07, 2018

Hi Vlad, could you kindly share with me the password, please? Thank you.

Originally answered question:

How to practice WRITTEN case interviews

Francesco
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Feb 07, 2021
#1 Coach for Sessions (3.800+) | 1.400+ 5-Star Reviews | Proven Success (www.case.tools/results) | Ex BCG | 8Y+ Coaching

Hi there,

You should practice in a different way as different skills are tested in a written case.

The options are:

  1. Find someone that can send you the handout and can listen to your presentation and provide feedback
  2. Find complete written cases with solutions
  3. Get a coach

Here you can find more on the process to follow to improve:

https://www.preplounge.com/en/consulting-forum/any-tips-for-writtenpresent-case-format-60min-prepare30min-present-at-director-level-3849

If you need more help with the preparation, please feel free to PM me.

Best,
Francesco

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Originally answered question:

How to practice WRITTEN case interviews

Florian
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Content Creator
replied on Feb 06, 2021
#1 rated McKinsey Case and PEI Coach | 5 years at McKinsey | Mentorship Approach | 530+ McK interviews in 2021

Hey there,

For the written case practice I'd recommend you to look at regular case interview samples (there is a ton here on PL) and then work through them on your own. Look at the prompt and core question you are trying to solve, then look at the data provided and work on your recommendation.

Follow these rules:

#1 Already have a plan when you go in for the written case

Since time is usually limited, you should have a plan on how long you want to spend on each task of the assignment beforehand. For practice, use 20 minutes for the analysis and 5 minutes for the recommendation communication. For the real case adapt accordingly based on the time budget provided.

#2 Focus – quickly separate crucial information from the noise

Written cases usually present you with an information overload that you need to sort out

#3 Graphs and charts – interpret and distill key insights from graphs and charts

Written cases bombard you with charts, graphs, tables, and other visual depictions of data that you should use to test your hypotheses. Learn how to quickly read and interpret them

#4 Math – quickly draft equations and conduct pen-and-paper math

Get into the habit of quickly setting up and simplifying calculations

#5 Storyline – draft a compelling storyline and tell it with visually appealing outputs

Create a top-down storyline of your recommendations. State your primary recommendation, then use supporting arguments to strengthen your position

#6 Presentation and defense – communicate and defend your recommendation top-down

If you have to present your findings at the end of the case, follow the top-down approach of your slide deck. Be confident and engaging when going through your recommendation and supporting arguments.

I have written in great detail about written case interviews in this free article here (including links to free prep cases from b-schools): https://strategycase.com/how-to-crack-written-case-interviews

All the best!

Cheers,

Florian

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Anonymous H on Feb 06, 2021

Hi Florian, thanks for your reply. I'll have 90 minutes to do the whole assessment (reading, analysing, writing). Could I ask how you would recommend splitting the time here?

Florian on Feb 06, 2021

10 minutes for a quick scan of the documents, 10 minutes to plan your approach (i.e. what do you need to figure out, what information is important, what analyses would you have to do, what output documents do you have to draft), 15 minutes to draft your output slides (doing this early helps you to focus your analytical efforts), 35 minutes to conduct analyses and work through the case, 15 minutes to populate your slides with your findings and recommendations

Originally answered question:

How to practice WRITTEN case interviews

Clara
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Content Creator
replied on Feb 07, 2021
McKinsey | Awarded professor at Master in Management @ IE | MBA at MIT |+180 students coached | Integrated FIT Guide aut

Hello!

To add on top of what has been said before, search in this same Q&A for "written cases" and you will find plenty of examples - this honestly does not change in some months, hence they are all perfectly current-.

Hope it helps!

Cheers,

Clara

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Originally answered question:

Written case

Antonello
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Jan 03, 2020
McKinsey | MBA professor for consulting interviews

Hi,

case preparation will be the classical one with 2 additional points to focus on:

  • 80-20 prioritization: quickly navigate an important amount of data to find what really matters to the case resolution;
  • Executive summary: develop 1-2 pages to present that sum-up the problem and your recommendations.

I have a couple of well done written cases, feel free to text me for sharing.

Best,

Antonello

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John on Jan 12, 2020

hello could you please share those with me?

Esther on Mar 03, 2020

Could you also share them with me please?

Kamo on Mar 09, 2020

Hi, could you please kindly share the written cases with me? Thanks.

Julio on Mar 22, 2020

Hi, could you please kindly share the written cases with me? Thanks.

Julio on Mar 22, 2020

julio.vazquez.a at gmail.com

Originally answered question:

How to practice WRITTEN case interviews

Gaurav
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Feb 07, 2021
Ex-Mckinsey|Certified Career Coach |Placed 500+ candidates at MBB & other consultancies

Hi there,

You need to change your approach a little when doing a written case, even if practicing casesout loud with partners still makes a difference.

Feel free to contact me if you need support, I've coached many candidates for this type of cases.

Cheers,

GB

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Originally answered question:

How to practice WRITTEN case interviews

Adi
CoachingPlus Expert
Content Creator
replied on Feb 06, 2021
Accenture, Deloitte | Precision Case Prep | Experienced Interviewer & Career Coach | 15 years professional experience

Hey, feel free to message if you want some tailor made written cases for practices. I have helped some candidates recently be succesful for BIG4 written case interview.

Best thing to do would be to practice with a partner or coach.

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Originally answered question:

How to practice WRITTEN case interviews

Ian
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Feb 06, 2021
BCG | 100% personal interview success rate (8/8) and 95% candidate success rate | Personalized interview prep

Hi there,

It's unfortunate because there really aren't many practice cases out there :/

That said, I have a number I'd be more than happy to share with you! What I generally do with my candidates is, give them a written case x hours before our scheduled session (adjust # of hours based on the specific interview they're going to have), and then review their work during the session (as well as talk through tips+tricks to get better).

Let me know if you're interested!

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Originally answered question:

Written case

Anonymous replied on Jan 04, 2020

Hi there,

Comparing written case to the usual case interview, the fundamentals of problem solving would be the same. The conversation happens after your presentation during the Q&A (or sometimes during presentation if the interviewers choose to ask questions earlier). Somewhat different format, but the same thing essentially.

But given the different format, I would suggest:

(1) Be selective, and don't try to read everything. You don't have time for that. Read with the questions in mind - "would this info support or counter the hyphothesis/recommendation", "how can this info be leveraged to produce the output". For those pages that are not useful, put them aside to save you time

(2) Try to do at least 1-2 practices beforehand to get used to the time pressure and get a feel of how much time you should spend on reading, doing math, and actually drafting the slides. In reality time flies during the written case, so you need to spend it wisely.

Hope this helps. Feel free to PM me if you have more questions.

Cheers,

Emily

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4
Sidi
Expert
replied on May 17, 2018
McKinsey Senior EM & BCG Consultant | Interviewer at McK & BCG for 7 years | Coached 300+ candidates secure MBB offers

Hi Anonymous,

please have a look at the following great article on Preplounge:

https://www.preplounge.com/en/bootcamp.php/interview-first-aid/master-the-problem-solving-test/written-tests-such-as-the-psts

This gives you a good overview on what is the purpose and the main focus areas of written cases at consultancies. The best form to prepare is obviously to do as many practice cases as you can possibly do. As with the "normal" case interviews, it is a mechanical skill and muscle that needs to be built with practice.

Cheers, Sidi

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Originally answered question:

Writing exercise

Ignacio
Expert
replied on Feb 28, 2017
MIT MBA | Bain & Co | Ex-Google | 4+ year coaching experience

Have a look at one of my previous post. It will provide info on written exercises.

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Originally answered question:

Written interview

Anonymous replied on Oct 11, 2016

Hi Anonymous,

that is an excellent question. A few comments from my side:

In general, there are two types of presentations: "Answer first" and "Answer last".

  • AF presentations lead with the answer / hypothesis and then add a bunch of material that supports the initially made statement.
  • AL first provide a bunch of material (results of analyses, research, blabla) that then logically lead to a final conclusion.

Both types of presentation have their merits and are appropriate in different situations.

As you have probably guessed by now, the Answer First presentation is better suited for interview situation. The main reason is that you will be hard pressed for time. So it is essential to at least get your key message accross. Not good if you present tons of good analysis and then have to rush through the conclusion.

So the structure you are proposing is entirely correct. Regarding the process, I suggest the following:

  1. Skim through the presented material quickly - on a 30 mins case 5 minutes max. Make sure to immediately write down key points of information (and the page you found them on!) to not waste time searching for them later on . Also important: Probably 90% of the material will not be relevant for the question at hand. This is also an exercise to see if you can focus and distinguish the important from the unimportant.
  2. Then immediately formulate your hypothesis on the question.
  3. Now come up with your line of argumentation / framework and design rough slides on paper once you have that nailed down. Then fill in the relevant data.
  4. Adding a framework slide makes sense if you intend to walk the interviewer through a framework. But, to be honest, in 30 mins you most likely will not have time for that. If there is an obvious framework to pick and you see that you will not have time for the entire framework, mention the framework and then say that you will limit your presentation to whatever makes most sense (2 of the 5 forces, only the "new customers" area of the Ansoff matrix, only the cost branches of a value driver tree, etc...). If you make this transparent and show that you are aware that you are not covering the entire framework, you should be ok.
  5. Do not try to come up with a new comprehensive framework on your own. You will get killed on time. If no framework with a good fit comes to mind, just use the arguments you have and present them in a structured manner (most important first)

One more comment on timing: Unless you are a slide-drawing wizard and have done a TON of presentations, you will have a hard time coming up with 4-5 meaningful (and legible) slides in 5 minutes. So do not allocate time at the end, coming up short. Rather once you have settled on a structure, immediately start in building the slides.

Hope that helps,

Elias

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4
Originally answered question:

Interview with case presentation

Nathaniel
Expert
replied on Feb 13, 2020
McKinsey | BCG | CERN| University of Cambridge

Hello there,

Adding to the comprehensive answers already given, for written cases, usually what is tested is the candidate's ability to shift through the abundant information given within a short time frame and able to organize it in a structured way, pulling out relevant insights using 80/20 rule.

One helpful tips for typical trick in this form of test is do not forget to look at the footnotes.
Sometimes, the relevant insight required does not located within the graphic or the primary content of the slide itself, but actually on the footnote.

This actually simulates real situation at consulting work, where at your early days in a project, there will be lots of documents to shift through and "get up to speed". In parallel, you will start meeting with you client counterpart who will expect some sort of familiarity with the topic at hand. Hence the time constraints.

Hope it helps.

Kind regards,
Nathan

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Originally answered question:

Written case

Anonymous replied on Apr 30, 2020

Hi A,

I have pleanty of written cases - feel free to reach out.

Best,

André

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1
Originally answered question:

Interview with case presentation

Luca
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Feb 29, 2020
BCG |NASA | SDA Bocconi & Cattolica partner | GMAT expert 780/800 score | 200+ students coached

Hello,

During written case you are usually provided with a pack of 20-30 slides that you need to analyse to answer questions using 4-5 slides and present them to your interviewer

In order to crack the interview you should consider the following points:

  • Define a plan of action according to the time given: one of the most important aspect of these cases is the ability to manage your time. You should consider the following steps: Initial reading, decide the approach, analysis, slides and final review.
  • Train quick reading skills and maths: there are a lot of good sources online, even the GMAT integrated reasoning section could be good.
  • Train slide-making skills: this is a crucial part because, as consultant, slides are your most important communication tool. Be aware that there are some "golden rules" that you have to consider for making slides as a consultat. You can find something online but feel free to contact me for a quick analysis.
  • Learn how to present slides in an effective and professional way

You can find some good examples of written cases online, but I could forward you what I have. Contact me if you are interested.

Luca

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Originally answered question:

Interview with case presentation

Anonymous replied on Feb 12, 2020

I'd say four things for a presentation case:

1) Having a strong framework and structure to hang your argument on is the key for a presentation case. This is the same idea as for a verbal one, but as you're giving a longer monologue, it's easier for people to get lost. For OW, we had some profitability case, and so a number of people mapped out the profit chain and evaluated each bucket individually. Other people sketched out slides on paper ahead of time and brought them in.

2) Talking for a while. This is underrated, but simply going off for a while, if you're not used to public speaking, can be tough. This reinforces the importance of 1), where if you've sign-posted your talk for yourself well, you'll be able to go back to your key messages and keep calm. Similarly, they might interject and try to trip you up, so be ready for that, and ensure you're able to keep your place in your presentation.

3) Additional areas of analysis. If you've more time to think about how to solve the case, then you're expected to say more. I'd think about adding a couple points around data availability (e.g. how would you find the data needed to add this question, be it customer WTP or some random market size), resourcing (how many consultants, partners, and weeks do I need to solve this), and spend a bit more time on risks. But, this is a matter of prioritization, so depending on time might be things to keep in your back pocket in case they ask, rather than the focus of the whole presentation.

Honestly some TED talks might be a good place to look to see people crush out complex ideas in a small amount of time, or debates.

Happy to discuss more - I used to judge the OW presentation case portion.

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1
Ken
Expert
replied on Nov 12, 2020
Ex-McKinsey London final round interviewer

It does depend on the firm but generally speaking it is driven by the following:

+ Allow the candidate to think through the case in advance where the case intro does not need to be read out by the interviewer

+ Assess how a candidate sifts through large amounts of information in a short time and picks up on the key insights

+ Expect the structuring to be more targeted based on the provided information than a purely hypothesis-driven and first principles approach

I wouldn't worry too much about it where I would prepare by practicing to read through the case intro quickly (I assume you are already doing this) and reading through lots of exhibits so that you are able to pick up on key insights quickly.

Good luck!

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Vlad gave the best answer

Vlad

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