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How to prepare case interviews in a language you're not fully familiar?

Anonymous A

Hi there,

I've recently been invited to start the process at ATK Madrid.

I've never learned Spanish in school but I've interacted with Spanish people from a very young age and I feel my understanding of the language is fairly good.

I've asked the HR if I would conduct the cases in Spanish or English, she said that ideally, I should try to do it in Spanish but that they would try to make the linguistic barrier as small as possible.

My question is: What is a realistic plan to follow that would allow me to be decent doing cases in a third language that one not fully grasp? Jumping right into it and start doing cases? Perhaps creating a table with the main terms (profits, rev., costs etc)? trying to have random conversations with natives?

Appreciate hearing a couple of ideas.

Cheers

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Francesco replied on 06/21/2017
Ex BCG | MBB Specialist | #1 Expert for meetings done (1000+) and recommendation rate (100%)

Hi Anonymous,

the kind of preparation would depend on how much time you have before your interview and your current Spanish level. I will assume you have a couple of weeks before that and a B2 level; in this case, in addition to the points mentioned by Christian I would suggest to do the following:

  1. Calculate the time available before the interview for Spanish preparation only; then prepare a plan where you allocate the activities below in your calendar
  2. Perform the following in the defined slots, identifying which are the most challenging areas:
    • Read cases in Spanish – this should give you an idea of the most common words and help you to highlight what you should learn
    • Perform live cases in Spanish on PrepLounge or with peers
    • Listen to Spanish business-related podcast in dead time to absorb the language
  3. After a couple of days, perform a review process of the words/expression more difficult for you to absorb and allocate a specific time to review them in your daily schedule.

Hope this helps,

Francesco

Christian replied on 06/21/2017

I have been in a similar situation. Having done a few interviews, I found the language less than a problem than I had thought. I would practice as many cases as possible in English, your native language and of course in Spanish. The case preparation as such is more important than which language you are practising in.

Some more tipps:

a) Learn the most important business words.

b) You will realise that there some expression you will be using a lot ("May a take a moment to structure my thoughts?" "I would first investigate..." "My recommendation is X for the following three reasons.."). Think how you would say these expressions in Spanish.

c) Don't be afraid to use the English terms in the interview if you can't think of the right Spanish word. With a small apology for your "Spanglish" they don't mind too much in my experience.

d) When preparing for the personal fit part (as improtant as the case!!) think about the most probable questions and about the story you will tell them in your answer. Practice your answers in Spanish (story in indefinido, descriptions etc in imperfecto).

Buena suerte!

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