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I have few experiences in cases interview and I have an interview at ATKearney next frieday. How should I prepare myself until this time? Where can I find some cases for free in the internet?

Henrique Stevaux asked on Aug 26, 2018
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Vlad replied on Aug 26, 2018
McKinsey / Accenture / Got all BIG3 offers / More than 300 real MBB cases / Harvard Business School
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Hi,

I recommend the following approach:

1) Start with "Case in point" book - you can download this book for free everywhere. It's not the best guide on how you should approach the cases, however, it will give you the basic understanding.

2) Start practicing cases with partners here or find them locally. !!! Find experienced partners or coaches who can provide a good feedback!!!

3) Purchase and read Viktor Cheng Book (Amazon Kindle store) and listen to LOMS (his website). I recommend to reread the book and listen to LOMS every 15 cases. Every time, having more experience, you’ll be finding something new.

4) Practice fast math

  • Learn how to multiply double digit numbers (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ndkkPZYJHo)
  • Learn the division table up to 1/11 (i.e. 5/6 = 83.3)
  • Learn how to work with zeros (Hint: 4000000 = 4*10ˆ6)
  • Use math tools (Mimir math for iOS), Math tool on Viktor Cheng website to practice

5) Below you can find a list of the most common case types and some high-level recommendations on structuring:

  • Market sizing - structuring from the supply or demand side. Structuring using a formula or using an issue tree
  • Profitability - basic profitability framework. Remember about different revenue streams and product mix
  • Market context cases (Market Entry, New product, Acquisition, etc). Always start with the big picture "market". Finish with something specific to the case (e.g. How to enter?"). Structure it as if you are defining the work streams for the real project.
  • Operational math problem (e.g. Should we increase the speed of an elevator or just buy a second one? How should we reduce the queues? Etc.) - Structuring as a process / value chain, with inflows, operations, and outflows
  • Cost cutting - I provided the recommendations on structuring it here: https://www.preplounge.com/en/consulting-forum/operations-cases-mck-1105#a2134
  • Valuation - Purely financial structure with cash flows, growth rate, WACC / hurdle rate, etc.
  • Synergies - revenue synergies (price, qty, mix) and cost synergies (value chain).
  • Social / economics cases (e.g. How to improve the quality of life in the city? How to increase the revenues of the museum?) - huge variability. Practice 3-5 social cases before the interview

6) Also, I would try to focus on the most common industries in the following priority(sorted by probability of getting a case): 1-retail and CPG; 2-airlines; 3-Telecom; 4-banking; 5-natural resources; 6-tech

7) ! Important: don't forget about the FIT interview part. Crafting you stories and backups stories will require a couple of weeks!

PS

Here is a good list of articles regarding the different parts of the case:

1) Start with clarifying questions:

https://www.preplounge.com/en/consulting-forum/clarifying-questions-1786#a3956

2) Communicating while structuring. Here is a long post by me on how to communicate the structure during the case study:

https://www.preplounge.com/en/consulting-forum/how-to-communicate-its-structure-for-the-case-study-1313#a2806

3) Using hypothesis. I made a post about hypothesis here:

https://www.preplounge.com/en/consulting-forum/how-to-state-a-hypothesis-and-match-to-the-structure-1156#a2268

4) Communicating while making calculations:

  • Always tell the interviewer your approach
  • Check with the interviewer that your approach is correct
  • Come to the interviewer with some preliminary answers
  • Check your assumptions with the interviewer

5) Communicating during the analysis of graphs / tables

  • Take a minute to look at the graph. Read the graph title. Look at the graph type and define the type (pie chart, line chart, etc). Look at the legend (ask for clarifying questions if necessary). Identify whats going on on the graph. Look for: Trends, % structures. Look for unusual things - correlations, outliers,
  • Make 3-4 conclusions from the graph. Think out loud on potential hypothesis on what could be the root cause / what are the consequences
  • Prioritize the most important for your current analysis and move forward with the case

6) Communicating while having questions on creativity

  • Ask an interview for a minute to think
  • Think of several buckets of ideas (e.g. organic growth / non-organic growth / differentiation). Remember to think as big as possible
  • Narrow down to each bucket and generate as many ideas as possible
  • Present the structure (buckets) and then your ideas

7) Communicating your conclusion. You can find a good example I've posted here:

https://www.preplounge.com/en/consulting-forum/how-much-answer-first-should-the-conclusion-be-1231#a2493

8) Communicating your FIT stories

Use the top-down approach while communicating your stories. "The Pyramid Principle" is the must-read by ex McKinsey on this topic.

I recommend using the STAR framework:

  • In Situation, you should briefly provide the context, usually in 1 or 2 sentences
  • Task usually includes 2 or 3 sentences describing the problem and your objective.
  • Then you provide a list of specific actions you took to achieve the goal. It should take 1 or 2 sentences per action (Usually 3-4 actions). Note that the interviewer can stop you any minute and ask for more details.
  • The results part should have 1 or 2 sentences describing the outcomes. This part is finalizing your story - make sure it can impress the interviewer and stay in the memory.

Best!

Francesco replied on Aug 26, 2018
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Hi Henrique,

there is a lot of material out there, so it is definitely a good idea to structure an action plan to be as efficient as possible in your preparation. The following is the way I found better to prepare and that I would recommend. If you feel you don't have time to prepare/go though all the steps, it's definitely a good idea to ask to reschedule the interview.

  1. Define a calendar for your preparation. Identify how many hours you have before the interview, then allocate a time slot for preparation in your calendar for each day. It’s important you write it down to self commit or you will start to skip some prep time pretty soon – and it is definitely better to start slowly and constantly than rushing towards the end close to the interview.
  2. Read Case In Point or Case Interview Secrets for a general understanding of what a consulting interview is. Don’t focus too much on the structures proposed in the books though, as they are not good enough nowadays.
  3. Start reading MBA Consulting Handbook – you can find several for free online (Insead is a good one to start). Read the cases and try to apply your structure. Whenever you see there is something missing, upgrade your structure with the new insides. Try to read at least a new case per day – in this way you will absorb a lot better the information with constant learning. Structure your remaining daily preparation with 5-10 minutes per day for each of the following: market sizing, fit questions and mental math.
  4. After you have read the first 10 cases in books/handbooks and basic theory, start to practice live. There is a relevant part of the interview score that is based on your communication, which you cannot practice at all if you read cases only. Keep track of your mistakes and see if you repeat them. If so, try to identify the source of the mistake (feedback of experienced partners would be particular useful for this). Be sure to focus on both fit and case. ATK has usually focus on operations cases, thus would concentrate particularly on them.
  5. Once you feel you are not improving anymore, if you have a tight time constraint or if you want a realistic assessment of your level, consider using experts’ support to strengthen your performance
  6. Before the interview, be sure to prepare your questions for the interviewer –great way to show you prepare in advance and to connect more with the interviewer for a good final impression.

Best,

Francesco

Egor
Expert
replied on Aug 28, 2018
McKinsey/Actionable feedback/Harvard University/Warwick Business School
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Hi Henrique,

Congratulations on your first round. As you did calculations well, do not spend a lot of time with that for your preparation.

There are several things worth mentoning as well. Preparation to a case interview consists of 2 stages: theory and practice.

1st stage. Theory

  • Check out MECE principle, top-down, bottom-up à pyramid principle (book

    Barbara’s Minto Pyramid)

  • Wharton casebook 2010- you can check how all industries work there (airlines,retail etc)

  • Case-in-point – you can check what frameworks exist, try to practice and learn them (product launch, M&A etc.)

  • Check how former business consultant approaches different cases with best interviewers listen to at least 3 cases of Victor Cheng LOMS

2nd stage. Practice:

  • Solve at least 5-10 cases with experienced professional/student with good case experience (30-50 cases) to understand what factors influence the decision of the interviewer

  • Create your own case schedule (solve at least 1 case per day) with partners in local groups, universities/preplounge - depends on the interview date

  • Structure everything you do (how to go the shop, structure articles you read)

  • Solve at least 1 case per each case type you found in case in point

  • Learn how to analyze graphs (practice looking at graphs and asking "so whats" out of them)

  • Brainstorming is a must = generate at least 10 ideas on any topic in 30 seconds (how to increase revenue/how to market new airline)

Link to casebooks

https://www.dropbox.com/sh/sca51sb0um1e977/AAAYwPuNM27lQKhJK8Vg6mKaa?dl=0

Henrique, I wish you all the best with interview.