Hi Anonymous A,
The short answer is that case interviews try to be a bite-sized version of a real case, but because the scope and range of real cases is so wide, you'll have to adapt what you know from interviews quite dramatically.
Let's take a look at a typical case approach:
- Receive a question and break it down
- Use the data provided and apply any analytical tools or reasonable assumptions
- Test your results against a hypothesis
- Synthesise your response
Now let's consider a typical approach to a real world case:
- Receive not one but fifty questions meant to support one overarching theme
- Use the data provided, although it may or may not be accurate
- Test your hypothesis as far as possible (you'll never have 100% certainty)
- Synthesise your response, develop your output and make sure it's tailored to your audience
As you can tell, there are large similarities between both! However, the differences in scale, expectations of the interviewer/client and all the other shenanigans you alluded to can make the real case vastly different from an interview. You will need to adapt here, rather than relying on theoretical solutions.
As such, while the underlying mindset is very similar (words like MECE are thrown around a lot), to be effective in a real case requires a broader and different way of thinking. Your ability to solve problems in theory would guide you to solving problems in reality, but it'll take a lot of adaptability and perspective to create an answer that's right for the client in the end.
Hope this helps!