Interview difficulty by level

Case Interview MBB
New answer on Dec 01, 2023
6 Answers
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Anonymous A asked on Aug 15, 2023

Hi everyone,

Wanted to see if anyone knows if/how case interviews vary in difficulty or depth according to the level you apply to. For context: I don't have prior consulting experience and am applying to a pre-MBA, experienced hire level (i.e., Associate/Senior Associate at BCG, Senior AC at Bain, or equivalent at other firms). I assume the interview would be easier than, or at least different to, ones for the post-MBA/Consultant levels? If not, are the interviews perhaps conducted in a similar way but assessed with adjusted criteria? Any insight would be greatly appreciated.

I'm currently in early stages of my prep and am having some trouble figuring out the kind of cases that I can expect in my interviews. Some of the advanced cases on here are pretty intimidating! 

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Best answer
Sidi
Expert
replied on Aug 15, 2023
McKinsey Senior EM & BCG Consultant | Interviewer at McK & BCG for 7 years | Coached 350+ candidates secure MBB offers

Hi!

At MBB, everybody gets exactly the same cases - no matter if it's for internships, undergraduate positions, or post MBA positions, or experienced hires.

 

What differs though is the expectation level with respect to 

  • the general maturity of demeanor, 
  • communication, and 
  • discussion of insights implications. 

Here, someone with 10 years of professional experience will be held against a different bar compared to a recent graduate of course. But the principle problem solving skills are tested in an identical way.

 

Hope this helps. Cheers, Sidi

_______________________

Dr. Sidi Koné 

(Former Senior Engagement Manager and Interviewer at McKinsey | Former Senior Consultant and Interviewer at BCG)

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Cristian
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Aug 15, 2023
#1 rated MBB & McKinsey Coach

Hi there!

Yes, indeed, the difficulty level differs. 

No the cases however. 

Basically, the interviewer changes two things:

1. They make the interview harder - by either challenging you more or helping you less for senior positions 

OR

2. They increase their expectations - the more senior you are, the more insightful they expect your answers to be

My recommendation would be to try and practice with candidates who are applying for a similar seniority level. 

Then to practice with friends from consulting who are at the target level that you're going for. 

Last but not least, to work with a coach and assess how well you handle that complexity level.

Best,
Cristian

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Benjamin
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Aug 27, 2023
Ex-BCG Principal | 8+ years consulting experience in SEA | BCG top interviewer & top performer

Hi,

As a former interviewer for 5 years at BCG, I can confirm what other coaches have mentioned which is that the case itself does not differ. What changes is the expectations on the quality and depth of the answer.

I personally know partners who have been using the same case for 10+ years, regardless of the tenure/level of the interviewee.

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Francesco
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Aug 18, 2023
#1 Coach for Sessions (4.000+) | 1.500+ 5-Star Reviews | Proven Success (➡ InterviewOffers.com) | Ex BCG | 10Y+ Coaching

Hi there,

Q: Wanted to see if anyone knows if/how case interviews vary in difficulty or depth according to the level you apply to.

Cases are usually equivalent, what could change is (i) the number of interviews if you apply for an internship role instead of full-time and (ii) the degree of acceptance of possible mistakes.

Good luck!

Francesco

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Ian
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Dec 01, 2023
#1 BCG coach | MBB | Tier 2 | Digital, Tech, Platinion | 100% personal success rate (8/8) | 95% candidate success rate

Anything and everything! Truly!

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Sofia
Expert
replied on Aug 29, 2023
Top-Ranked Coach on PrepLounge for 3 years| McKinsey San Francisco | Harvard graduate | 6+ years of coaching

Hello,

Generally speaking the cases are the same, but they would expect more of candidates interviewing for more senior roles. For instance, your reasoning process and communication skills. 

So, regarding your last paragraph, all cases you see should be fair game for you. If you’re still early in your prep, it’s absolutely normal that the advanced cases seem intimidating right now. Build up to them over time by practicing beginner and intermediate cases first.

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Sidi gave the best answer

Sidi

McKinsey Senior EM & BCG Consultant | Interviewer at McK & BCG for 7 years | Coached 350+ candidates secure MBB offers
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