Interviewer-led vs. Candidate-led Case - How do I find out which one?

Anonymous A asked on Jun 23, 2019 - 6 answers

Dear all,

having read a bit about the differences between candidate-led and interviewer-led cases, I wonder how to find out which one to apply?

It might appear too reactive to wait for the interviewer to take the lead or too pushy if the candidate goes to fast too detailed. How to approach this: Simply ask for it?

Are there any tips or advice you have?


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Anonymous replied on Jun 24, 2019

Assume interviewee led and change course if needed. This boils up to much more general feedback - learn to receive guidance well and be agile in solving a case!

replied on Jun 23, 2019
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Most often this question is answered after the interviewer's case introduction/ description when asking you "what would be your e.g. first step to approach this" or "which questions should be answered before thinking about how to solve this case". This seems to be an interviewer-led case, because she/he starts with one question as a first step and you can expect that the next question will follow after your answer. The interviewer expects precise and focused answers to each question asked.
Your answer can end with "... This step could be followed by action xy", but you shouldn't start to explain "action xy" before asking e.g. "would you like to hear what this next action could be or discuss my answer to your question first?" The interviewer would see that you expect next steps and provide an answer which allows them to follow, but you should avoid running in the wrong direction, if your answer is not e.g. what the interviewer expected.

In case the interviewer asks "what would be your approach" or "how would you solve this", it might be a more candidate-led case, because the interviewer expects you to prepare a structured step by step approach to find a solution or recommendation. You should ask for a minute to think about the most relevant questions, write them down (potentially in a structured and content related way), then ask the questions and for another minute to think about her/his answers while preparing the step by step approach, you would like to present and discuss with the interviewer.

However, the case could also be both an interviewer-led and a candidate-led case: it might start with precise questions and continue with requesting a step by step approach. So it's always important to listen carefully what the interviewer tells you.

I hope this helps.


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replied on Jun 24, 2019
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Hi Anonymous,

I agree with Vlad, in general you can keep a proactive approach assuming the case is interviewee-led and move the case forward. If the interviewer wants to keep an interviewer-led approach, he/she will ask you specific questions and let you understand he/she prefers to focus on a specific area.

It is unlikely you can be perceived too pushy if you keep an interviewee-led approach – the majority of the candidates actually fall in the opposite problem and receive feedback they are not proactive enough in the case. In case you are concerned with that though, you can always ask permission to the interviewer before moving to next steps with something like the following “If it is fine for you, we may now start with Area XYZ, in case you prefer to prioritize another area I am happy to start there though”.



replied on Jun 24, 2019
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Several tips here:

  • Just lead the case until the interviewer interrupts you and asks you to concentrate on something specific
  • In addition, if you are afraid to push the interviewer, after you present your structure you can ask the interviewer "Is this structure good to move forward with? Should I add something or prioritize a particular part of the structure?

Overall this problem is overrated. If you are good with cases. Just lead the case and listen to the interviewer's tips.


Daniel replied on Jun 23, 2019
Imperial College PhD, Rolls-Royce Project Engineer, RWTH Aachen Mechanical Engineer and Business Administrator, Software Engineer

consulting companies provide information on which case type they use. McKinsey usually uses interviewer-led cases whereas BCG and Bain candidate-led ones. If you don't know which case type is used in your interview, you'll soon find out once you suggest a route forward for the case and the interviewer interrupts and tells you how to proceed, so the interviewer takes the lead.


Anonymous B replied on Jun 23, 2019

In interviewer-led cases, you'll be asked point blank to come up with a structure, solve math problem, brainstorm ideas. You'll be asked directly and you'll do it. In intervieew-led, you'll be given a little bit of information and aske how would you like to proceed.

Related BootCamp article(s)

Interviewer-Led vs Candidate-Led cases

Case Interviews can be led by the candidate or by the interviewer: In Candidate-led cases the main challenge is the structure. In Interviewer-led cases the main challenge is to adapt quickly

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