May interviewer change the case during the interview?

Case Interview casequestion MBB
New answer on Jul 19, 2019
4 Answers
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Anonymous A asked on Jul 18, 2019

Hi,

In general do they come to the interview room with a pre-defined question to ask or they may change or pick from many alternatives according to their perception before the case...(focus on possible weak spots and etc...)

Why i'm asking, maybe i can ask some previous candidates and get a feeling of the case types they ask in general, if they have a favorite one case...

Thank you

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Francesco
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replied on Jul 19, 2019
#1 Expert for Coaching Sessions (3.600+) | 1.300+ Reviews with 100% Recommendation Rate | Ex BCG | 8+ Years of Coaching

Hi Anonymous,

in terms of your main question, first-round cases tend to be quite similar (I helped several candidates for the same office which got the same question over and over), while partner interviews may have more variability, since partner may simply ask a general brainstorming question.

It can definitely be useful to know the previous cases in an office to target your preparation on certain sectors – obviously if you receive a question you know you should be able to show you are “naturally” solving the case and not come to the solution to quickly or the interviewer will notice it. You should also have a general preparation for every type of case anyway, as there are no guarantees you will receive the same case by the same interviewer, even if that happened in the past.

Best,

Francesco

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Udayan
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replied on Jul 18, 2019
Top rated MBB coach with many offers /Ex McKinsey EM in New York /6 years McKinsey recruiting experience/Real cases

In the early stages at MBB it's typically standardized - they have prepared cases to go through and will stick to the script. With partners it depends on what they want to test but usually they don't all do formal cases, they test particular skills such as strurcturing or idea generation which is why it may feel less formal and more on the fly

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Vlad
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replied on Jul 19, 2019
McKinsey / Accenture Alum / Got all BIG3 offers / Harvard Business School

Hi,

The partners definitely have their favorite cases and you can collect the information and even prepare that way, however, this approach has certain pitfalls:

  • If you know the case - you may perform not natural and the interviewer will notice that
  • McKinsey casebooks have cases with similar initial info but different endings and this may play against you if you try to follow a certain path
  • When you get the case details from the other person there is always a bullwhip effect and the approach to solving the case will be biased and misleading.

Thus I recommend concentrating on real preparation.

Best!

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Anonymous replied on Jul 18, 2019

Usually the interviewer would have already decided on a case before you walk into his/her office, and it is unlikely that he/she would switch a case based on your interactions before the case.

However, I'm not sure that your "strategy" of asking previous candidates would actually work. Better to sharpen your case skills than to guess what kind of case you'll get. Cracking a case is not really about getting the right answers (which knowing the case type may help), but more about getting the right answers in the right way (which knowing the case type won't help).

Also, imagine the scenario that you go into an interview expecting to receive a certain case type and then end up receiving a different one?

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Francesco gave the best answer

Francesco

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