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One month for case interview preparation

Bain BCG Mck
New answer on Sep 13, 2020
5 Answers
2.9 k Views
Anonymous A asked on Sep 12, 2020

Hi, do you guys have some general timeline/ time management for preparing a case interview in one month? Ive done only like 4-5 cases

Cheers!

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Megan
Expert
updated an answer on Sep 13, 2020
Case Coach for Private Sector & Sustainable Development Strategy Consulting

I absolutely would NOT waste your time reading case in point. I think getting an offer in a month of practice is possible but it really depends what your starting point is. But i firmly believe that not only is Case and Point (and most Victor cheng materials) a complete waste of time, I think for many candidates it can be *highly detrimental and counter productive". I can name tons of other free way more beneficial and efficient resources you can use, PM me for more info. Please do not listen to anyone who tells you to use Victor Cheng. Interviewers are very tired for hearing people recite his verbatum frameworks and you will be eliminated immediately for this.

Also who are you interviewing for? If you are interviewing for Mckinsey, do NOT waste time with market sizing. If you are interviewing for Bain, your FOCUS should be market sizing. If you are interviewing for both, you can do a mix. Who you are interviewing for, what level, what department (i.e. generalist vs a certain practice) greatly influences what preparation plan you should follow. I am happy to discuss with you further.

Lastly, you need to learn how to structure problems. you can do many drills on structuring on your own. If your approach is to do as many live cases with partners as you can and you have no idea how to structure, you will do nothing but waste your time. you need to do both, but live cases and case books alone will not teach how to structure, and most candidates get eliminated for "not being structured enough." Best of luck in your prep

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Francesco
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Sep 13, 2020
#1 Coach for Sessions (4.500+) | 1.500+ 5-Star Reviews | Proven Success (➡ interviewoffers.com) | Ex BCG | 10Y+ Coaching

Hi there,

I would recommend the following steps to prepare (you may have already covered some of them):

  1. Define a calendar for your preparation. Identify how many hours you have available before your interview and allocate a time slot for preparation in your calendar for each day, working on the points below. Many people need 100+ hours to be ready before a consulting interview so you can keep that as a benchmark
  2. Read Case In Point or Case Interview Secrets for a general understanding of what a consulting interview is. Don’t focus on the structures proposed in the books though, as they are not good enough nowadays.
  3. Start reading good MBA Consulting Handbooks – you can find several for free online (Insead is a good one to start). Read the cases and try to apply your structure to solve them. 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 better the information with constant learning.
  4. After the first 5-10 cases in books/handbooks and basic theory, start to practice live. PrepLounge can be helpful to connect with other candidates for that. 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 particularly useful for this). Be sure to focus on both the behavioural part and the case part. The case part should also cover market sizing, mental math and graph analysis.
  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 support from experts to strengthen your performance
  6. Before the interviews, be sure to prepare your questions for the interviewer –great way to show you prepared in advance and to connect with the interviewer for a good final impression.

Hope this helps,

Francesco

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Vlad
Expert
replied on Sep 12, 2020
McKinsey / Accenture Alum / Got all BIG3 offers / Harvard Business School

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!

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Anonymous replied on Sep 13, 2020

Dear A!

Every preparation is individual, but on average it takes 8 to 12 weeks to prepare properly.

I would like to share some numbers here - for preparation it's good to have 2 months, where you can practice cases 5 times per week for 4 hours.

In my time I have practiced around 150 cases.

Also, in terms of your readiness, it's your internal state. If you really care about this, I would recommend you to take a session at expert coach, that he can help you to assess your real level and provide you with recommendations.

Best,

André

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Anonymous replied on Sep 12, 2020

Hi Anonymous!

One month is indeed quite tight (but possible!!), so first of all, you need to answer the question whether you want to push through in this time or ask to postpone the interview. Postponing is always an option and will not be weighed against you.

If you want to push through within the 4 weeks, I would recommend the following approach:

  • Watch (or rewatch) Victor Cheng's videos or read his book on case prep during the first week.
  • At the same time, start doing practice cases with other candidates here on preplounge. Aim for 1 case a day to get the milage. Ask for specific feedback to work on specific aspects of your case delivery. If specific feedbacks keeps being mention by your case partners, you should pay special attention. Do this during the first 2 weeks.
  • For the last 2 weeks, schedule a few interviews with experts (coaches here on preplounge or friends that work at MBB and do interviews). Mix these expert interviews with peer interviews to act on the feedback and systematically work on your weeknesses.
  • During the entire time, keep reading case prep books, watch relevant youtube videos and read the FT consciously to build your case and business situation muscle.

Feel free to reach out to discuss this in more detail.

Fingers crossed!

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Megan gave the best answer

Megan

Case Coach for Private Sector & Sustainable Development Strategy Consulting
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