Online Written Case Interview

Dalberg interview prep first round interview
New answer on Jul 16, 2020
4 Answers
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Lilian asked on Nov 29, 2019
Aspiring Management Consultant

Hello,

I have been invited by Dalberg Advisors to take an online written case interview assessment. What do you think will be included here?

The test is supposed to take 2 hours to complete.

Thanks.

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Antonello
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replied on Nov 29, 2019
McKinsey | MBA professor for consulting interviews

Hi Lilian,

I do not know in particular Dalberg Advisors cases examples but, generally speaking, 2h written cases are an extension of the typical case interviews, with the addition of 2 important skills to develope:

1. 80-20 prioritization: identify the most important data and topics to focus on during the resolution

2. final slides preparation: craft a mini deck of top down impactful pages to present at the end of the interview

here you can find some tips from Bain: https://www.bain.com/careers/interview-prep/written-interview/

Hope this helps

Antonello

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Lilian on Nov 30, 2019
Hello Antonello, thank you for your response. I will take the advice.
Vlad
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replied on Nov 29, 2019
McKinsey / Accenture Alum / Got all BIG3 offers / Harvard Business School

Hi,

I've no specific info for Dalberg, but I've uploaded some samples here:

https://www.dropbox.com/sh/zor4m49eyx5qxal/AABeUN6mtiGkWhEklRjszX2Oa?dl=0

(ask me for a password)

The best way to prepare is the following:

  1. Check if the calculator is allowed. So far it was. If not - you have to train mental math. I posted the main tips here: https://www.preplounge.com/en/consulting-forum/tips-to-do-big-multiplications-in-my-mind-726#a1422
  2. Prepare for a regular case interview - it helps a lot. Basically, prep lounge website is about it
  3. Practice making slides. Look for publically available MBB presentations for reference. Good books are "Pyramid Principle" and "How to make it with charts"
  4. Practice reading cases fast and prioritizing the information. I found useful two sources:
  • Written cases you'll be able to find in google or in case books. I've seen a couple in "Vault Guide to the Case Interview" and "Insead Business Admission Test"
  • Harvard cases - either buy or try to find online. You can find a couple of MIT cases here for free: https://mitsloan.mit.edu/LearningEdge/Pages/Case-Studies.aspx Unfortunately free cases don't have the prep questions.

Best

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Lilian on Nov 30, 2019
Thank you, Vlad.
Chizi on Dec 01, 2019
Hi Vlad could I please have the password
Aliasgher Janmohammed on Jun 12, 2020
Hi Vlad, can you please share the password?
Anonymous A on Oct 14, 2020
Hi Vlad. May I have the password, please?
Tuvshin on Dec 19, 2020
Hi Vlad, any chance I could get the password? Thank you!
Francesco
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Content Creator
updated an answer on Nov 29, 2019
#1 Expert for Coaching Sessions (3.600+) | 1.300+ Reviews with 100% Recommendation Rate | Ex BCG | 8+ Years of Coaching

Hi Lilian,

I helped several candidates in the past in their preparation for Dalberg but they didn't have to do an online written case as part of the assessment, thus I don’t have specific information on it.

The format though seems similar to the BCG written case, which is also 2-hour long, although not online. I would verify with HR whether the format is indeed the same (pack of 30-40 slides with 3-5 slides as deliverables).

If that’s the case, I would recommend to look for some sample cases similar to the BCG written case and follow the points below as part of the preparation:

1. Learn how to define a plan of action and stick to that

The first thing you should do in a written case is to define a plan and allocate in the best possible way your time. Assuming 2 hours for the analysis, a good approach would include:

  • initial quick reading – 20-40 min (this may depend on the amount of material)
  • structure the approach – 10 min
  • make slides/answer to the questions adding detailed analysis and math – 50-70 min
  • final review – 20 min

You should then practice to stick to the time allocated, in order to maximize your final performance.

2. Practice graph interpretation

You will normally have to analyse graphs in a written case. The best way to practice is to take graphs from online resources and use a timer to test in how much time you can understand the key message. McKinsey PST graphs could be good practice for that.

3. Work on quick reading and quick understanding of key information

You will not have time to read and prioritize everything, so you have to understand where to focus. The ideal way to practice is to use long cases such as HBS ones, and practice on reducing the time needed to absorb the key information that can answer a defined question. Quick reading techniques could also help.

4. Practice quick math

You will normally have some math to do in a written case. GMAT and McKinsey PST math should work well to prepare on this.

5. Learn how to communicate your slides/answers

If you have to present your findings after the case, I would apply here the same structures of final sum up in a live interview case, that is:

  1. Sum up the main questions you have to answer
  2. Present your proposed answer and detail the motivation behind
  3. Propose next steps for the areas you have not covered

As you will not be able to double check hypothesis with the interviewer as in the live case before the presentation, you should clearly state when you are making hypotheses and that you will have to verify them with further analysis.

If you have to prepare slides I would also recommend to work on:

A) structure the order of the slides

Normally the structure for a 5-slide presentation is the following:

  • First slide sums up the question and provides the answer
  • Second, third and fourth slide have the supporting arguments for the first slide
  • Fifth slide has the next steps

B) structure the content of each slide

There are three basic components for slides:

  1. Title
  2. Chart or data
  3. Label for chart

Many people structure the title as the mere description of what the chart is telling. A great title, instead tells the implication of the graph. Eg say the graph is showing a cost structure for a division. A bad title would be: Cost structure from 2005 to 2015. A good title would be: Cost structure of Division XYZ is not sustainable”. A great title would be Cost structure of Division XYZ is not sustainable due to ABC, assuming you have insides on the cause. The rule of thumb for the title is that if you read all the titles of the slides together you should get a clear idea of what is going on.

C) present the slides

When you present, I would suggest the following steps for each slide:

  1. Introduce the slide: “Let’s move to slide 2, which will show us why we have an issue with this division”
  2. Present the main message of the slide: “As you can see, we have a cost structure which makes for us not feasible to be competitive in this market”
  3. Provide details: “The graph, indeed, shows how our fix cost is XYZ, while competitors can benefit from economies of scale. Indeed…”

If you have more questions on the Dalberg case interview please feel free to PM me.

Best,

Francesco

(edited)

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Lilian on Nov 30, 2019
Hello Francesco, this is very helpful. I will use this format to prepare. I have found a HR contact person who I will confirm with further. I will let you know if this is their new style so that you can share it with future candidates who may have to take this test type.
Clara
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Content Creator
replied on Jul 16, 2020
McKinsey | Awarded professor at Master in Management @ IE | MBA at MIT |+180 students coached | Integrated FIT Guide aut

Hello!

I wuold suggest you to practice with GMAT.

GMAT unfortunately only gets better with practicing. Good news is that there are many ways of doing so!

There are free exams in the internet that you can use for practice (the one of LBS MBA page, Verits prep, as well as some free trials for courses such as the one of The Economist (https://gmat.economist.com/)

Hope it helps!

Cheers,

Clara

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Antonello gave the best answer

Antonello

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McKinsey | MBA professor for consulting interviews
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