Cookie and Privacy Settings

This website uses cookies to enable essential functions like the user login and sessions. We also use cookies and third-party tools to improve your surfing experience on preplounge.com. You can choose to activate only essential cookies or all cookies. You can always change your preference in the cookie and privacy settings. This link can also be found in the footer of the site. If you need more information, please visit our privacy policy.

Data processing in the USA: By clicking on "I accept", you also consent, in accordance with article 49 paragraph 1 sentence 1 lit. GDPR, to your data being processed in the USA (by Google LLC, Facebook Inc., LinkedIn Inc., Stripe, Paypal).

Manage settings individually I accept
expert
Expert with best answer

Ken

100% Recommendation Rate

29 Meetings

3,349 Q&A Upvotes

USD 209 / Coaching

7

Prerequisites for cracking a business case in a case interview (with no business background))

Hi all,

I am an absolute beginner in business consulting. I became interested in management consulting recently and want to apply for consulting positions at an intern level. My degree is in Economics and Behavioral Economics (instead of Business or Marketing). I am unfamiliar with basically all the key concepts in cracking a case (for example, the 2nd case in the PrepPlan of Asian Lubricants Producer is too much for me. The 1st case of setting a wine cellar is solvable). I become increasingly frustrated when I go through my PrepPlan, realizing perhaps PrepLounge is not for absolute beginners to start (is it?).

I would like to sincerely ask about the prerequisites for case interview preparation and any suggestions for a beginner with only economic background to start on this journey. In addition, is it even possible for such a beginner to use only one month to prepare for a potential case interview? Your information and honesty would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!

Best and stay healthy,

sincere learner

Hi all,

I am an absolute beginner in business consulting. I became interested in management consulting recently and want to apply for consulting positions at an intern level. My degree is in Economics and Behavioral Economics (instead of Business or Marketing). I am unfamiliar with basically all the key concepts in cracking a case (for example, the 2nd case in the PrepPlan of Asian Lubricants Producer is too much for me. The 1st case of setting a wine cellar is solvable). I become increasingly frustrated when I go through my PrepPlan, realizing perhaps PrepLounge is not for absolute beginners to start (is it?).

I would like to sincerely ask about the prerequisites for case interview preparation and any suggestions for a beginner with only economic background to start on this journey. In addition, is it even possible for such a beginner to use only one month to prepare for a potential case interview? Your information and honesty would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!

Best and stay healthy,

sincere learner

7 answers

  • Upvotes
  • Date ascending
  • Date descending
Best Answer
Book a coaching with Ken

100% Recommendation Rate

29 Meetings

3,349 Q&A Upvotes

USD 209 / Coaching

I joined McKinsey as an undergrad summer intern with an engineering background and so I know how you're feeling. Eventually I became a final round interviewer for McKinsey summer interns and so hopefully I can give you a balanced perspective. Frankly, top consultancies are not looking for people with a business background/prior knowledge and rather strong problem solving intrinsics together the various FIT dimensions. Specific to cases, I would say the following:

+ Intellectual curiosity: start immersing yourself with different types of businesses/companies and get in a habit of thinking deeply about the challenges they might be facing. I personally got an Economist paper subscription which is weekly and takes away the pressure of having to constantly read the news and something I would flip through when I had the time each week. Related to the second point but try building a structure around the key issues and developing an approach around how you could solve the problem and the likely recommendation. As a consultant, you should always have a perspective, distinguishing the know vs. unknown, where it's never too early to start!

+ Problem solving intrinsics: a common oversight is to spend the majority of your preparation memorising different frameworks (familiarise yourself but problem solving is about developing a framework from first principles that is relevant) over actually understanding WHY consultancies test for structuring, synthesising, quantitative analysis, conceptual brainstorming, etc. There's a lot of material out there but Victor Cheng's book is a comprehensive summary which I highly recommend as opposed to picking up bits and pieces from different people. An experience McKisney interviewer will also be able to give you a comprehensive download in an hour which might be a more efficient way of prioritising your time!

+ Effective practice: I was very fortunate to receive case coaching and be mentored by the McKinsey consultants I met on campus during the recruiting process. Finding a good balance of self prep, case partner practice AND case coaching with an experienced consultant is super important. I have come across many candidates who have done loads of case preparation but unfortunately incorrectly where they end up shooting themselves in the foot. Let me reiterate the importance of understand the WHY as well as getting coaching from someone who has been successful through the selection process at that consulting firm and/or an experienced interviewer who has been part of the selection process itself.

Good luck!

I joined McKinsey as an undergrad summer intern with an engineering background and so I know how you're feeling. Eventually I became a final round interviewer for McKinsey summer interns and so hopefully I can give you a balanced perspective. Frankly, top consultancies are not looking for people with a business background/prior knowledge and rather strong problem solving intrinsics together the various FIT dimensions. Specific to cases, I would say the following:

+ Intellectual curiosity: start immersing yourself with different types of businesses/companies and get in a habit of thinking deeply about the challenges they might be facing. I personally got an Economist paper subscription which is weekly and takes away the pressure of having to constantly read the news and something I would flip through when I had the time each week. Related to the second point but try building a structure around the key issues and developing an approach around how you could solve the problem and the likely recommendation. As a consultant, you should always have a perspective, distinguishing the know vs. unknown, where it's never too early to start!

+ Problem solving intrinsics: a common oversight is to spend the majority of your preparation memorising different frameworks (familiarise yourself but problem solving is about developing a framework from first principles that is relevant) over actually understanding WHY consultancies test for structuring, synthesising, quantitative analysis, conceptual brainstorming, etc. There's a lot of material out there but Victor Cheng's book is a comprehensive summary which I highly recommend as opposed to picking up bits and pieces from different people. An experience McKisney interviewer will also be able to give you a comprehensive download in an hour which might be a more efficient way of prioritising your time!

+ Effective practice: I was very fortunate to receive case coaching and be mentored by the McKinsey consultants I met on campus during the recruiting process. Finding a good balance of self prep, case partner practice AND case coaching with an experienced consultant is super important. I have come across many candidates who have done loads of case preparation but unfortunately incorrectly where they end up shooting themselves in the foot. Let me reiterate the importance of understand the WHY as well as getting coaching from someone who has been successful through the selection process at that consulting firm and/or an experienced interviewer who has been part of the selection process itself.

Good luck!

(edited)

Thank you very much for your specific and insightful comments Ken! I know where is better to start :) — Anonymous on Nov 17, 2020 (edited)

Book a coaching with Henning

100% Recommendation Rate

140 Meetings

4,025 Q&A Upvotes

USD 169 / Coaching

Hi A!

There are only few prerequisites to solve cases:

  • You need to have interest in the business side of course (which is of course also a prerequisite for you to actually enjoy the job). Start reading the economist, financial times, etc. to build a basic intuition
  • You'll need basic understanding of finance, accounting and macro economics. You can build those e.g. through business 101 courses on Coursera
  • You'll need some conceptual understanding of how case interviews work. Check out the recruiting youtube channels of the big firms and just search for other videos on case intreviews. And read through some of the basics in one of the books (e.g. Mark Consentino, Victor Chen)

While you're building these skills, you cans start preparing for the actual interviews:

  • Do 5-6 cases to get a practical feeling for what a case is like. Start with easier ones - e.g. market size mini cases, simple profit tree cases, etc. This will help you develop a rudimentary sense for how cases work
  • The next 5-6 cases should cover cases from all major types and help you gain the experience and comfort with standard frameworks and the thinking required for solving the cases.
  • Lastly, you will want to do 6-7 cases to hone your skills. Practice with people who understand what they are doing - experienced interviewers, coaches, etc. that can give you 1-2 main items of feedback after each case that you can then practice to apply and improve on in the next case. During this time, you should also practice to move away from off-the-shelf frameworks and tailor, or - even better - develop your frameworks specifically during the case.
  • The further you move towards the final interview, the more important it is to practice with experienced interviewers. While you can easily ask any friend or practice with peers for the first few cases, you should aim for qualified, professional feedback as you approach the finishing line.

    However, keep in mind, that this requires a strong plan and strategic approach to the preparation. I regularly see people doing 30-40 or even more cases. While this can also lead to success, in my eyes, it is a bit of a waste of time, especially for experienced hires that often also have a regular job to do while preparing for the consulting interviews.

Hi A!

There are only few prerequisites to solve cases:

  • You need to have interest in the business side of course (which is of course also a prerequisite for you to actually enjoy the job). Start reading the economist, financial times, etc. to build a basic intuition
  • You'll need basic understanding of finance, accounting and macro economics. You can build those e.g. through business 101 courses on Coursera
  • You'll need some conceptual understanding of how case interviews work. Check out the recruiting youtube channels of the big firms and just search for other videos on case intreviews. And read through some of the basics in one of the books (e.g. Mark Consentino, Victor Chen)

While you're building these skills, you cans start preparing for the actual interviews:

  • Do 5-6 cases to get a practical feeling for what a case is like. Start with easier ones - e.g. market size mini cases, simple profit tree cases, etc. This will help you develop a rudimentary sense for how cases work
  • The next 5-6 cases should cover cases from all major types and help you gain the experience and comfort with standard frameworks and the thinking required for solving the cases.
  • Lastly, you will want to do 6-7 cases to hone your skills. Practice with people who understand what they are doing - experienced interviewers, coaches, etc. that can give you 1-2 main items of feedback after each case that you can then practice to apply and improve on in the next case. During this time, you should also practice to move away from off-the-shelf frameworks and tailor, or - even better - develop your frameworks specifically during the case.
  • The further you move towards the final interview, the more important it is to practice with experienced interviewers. While you can easily ask any friend or practice with peers for the first few cases, you should aim for qualified, professional feedback as you approach the finishing line.

    However, keep in mind, that this requires a strong plan and strategic approach to the preparation. I regularly see people doing 30-40 or even more cases. While this can also lead to success, in my eyes, it is a bit of a waste of time, especially for experienced hires that often also have a regular job to do while preparing for the consulting interviews.

(edited)

Thank you a lot Henning! Your comments are very clear and make a lot of sense to me! — Anonymous A on Nov 17, 2020

Book a coaching with Vlad

97% Recommendation Rate

404 Meetings

11,346 Q&A Upvotes

USD 239 / Coaching

Hi,

A lot of candidates have no business background. Thus I don't see it being an issue.

1 month is enough if you can fully dedicate yourself to the prep process. If not - please reschedule

Here is a good list of articles regarding the different parts of the case:

1) Clarifying questions:

https://www.preplounge.com/en/consulting-forum/clarifying-questions-1786#a3956

2) 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 hypotheses. 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) Calculations:

https://www.preplounge.com/en/consulting-forum/quant-skills-826

5) Analyzing graphs / tables

https://www.preplounge.com/en/consulting-forum/best-practice-for-communicating-while-analyzing-charts-3294

6) Questions on creativity

https://www.preplounge.com/en/consulting-forum/final-round-partner-interviews-a-structuring-test-or-a-creativity-test-5856

7) Recommendations. You can find a good example I've posted here:

https://www.preplounge.com/en/consulting-forum/how-to-practise-conciseness-clarity-and-sharpness-in-synthesis-and-recommendations-3108

Best!

Hi,

A lot of candidates have no business background. Thus I don't see it being an issue.

1 month is enough if you can fully dedicate yourself to the prep process. If not - please reschedule

Here is a good list of articles regarding the different parts of the case:

1) Clarifying questions:

https://www.preplounge.com/en/consulting-forum/clarifying-questions-1786#a3956

2) 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 hypotheses. 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) Calculations:

https://www.preplounge.com/en/consulting-forum/quant-skills-826

5) Analyzing graphs / tables

https://www.preplounge.com/en/consulting-forum/best-practice-for-communicating-while-analyzing-charts-3294

6) Questions on creativity

https://www.preplounge.com/en/consulting-forum/final-round-partner-interviews-a-structuring-test-or-a-creativity-test-5856

7) Recommendations. You can find a good example I've posted here:

https://www.preplounge.com/en/consulting-forum/how-to-practise-conciseness-clarity-and-sharpness-in-synthesis-and-recommendations-3108

Best!

Thank you very much Vlad! Your comments are very practical and helped me a lot! — Anonymous A on Nov 17, 2020

Book a coaching with Gaurav

100% Recommendation Rate

194 Meetings

4,883 Q&A Upvotes

USD 219 / Coaching

I want to inspire you and say that it's possible. It just take time. To know how much time exactle you need and in what direction to go - I would strongly recommend you to take a professional coach, who can correctly assess your current level and align your preparation plan, to make it more efficient.

I had mentees with different background who can get an offer, so if you need any help, feel free to reach out.

Cheers,

GB

I want to inspire you and say that it's possible. It just take time. To know how much time exactle you need and in what direction to go - I would strongly recommend you to take a professional coach, who can correctly assess your current level and align your preparation plan, to make it more efficient.

I had mentees with different background who can get an offer, so if you need any help, feel free to reach out.

Cheers,

GB

Book a coaching with Clara

100% Recommendation Rate

50 Meetings

12,288 Q&A Upvotes

USD 229 / Coaching

Hello!

I feel your pain, I am an architect and I had absolutely ZERO business or casing background weeks before the process.

So don´t worry! It can be done if you focus correctly:

You have 2 main workstreams ahead:

1. FIT INTERVIEW

The "Integrated FIT guide for MBB" has been recently published in PrepLounge´s shop (https://www.preplounge.com/en/shop/tests-2/integrated-fit-guide-for-mbb-34)

It provides an end-to-end preparation for all three MBB interviews, tackling each firms particularities and combining key concepts review and a hands-on methodology. Following the book, the candidate will prepare his/her stories by practicing with over 50 real questions and leveraging special frameworks and worksheets that guide step-by-step, developed by the author and her experience as a Master in Management professor and coach. Finally, as further guidance, the guide encompasses over 20 examples from real candidates.

You can see plenty of reviews from candidates who purchased it already.

Furthermore, you can find 3 free cases in the PrepL case regarding FIT preparation:

Feel free to PM me for disccount codes, since we still have some left from the launch! :)

2. BUSINESS CASE

You don´t have any more time to the classics of Viktor Cheng, "Case in point" book, etc. You need to get hands on asap:

1. Practice cases with partners asap, as many as you can do.Find experienced partners who can provide a good feedback

2. Practice your math skills, both in your cases and with ad hoc exercisess, such as:

1. ​Multiplying double digit numbers (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ndkkPZYJHo

2. Leveraging math tools (Mimir math for iOS), Math tool on Viktor Cheng website to practice

3. Ensure you have a good overview of the ​most common case types:

1. Profitability cases- basic profitability framework.

2. Idea generation cases: for any specif issue

3. Growth cases: market penetration, new product launch, product mix change, etc.

4. Pricing cases

5. M&A cases

6. Valuation cases

7. Value chain cases

Given you are under this much time contraint, consider working with a coach to foster speed and ensure you have a tailored plan to be very targeted. PM me interested!

Hope it helps!

Cheers,

Clara

Hello!

I feel your pain, I am an architect and I had absolutely ZERO business or casing background weeks before the process.

So don´t worry! It can be done if you focus correctly:

You have 2 main workstreams ahead:

1. FIT INTERVIEW

The "Integrated FIT guide for MBB" has been recently published in PrepLounge´s shop (https://www.preplounge.com/en/shop/tests-2/integrated-fit-guide-for-mbb-34)

It provides an end-to-end preparation for all three MBB interviews, tackling each firms particularities and combining key concepts review and a hands-on methodology. Following the book, the candidate will prepare his/her stories by practicing with over 50 real questions and leveraging special frameworks and worksheets that guide step-by-step, developed by the author and her experience as a Master in Management professor and coach. Finally, as further guidance, the guide encompasses over 20 examples from real candidates.

You can see plenty of reviews from candidates who purchased it already.

Furthermore, you can find 3 free cases in the PrepL case regarding FIT preparation:

Feel free to PM me for disccount codes, since we still have some left from the launch! :)

2. BUSINESS CASE

You don´t have any more time to the classics of Viktor Cheng, "Case in point" book, etc. You need to get hands on asap:

1. Practice cases with partners asap, as many as you can do.Find experienced partners who can provide a good feedback

2. Practice your math skills, both in your cases and with ad hoc exercisess, such as:

1. ​Multiplying double digit numbers (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ndkkPZYJHo

2. Leveraging math tools (Mimir math for iOS), Math tool on Viktor Cheng website to practice

3. Ensure you have a good overview of the ​most common case types:

1. Profitability cases- basic profitability framework.

2. Idea generation cases: for any specif issue

3. Growth cases: market penetration, new product launch, product mix change, etc.

4. Pricing cases

5. M&A cases

6. Valuation cases

7. Value chain cases

Given you are under this much time contraint, consider working with a coach to foster speed and ensure you have a tailored plan to be very targeted. PM me interested!

Hope it helps!

Cheers,

Clara

Thank you very much Clara, for your clear suggestions of which stream to focus on! I'll first get my hands on and see how it goes. — Anonymous A on Nov 17, 2020

Book a coaching with Ian

100% Recommendation Rate

191 Meetings

16,009 Q&A Upvotes

USD 289 / Coaching

Hi there,

Funnily enough, I too was a complete beginner when I started my preparation...and I came from an economics background as well!

Honestly, I seriously recommend hiring a coach given your timeline and difficulties. Even just a few hours with a coach points you in the right direction, clears up all of your confusion, and completely sets you up for success. (That's why I have a 3 session coaching package dedicated exactly to that: https://www.preplounge.com/en/profile.php?id=228116#coaching-package)

In terms of main tips:

  1. Get the basics of casing by reading, and then put it into practice. Sink or swim with other candidates
  2. Build up your business knowledge ASAP - research + study the major industries out there. Start reading the FT, Economist, etc. daily
  3. Practice fast math - heaps of exercises are out there....you need to have a solid/comfortable proficiency

There's more, but these are the quick basics....seriously get a coach if you plan to be ready in just a month's time!

Hi there,

Funnily enough, I too was a complete beginner when I started my preparation...and I came from an economics background as well!

Honestly, I seriously recommend hiring a coach given your timeline and difficulties. Even just a few hours with a coach points you in the right direction, clears up all of your confusion, and completely sets you up for success. (That's why I have a 3 session coaching package dedicated exactly to that: https://www.preplounge.com/en/profile.php?id=228116#coaching-package)

In terms of main tips:

  1. Get the basics of casing by reading, and then put it into practice. Sink or swim with other candidates
  2. Build up your business knowledge ASAP - research + study the major industries out there. Start reading the FT, Economist, etc. daily
  3. Practice fast math - heaps of exercises are out there....you need to have a solid/comfortable proficiency

There's more, but these are the quick basics....seriously get a coach if you plan to be ready in just a month's time!

Thank you very much Ian for the concise and clear comments! — Anonymous on Nov 17, 2020 (edited)

Book a coaching with Francesco

100% Recommendation Rate

3,273 Meetings

11,833 Q&A Upvotes

USD 429 / Coaching

Hi there,

I would recommend the following steps to maximize the likelihood to land an offer:

  1. Define a calendar for your preparation. Check if there is any deadline for the applications. Then identify how many hours you have before that 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 the interview so you can keep that as a benchmark. One month should be feasible for that if you can allocate that amount of time.
  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, 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. Before your application, be sure to review your CV and Cover, so that they are in the required format for a consulting application
  6. At least 3 weeks before the application deadline, start networking to find referrals for your target companies.
  7. 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.

If you want to spend few hours only instead of 100+ and cover everything mentioned above, I developed a program to precisely do that. You can click on the following link to find more:

https://www.preplounge.com/en/profile.php?id=2433#coaching-package

McKinsey Imbellus Guide by Francesco

After this program, you will know exactly what to expect in your interview, what to work on, and how to focus on the real differentiator to land a top consulting offer.

Please feel free to PM me if you need more information.

Best,

Francesco

Hi there,

I would recommend the following steps to maximize the likelihood to land an offer:

  1. Define a calendar for your preparation. Check if there is any deadline for the applications. Then identify how many hours you have before that 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 the interview so you can keep that as a benchmark. One month should be feasible for that if you can allocate that amount of time.
  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, 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. Before your application, be sure to review your CV and Cover, so that they are in the required format for a consulting application
  6. At least 3 weeks before the application deadline, start networking to find referrals for your target companies.
  7. 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.

If you want to spend few hours only instead of 100+ and cover everything mentioned above, I developed a program to precisely do that. You can click on the following link to find more:

https://www.preplounge.com/en/profile.php?id=2433#coaching-package

McKinsey Imbellus Guide by Francesco

After this program, you will know exactly what to expect in your interview, what to work on, and how to focus on the real differentiator to land a top consulting offer.

Please feel free to PM me if you need more information.

Best,

Francesco

Related case(s)

Bain 1st Round Case – BlissOttica

Solved 300+ times
Bain 1st Round Case – BlissOttica Our client is a BlissOttica, an Eyewear Manufacturer that is looking to reach a 10% increase in profits. How would you help our client?
4.2 5 14
| Rating: (4.2 / 5.0)

Our client is a BlissOttica, an Eyewear Manufacturer that is looking to reach a 10% increase in profits. How would you help our client? Open whole case