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How to survive first consulting case

first job
New answer on Sep 10, 2020
7 Answers
1.1 k Views
Anonymous A asked on Sep 03, 2020

Struggling in my first consulting case. How long does it usually take to get the flow in cases? I feel that I am not learning quickly enough.


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Content Creator
replied on Sep 04, 2020
#1 BCG coach | MBB | Tier 2 | Digital, Tech, Platinion | 100% personal success rate (8/8) | 95% candidate success rate

Hi there!

First of all, breathe. I absolutely bombed my first case! There are so many stories at MBB of new hires doing horribly to start, only to become the stars of the cohort later down the road.

Now that you've taken a breathe, let's take some action :)

First: Read the 25 tips in my consulting handbook here:


Second: In terms of doing well in your role when you're there:

1) Understand the context/prompt (what role are you in, what company, who's watching, etc.)

2) Understand the objective (what, specifically, is expected from you...both day to day, and in your overall career progression)

3) Quickly process information, and focus on what's important - Take a lot of information and the unknown, find the most logical path, and focus on that.

4) Be comfortable with the unknown, and learn to brainstorm - Ask for help! Ask you Pl and other consultants for help where you're struggling. Don't be afraid with not knowing something...but identify what that something is and look for help in it. Run towards the unknown.

In summary, there will always be a flood of information, expectations, competition etc. and not enough time. Find out which ones matter when. (i.e. be visibile and focus efforts on the things that people care about)


Third: Here are some great prior Q&As for you!

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replied on Sep 03, 2020
McKinsey / Accenture Alum / Got all BIG3 offers / Harvard Business School


The first 1-2 projects will always be tough. Try to:

  • Get feedback as much as possible from Manager / partners
  • Get advice and mentorship from peers / mentors
  • Be very accurate with client communication
  • Work hard to cope with things
  • Don't forget to have a rest on the weekends


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Content Creator
replied on Sep 10, 2020
McKinsey | NASA | top 10 FT MBA professor for consulting interviews | 6+ years of coaching

Hi, even if it's a matter of quality and not quantity, after 10-15 cases you should notice a good improvement in fluency and structuring


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Anonymous replied on Sep 06, 2020

Dear A,

Are you talking about case preparation, or your first case as a team member?


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Content Creator
replied on Sep 06, 2020
McKinsey offers w/o final round interviews - 100% risk-free - 10+ years MBB coaching experience - Multiple book author

Hi Anonymous,

Couple of points to your question(s):

  • Quantity is not quality - have an experienced interviewer and coach to give you clear and actionable feedback to improve quickly over time (practicing with peers in between is essential, but typically the steak doesn't know if it was a good butcher)
  • A certain number of practice cases is needed - most candidates start feeling comfortable with this interview format after 20-30 cases.
  • Definitely you can learn new things with each case. But focus your prep on solving cases repeatedly well, i.e. focus on the process on how to solve cases more than the content.

Hope that helps - if so, please be so kind to give it a thumbs-up with the green upvote button below!


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Content Creator
replied on Sep 04, 2020
#1 Coach for Sessions (4.500+) | 1.500+ 5-Star Reviews | Proven Success (➡ | Ex BCG | 10Y+ Coaching

Hi there,

This is quite common. I usually suggest the following to manage the first months in consulting:

  1. Take notes when your manager tells you something – this will help you to remember details and will show you care about them to the team.
  2. Always double-check. The first impression is very important in consulting: if you show you are reliable from the beginning in a project, you create a reputation of a reliable person. Double checks should be done on expectations for your job, your Excel analysis, your slides – basically everything.
  3. Define priorities before starting any set of tasks. The majority of the results usually come from a subset of activities – this is true also for your tasks in consulting. You have to identify which they are and prioritize them – the application of the so-called 80-20 rule or Pareto Principle. Alignment on priorities and expectations is particularly important with your manager at the beginning of the project.
  4. Socialize with your colleagues and start to build a network. Consulting is a people business and you should build a good network both within and outside the company. A good start is key to develop good relationships long-term
  5. Organize your private life activities. You want to organize your calendar to leave some space for personal activities (sport/ friends/ family). This is not easy but can be managed if you organize well, and long-term will be critical to keep a balance between work and private life. Also, it is better to align with your manager/teammates from the beginning on your core needs, so that there are no surprises later on.
  6. Ask for feedback every two-three weeks – this will show you are proactive and willing to learn.
  7. Ask for help when you don't know what to do – better to let know you are in trouble with meeting a deadline then missing the deadline.
  8. Be social and respectful with the support staff – these people are great and influential as well in the company.

If you need additional help, please drop me a message.



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replied on Sep 04, 2020
McKinsey Senior EM & BCG Consultant | Interviewer at McK & BCG for 7 years | Coached 350+ candidates secure MBB offers


Are you referring to case studies or are you referring to the actual work as a team member on a consulting project?

Cheers, Sidi

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