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Systematic case interview prep

Hi,

is there any systematic ways to prepare case interviews? Or should I just practice as much as possible?

Hi,

is there any systematic ways to prepare case interviews? Or should I just practice as much as possible?

3 answers

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Hi,

I am sure other coaches will answer in a very detailed way.
For myself I will only tell you the following tips :

- Combine different ways of practicing : on your own, with other candidates, with real consultants /coaches

- Practice each of the dimensions indvidually with focus exercice : maths, structuring, recommandation

- Always look for feedback, and once you receive work on it

- Don't wait too long before simulating real interview with consultatn / coaches : this will give you a sens of the real situation and expectation + relevant feedback on your perf

Best

Benjamin

Hi,

I am sure other coaches will answer in a very detailed way.
For myself I will only tell you the following tips :

- Combine different ways of practicing : on your own, with other candidates, with real consultants /coaches

- Practice each of the dimensions indvidually with focus exercice : maths, structuring, recommandation

- Always look for feedback, and once you receive work on it

- Don't wait too long before simulating real interview with consultatn / coaches : this will give you a sens of the real situation and expectation + relevant feedback on your perf

Best

Benjamin

You have to be more patient while going through the interview round you have to keep all your computer related topic up to date while it will be more applicable so you can go through  for more detail — Lucifer on Jul 28, 2018 (edited)

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Hi Anonymous,

there is a lot of material out there, so it is definitely a good idea to structure an action plan to be as efficient as possible in your preparation. The following is the way I found better to prepare and that I would recommend (I am assuming you already have the interviews scheduled, so don’t need referrals and CV and Cover preparation):

  1. Define a calendar for your preparation. Identify how many hours you have per week to dedicate to consulting prep and how many weeks in total you have before interviews, then allocate a time slot for preparation in your calendar for each day. It’s important you write it down to self commit or you will start to skip some prep time pretty soon, in particular if you don’t have pressure for an interview scheduled soon – and it is definitely better to start slowly and constantly than rushing towards the end close to the interview. Ideally you want to have a minimum of 100 hours to dedicate to the preparation before your interviews.
  2. Read Case In Point or Case Interview Secrets for a general understanding of what a consulting interview is. Don’t focus too much on the structures proposed in the books though, as they are not good enough nowadays.
  3. Start reading MBA Consulting Handbook – you can find several for free online (Insead is a good one to start). Read the cases and try to apply your structure. 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 a lot better the information with constant learning. Structure your remaining daily preparation with 5-10 minutes per day for each of the following: market sizing, fit questions and mental math.
  4. After you have read the first 10 cases in books/handbooks and basic theory, start to practice live. 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 particular useful for this). Be sure to focus on both fit and case.
  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 experts’ support to strengthen your performance
  6. Before the interview, be sure to prepare your questions for the interviewer –great way to show you prepare in advance and to connect more with the interviewer for a good final impression.
  7. Bonus (if needed): at least two weeks before the interview do a first PST/Potential test to evaluate your current level. Distribute the other tests in the remaining time according to the number you have available.

Best,

Francesco

Hi Anonymous,

there is a lot of material out there, so it is definitely a good idea to structure an action plan to be as efficient as possible in your preparation. The following is the way I found better to prepare and that I would recommend (I am assuming you already have the interviews scheduled, so don’t need referrals and CV and Cover preparation):

  1. Define a calendar for your preparation. Identify how many hours you have per week to dedicate to consulting prep and how many weeks in total you have before interviews, then allocate a time slot for preparation in your calendar for each day. It’s important you write it down to self commit or you will start to skip some prep time pretty soon, in particular if you don’t have pressure for an interview scheduled soon – and it is definitely better to start slowly and constantly than rushing towards the end close to the interview. Ideally you want to have a minimum of 100 hours to dedicate to the preparation before your interviews.
  2. Read Case In Point or Case Interview Secrets for a general understanding of what a consulting interview is. Don’t focus too much on the structures proposed in the books though, as they are not good enough nowadays.
  3. Start reading MBA Consulting Handbook – you can find several for free online (Insead is a good one to start). Read the cases and try to apply your structure. 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 a lot better the information with constant learning. Structure your remaining daily preparation with 5-10 minutes per day for each of the following: market sizing, fit questions and mental math.
  4. After you have read the first 10 cases in books/handbooks and basic theory, start to practice live. 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 particular useful for this). Be sure to focus on both fit and case.
  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 experts’ support to strengthen your performance
  6. Before the interview, be sure to prepare your questions for the interviewer –great way to show you prepare in advance and to connect more with the interviewer for a good final impression.
  7. Bonus (if needed): at least two weeks before the interview do a first PST/Potential test to evaluate your current level. Distribute the other tests in the remaining time according to the number you have available.

Best,

Francesco

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Hi,

In terms of resources - Start with Case in point, Victor Chengs books and LOMS.

In terms of case types I would start with either market sizing or with profitability cases since they are much easier:

1) In market sizing cases I would try to understand the basic approach:

  • How to structure market sizing case
  • Key tools (Assumptions, Households, using personal experience, adjustments, age groups, Income split via 80/20, peak / off-peak calculations, replacement rate, using size of the area to calculate markets, calculating adjacent markets, sanity checks, etc).
  • How to do math in the case interview

2) In Profitability cases, I would learn

  • How to ask clarifying questions
  • How to structure profitability cases
  • How to work with data (Comparing with competitors, segmentation, historical data)
  • How to answer the questions on creativity
  • How to provide recommendations

3) Then I will switch to Market context cases (Market Entry, New product, Acquisition, etc). In addition, I would learn how:

  • Structure market context questions
  • How to analyze graphs and tables

4) After that I would look at other case types: 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.), Cost Cutting, Valuation, Private equity due diligence, Synergies, etc.

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

Also, several things that you should be doing on a regular basis:

1) Every 10 cases revisit the previous cases and think how you would structure them differently now having the new experience and having solved the new types of cases

2) Build business judgment. Read about different industries and functions. I strongly recommend practice drawing structures for each industry - profitability, value chain, etc . Then I will switch to getting functional knowledge and key concepts in Marketing (Brand and trade marketing tools, etc), Supply chain (Ops metrics like cycle time and throughput time, distribution and delivery specifics, etc), Finance (Basic Accounting and Valuation). Good sources might be:

  • Books - one good book about airlines with numbers and industry analysis can give you all needed industry knowledge
  • Company reports, equity reports, etc - usually have a good overview of company and industries.One of the best sources to prepare
  • HBS cases - quite useful, but not sure if lot's of them available publically. Probably worth buying

Again, every 10 cases revisit the previous cases and think how you would structure them differently now having the new knowledge

3) Practice fast math

  • Learn how to multiply double digit numbers (google fast math tips)
  • 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

4) Read Viktor Cheng Book and listen to LOMS. I recommend to reread the book and listen to LOMS every 15 cases. Every time, having more experience, you’ll be finding something new.

Best!

Hi,

In terms of resources - Start with Case in point, Victor Chengs books and LOMS.

In terms of case types I would start with either market sizing or with profitability cases since they are much easier:

1) In market sizing cases I would try to understand the basic approach:

  • How to structure market sizing case
  • Key tools (Assumptions, Households, using personal experience, adjustments, age groups, Income split via 80/20, peak / off-peak calculations, replacement rate, using size of the area to calculate markets, calculating adjacent markets, sanity checks, etc).
  • How to do math in the case interview

2) In Profitability cases, I would learn

  • How to ask clarifying questions
  • How to structure profitability cases
  • How to work with data (Comparing with competitors, segmentation, historical data)
  • How to answer the questions on creativity
  • How to provide recommendations

3) Then I will switch to Market context cases (Market Entry, New product, Acquisition, etc). In addition, I would learn how:

  • Structure market context questions
  • How to analyze graphs and tables

4) After that I would look at other case types: 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.), Cost Cutting, Valuation, Private equity due diligence, Synergies, etc.

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

Also, several things that you should be doing on a regular basis:

1) Every 10 cases revisit the previous cases and think how you would structure them differently now having the new experience and having solved the new types of cases

2) Build business judgment. Read about different industries and functions. I strongly recommend practice drawing structures for each industry - profitability, value chain, etc . Then I will switch to getting functional knowledge and key concepts in Marketing (Brand and trade marketing tools, etc), Supply chain (Ops metrics like cycle time and throughput time, distribution and delivery specifics, etc), Finance (Basic Accounting and Valuation). Good sources might be:

  • Books - one good book about airlines with numbers and industry analysis can give you all needed industry knowledge
  • Company reports, equity reports, etc - usually have a good overview of company and industries.One of the best sources to prepare
  • HBS cases - quite useful, but not sure if lot's of them available publically. Probably worth buying

Again, every 10 cases revisit the previous cases and think how you would structure them differently now having the new knowledge

3) Practice fast math

  • Learn how to multiply double digit numbers (google fast math tips)
  • 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

4) Read Viktor Cheng Book and listen to LOMS. I recommend to reread the book and listen to LOMS every 15 cases. Every time, having more experience, you’ll be finding something new.

Best!

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