What is the ideal way to prepare for case interview?

1stround Case Case Interview interview prep
Recent activity on Aug 20, 2020
7 Answers
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Anonymous A asked on Aug 02, 2020

I have an interview with a boutique consulting firm in the first week of September. I have already done-
1) Victor Cheng's framework

2) ESADE's casebook

Now I am solving cases with a mate of mine. I also plan to work with a coach in the latter half of August.

In the meantime, can you recommend what else should I focus on? I am struggling with quantitative heavy cases and confidence in general. It would be great if I can get recommendations on prep-material.

Cheers!

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Francesco
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Aug 03, 2020
#1 Expert for Coaching Sessions (3.600+) | 1.300+ Reviews with 100% Recommendation Rate | Ex BCG | 8+ Years of Coaching

Hi there,

These are the steps I normally suggest, it sounds you have already done 1 to 3.

I agree that if you have already decided to have coaching sessions, you are better off having them early on.

  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, 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.

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

https://u.preplounge.com/63phuq

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

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Sidi
Expert
replied on Aug 02, 2020
McKinsey Senior EM & BCG Consultant | Interviewer at McK & BCG for 7 years | Coached 300+ candidates secure MBB offers

Hi!

Please please please - if you are serious about your wish to start a career in consulting, work with a coach earlier than Mid/End August! You are essentially sabotaging yourself with this plan. It takes about 6-8 weeks to get a candidate to a level where he can confidently walk into consulting interviews with a consistently high chance of success. And it will take even longer if you start your coaching so late, because almost certainly you will have built patterns and habits that are very harmful to your performance (believe me - this is true for almost 100% of candidates, due to the nature of the material out there).

I for example refuse to coach candidates who tell me "I am interviewing with McKinsey in 4 days, please help prepare me!". This would be just short term money making in my view, but not serious mentorship/coaching (and btw. it would harm my reputation in the long run).

Cheers, Sidi

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Robert
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Aug 02, 2020
McKinsey offers w/o final round interviews - 100% risk-free - 10+ years MBB coaching experience - Multiple book author

Hi Anonymous,

According to my mind, there is not "the" ideal way/source to learn case interviews from the beginning - I rather like to see case interview prep as a process, which is accompanied by multiple information sources. What I generally recommend to all my coaching candidates who are case interview beginners is the following:

  • Starting off with basic case interview books like Marc Cosentino's "Case in Point" or Victor Cheng's "Case Interview Secrets"
  • At the same time watching Victor Cheng's youtube videos
  • Getting a professional Case Interview Coaching e.g. on PrepLounge quite early in the process, as a professional case interview coach will help you get things right immediately, so that you can focus on your weak spots and at the same time reinforce your positive habits during your further prep; this saves you a lot of time and prevents you from developing wrong habits which are hard to get rid off once you possess them
  • Start having interactive mock interviews with peers, which you can find in masses also here on PrepLounge - there is a strong correlation between number of interactive cases solved and interview success; I occasionally also do professional case interview coachings myself
  • Once you feel you make progress in your case interview performance, start having some professional Case Interview coaching sessions again to get some real-life benchmark and feedback for further improvement; what works best is approx. 1 professional coaching per week as there is enough time to improve weak spots with peer mock interviews until the next coaching, and at the same time this timeframe is short enough so that you keep up with you prep and do not lose track
  • Once you start feeling comfortable with solving cases in general, focus on being as structured as possible in every sentence you say and every answer you give ("ABS - always be structured"). For this, I wrote a distinct book with the most important frameworks and business concepts for case interviews ("Case Interview Frameworks"). This book not only gives you a short description and basic idea of the frameworks and concepts, but also a step-by-step guide on how to actually use and implement them (you would be surprised how many candidates don't have a clue about that!).
  • As soon as you master the case interview basics, start preparing the behavioural part of the interviews; this is especially important for McKinsey as this is the part where most candidates really fail, but also for other firms.
  • If time permits, read some general books about consulting to get a good understanding how the industry works, like "The Firm" by Duff McDonald, "Managing the Professional Service Firm" by David Maister and "The McKinsey Way" by Ethan Rasiel

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

Robert

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Christine
Admin
replied on Aug 20, 2020
PrepLounge Community & Marketing Manager

Hi Anonymous A,

Welcome to PrepLounge and thanks for asking your question on our Consulting Q&A!

Based on our many years of experience helping candidates get their job offer, we can advise you to include coaching sessions into your case prep. They are very helpful and will definitely be worth your investment.

Self-study (1) provides you with a basic understanding, peer practice (2) will get you to a decent level of case solving, but coachings (3) will really maximize your chances to get the final job offer. All three building blocks are necessary to build the final tower, but since two of them involve actual practice, you can tell where the main progress happens :)

Vlad explained why coachings are particularly beneficial for your case performance:

I believe YOU NEED BOTH good partners and coaches to increase your odds of success. Partners give you quantity and build your muscle memory.Coaches specifically:

  • Can save you tens if not hundreds of hours. I know many candidates who have done 100+ cases with the poor partners and got no offer.
  • May have a program covering all possible types of the cases (pls check in my profile)
  • Can assess you using the real case interview criteria
  • Can work on your fit interview since they heard hundreds of stories and know how to make them perfect
  • Give you a professional feedback since they have seen hundreds of candidates and can calibrate your performance
  • [...]

For the full Q&A, check the following link: What are the benefits of coaching compared to having a good partner to practice?

These benefits should usually apply for all case coachings done by experienced professionals, regardless of the provider you will decide on.

But let me explain to you the specific benefits of PrepLounge Coaching:

On PrepLounge, you have transparency that you will not find anywhere else: a transparent list of all experts and a glimpse of their expertise showed in our Consulting Q&A. Our coaches have many years of experience at top consulting firms and have already helped thousands of candidates land their dream job offer. All expert profiles include:

  • Professional and educational background
  • Top Skills
  • Infos on their individual coaching approach
  • Number of conducted coachings
  • Reviews & recommendation rate
  • Price per session

This allows you to individually choose the perfect experts for your coaching sessions. For example, you can get insights from an expert who has worked at the exact same company you are applying to.

CoachingPlus is the All-in-One Case Interview Preparation Package
You get a combination of coaching sessions plus a Premium Membership that gives you access to peer2peer practice and the most essential prep material on PrepLounge. You can choose among a list of ~15 experienced coaches.

If you have any further questions, don't hesitate to contact us.

Hope this helps and best of luck for your case prep and upcoming case interviews!

Christine

PrepLounge Community Management

PrepLounge Consulting Q&A Forum

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Ian
Expert
Content Creator
replied on Aug 04, 2020
BCG | 100% personal interview success rate (8/8) and 95% candidate success rate | Personalized interview prep

Hi there,

I completely agree with Sidi - you need a coach ASAP!

Here's what I would recommend:

3-4 coaching sessions with a coach - in particular, one immediatedly to 1) Create a preparation plan and 2) Get feedback on a mock case

Weeks 1+2

  • Case with other PrepLoungers (3-5 a week if possible)
  • Practice fast math (happy to send you material)
  • Progress through review of 1) Industries and 2) Frameworks

Weeks 3+ 4

  • Case with other PrepLoungers (3-5 a week if possible)
  • Finish review of 1) Industries and 2) Frameworks
  • Craft + review answers for behavioral questions (why consulting, why the firm, resume walkthrough, and personal stories)
  • 2 coaching sessions with mock interviews AND deep-dive exercises/feedback to shift your mindset in problem areas
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Anonymous B replied on Aug 02, 2020

Start coach prep early!! If your interview is in first week of September then preparing with a coach in the latter half of August is way too late

If you start working with a coach now they can help you improve on your problem areas including confidence

In terms of quants - practice 10 minutes of arithmetic drills daily and again use your coach. You should ideally do 1-2 sessions with your coach every week up until the interview

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Anonymous replied on Aug 03, 2020

Dear A,

Actually you choose the right way for preparation. What I can recommend you here are:

1. Practice-practice-practice as more as you can. In my time I have practice more than 150 cases

2. Hire a coach earlier, so that you can make your preparations even more to the point.

If you need any help or advice with preparation timeline, feel free to reach out.

Best,
André

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Francesco gave the best answer

Francesco

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