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Where to find real cases with data to practice doing "live" case analysis

Case Interview
New answer on Apr 30, 2020
7 Answers
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Ksenia asked on Feb 25, 2020

In some interviews, cases are given with data and an applicant is required to sift through the data and do relevant analysis. How to best practice for those as they also require practicing technical skills? Thank you!

(edited)

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Anonymous replied on Apr 30, 2020

Hi Ksenia,

how were your interviews?

Best,

André

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Ian
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replied on Feb 26, 2020
#1 BCG coach | MBB | Tier 2 | Digital, Tech, Platinion | 100% personal success rate (8/8) | 95% candidate success rate

Hi,

Just to add to the rest, focus focus focus.

1) Quickly write down a) Key asks/needs and b) Key insights/context from the prompt

2) Quickly scan through the provided exihibits (i.e. title, quick chart understanding) and eliminate ones that aren't needed

3) In the subset, identify which tell your story the best...adjust as needed, but you should come up with the 3-4 things you need to state ASAP

This is all about taking a ton of information in a short amount of time, and determining what is most relevant. And remember, the same general rules apply: structure, conciseness, driving forward, being creative, etc.

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Francesco
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replied on Feb 26, 2020
#1 Coach for Sessions (4.500+) | 1.500+ 5-Star Reviews | Proven Success (➡ interviewoffers.com) | Ex BCG | 10Y+ Coaching

Hi Ksenia

I would recommend to focus on 5 areas to crack cases when they provide material in advance; I have reported them below with some suggestions on how to prepare for each of them:

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 60 minutes for the analysis, a good approach would include:

  • initial quick reading – 10-20 min (this may depend on the amount of material)
  • structure the approach – 5 min
  • make slides/answer to the questions adding detailed analysis and math – 25-35 min
  • final review – 10 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 at the end of 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.

When 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…”

Hope this helps,

Francesco

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Luca
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replied on Feb 26, 2020
BCG |NASA | SDA Bocconi & Cattolica partner | GMAT expert 780/800 score | 200+ students coached

Hello Ksenia,

In written case you usually have a pack of 20-30 slides that you need to analyse to answer questions using 4-5 slides and present them to your interviewer.

In order to crack the interview you should consider the following points:

  • Prepare for a traditional case interview: the competencies and the problem solving skills requested are pretty much the same
  • Define a plan of action according to the time given: one of the most important aspect of these cases is the ability to manage your time. You should consider the followinf steps: Initial reading, decide the approach, analysis, slides and final review.
  • Train quick reading skills and maths: there are a lot of good sources online, even the GMAT integrated reasoning section could be good.
  • Train slide-making skills: this is a crucial part because, as consultatn, slides are your most important communication tool. Be aware that there are some "golden rules" that you have to consider for making slides as a consultat. You can find something online but feel free to contact me for a quick analysis.
  • Learn how to present slides in an effective and professional way

You can find some good examples of written cases online, but I could forward you what I have. Contact me if you are interested.

Hope it helps,
Luca

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Antonello
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replied on Feb 25, 2020
McKinsey | NASA | top 10 FT MBA professor for consulting interviews | 6+ years of coaching

Hi Ksenia, I think you are talking about presentation cases, where you have 30-45' to analyze the data + 15' to present your solution + 15' of Q&A. Case preparation will be the classical one with 2 additional points to focus on:

  • 80-20 prioritization: quickly navigate an important amount of data to find what really matters to the case resolution;
  • Executive summary: develop 1-2 pages to present that sum-up the problem and your recommendations.

I have a couple of well done written cases, feel free to text me for sharing.

Best,
Antonello

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Clara
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Content Creator
replied on Feb 25, 2020
McKinsey | Awarded professor at Master in Management @ IE | MBA at MIT |+180 students coached | Integrated FIT Guide aut

Hello!

On top of what´s been commented so far, I would practice data analysis (charts, graphs, etc.) using GMAT resources -I would strongly recomment you practice it, since normally it´s very different from the things you have seen before -particularly the data sufficency part-.

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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Ksenia on Feb 25, 2020

Hi Clara, thanks for the comment. Any recommendation to prepare for interviews with data given in excel and then the interviewer is asked to prepare a data analysis and power point?

Vlad
Expert
replied on Feb 25, 2020
McKinsey / Accenture Alum / Got all BIG3 offers / Harvard Business School

Hi,

Here is my approach:

  1. Ask the interviewer for a minute to analyze the chart / table

  2. In your mind formulate the question you have to answer

  3. Look at the chart and define the type (pie chart, line chart, etc). Read the chart title. Read the legend

  4. Analyze the chart / table. Look for: Trends, comparisons, % shares, etc. Look for unusual things (consultants love to integrate these traps in charts) - correlations, outliers, etc

  5. Ask clarifying questions if required

  6. Provide your conclusion. You should not just describe the chart but also derive the conclusions. There should be at least one major conclusion plus any additional conclusions you can make. You can also provide your hypothesis on what can be the root causes / consequences

  7. Based on the interviewer's feedback, prioritize the most important information and define the next steps.

Here are some tips on how you can master that skill:

  1. Read "Say it with Charts" book by Gene Zelazny

  2. Check the chapters on cases with charts in the following case books "Consulting Bible" and "Vault guide for consulting"

  3. Refresh the basic statistics (Most of GMAT prep handbooks have a good summary)

  4. Practice GMAT Integrated Reasoning part (GMAT Official guide or Manhattan prep)

  5. Practice on real MBB presentations. Look at the chart, derive the conclusions, and compare it to the ones on the slide. Best sources to find presentations - various reports and articles on MBB websites, Slideshare

Best

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Ksenia on Feb 25, 2020

Hi Vlad, thanks for the comment. Any recommendation to prepare for interviews with data given in excel and then the interviewer is asked to prepare a data analysis and power point?

(edited)

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