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Florian

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8

Why are the case interviews so difficult?

8 answers

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Hey there,

The case interviews represent a small snapshot of the daily work of a consultant. They evaluate several skills such as

  • structuring
  • idea generation and creativity
  • business sense and intuition
  • mental math and affinity for numbers
  • logical reasoning
  • analytical rigor
  • communication
  • maturity
  • ...

In theory, if you perform well in the case interviews, you should be able to perform well on the job. For McKinsey, there is a high correlation of candidates passing the interviews (case + PEI) and performing well on the job up until EM level so it is definitely an instrument that works well and is battle-tested over decades of interviewing and hiring.

The demands put on employees once they join are several magnitudes bigger than what you have to do in the case interview though, which is also the reason why MBB candidates are sought after highly in the job market once they leave consulting. Few people are able AND willing to do it (MBB are often actually struggling to meet their hiring targets).

In that sense, the cases are just the beginning and if you don't enjoy doing them you might have a hard time on the actual job.

Cheers,

Florian

Hey there,

The case interviews represent a small snapshot of the daily work of a consultant. They evaluate several skills such as

  • structuring
  • idea generation and creativity
  • business sense and intuition
  • mental math and affinity for numbers
  • logical reasoning
  • analytical rigor
  • communication
  • maturity
  • ...

In theory, if you perform well in the case interviews, you should be able to perform well on the job. For McKinsey, there is a high correlation of candidates passing the interviews (case + PEI) and performing well on the job up until EM level so it is definitely an instrument that works well and is battle-tested over decades of interviewing and hiring.

The demands put on employees once they join are several magnitudes bigger than what you have to do in the case interview though, which is also the reason why MBB candidates are sought after highly in the job market once they leave consulting. Few people are able AND willing to do it (MBB are often actually struggling to meet their hiring targets).

In that sense, the cases are just the beginning and if you don't enjoy doing them you might have a hard time on the actual job.

Cheers,

Florian

Book a coaching with Ian

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Hi there,

Life is difficult...ever heard the expression "nothing good in life has ever come easy"?

Honestly, if you're dismayed/intimidated by case interviews then you need to seriously reflect if you want this job or not. Case interviews are 2% of the intensity of the real deal.

Now, in terms of actually answering why....well, these firms are trying to hire the best. This is a filtering mechanism. You have to show that you're better than 100 other candidates. Therefore, the test/interview must be hard (if it were easy, everyone would pass and you could not differentiate).

Furthermore, they need to see if you have the skills for the job. Can you deal with ambiguity? Can you solve problems in a structured way? Can you communicate clearly and concisely? Etc. etc.

Hi there,

Life is difficult...ever heard the expression "nothing good in life has ever come easy"?

Honestly, if you're dismayed/intimidated by case interviews then you need to seriously reflect if you want this job or not. Case interviews are 2% of the intensity of the real deal.

Now, in terms of actually answering why....well, these firms are trying to hire the best. This is a filtering mechanism. You have to show that you're better than 100 other candidates. Therefore, the test/interview must be hard (if it were easy, everyone would pass and you could not differentiate).

Furthermore, they need to see if you have the skills for the job. Can you deal with ambiguity? Can you solve problems in a structured way? Can you communicate clearly and concisely? Etc. etc.

ohh maybe I have to decide whether I want this job or not. Thank you Ian! — Anonymous A on Jun 08, 2021

Please do! Just because others are chasing this doesn't mean you should! (Also doesn't mean you shouldn't). Reflect on what you want in your life, career, and next job. I can tell you, the job is extremely demanding (physically, mentally, emotionally, etc), BUT you also grow a ton. Summary: Don't go into this lightly. Good luck on your reflections :) — Ian on Jun 08, 2021

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Winning at something always seems difficult initially. But if you are fixated on the outcome, it wont come any easy either. The focus needs to be on giving your best to play the game well & enjoying the process.

Consulting companies use the case interview to get an idea of how actually you will perform in real life- structured thinking, problem solving, communication skills and cominrg across as trust worthy. If this is something you dont enjoy, then case studies will feel very tough. 

There is plenty of advice in the Q&A forum on how to prepare well for cases. So please search broadly. Make a plan, stick to it and just give your best.

Winning at something always seems difficult initially. But if you are fixated on the outcome, it wont come any easy either. The focus needs to be on giving your best to play the game well & enjoying the process.

Consulting companies use the case interview to get an idea of how actually you will perform in real life- structured thinking, problem solving, communication skills and cominrg across as trust worthy. If this is something you dont enjoy, then case studies will feel very tough. 

There is plenty of advice in the Q&A forum on how to prepare well for cases. So please search broadly. Make a plan, stick to it and just give your best.

(edited)

such a great answer, thank you Adi! — Anonymous A on Jun 08, 2021

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Case interviews are meant to allow the interviewer to see how you think, how you structure problems, how you react under pressure and a whole list of other aspects that you will need in the real consulting life. 

Many times there are no right or wront answers: in the same way as there can be many different answers to a problem, there can be also different approaches to tackle a case. If you think about it in this way, cases just force you to think about things in a structured manner, but they are not difficult per se.

For example, there is no shame of highlighting that you don't have any experience in the specific industry a case is about, but you can still make educated guesses or ask claryfing questions, in order to understand better. 

Good luck with your prep!

Case interviews are meant to allow the interviewer to see how you think, how you structure problems, how you react under pressure and a whole list of other aspects that you will need in the real consulting life. 

Many times there are no right or wront answers: in the same way as there can be many different answers to a problem, there can be also different approaches to tackle a case. If you think about it in this way, cases just force you to think about things in a structured manner, but they are not difficult per se.

For example, there is no shame of highlighting that you don't have any experience in the specific industry a case is about, but you can still make educated guesses or ask claryfing questions, in order to understand better. 

Good luck with your prep!

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Hi there,

The simple answer is: demand and supply.

A lot of people want to work in consulting for a limited number of slots – the rumored acceptance rate in MBB is 1%. Therefore, companies have to use appropriate filters to select the best possible candidates.

Besides that, consulting is a demanding job and the case interview wants to replicate in part what you will really face when working there.

Best,

Francesco

Hi there,

The simple answer is: demand and supply.

A lot of people want to work in consulting for a limited number of slots – the rumored acceptance rate in MBB is 1%. Therefore, companies have to use appropriate filters to select the best possible candidates.

Besides that, consulting is a demanding job and the case interview wants to replicate in part what you will really face when working there.

Best,

Francesco

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The more important question is whether you enjoy cases or not. The interview is a good mock of the actual job where from day 1, you are expected to proactively lead the problem solving of your workstream. It's also worth acknowledging that MBBs are much more focused on the intrinsics than your experience and hours of case practice. 

Good luck!

The more important question is whether you enjoy cases or not. The interview is a good mock of the actual job where from day 1, you are expected to proactively lead the problem solving of your workstream. It's also worth acknowledging that MBBs are much more focused on the intrinsics than your experience and hours of case practice. 

Good luck!

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Simple answer: Because every good that's in short supply and great deemand needs a tool to determine who gets it. The MBBs have created the aura of desirability around them. This combined with good salaries and great exit opportunities drives up demand for MBB jobs. This means they'll need a tool to filter out candidates that meet their high requirements. 

Simple answer: Because every good that's in short supply and great deemand needs a tool to determine who gets it. The MBBs have created the aura of desirability around them. This combined with good salaries and great exit opportunities drives up demand for MBB jobs. This means they'll need a tool to filter out candidates that meet their high requirements. 

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Case interview is the best way to understand how you can solve problems you may face every day at work. Also there are too many candidates for one position, that’s why companies need more difficult tasks so that it is easier to choose after a few stages. 
Just practice as much as you can and it will stop seem so difficult.    

If you need further help, me and my colleagues here on PL will be glad to help you. 

Best, 

Gaurav 

Case interview is the best way to understand how you can solve problems you may face every day at work. Also there are too many candidates for one position, that’s why companies need more difficult tasks so that it is easier to choose after a few stages. 
Just practice as much as you can and it will stop seem so difficult.    

If you need further help, me and my colleagues here on PL will be glad to help you. 

Best, 

Gaurav 

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