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Francesco

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6

Written case interview prep

Hi, I have an interview scheduled with Strategy& involving a 90minute written case interview. Can someone with past experience with S& please let me know how to prepare best and what to expect?

regards.

Hi, I have an interview scheduled with Strategy& involving a 90minute written case interview. Can someone with past experience with S& please let me know how to prepare best and what to expect?

regards.

(edited)

6 answers

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Hi PD,

The key areas you will have to cover to prepare a written case are the following.

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 your time in the best possible way.

Assuming 60 minutes for the analysis (and then 30 to present), 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 practice to stick to the time allocated to maximize your final performance.

2. Practice graph interpretation

You will probably have to analyze graphs as part of the data provided. The best way to practice is to take graphs from online sources and use a timer to test in how much time you can understand the key message. McKinsey PST graphs are good practice for that.

3. Work on quick reading and quick understanding of key information

You won’t have time to read and prioritize everything, therefore you have to understand where to focus. The ideal way to practice is to use long cases such as HBS ones. You should then learn to absorb the key information of the case. Quick reading techniques could also help.

4. Practice quick math

You will probably have some math to do as part of the data analysis. GMAT and McKinsey PST math should work well to prepare for this.

5. Learn how to communicate your slides/answers

When you have to present your findings in the second part, I would suggest the same structure used for a conclusion in a live interview, that is:

  1. Summarize 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 hypotheses with the interviewer while you prepare 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 summarizes 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 about.

A great title instead shows the implication of the graph as well.

Example: 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 unfeasible 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…

If you want to prepare quickly and are short of time, I do a session exactly on that.

Before the session, I can send you the data source to work on. We can then simulate the presentation during the class, reviewing step-by-step all the improvements needed.

Please feel free to send me a message in case you have any questions.

Best,

Francesco

Hi PD,

The key areas you will have to cover to prepare a written case are the following.

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 your time in the best possible way.

Assuming 60 minutes for the analysis (and then 30 to present), 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 practice to stick to the time allocated to maximize your final performance.

2. Practice graph interpretation

You will probably have to analyze graphs as part of the data provided. The best way to practice is to take graphs from online sources and use a timer to test in how much time you can understand the key message. McKinsey PST graphs are good practice for that.

3. Work on quick reading and quick understanding of key information

You won’t have time to read and prioritize everything, therefore you have to understand where to focus. The ideal way to practice is to use long cases such as HBS ones. You should then learn to absorb the key information of the case. Quick reading techniques could also help.

4. Practice quick math

You will probably have some math to do as part of the data analysis. GMAT and McKinsey PST math should work well to prepare for this.

5. Learn how to communicate your slides/answers

When you have to present your findings in the second part, I would suggest the same structure used for a conclusion in a live interview, that is:

  1. Summarize 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 hypotheses with the interviewer while you prepare 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 summarizes 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 about.

A great title instead shows the implication of the graph as well.

Example: 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 unfeasible 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…

If you want to prepare quickly and are short of time, I do a session exactly on that.

Before the session, I can send you the data source to work on. We can then simulate the presentation during the class, reviewing step-by-step all the improvements needed.

Please feel free to send me a message in case you have any questions.

Best,

Francesco

Book a coaching with Ian

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Hi PD,

First, good luck!

I recommend the following:

  1. Remember that most casing tips apply here (i.e. be very clear+focused on the objective, ruthlessly cut out information that doesn't help you meet this objective/question, make sure to thinking + communicate in a structured way, etc. etc.)
  2. Practice/simulate this as much as possible beforehand...getting a coach to help you run through scenarios + how to react in inevitably challenging moments will do a world of good.

I have a number of written case I'd be more than happy to share with you! What I generally do with my candidates is, give them a written case x hours before our scheduled session (adjust # of hours based on the specific interview they're going to have), and then review their work during the session (as well as talk through tips+tricks to get better).

Other helpful Q&As

https://www.preplounge.com/en/consulting-forum/scenario-interview-presentation-prep-9325

https://www.preplounge.com/en/consulting-forum/how-to-practice-written-case-interviews-9199

https://www.preplounge.com/en/consulting-forum/case-interview-9228

https://www.preplounge.com/en/consulting-forum/how-to-practice-written-case-interviews-9199

Hi PD,

First, good luck!

I recommend the following:

  1. Remember that most casing tips apply here (i.e. be very clear+focused on the objective, ruthlessly cut out information that doesn't help you meet this objective/question, make sure to thinking + communicate in a structured way, etc. etc.)
  2. Practice/simulate this as much as possible beforehand...getting a coach to help you run through scenarios + how to react in inevitably challenging moments will do a world of good.

I have a number of written case I'd be more than happy to share with you! What I generally do with my candidates is, give them a written case x hours before our scheduled session (adjust # of hours based on the specific interview they're going to have), and then review their work during the session (as well as talk through tips+tricks to get better).

Other helpful Q&As

https://www.preplounge.com/en/consulting-forum/scenario-interview-presentation-prep-9325

https://www.preplounge.com/en/consulting-forum/how-to-practice-written-case-interviews-9199

https://www.preplounge.com/en/consulting-forum/case-interview-9228

https://www.preplounge.com/en/consulting-forum/how-to-practice-written-case-interviews-9199

Book a coaching with Adi

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Hi PD,

Here's my tips & advice for a long case with lots of data/information & 60mins prep time- thats the trend I have noticed with BIG4 in recent months

  1. Have a nice ppt template ready (feel free to message me if you need any help with this). A possible suggested storyline for 4-6 slides can be: Nice title page-> Client Ask/Scope/Assumptions->Approach-> Analysis-> Recommendations
  2. When you get the case, look at the questions/task first and form an idea of what underlying detail/structure you will need to answer the questions
  3. Depending on your style you can then choose one of following options:
    • Skim read quickly to get an idea. Go back & read the case again with questions/task in mind
    • Read slowly with the questions/task in mind and cross out non-priority areas. For a long case it wont be possible for you to focus on everything, so prioritisation is key. Have good reasons/assumptions/hypothesis for choosing those priority areas
  4. Do your qualitative & quant analysis. Again prioritise the graphs/tables/data. Dont make the mistake of ignoring quants. Start putting your analysis parallely on the slides
  5. You must hard stop your reading & analysis of the case in say 35mins
  6. Allocate 15mins to complete your slide template; you may have to refer to your analysis & the case a few times, so dont underestimate this stage
  7. Take 5mins to remind yourself what are you going to present back

Please practice 2-3 written cases with a friend/peer/coach.

Good luck!

Hi PD,

Here's my tips & advice for a long case with lots of data/information & 60mins prep time- thats the trend I have noticed with BIG4 in recent months

  1. Have a nice ppt template ready (feel free to message me if you need any help with this). A possible suggested storyline for 4-6 slides can be: Nice title page-> Client Ask/Scope/Assumptions->Approach-> Analysis-> Recommendations
  2. When you get the case, look at the questions/task first and form an idea of what underlying detail/structure you will need to answer the questions
  3. Depending on your style you can then choose one of following options:
    • Skim read quickly to get an idea. Go back & read the case again with questions/task in mind
    • Read slowly with the questions/task in mind and cross out non-priority areas. For a long case it wont be possible for you to focus on everything, so prioritisation is key. Have good reasons/assumptions/hypothesis for choosing those priority areas
  4. Do your qualitative & quant analysis. Again prioritise the graphs/tables/data. Dont make the mistake of ignoring quants. Start putting your analysis parallely on the slides
  5. You must hard stop your reading & analysis of the case in say 35mins
  6. Allocate 15mins to complete your slide template; you may have to refer to your analysis & the case a few times, so dont underestimate this stage
  7. Take 5mins to remind yourself what are you going to present back

Please practice 2-3 written cases with a friend/peer/coach.

Good luck!

Book a coaching with Clara

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Hello!

Written case interviews are indeed becoming very fashionable nowadays as a way to interview!

Remember that the skillset tested is the same than in the "usual" cases, hence, all the practice you may have done totally plays in your favor.

One important point to add is the need to be very 80-20, structured and to the point, since the prep time is very short, so we need discipline with the analysis to have enaugh time to prep the communication strategy.

There are many many entries in thsi same Q&A regarding written cases, hence, I would recommend you to look with the keywords "written case"

Hope it helps!

Cheers,

Clara

Hello!

Written case interviews are indeed becoming very fashionable nowadays as a way to interview!

Remember that the skillset tested is the same than in the "usual" cases, hence, all the practice you may have done totally plays in your favor.

One important point to add is the need to be very 80-20, structured and to the point, since the prep time is very short, so we need discipline with the analysis to have enaugh time to prep the communication strategy.

There are many many entries in thsi same Q&A regarding written cases, hence, I would recommend you to look with the keywords "written case"

Hope it helps!

Cheers,

Clara

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Hi,
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

Hi,
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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Hi PD,

The good news is that by having solved the usual cases, you've already tackled one big chunk of the preparation! In theory, you just need to apply the technics you already know, + 80-20, plus time management, create a nice structure, and be correct in your math!

Hit me up if you have any further questions! Good luck with your interview;)

Cheers,

GB

Hi PD,

The good news is that by having solved the usual cases, you've already tackled one big chunk of the preparation! In theory, you just need to apply the technics you already know, + 80-20, plus time management, create a nice structure, and be correct in your math!

Hit me up if you have any further questions! Good luck with your interview;)

Cheers,

GB

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