The BCG Online Case & Chatbot Interview - How to Prepare

BCG Online Case Training

If you’ve applied to the Boston Consulting Group, you might get an invitation to interview that mentions not only live case interviews but an online case interview or chatbot interview as well. 

Are you wondering what BCG’s online case interview looks like and how you should prepare? 

Don’t worry! We’ve got all the details here to make sure you pass. 

If you’re applying to BCG New York, New Jersey, Washington DC, London, or an office in Southeast Asia, be sure to see our section about differences in those versions of the test. In fact, we suggest everyone take a look at this section because BCG is preparing to roll out the chatbot interview more broadly.

Let’s get started!

What is the BCG Online Case?

The BCG online case is a business problem you’re asked to solve on a computer rather than in a one-on-one discussion with an interviewer. 

Via the computer, BCG candidates are given an overview of a client, their business problem, and data relevant to the client’s business and the overall market (revenues, costs, business lines, market size, etc.) 

They’re asked questions with multiple-choice answers. Many of the questions in the online test are quantitative.

There are several different formats of the online case being used in different offices. We have specifics on several offices below.

What Skills Does the BCG Online Assessment Test?

BCG is using the online test to give candidates an in-depth example of the types of problems they help their clients to solve. 

This means you should consider whether you’d enjoy solving problems like this.

They’re also using the online case questions to assess the following skills:

  • Business judgment; 
  • Logical reasoning; and
  • Quantitative aptitude.

What Does the BCG Online Case Look Like?

practice sample online case bcg
Source: BCG

Above is a screenshot of a practice BCG online test question. While this format represents only one of several versions BCG uses, it is helpful for understanding the types of questions you’ll face.

If you have taken or prepared for the GMAT test, you might notice the similarities in appearance and also skills tested.

The screen is split into 2 windows. The left window has a question as well as multiple-choice answers. 

In the right window, there is data you can use to answer the question.

During the actual test, you’ll have more than 20 questions to answer and 45 minutes to complete the test.

During this time, you’ll be able to move forward and backward through the case to review data. You may also change your answers.

The online case is conducted as part of a round of interviews. 

In the round, you’ll interview one-on-one with 2 BCG interviewers as well.

What Types of Questions Are Being Asked in the BCG Online Test?

Many of the questions on the BCG online case are quantitative. The sample cases we’ve seen include:

  • A gasoline pricing strategy for a fuel retailer in a country that has recently deregulated gas prices and
  • A revenue growth study for a ferry line serving islands with a tourism-based economy.

Quantitative questions included:

  • Gross margin calculation,
  • Determining the price that would maximize sales (using a supply and demand graph),
  • Determining the price that would maximize profit (using a supply and demand graph and other data), and
  • GDP growth rate calculation.

In addition to the quantitative questions, there are also logical reasoning questions.

In these questions, you’ll be asked things like explain trends in the data based on the information provided.

During the test, you’re not allowed to use a spreadsheet program on the computer to calculate answers. 

You will be allowed to use a simple calculator. 

You can also use a pen and paper to take notes.

BCG’s Online Case Tests Similar Concepts to the GMAT

Our team of former McKinsey, Bain, and BCG consultants includes consultants who were also former GMAT tutors. 

We had our team evaluate the BCG online case and here is what we found…

Common types of questions include:

Mathematical reasoning questions:

  • Fractions,
  • Decimals,
  • Percentages,
  • Ratios, and 
  • Weighted averages.

Verbal reasoning questions:

  • Drawing inferences and
  • Strengthening and weakening arguments.
Integrated reasoning questions:
  • Supply and demand,
  • Maximizing revenue, and
  • Maximizing profit.
Because of the similarities between the BCG online case and the GMAT, we suggest you prepare for the case like you would prepare for the GMAT.

Nail the case & fit interview with strategies from former MBB Interviewers that have helped 89.6% of our clients pass the case interview.

Differences in the BCG Online Assessment Used in Various Offices

The BCG online case study simulation assessment and interviewing process are different for candidates in several US offices, London, and Southeast Asia. As we find out more about the formats other offices are using, we’ll provide that information here.

Here are the differences:

BCG Online Case Study (AKA the BCG chatbot interview)

  • Offices using the chatbot interview: New York, New Jersey, Washington, D.C., and Mexico. We are hearing about the chatbot interview getting rolled out in more offices.
  • The recruiting process is: In the first round of interviews, candidates have 1 interview with an interviewer and 1 chatbot interview.
  • The chatbot case is conducted by “Casey” the chatbot. Where live BCG cases are interviewee-led, the chatbot case is interviewer-led.
  • Candidates are given 25 minutes to answer 12 questions. There is a short introductory video in which Casey the chatbot introduces a business problem. The chatbot interview asks multiple-choice and short answer/fill-in questions. The last question is on structuring the problem, then there is a 1-minute video recording at the end in which you provide your recommendation for the client.
  • People report that the chatbot interview is harder than a normal case. The questions heavily use exhibits and there is a good bit of math, though it’s pretty straighforward. All answers are final. You can not change previous answers later in the test. The time limit for your answers is tight. BCG’s instructions say each question is independent so that if you get one wrong, you still have a good shot on subsequent questions, but candidates who’ve taken the test report that’s not true. 
  • You will have 1 minute to prepare and 1 minute to record your video at the end, your recommendation to the client. You will not be able to re-record your recommendation. (Be sure to complete the case on a laptop with a webcam.)
  • Keep note of relevant case details as you would during a live interview because you will not be able to go back to review exhibits.
Source: BCG

Sample Case Questions:

  • Our client is a furniture manufacturer who could offer a promotion for a sports game. Should they do this?
  • Our client is the 2nd largest player in its industry. The 3rd & 4th largest players plan to merge. How should our client respond?
  • Our client wants to acquire a downstream player in their market and integrate vertically. What factors should they consider?
  • Our client has 2 manufacturing plants, Plant A and Plant B. They face rising costs due to labor issues in plant A. How will you help our client?
  • Our client is an insurance company. They want to assess whether they should offer a fitness watch to clients to help them to live healthier lives and reduce insurance premiums.

Examples of Quantitative Questions:

  • Calculate post-merger profitability for 2 merging companies factoring in economies of scale gained from the merger. This calculation involves weighing the current margins of each company by its share of post-merger revenue and adding additional margins gained from economies of scale.
  • Should our client vertically integrate? Determine whether this makes financial sense by calculating current profitability and comparing that to the future profitability if the client acquires raw material at cost.

Examples of Qualitative Questions:

  • For a business problem, choose the factors the client should consider from a list of options. There may be a free-response follow-up question asking why the candidate chose those factors.

BCG Online Behavioral Questions

  • After the chatbot interview, there is a separate 25-minute video interview with fit questions.
  • This includes 5 fit questions.
  • You don’t need to take the entire time to answer each question. Short, structured answers will serve you better than long, rambling answers.
  • See our article on Consulting Behavioral Interviews for tips on acing these questions.

BCG London Online Case Study Simulation Assessment

  • The recruiting process is: 1) first round: the online case study simulation + one 45-minute video conference case interview, 2) second round: video conference interviews, 3) final round: video conference interviews.
  • 1-hour interview preparation webinars are provided in advance of interviews,
  • The online case study simulation will be sent to you. You’ll have 24 hours to complete it.

BCG Southeast Asia Online Case

  • The recruiting process is: 1) the online case, 2) 2R (or 2nd round) – 2 in-person interviews assessing case and behavioral skills, and 3) DR (or decision round) – 2 in-person interviews with partners assessing case and behavioral skills. 
  • The online case comes before any in-person interviews as a separate interview round,
  • The test takes under 1 hour to complete,
  • It includes 2 sections, one with questions and then one with a video recording,
  • In the recording, candidates will explain their analytic process and provide recommendations to the “client.”
  • This online case is used for both experienced hire applicants and those graduating from degree programs.

Differences in the Online Case Format Between Offices

We wanted to highlight these differences in the recruiting process and online cases between different BCG offices because if you are planning on just answering questions on a computer and then are given a simulation or asked to record your answers on video, this would be a big surprise.

But don’t worry. Really, your task is not that different.

You need to be ready to break down the case problem, analyze relevant facts, and recommend a solution. Just be prepared to talk through your approach to the case and your client recommendations.
We recommend preparing for this test as you would prepare for one-on-one case interviews since there is no practice test at this time.

As we get more information on offices using the online case, we’ll update that information here.

6 Steps to Prepare for the BCG Online Assessment

Based on the similarity between the online case questions and the GMAT questions, here is how our team recommends preparing  before your interview:

1. Study the sample online case questions and answers provided by BCG and/or attend their interview prep webinar (for offices that offer it).

These cases are your best guide to what the online test will look like. Recent candidates have noted, however, that the practice case was easier than the actual online case.

The BCG interactive case library is also a good resource.

2. Study using practice questions for the GMAT test.

The online case does not cover exactly the same material as the GMAT so this isn’t a perfect study guide, but it’s quite good. 

Pay particular attention to questions in the quantitative and integrated reasoning sections (especially ratios, percentages, linear and simultaneous equation word problems.) See our resource section below for recommended test-prep guides.

3. Review your GMAT test practice questions for trends in the types of questions you missed.

If your mistakes were careless errors, ask yourself what habits you can develop to limit those types of mistakes in the future. 

If your mistakes were based on a gap in your understanding of a concept, spend more time studying that concept.

Most people simply do practice questions without reviewing their results for how they can study smarter. Don’t do this. 

Focus on the types of problems you struggle with until you can consistently get them right.

4. Reviewing Economics 101 principles could help your score if you’re weak in this area.

The online case expects you to have more in-depth knowledge of economics principles such as supply and demand and profit maximization than the GMAT does.

5. If you’re short on time before your test, focus effort on the types of questions most likely to come up on the BCG online case

Integrated reasoning, multi-source reasoning, table analysis, and graphic interpretation are the types of questions that come up most frequently. Focusing on these areas will improve your score the most.

6. Know the optimal strategy for maximizing your score on this test. 

BCG’s practice test is graded by giving 3 points for a question answered correctly, 0 points for a skipped question, and taking 1 point away for an incorrect answer. 

From this, we can infer that guessing is not a good idea unless you can narrow a question down to 2 potential choices. If you can’t eliminate at least 2 answers, then skip.

Note the question number in case you have time to come back. 

7. Manage your time during the test. 

Candidates who’ve taken the test report being pressed for time. Make sure you don’t get bogged down on one difficult question, taking no more than about 1.5 minutes/question.

Skipping a difficult question can ensure you have time to complete simpler questions you haven’t yet gotten to. If you have extra time at the end of the test, you can return to difficult questions.

Example of BCG’s Online Case

practice sample online case BCG
Source: BCG

The screenshot above is an example of a practice question that requires the candidate to interpret text and graphical data.

Links to Resources for Prepping for the BCG Online Assessment

The best resources to practice with are the 2 BCG practice online cases. If you need more practice materials to feel confident with your preparation, we recommend the following:

  • A GMAT test-prep book. The book we recommend using to practice for the online case is this book. Do keep in mind that the BCG test is similar, but not the same.
  • A GMAT test-prep book focused on quantitative questions. This is the best resource to use if you’re having problems with the quantitative questions. We recommend this book

In particular, look at chapters 4, 7, 13, 17, and 18. You’ll want to work on the word problems and problem-solving, but filter out for ONLY the questions related to business problems and not, for example, the geometry and symbolic algebra.

  • If you haven’t taken an Economics 101 course, you’ll need to learn some basic principles. Khan Academy has a great series on microeconomics here.
  • If you’re running short on time, focus on integrated resource questions. Specifically, this will help with multi-source reasoning, table analysis, and graphics interpretation questions.

Want to study even more??

  • If you’re having trouble with integrated reasoning questions, use this
  • If you’re struggling with the math questions, we recommend this book.
  • For another integrated reasoning test-prep book we likeclick here.

Still have questions?

If you have more questions about BCG’s online case, leave them in the comments below. One of My Consulting Offer’s case coaches will answer them.

Other people preparing for the BCG online case found the following pages helpful:

Schedule a Mock Practice Before Your BCG online case.

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