7 Case Interview Tips To Help You Land a Consulting Offer
Does it feel like there’s too much you need to do to prepare for your case study interview?
If you’re taking case study interview preparation seriously, it can feel like you’re drinking from a firehose of information!
But taking your case interview preparation seriously will set you apart from many candidates.
In this article we’ll cover:
- The Key to Acing Your Case Interviews
- Our 7 Case Interview Tips
- Links to Articles that Provide Further Consulting Interview Tips
The Key to Acing Your Case Interviews: Structured Problem-Solving
The most important thing to remember as you prepare for case interviews is that the answer to the case problem is not the most important thing.
If your interviewer asks you about a problem you read about in the Wall Street Journal that morning or one you have a perfect textbook answer for, these textbook answers will not get you a second round interview unless you also show the structured problem solving used to arrive at that answer.
Every consulting client is different and every business situation is unique, so a profitability problem could be driven by pricing or unit volume sold, fixed costs or variable costs.
This is why you need to break the problem down and consider each of the possible components, and only once you’ve considered each, move on how you’d address the problem.
With that in mind, here are our 7 case study interview tips:
views allow you to get a good sense of what types of problems consultants solve and what a consulting case looks like from beginning to end.
You’ll also get a good sense of the skills you need to succeed in consulting and learn how to exhibit your skills and experience in the best light possible in your resume and cover letter and during your interviews.
7 Case Interview Tips
1. Start Early
You can learn to case in as little as 2 weeks, but don’t put that pressure on yourself if you don’t have to. Get an early start so you’ll have plenty of time to practice.
See our video, How to Pass the Case Interview without Spending 100+ Hours Preparing to jump-start your case interview prep.
2. Focus on the Most Common Cases Types First
If you were studying for English exam would you (1) go to Dictionary.com and learn all the words in the English language or would you (2) figure out what the most common questions on the exam would be?
Similar to how you wouldn’t prepare for an English exam by cramming everything there is to know, there is no reason to cram everything there is to know about business ahead of your case interviews.
Focus on what is most important and what comes up the most often.
To find those common types, you can find them here on the Common Case Interview Question Types page.
3. Master the 4-Part Approach to Answering Case Interview Questions
The 4 parts to answering a consulting case interview are:
- Opening – Make sure you understand the client’s problem.
- Structure – Brainstorm all factors relevant to the problem and organize them to ensure you address them in a complete and logical manner.
- Analysis – Gather data to identify which of the factors related to the business case are the most important. You’ll use this data to create a recommendation for your client.
- Conclusion – Present your recommendation to “the client” (your interviewer), in a well-structured and persuasive manner.
Breaking a case question into its 4 parts will make it feel less overwhelming and ensure you don’t jump ahead to an answer without showing your problem-solving skills.
See our Ultimate Guide to Case Interview Prep for more on the 4-part approach to answering case study questions.
4. Take Good Notes on Case Facts During the Interview
It’s important to be clear on the facts of the case.
Jot down any financial figures and other key facts. Also, make note of key aspects of the case you outlined in the structure part of the interview.
Case interviews can be long and involved—twenty-five minutes or longer.
You don’t want to forget to analyze an important aspect of the problem or fail to address key conclusions you reached when you get to the recommendation phase.
During a case interview, you’re allowed to use paper. Use as many sheets as you need to stay organized.
Watch Video 2 on our Consulting 2020 Bootcamp series for more on why taking good notes is important.
5. Pause Before You Launch into Your Analysis
When you are asked a question in an interview, it’s natural to want to start talking about your answer right away.
Take a second to think through the things you want to address to make sure you don’t forget a major issue.
It can feel awkward to have silence during an interview, but during this part of a management consulting interview, it’s totally expected.
6. Practice with a Case Interview Partner
It can be tempting to read through all the examples of case interview questions and answers you can find as you rush to be as prepared as possible for your consulting interview.
Don’t! Remember, it’s not about the answer, it’s about how you structure the problem.
You need to practice coming up with a structured way of breaking down a business problem, going step-by-step through the analysis, and then summing up your findings in a recommendation.
You won’t learn to do this by reading case questions and answers, you’ll only do this by practicing case interviews live with a partner or coach and getting feedback.
Case Interview Practice: Tips on How to Be Efficient & Effective has more on what to look for in case partners and where to find them.
7. Practice Case Interview Math
You are not allowed to take a calculator into consulting interviews, but math frequently comes up in business cases and market-sizing problems.
You can use a pen and paper or just do the math in your head.
Even people who are normally comfortable doing math in their head may not be comfortable doing this during an interview under time pressure.
Practicing case interview math will help. See our article on Case Interview Math for more on what to practice.
Other Articles that Will Make Your Case Interview Prep Efficient & Effective
- Our Ultimate Guide to Case Interview Prep is the place to start your preparation. We discuss why management consulting companies use case interviews and break down the 4-part approach to answering a consulting case in even more detail.
- Case Interview Examples. We have links to dozens of consulting firm and consulting club casebooks you can use to practice.
- The McKinsey Case Interview. Find out what’s different about a McKinsey case and how to ace it.
Still have questions?
If you still have questions on our case interview tips, leave them in the comments below. We’ll ask our My Consulting Offer coaches and get back to you with answers.
Help with Case Study Interview Prep
Thanks for turning to My Consulting Offer for advice on case interview prep. My Consulting Offer has helped almost 85% of the people we’ve worked with get a job in management consulting. For example, here is how Ella was able to improve her casing and get offers from all the firms she interviewed with…
We want you to be successful in your consulting interviews too.
If you want to learn more about how to ace your case interviews, schedule a free call with a member of our team. We’ll show you how you get an offer without spending hundreds of hours preparing.