If you’re on this page, chances are you’ve been told you’re scheduled for a group interview.
After practicing for weeks to get good at cracking a normal case interview, hearing you have a group interview might make you feel like you’ve scaled a huge mountain only to find that there’s an even higher peak beyond it that you need to climb.
Group case interviews present some different challenges than individual cases, but if you know what those challenges are, you can overcome them.
We’ll tell you how.
In this article, we’ll cover what a group case interview is, why consulting firms use them, the key to passing your group interview, and tell you the 6 tips on group interviews you need to know.
If this is your first time to MyConsultingOffer.org, you may want to start with this page on Case Interview Prep. But if you’re ready to learn everything you need to know to pass a group case, you’re in the right place.
Let’s get started!
What is a Group Case Interview?
A group case interview is an interview in which 3-6 recruits work together to solve a single business case.
The group needs to come to a collective point of view on what the client’s problem is, how to structure their analysis, and what the final recommendation should be.
The group should also agree on how the analysis of the case will be conducted at a high level, but the actual number-crunching will need to be divided between group members in order to complete the work in the allotted time.
The group’s analysis and recommendation will be presented to one or more interviewers.
Why Do Consulting Firms Use Group Case Interviews?
It can feel difficult to trust your team members when you know that you’re all competing for the same job, but that’s what the group case is about — it tests teamwork skills in a high-stakes environment.
Management consultants are hired to solve big, thorny business problems, ones that require the work of multiple people to solve.
While there is a hierarchy on consulting teams with a partner leading the work, consulting partners simultaneously manage multiple clients or multiple studies at one large client.
They won’t work with your team every day and in their absence, the team still needs to be able to work together effectively.
Even if a partner is leading a team’s problem-solving discussion, each consultant has a responsibility to make sure the team’s best thinking is being put forward to help the client.
Ideas are both expected from each member of the team and valued.
Even the newest analyst has a contribution to make.
The analyst may have been the person to analyze the data and therefore be closest to the information that will drive the solution to the problem.
The flat power-structure of the team makes it critical that each consultant works well with others on teams.
In assessing each member of a group case team, interviewers will ask themselves:
Does each of the recruits listen as well as lead?
Are they open to other peoples’ ideas?
Can they perform independent analysis and interpret what impact their work has on the overall problem the team is trying to solve?
Can they persuade team members of their points of view?
The Key to Passing the Group Case: Make Sure Your Group Is Organized
A group case must be solved by going through the same 4 steps as individual cases: the opening, structuring the problem, the analysis, and the recommendation.
Your team should break down the time you have to solve the case into time allotted to each of these steps to ensure you don’t spend too long in one area and not reach a recommendation.
Make sure the team agrees on a single statement of the client’s problem.
Take the time for everyone to read the materials, take notes, and suggest what they think is the key question(s) that need to be solved in this case.
Write it on a whiteboard or somewhere else to ensure there’s agreement. You can’t solve the problem together if you don’t agree on what the problem is.
Usually, someone in the group will take the lead on organizing the group.
If no one does, this is your opportunity to demonstrate your leadership and teamwork skills, but if there are people fighting over the leadership position (unlikely since everyone is on their “best behavior”), then contribute and don’t worry that you aren’t “leading” the discussion just yet.
Create a clear, MECE structure to analyze the problem.
This is even more important to solving a group case than an individual one because you need to make sure that when the group breaks up so each member can perform part of the analysis, all the issues are covered and there’s not duplicated effort between team members.
After your group structures the problem, split up the analysis that needs to be done between members of the group.
If no one suggests breaking up the analysis, then volunteer the idea. Be sure to explain how each person’s piece fits into the team effort.
Each person should do their analysis independently to ensure there is sufficient time to complete all the required tasks, though the team should regroup briefly if someone has a problem they need help with or comes up with an insight that could influence the work other group members are doing.
While you do your own analysis, you’ll need to demonstrate you understand the bigger picture by involving your teammates, sharing how your findings impacts their work, and articulating how all the insights lead to an answer to the client’s problem.
After everyone has completed their analysis, the group should come back together so everyone can report their results and the group can collectively come to a recommendation to present to interviewers.
In addition to the normal 4 parts of the case, group cases usually require you to present your recommendation to the interviewer(s).
Be sure to build time into your schedule for creating slides, deciding who presents what, and practicing your delivery.
Many groups fail because they begin their presentation without deciding who has which role.
In consulting, this is like going into a client meeting without knowing who is presenting which slide to the client and makes your team look unprofessional.
Start with your recommendation and then provide the key pieces of analysis and/or reasoning that support it.
Again, the work will need to be divided between team members to ensure you get slides written in the allotted time.
For more information on writing good slide presentations, see Written Case Interview page.
6 Tips to Pass Your Group Case Interview
Tip 1: Organize Your Team
If no one else takes charge, take on this role.
A disorganized team will not be able to complete their analysis and develop a strong recommendation in the time allotted.
See the previous section for the steps the group needs to complete to solve the case.
If someone else does take charge, don’t fight for control.
Show leadership by making points that help to move the team’s problem solving forward, not fighting so that it goes backwards.
Tip 2: Move the Problem-Solving Forward
With multiple team members trying to contribute and express their point of view, it’s possible to have a lot of discussion without getting closer to a solution to the client’s business problem. You can overcome this by:
- Summing up what the team has agreed on so far,
- Providing insight into how the team’s discussion impacts the problem you’re tasked with solving, and/or
- Steering the team to discuss the next steps.
If it feels like the team is rehashing the same topics, use these options to move the problem solving forward.
Tip 3: Make Fact-Based Decisions
It’s okay to disagree with team members but always disagree like a consultant. Challenge teammates’ ideas with data, not opinions.
If there is analysis that needs to be done to determine which point of view is correct, table the discussion until the analysis has been completed.
Tip 4: Don't Steamroll Teammates
As mentioned earlier, consulting teams value the ideas and input of every team member.
Because of this, cutting off, interrupting or talking over other team members is more likely to get you turned down for a consulting job than hired.
The quality of your contribution to group discussions is more important than the quantity (or air time) you consume.
Demonstrate your collaboration and interpersonal skills.
Tip 5: Remain Confident When the Team Presents
Keep your poker face on even if your teammates don’t make every point the way you would have made it.
Like steamrolling teammates in discussions, frowning or shaking your head as they present will make it look like you’re not a team player.
Tip 6: Remember, Everyone Can Get Offers
In many jobs, there is only one position open.
At consulting firms, a class of new analysts and associates is hired each year.
There aren’t quotas regarding hiring only one person from a group interview team, so working cooperatively to solve the problem is a better strategy than undermining other members of your group to appear smarter than they are.
We’ve seen group interviews where no one gets a job offer and that can be because teammates undermine each other.
Don’t Over-Invest in Prepping for a Group Case Study Interview
Yes, group case interviews are tough but you should keep in mind that they are not the most common types of consulting case interviews.
Like the written case interview, group cases come up infrequently.
The 2 most common types of case interviews are individual interviews: the candidate-led interview or the interviewer-led interview.
In the candidate-led interview, the recruit is responsible for moving the problem solving forward. After they ensure they understand the problem and structure how they’d approach solving it, they pick one piece of the problem to start drilling down on first. Candidate-led cases are commonly used by Bain and BCG.
In the interviewer-led interview, the interviewer will suggest the first part of the case a recruit should probe after they have presented their opening and structured the problem. Interviewer-led interviews are commonly used by McKinsey.
Because individual cases are much more common than group cases, don’t spend time preparing for a group case unless you’re sure you’ll have one.
If you’re invited to take part in a group case interview, your preparation on individual cases will ensure you have a good approach cracking the case.
At this point, we hope you feel confident you can pass your group case interview.
In this article, we’ve covered what a group case interview is, why consulting firms use them, the key to passing your group interview, and the 6 tips on group interviews you need to know.
Still have questions?
If you have more questions about group interviews, leave them in the comments below. One of My Consulting Offer’s case coaches will answer them.
People prepping for a group case interview have also found the following other pages helpful:
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