Case Interview Practice: Tips on How to Be Efficient & Effective
Case Interview practice is crucial to landing a job at a top management consulting firm like Bain, BCG, or McKinsey.
But how do you practice cases?
Hint: It’s not just by reading one case interview example after another. In fact, that’s counterproductive!
Preparing for case interviews can be time-consuming, so it’s important to think through your approach.
In this article we’ll:
- Tell you about the Canyon of Casing, a problem that makes many consulting candidates give up,
- Provide key lessons on how to make your case interview practice efficient and effective, and
- Tell you where to look for case partners and what a good partner looks like.
If this is your first visit to MyConsultingOffer.com – you may want to head to Case Interview Prep to find out what a case study is and why consulting firms use them, or Case Interview Examples to see examples of interview questions. But if you’re ready to work smarter not harder at case interview practice, you’re in the right place.
Let’s get started!
Case Interview Practice Is Hard! Prepare for the Canyon of Casing
When you start case interview practice, the case questions might not look too bad. Then you look at the suggested answer to your first question.
You realize you touched on less than half of the key points.
You try another case. You’ve got this now, so you think you’ll do better.
You just met the Canyon of Casing. When you begin case interview practice, the first thing you learn is how much you don’t know about solving business problems.
It feels like you will never master everything you need to know to climb back out.
The Canyon of Casing is a learning curve everyone encounters when they prepare for consulting interviews. You start your case interview practice in phase 1:
- Phase 1 – You’re Not Good, But You Don’t Know It
You feel confident, but you shouldn’t. You just don’t know what good looks like.
But with your 1st couple practice cases you move quickly into phase 2:
- Phase 2 – You’re Not Good, And You Know It
It’s awful to be in phase 2 because you think you have no shot at getting a job at an MBB consulting firm, but don’t worry.
Just keep practicing. Once you make it through all 4 phases you’ll know how to answer a case question properly.
Even though your confidence is lower now, you’re starting to get better. Don’t give up because phase 3 is around the corner.
- Phase 3 – Others Can Tell You Are Good, But You Don’t Believe It
The quality of your casing is improving and your case partners can see it, but you don’t yet see it yourself. All you see is the points in the sample case interview answers that you miss.
At this point, you might even be good enough to pass a first round interview on the right day, but you still lack confidence. Keep going because you are not far from Phase 4. . .
- Phase 4 – You’re Good and You Know It
This is where you want to end up. You’re now good enough to pass a first round or even second round consulting interview, and you now have confidence in your casing.
You can achieve this after 20 case studies, or perhaps 100 or more – it all depends on how much you’re getting from your case interview practice.
Keep reading to find out how to practice the right way.
Consulting Case Study Practice – Key Lessons
- Case Practice Lesson 1 – Number of Cases Done is a BAD Metric
If you practice the wrong way, you won’t get better fast enough.
Someone who has done 10 quality cases is easily going to be better than someone who practiced 50 cases the wrong way, even if they started at the same point.
The case interview practice mistake many people make is to just read case questions and answers rather than practicing with a case partner.
- Case Practice Lesson 2- Consistent Case Practice Is Important
The number of hours you put into your case interview practice isn’t as important as the consistency of your case practice.
Invest a set number of hours in case interview practice each week. This way, it will become clear how many hours exactly you’ll need to improve.
Normally 4-5 hours per week of case practice per week is the minimum needed.
- Case Practice Lesson 3 – Review Your Case Interviews to See How To Improve
Time spent reviewing past cases is one of the most important things you can do to improve.
To speed up your practice, record your case answers and watch yourself afterward. It may be weird at first to watch yourself presenting and spot all of your mistakes, but it will go a long way in terms of helping you improve quickly.
Keep notes as well, so you can go back and review them and avoid making the same mistakes in the future. This will bring you closer to becoming that Phase 3 or Phase 4 caser.
- Case Practice Lesson 4 – Practice One Component Of The Case Study Interview At a Time
The fastest way to improve is to isolate the parts of the case questions you’re struggling with and take the time to master that.
For example, if you are struggling with case interview math, take the time to figure out what’s causing math to be your weaknesses. If it’s converting fractions into percentages then take the time to memorize the most common fractions and percentage conversions.
- Case Practice Lesson 5 – Avoid Case Burnout
Give yourself a break.
When you get to the point where you’re no longer excited about the business problems you’re solving- you need to take a day or 2 off.
Avoid case burnout. If you’re not motivated to case, you won’t be able to learn from your case interview practice.
And when it comes to your interviews, your lack of enthusiasm will show. Even professional athletes take breaks to avoid burnout.
How to Practice for Consulting Case Interviews
- Practice Cases Live with a Case Partner – The best way to learn is through live cases. You can’t become a better tennis player by reading a book about how to play, you need to hit the ball. Casing is the same.
- Find Case Partners – The best case partners to practice with are those that are better than you. Those partners are hard to find but look for them because they’ll help you improve faster.
- Schedule fixed times for case interview practice – Fixed practice time will make scheduling easier and make sure you don’t procrastinate.
- Ask case partners for specific types of cases that you need to work on – Don’t leave your case practice up to chance. Determine the type of case you need to work on and ask for it ahead of time. If you’re struggling with math, ask for a math-heavy case.
- Prepare a case to give to your partner – Ask your partner what kind of case they want and find an appropriate case interview example to give them.
Consulting Case Partners – What to Look for and Where to Find Them
The better you are at casing, the more people will want to practice with you. Quality is more important than quantity of case partners so look for the best partners you can find.
In addition, look for partners who will care about your success, not only about their own.
Case Partner – Who Should You Practice With?
- Gold Mine – The Gold Mine of case partners are management consultants who work at McKinsey, Bain, and BCG (MBB) and are currently or were formerly involved in recruitment. Additionally, incoming MBBs who have recently gone through the recruiting process are a good option.
- Hungry and Willing – These are people who have worked or interned at an MBB, Big 4, or boutique strategy consulting firm, but have re-entered the recruiting process. They have been through it once already, but are hungry to get more job offers and willing to work on their casing.
- Practice Partners – The practice partners are people who are smart, hard-working and actively recruiting with strategy consulting firms. They might not have any consulting experience, but they are on the same journey that you are.
- Knowledgeable – People who previously worked or still work at a Big 4/Boutique and are not recruiting. They know about casing but you won’t be able to get much of their time since they aren’t actively recruiting.
- Last Resort – People you should not choose unless you have to include your roommate, significant other, friend, or anyone close to you who doesn’t have an interest and/or background in consulting.
Where to Find Case Interview Practice Partners?
- Should you practice business cases online? Definitely. Use all the resources available.
- Use your personal connections to MBB firms – alumni, current or incoming.
- Campus consulting club – you don’t have to be a student, there are open campus consulting clubs as well.
- Career Services – any career services you have access to whether you are a student or alumni.
- Referrals from past case partners – ask current case partners for introductions to who they case with.
- Info Sessions hosted by management consulting firms – at these sessions there will be plenty of other people in the process of preparing for interviews.
As you get better you can and you should be more selective about your casing partners. Look for consultants or fellow consulting candidates who can push you to improve your analysis of business problems.
As you get better at playing tennis, you’d turn down invitations to play with people just starting out, and you should do the same with casing.
After reading this article you now know:
- What the Canyon of Casing is and how to make sure it doesn’t mess up your case interview practice,
- Our key lessons on how to make your case interview practice efficient and effective, and
- Where to look for case partners and what a good partner looks like.
Still have questions?
Help with Case Study Interview Preparation
Thanks for turning to My Consulting Offer for advice on case study interview prep. My Consulting Offer has helped almost 85% of the people we’ve worked with to get a job in management consulting.
We’ve helped people who are just beginning the case interview process to people who only had less than 1 week to prepare including undergrads, MBAs, PhDs, and working professionals.
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.