Tips for Efficient and Effective Case Study Prep

  • Last Updated December, 2019

It’s important to practice in order to succeed in passing your case interviews and land a job in consulting. But how do you practice cases?

Preparing for case interviews can be very time consuming, so it’s important to think through your approach.

In this article we’ll provide key lessons on how to practice case study interview questions efficiently and effectively. We’ll also 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 Study Interview Prep to find out what a case study is and why consulting firms use them, or here to see examples of interview questions. But if you’re ready to dive into case practice, you’re in the right place.

Let’s get started!

Case Interview Practice Is Hard! Prepare for the Canyon of Casing

consulting case interview canyon

When you start prepping for case interviews, you might feel like you’re on a journey through a deep canyon. The view might look good at the start, but then you go down into the depths of the canyon and experience unexpected twists and turns. Each is a new thing you need to learn to get good at consulting interviews. It feels like you will never master everything you need to know to climb back out.

This is the Canyon of Casing.

  • The Canyon of Casing – be prepared for the journey of learning to case

It is called “The Canyon of Casing” because of the curve everyone learning to case will experience. There are a few phases that each of you needs to pass in order to learn how to answer a case question properly.

  • Phase 1 – You Are Not Good, But You Don’t Know It

Your level of confidence is high, but the quality of your cases is still very low. Because of that, you think you are going to be the best caser in the globe, but the truth is – you are not that good…yet. 

  • Phase 2 – You Are Not Good, And You Know It

This may happen right after the first case, or the first few. No matter when, eventually you will realize that you are not good, but this time you are aware of it. Even though your confidence is lower now, the good news is that you are starting to get better. Unfortunately this is where a lot of people give because they don’t think they are good enough and won’t ever be good enough. If you know you are in Phase 2, Phase 3 is around the corner..

  • Phase 3 – Others Can Tell You Are Good, But You Don’t Believe It

This is where the quality of your casing starts to improve. Because you are eager to get better and you are constantly improving – the results start to show, so other people tell you you are good, but because of your lowered self-confidence, you don’t believe it yourself yet. At this point, you might even be good enough to pass a first round interview on the right day, but you still lack the confidence to push through, and might even begin to worry and think about quitting. If you are in this phase, keep going because you are not far from Phase 4!

  •  Phase 4 – You Are Good and You Know It

This is where you want to end up. You can achieve this after 20 case studies, or perhaps 100 or more – it all depends on how much you are getting from your case interview preparation. Whether it takes you 20 or over 100 – you will reach this point with time. You are now good enough at casing to pass the first round or even second round case interview, and you now have confidence in knowing that you are in a good spot. You might even appreciate the journey you were on to get to this point. This is when you know you have the ability to pass most if not all your case interviews and land that offer. This is where we want you to end up at.

Consulting Case Study Practice – Key Lessons

Consulting case practice - key lessons

  • Key Lesson No. 1 – # of Cases Done is a BAD Metric

It is not important how many case studies you practice if they are done wrong. So, don’t think about the number of cases you’ve done, focus on the quality of those cases.  Someone who has done 10 quality cases is easily going to be better than someone who had 50 bad sessions, even if they started at the same point.

  • Key Lesson No 2 – Consistent Case Practice Is Important

It doesn’t matter how many hours you are putting into your case interview preparation; your consistency is more important. You should invest a set number of hours each week in casing. This way, it will become clear how many hours exactly you’ll need to improve – normally the minimum is 4-5 hours per week. Of course, you can always set a higher target.

  • Key Lesson No 3 – Study Past Case Interviews to Identify How To Improve

The idea of revision is one of the most important things you need to do if you wish to improve. If you want to speed up your practice, record yourself when you practice and watch yourself after the session. 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 at any given time and place. The point of all of this is to spot your mistakes and prevent them in the future. This will bring you closer to becoming that Phase 3 or Phase 4 caser.

  • Key Lesson No 4 – Practice One Component Of The Case Study Interview At a Time

The fastest way to improve is to isolate what you are struggling with and take the time to master that. For example, if you are struggling with math, take the time to figure out what is causing math to be your area of weaknesses. If it is converting fractions into percentages then take the time to memorize the most common fractions and percentage conversions

  • Key Lesson No 5 – Avoid Case Study Burnout

Give yourself a break.

When you get to the point where you are no longer excited about the business problems you’re solving – get some rest. A day, two or even a week. 

You need to avoid burnout, because if that happens you’ll become a case robot – you won’t feel motivated to case, you won’t be able to learn from your case and when it comes to your interviews, your lack of energy and enthusiasm will show. Even professional athletes take breaks to avoid burnout and you are no different.

How to Practice for Consulting Case Interviews

  • Practice Cases Live with a Case Partner – you can read all you want, but it would be a waste of time unless you start doing the cases. The best way to learn is through real live cases. Imagine wanting to be a better tennis player but all you do is read about how to play tennis without actually playing.
  • Find Case Partners – Finding a case partner is not an easy task, given the fact you want to learn and challenge yourself. This is why it’s best to practice with people who are better than you, so you can learn from them. If you only case with people who don’t know the game – you won’t grow. Similar to tennis, play with people who want to improve and/or are better than you.
  • Schedule fixed times to practice case interviews – When you finally choose your partner, schedule fixed time to practice with them. This way you’ll both know when is your practice time and like going to the gym, you eliminate all excuses for yourself.
  • Ask case partners for specific types of cases that you need to work on, do not let it be a random selection. It is better to determine the type of business problem you’ll practice ahead of time so you can use it to improve on an area you are focusing on improving. So if you are struggling with math, ask for a math heavy case.
  • Prepare a case to give to your partner – The best way to do this is to ask what kind of case they want, go to a page of consulting club examples and find the one which will help them in what they need to achieve.

Consulting Case Partners – What to Look for and Where to Find Them

For starters, the better your casing abilities, the more people will want to practice with you. Be careful to look for partners who will care about your success as well, not only about their own. Next, the quality of cases is always more important than the quantity. So, choose someone who is an expert and learn from them. You also want to schedule regular time with your case partner so you don’t have to think about it – just show up.

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 – 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, if you want to know how to give a case interview, you should 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 an 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 really push you to improve your analysis of business problems.

As you get better at playing tennis, you will likely turn down invitations to play with people who are just starting out, and you should do the same with casing.

In Summary: To Maximize Your Learning, Minimize Your Time Prepping…

To conclude, there are only key things you need to remember if you want to effectively practice for consulting case study interviews. 

First, it is important to shorten your practice time by focusing more on the quality of the sessions, not the number of sessions. 

Second, you need to remember is to find quality case partners to have live case practices, instead of studying by yourself. 

And third , be prepared for the Canyon of Casing – no matter where you are, know what phase is coming so you don’t lose motivation and quit too early. You will eventually get good at casing, gain confidence, and be closer to getting a job in consulting.

 

Still have questions?

If you still have questions, leave them in the comments below. We’ll ask our My Consulting Offer coaches and get back to you with answers.
 

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Help with Case Study Interview Preparation

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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.

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