13 Things you should know about case interviews
Cracking consulting case interviews are hard enough. Here are thirteen things you MUST know BEFORE you even begin preparing for the interviews.
In our experience, these are the most common mistakes candidates make.
- You are not given all the required information upfront to solve the case. You will need to ask probing questions to extract the information held by the interviewer.
- The case will always contain either too little or too much information. It is your job to determine which information is necessary and use it wisely. The problem with memorizing frameworks is that it does not teach you to distinguish between necessary and superfluous data, nor how to extract relevant data.
- While the structured approach you use is just as important as the answer, if you fail to arrive at the correct answer, it does not matter how logical your reason was. You still fail.
- You cannot hope to solve the case unless you are good at solving problems in front of people. If you are person who likes to hide in a room and beaver away, then you need to change your style and become accustomed to working with people.
- Reading body language and verbal nuances is crucial. The interviewer is always giving you signals through their body language and use of words. You need to be able to read this.
- Critically, there are two parts to solving a case. Both are important. Part one is breaking down the problem and collecting all the necessary data. Part two, involves analyzing all the facts to arrive at a set of recommendations. Learning how to do both is essential.
- The interviewer wants to see what you do. A logical layout of the analyses on your sheet of paper is used as a proxy for a logical mind. Untidy or difficult to follow analyses on a sheet of paper leads the interview to think you are unstructured.
- If you solve the case, but show immaturity in your body language, mannerisms, phrases or even demeanor, you will fail. Consulting firms want adults in front of clients. We know of people who were declined even though they solved the case perfectly.
- You may be surprised to hear this, but there are actually just a few frameworks you need to know. The challenge is, therefore, not in knowing the frameworks, but in knowing when and how to apply them.
- You can solve cases using decision trees, logic trees, hypotheses or a combination of them all. We tend to teach decision trees and hypotheses since these can help you through all situations.
- It helps to know the basic layout of an income statement, balance sheet and cash-flow statement. Most questions link back to these concepts.
- It helps to read business magazines and newspapers like the Wall Street Journal, New York Times Business or even Fortune. You then become familiar with the terminology.
- Too many people complicate a case question. Cases are really simple if you use logic. In our experience, many people try to force fit a framework to a case than simply using logic. We teach logic so that you can tackle any case approach.
- Understanding MECE – Excerpt from our book (firmsconsulting.com)
- The Essential Guide to Attacking Case Interviews (firmsconsulting.com)
- Why consulting case interviews are only half the battle (firmsconsulting.com)
- How to Create a Decision Tree (brighthub.com)