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Case Interview: Everything You Need to Know to Ace the Interview

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July 29, 2021
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5 minutes
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Congratulations! All your hard work at the Consultport Academy has paid off. You are now ready to become a consultant. Applying for jobs is one thing. Getting a job is another. When being interviewed for a consulting position, there are two parts to the process; a fit interview and a case interview. A fit interview questions your motives behind joining the company and tests whether the company is the right place for you. The case interview is the more technical side. This is where the interviewer tests your skills and abilities. During the case interview, you are given a business problem that you must solve and analyse. It is not uncommon for people to freeze during this stage, even though they may know their stuff. To help you through this, we have included some tips and tricks to acing the interview and impressing the interviewer.

Preparing for Case Interview

When preparing for a case interview, there are many things to consider. Preparing for a case interview can involve both mental and technical ability tasks. Mentally you need to get yourself into a good headspace. You need to feel confident in yourself and your abilities. In terms of skills, you need to brush up on your case interview frameworks, world news, consulting terminology and case math skills, as there are some math formulae that you need to know off by heart.

“A job interview is not a test of your knowledge, but rather your ability to use it at the right time.”

Case Interview Frameworks

Before your interview, make sure that you are familiar with the case interview framework methods you could refer to when approaching the specific problem you’ve been given. The case interview framework methods will help you break down the problem into smaller, more digestible pieces. However, these frameworks should not be parrot-learned and repeated off by heart in your interview. You need to use these case interview frameworks as a basis to create your unique frameworks off of. Some of the most important frameworks in the consulting world are:

    Probability Frameworks

    This simple framework breaks down any profits the business has made into its revenues and costs, and helps to identify why the company isn’t turning a profit.

    Market Entry Framework

    This helps a business decide whether they should launch into a new market or stay put in the market they are already in. In order to make that call one needs to look at the market, client capabilities, financials, and entry strategies.

    3Cs Framework

    The three C’s are customers, competition, and company. This is a helpful framework for putting together a business strategy.

    Merger and Acquisition Framework

    This helps a business decide whether it should join forces with the competition. This framework looks at the market, target, buyer, and synergies, and risks.

Case Interview Secrets

If this is your first time heading into a case interview, you may not know what to expect. Luckily for you, there are many already established consultants who have been in your position before. They were nice enough to share a few of their case interview secrets. These case interview secrets include:

    Make sure you are listening carefully

    You need to pick up and take in all the information they are throwing your way.

    Pick up on any hints given

    The interview is not out to get you. Believe it or not, the interviewer wants you to succeed.

    Ask them to clarify if you are unsure of specific details

    Sometimes a company leaves out vital details that you as a consultant should realise are missing. Without these details, you cannot solve the problem at hand.

    Do not use the same framework for every case

    If you are solving multiple cases, do not use the same framework when answering in the interview. Only use the framework that is applicable to the specific case. The interviewer is more than likely to test whether you know which framework to apply to which case/situation, so make sure you show them that you really know your stuff!

    Get up to date on your fast case math skills

    No calculators are allowed in the case interview, so knowing basic maths functions and formulae is key to the success of your interview.

    Give definite recommendations

    Nobody likes a fence sitter. In your conclusion, give a clear recommendation that is backed up with supporting information and arguments.

These tips and tricks are all things to keep in mind when heading into your case interview. Looking for that case interview ace up your sleeve? We have you covered! Our Consultport blog is packed with helpful advice which can help you throughout your consulting career, and you can also keep an eye out for one of our upcoming courses on Consultport Academy, covering the necessary skills required to become a successful consultant.

Case Interview Examples

When applying for consulting positions at some of the top consulting companies, there are some business problems that they commonly ask the interviewee to solve. This is a typical case interview example:

McKinsey Diconsa Case Study

Client goal: McKinsey has been asked by The Gates Foundation to create a financial services design for isolated Mexican communities.

Situation Description: Most of the rural parts of Mexico are inhabited by relatively poor individuals that rely on government cash relief and benefits. Due to this fact, most of these individuals do not have bank accounts. The closest banks to them are miles away. Diconsa is a chain of Mexican stores owned by the government. There are thousands of these stores in the rural areas of Mexico. They provide individuals with essentials such as food and clothes. They also have thousands of delivery trucks and a network of warehouses.

McKinsey Study: Investigate the potential of using Diconsa stores and their already established network to provide basic financial services to make up for the fact that there are minimal banks in the rural areas. The service would initially start with distributing government benefits, but later it would include other financial services such as bank accounts and insurance offers.

What do you do in this scenario? What is your advice as a consultant?

Whether you are a case interview newbie or not, these strategies and secrets are sure to help you stand out from the crowd. We recommend you also bring your personality into the interview. After all, talent only gets you into the room, but character is what keeps you there.