Interview week is over! Finally – it feels like months since Monday. 15 real case interviews later, I feel like a semi-expert. It’s amazing how much practice you get going through a week of this stuff. A few comments:
BCG: I was pretty impressed with BCG. Their second round consisted of two interviews, both on-campus (thankfully). The first interview was kind of intimidating… the interviewer had a deck of about 50 slides in front of him from a recent project he’d been on. As I worked through the case and asked for information, he would take a second, dig through the deck, and pull out a chart answering the question. It was a bit nerve-racking because I wasn’t sure how many of the slides I was supposed to hit! 1? 5? 10? All 50? In the end, I only felt like I revealed a small portion of the slides, so I hope that wasn’t too far off what he was looking for.
The second interview was easily the most impressive across all the firms. Instead of the normal interview format (formally sitting opposite a small hotel table and pouring over charts of manufactured data), we sat side-by-side and the interviewer sketched out charts on the back of a piece of napkin. Casual and friendly, yet still probing and insightful. If I ever conduct case interviews, I’ll definitely try to replicate this approach.
Bain: I have mixed feelings about the Bain interview. They chose to hold their interview off-campus (in the city I was interviewing for). During dedicated interview week at HBS, this is strictly against the rules. I was kind of surprised such a big firm would try this, particularly given the way HBS career services dictates policy to firms and penalizes noncompliance with dire consequences. Nonetheless, my dozen or so e-mails to/from Bain and career services never worked out a reasonable alternative. As such, I missed two other interviews on-campus. I don’t mind making that trade-off, but it would’ve been nice if the rules had been followed.
That said, Bain had one of the more interesting case interviews I experienced. They had two normal interviews, followed by an hour alone to read through a deck of 60 slides. After reading through the deck, they asked you to summarize all that data and discuss it as if at a meeting with the client’s CEO. Very interesting process. I think the idea is to offer a chance for those whose analytical skills don’t shine through within the truncated dialogue-based case interview format. I think it’s a good idea… the truth is, most of the actual work of consulting feels much more like this type of analyze offline / discuss online structure than the typical case interview.