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Top 10 Case Interview Tips

February 20th, 2009 · 11 Comments · Uncategorized

After experiencing some success last week, I thought it might be nice to give back with a few bits of advice for others trying to decide how best to prepare for consulting case interviews.  I went to a bunch of the sessions provided by the consulting club & career services (including Case In Point and MBACase), but in the end, I think I wasted a lot of time that could’ve been far better spent. 

If I could do it over again, I would:

  1.  Watch the first five videos on the free CaseInterview.com while folding laundry.
  2. Schedule 3 mock interviews / week with former consultants in the 3 weeks prior to the actual interviews (so – 9 interviews total).
  3. The weekend before, skim a few real cases from a consulting club case book (not Case in Point). 

That’s it!  You really don’t need to do much more than that.  Memorizing frameworks?  Useless.  Attending case prep lectures and sessions?  Equally wasteful.  If you truly feel behind, I’d say that the time would be much better spent receiving (or giving) a mock interview than learning techniques that can only be effectively applied 5% of the time. 

That said, here are my top 10 tips for case interviews:

  1. Listen carefully.  Information isn’t typically given without a purpose.
  2.  Start with the basic metrics: industry size, market share, growth, margins.
  3. Framework #1: Revenues – Costs = Profits
  4. Framework #2: Client/Product, Customers/Market, Competitors, Risks
  5. Don’t try to explore a laundry list of ideas.  Categorize and group.
  6.  In contrast, segment everything they give!  Averages hide the truth.
  7. Drive the interview forward with probing questions.
  8. Hypothesize constantly!  Let this drive your search and analysis.
  9.  Structure your answers: “I think about this in three ways…”.
  10. Conclude holistically and succinctly.  Answer the original question.

That’s it!  Good luck…

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11 Comments so far ↓

  • j

    What about all the super helpful interview sessions you had with your girlfriend? I think those were useful :p

  • praz

    Excellent! thank u admin :) (by the way, it feels weird calling you admin, may be you should consider changing it heh)

  • rob

    good point, praz. :) Thanks for the comments!

  • Alex

    Good stuff, thanks for the pointers.

  • Vani

    You have created a great resource for consulting interview preparation. I manage InterviewBay.com, a portal that provides mock interviews for aspiring MBAs, Consultants, Bankers, Traders and General Managers. You might want to check out our interview resources page. We have also added your blog in our resources page.

    http://www.interviewbay.com/interview_resources.php

    Case interview videos:
    http://www.interviewbay.com/interview_videos.php

    I would be very happy to know your feedback. Please let me know if you have any queries about InterviewBay.

    Regards
    Vani

  • Kristen Bennett

    Good article! Those videos are especially helpful, as are the listed tips, particularly the point about hypothesizing. Even walking over the interview and possible questions that arise while you’re doing your chores can help.

    There’s a list of other advice here–

    http://www.job.com/my.job/careerlib/aid=317/st=71/cat=0/

    –from Job.com, which is a job board with over 1.5 million postings, for any readers who are currently seeking employment. Might we link this article through our resources?

  • rob

    Kristen — feel free to link! This blog is more a personal record than a interview-specific resource, but I’m glad to help.

  • Senith

    Great post. We have our version of top 10 case interview tips too here.

    http://www.graduatetutor.com/case-interview-tips.php

    Your feedback would be great. Thank you for sharing your experiences through this blog. May we post a link here too?

  • Tony

    These are great tips, I actually wanted to ask you a question about admissions/consulting careers.
    I currently have two years of work experience as a financial management consultant with a Big 4 audit firm. I would like to move into strategy consulting. I am up for promotion this year but given the economy my chances are looking pretty slim. I would like to apply this year but my concerns are as follows:
    1) Will Adcom ding me for not having a promotion?
    2) Will strategy firms ding me for not having a promotion?

    Thanks for the advice!

  • Edwardo M.

    Guys,
    I have some case interviews coming up with four leading consulting firms (including MBB) over the next two months. So far my friends have adviced me to study:

    - Victor Cheng’s website (ex-mckinsey), who gives a lot of free videos and frameworks to study (www.caseinterview.com)
    - Case in Point by mark consentino (amazon)
    - case interview Success by tom rochtus (www.aceyourcase.com)
    - Solving the World’s Problems on the Back of a Cocktail Napkin by lawrence weinstein (amazon)

    Any feedback on these sources? Any additional things you guys would have a look at?

    thanks in advance!
    edwardo

  • sujith

    This is the 2nd occasion I have discovered your website within the last few weeks. Seems like I should take note of it.

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