A step into the world of consulting is a step onto the path of endless learning. No other industry is as varied and broad in the fields that they deal with.
That’s why it comes as no surprise that the recruitment process is therefore very precise and challenging. Even, perfect candidates may stumble at the challenge of a case interview.
If you’ve been told that you have a case interview coming up and you are not sure exactly what you are supposed to do, we are here to help.
In this ultimate 2020 guide, we are going to explain what a case interview is, how it works, and finally, give you some useful tips!
So, let’s start!
What is a Case Interview?
A case interview is a hypothetical business situation that is given during an interview process to define how a candidate thinks about a distinct problem and how to resolve it.
The point is to simulate life on the job as a management consultant.
It replicates all of the steps of a three-to six-month commitment in roughly thirty or forty minutes.
You can get any kind of hypothetical business situation and your job is to advise on what they are supposed to do. The goal of this type of interview is to see how you would address a problem.
Why is it important?
In management consulting, the key is to have an approach that is reliable and provable.
You are supposed to find an answer and recommendation for your client. If you can intuitively make a recommendation to clients, it’s not helpful if that process of coming up with a recommendation is not repeatable.
One of the common concerns that a firm has when it comes to hiring its new consultants is that applicants follow a protocol methodology to consistently analyze data and derive fact-based conclusions from that data.
Management consulting firms have huge buy-in for conclusions that can be supported by data, principally because the data makes it easy to defend and justify your intentions to clients.
It doesn’t help to give clients a recommendation that may be correct if you can’t prove that it is correct. Your clients have to justify their plans and decisions to others.
That is exactly why they prefer to hire consulting firms that can justify their recommendations.
How to Get a Case Interview
Your resume is the most important thing. It is even more important in the consulting world than in any other field.
Your resume needs to show the top skills you have.
When it comes to the top consulting firms such as McKinsey, Bain, and BCG. They have acceptance rates that are less than five percent per year.
Most candidates are eliminated during the interview scanning step. Therefore, a strong resume is crucial when you’re trying to get the interview. If this is not something you are comfortable doing on your own to the highest standard, then there are teams of experts like those at Arc Resumes (https://www.arcresumes.com/) who can help.
Keep in mind that your cover letter can make a big difference when applying for a management consulting position.
The cover letter typically read first. After that goes your resume, that is why you also need to write a good cover letter.
Keep in mind, that if your cover letter is weak or even average your resume will be dismissed and not even read.
How to prepare for an interview?
It’s crucial to practice for a case interview, especially if this is your first one.
Practice answering interview questions in front of family, friends, or even a mirror.
If you know someone who has experience with these types of interviews and is knowledgeable about your field, you can create a mock interview.
It’s also a great idea to get a stopwatch and time yourself. Typically, case interviews last 15 to 30 minutes.
That may look like a long time, but actually, it is not. That’s why whether you practice with another person, or just speak out loud in front of the mirror, the more you prepare now, the easier will be for you at the real interview.
Tips For Answering Case Interview Questions
Always remember that answering a case interview question isn’t about being right or wrong, the interviewer is more interested in how the applicant comes with the solution.
A case interview is a back and forth dialog. The interviewee is supposed to interact with the interviewer and ask questions in a logical order to resolve the given problem.
Here are some tips on how to handle questions during an interview.
Understand the question
Paraphrase the question before responding to make sure you understand the problem. If you’re not clear on the question always ask for more information.
You should be prepared for taking notes. Always bring a paper to the interview for notes and bring some graph paper as well, in case you need to show something on charts.
Take your time to answer each question. Logically think through the problem before arriving at a solution.
Case interviews are super interactive and asking your interviewer clarifying questions will help you to gain more information. Your interviewer will expect you to ask questions.
Explain your way to the Solution
Always explain how you get to the solution. You should do this, even if you are simply estimating a number. Keep in mind that how you arrived at your answer is more important than the answer itself.
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Although this is different from a traditional interview, don’t act too casually. Remain as professional, sit up straight, speak clearly, and make eye contact with the interviewer.
Interviewers want to see that you are enthusiastic about solving business problems.
Wrapping it up
Management consulting has for decades been one of the most popular career paths for ambitious young professionals.
The consultant path gives constant stimulation and novelty, as well as lucrative material rewards.
However, to be a part of the industry, you have to make it through the case interview.
The key to successfully navigating the case interview process are many, but they always include fully understanding what firms are looking for.
This means fully understanding the problem, doing a lot of practice cases, and potentially getting expert help!