Crack the case interviews – What’s the right mindset?

Through networking and applications you landed your interview. Your interview with your dream firm is coming up and you want to crack the case. Here’s an innovative approach to put you in the right mindset. We encourage the readers to submit their question about interviews in the forum, we review and answer the posts periodically.

Case interviews are common to most consulting interviews. You are likely to do at least several for each firm. People encounter them in venture capital or corporate strategy jobs as well.  There are many example case on the net as well as books sold by Wetfeet and Vault.

This is not meant to be a guide to cases but rather, tips and suggestions to put you in the right state of mind for the interview. Here we go:

You are the consultant, so act like one!

The case is meant to simulate a client situation. You are acting as the consultant, so pay attention to how you project your image. You are supposed to bring unbiased perspective, good business judgement and some knowledge of the industry. For example, if the case is about a new product launch, pitch in your two cents about what you know about that industry during the case. Another approach would be talking about parallels about some other industry that you know. You may not have all the answers as a consultant, but you are expected to bring a value to the clients.

Interviewer is the client

Interviewer is not there to give you a sudoku puzzle. They are confused and flustered about their issue and they are paying you large fees to help them. They expect you to engage them in discussion, bring them along a suggested solution. So, treat your interviewer as a client, act mature, draw them into discussion, and ask stimulating/open questions.

No one likes a nay-sayer

In some case interviews, you may be asked “should we invest in this product?” or “should we buy this company?”. Sometimes, your answer may be “No”. If that’s your assessment at the end of the case, tell them the answer with your reasoning. But do not stop there, give them some pointers about how this dud product can be enhanced, or how another company may be a better deal. In the end, clients want solutions and they may not ask the right questions to begin with. Showing initiative to solve clients problem beyond what you are asked is appreciated in an interview.

It is OK to ask for confirmation

Clients know more about their companies and business than consultants. In real client settings, you can ask for data and review findings along the way with the client. Similarly, in an interview, if you are stuck or need confirmation about your assumptions or methodology, you can ask the interviewer. State your opinion first, then look for clues for confirmation. If you are not sure, ask for it. In real engagement, clients will teach you a lot, just as you teach them.

Write a Deck

A deck is a powerpoint presentation in consulting lingo. Write your findings and conclusions during the interview in an organized manner as if writing slides. At the end of a case, you should summarize findings and state the recommendation to the client.

This is supposed to be a recap of the interview, at this stage, think about 2-3 slides that you would want to create to convey this to the interviewer. You can convert your notes to slides easily in a minute by adding headlines to them, if they are organized.

Each slide should start with a headline. Write headlines to Let me give you an example in a hypothetical case for entering in widget markets:

Example Deck:

Slide 1 – Widget market in Asia is expected to grow at a health clip of 10% per year

In this slide, you summarize market size and growth findings

Slide 2 – Major widget players have not penetrated in the Asian widget market

Here, show the competitive landscape in Asia

Slide 3 – We can leverage our existing footprint to capture a large the market growth

The client’s existing footprint, projections about market share and profits

Then present the deck in two – three minutes to the interviewer. Pulling this off may be hard first, so practice with a friend who can give you cases. If you can do this, it will be a very powerful finish and impress your interviewer greatly!

One thought on “Crack the case interviews – What’s the right mindset?

Comments are closed.