Why do consulting companies perform case interviews?

why do management consulting firms do case interviewsThe interview process for consulting companies is unique. They cover a variety of types of interviews: Fit questions, brainteasers and of course, business cases. The interviews process and the structure they follow have a predictable pattern across consulting companies. One of critical elements of the interviews is the business case. The goal of the business case is to test your problem-solving and communication skills simulating a client environment. The interviewer plays the role of a client and he or she takes you through the situation, explain the issues, and when asked, provide relevant data. In return you are expected to act as the consultant gather the information, develop hypotheses and perform analysis and actually come up with a recommendation for your client. This role-play is aimed at testing your skills and your potential as a consultant as a gauge to see how you would behave in a real client situation.

If you case interviews are coming up, please also make sure you check out the ultimate guide for business frameworks for case interviews.

Although it originated in the consulting world, now, many other companies are using same type of case interviews to evaluate candidates. Companies like Google Facebook are known to use case interviews in their recruiting process. Success in case interview is a major part of the assessment criteria to get a job offer. It is a stressful situation because in a short amount of time you expected to come up with recommendations demonstrating your thinking and bring the clients along. A lot of candidates struggle with this kind of interview and it requires preparation. So why do consulting company case interviews?

  • They would like to test how you perform under pressure: Consulting projects are often short in duration and cover a broad scope of issues and consultants are expected to be efficient with their time get to the bottom of issues quickly. The expectations of the clients are high, they would like you to be the expert and  to come up to speed very quickly at this creates a high-pressure environment. The case interview simulates this situation and tests your grace under pressure
  • Analytical skills: Consultants are supposed to have a good mind and be able to dissect and prioritize the issues and then perform analytics on the fly, put the facts together and be able to create logical arguments to build a recommendation. The case interview contains business issues, some facts and data that you can analyze and make a recommendation to improve the company’s value. You are open expected to use basic math with a set of numbers to gain some insights and demonstrate your thinking.
  • Communication skills: A large part of the consultant’s job is to communicate with team members and clients. You are expected to write concise and impactful business emails, prepare business presentation and also participate in discussions and present your ideas. Case interview also is an important time for you to demonstrate your interviewing skills. You are actually expected interview your interviewer as your client, capture the learnings and demonstrate your hypotheses and your insights.
  • Interpersonal skills: The final reason why consulting firms conduct case interviews is better understand your interpersonal skills. This would supplement fit questions. You body language, how you act, your show of emotions come through in a case interview, even more so than your polished fit interview answers. It is a good phase of the recruiting process to see how you react in a simulated client environment

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