Interview Questions: Handy Tips for Case Interviews

by Derek Loosvelt | March 10, 2009

Do you have a case interview? If so, you've probably worried about putting your intellect and interview on the line. Here are a few basis tips to keep in mind when facing one of these thorny business analysis problems.

  1. Before jumping into an attempt at answering the question, you need to ask the interviewer a number of questions to gather vital information that you'll need to solve it. (You should imagine this is a corporate client presenting this case to you. Certainly, you would ask the client plenty of questions before attempting to provide advice, wouldn't you?). Your interviewer will answer these questions with pieces of information that should help you formulate new questions and, ultimately, your suggestions for the client.

  2. Ask lots of questions before beginning to offer recommendations! One recent interviewee correctly cautions: "Consulting firms are looking for people who will think carefully before answering; this is very important in the case interview. Don't say the first thing that comes to your mind, even if you're certain about it. If you're trying to choose between appearing to be slow and appearing to be a cocky idiot, choose the former."

  3. It is especially useful to ask your interview about best practices in the industry. What are other companies in this industry doing that are facing the same issue?

  4. Don't make assumptions without clarifying with the interviewer - or at the very least stating that you are making an assumption.

  5. Having gathered all the information you think you need, you can start to formulate your recommendations. It might be helpful to use a framework in your mind (though not necessarily explicitly) in order to ensure that you are not forgetting a vital area of analysis. For instance, the Porter Five forces model might help you to analyze a market situation and identify all of the areas of potential threat in order to come up with recommendations for a company's market strategy.

  6. After you have finished giving recommendations, point out possible flaws and assumptions in your thinking, which should impress your interviewer.

  7. You should speak and reason aloud during your case interview. Since your thought process is much more important than your ultimate conclusions, your interviewer must hear your reasoning and the logical steps you are taking to reach your conclusions.

  8. Helpful tip: Always, always bring a pad of paper and a reliable pen with you to any consulting interview. You may want to take notes during the case interview (and almost certainly for any guesstimates or quantitative brainteasers your interviewer may throw at you-see below). Asking your interviewer for paper and a pen during the interview will give the impression that you are disorganized and unprepared.

  9. No matter what, never show any signs of being flustered in a case interview.

Filed Under: Finance


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