The case interview is a crucial part of the hiring process in the consulting industry, and variations of it crop up in other industries as well. While there are a number of frameworks and techniques that candidates can memorize and practice to prepare for case interviews, the key to cracking them is less about cramming and more about how you behave on the day—someone who is too focused on figuring out which methodology to apply to a specific problem may well miss crucial details about the problem itself.
To that end, the folks at L.E.K. Consulting have produced a helpful video outlining what their interviewers believe are the key traits for acing the interview—and it's a safe bet that what works for L.E.K. will likely work elsewhere in the industry too. For those who don't have time to watch the full video (embedded below), here are three immediate takeaways:
1. Be an active listener
It might seem obvious, but a couple of the interviewers in the video pointed out that listening closely is one of the key skills that can set candidates apart. From recognizing a hint that their analysis might be going off track to identifying clues within the question, the benefits of taking the time to focus on what the interviewer is saying cannot be overstated.
2. Show your work
You might recognize that piece of advice from every math class you ever took—and it's especially important in consulting. In a client situation, it's extremely unlikely that you'd walk into a presentation with a solution, but no explanation of how you arrived at it. The case interview is designed to test that—it's much less important to arrive at the "correct" answer than it is to demonstrate that you're capable of thinking logically aout the problem, and being able to walk the interviewer through your process.
3. Treat it as an audition
As one of the interviewers states in the video "the truth of the matter is […] the case interview is really directly related to how you might act during a case. You actually have to think through a problem with a very limited amount of time with all eyes on you and be able to say 'Oh, I think these are the most important things that we should explore first.'"
Here's the full video, courtesy of L.E.K.'s YouTube Channel: