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by Derek Loosvelt | March 10, 2009


Consulting case interviews require a more proactive approach than interviews in other industries, and Asian applicants would do well to keep this in mind throughout the interview process. You should aspire to be in the driver's seat during case interviews, as in many instances you'll be competing with applicants who have lived and studied in North American and Europe who are often more proactive and upfront about presenting themselves.

Consulting firms strongly encourage a questioning culture, which is can be at odds with the tendencies of a candidate who was educated in a more hierarchical education systems in Asia. Because of this, candidates who have lived and studied in North America and Europe may have an edge in the interview process over some candidates educated in Asia if they are more comfortable asking specific tough questions. Even though cultural diversity is an important consideration for recruiting managers at consulting firms, consulting firms are ultimately looking to hire people who best fit into an aggressive and proactive firm culture, not a representative number of people from each country. So make sure you are comfortable asking tough questions. Concentrate on asking the right questions, rigorously prioritize what to focus on during the case, and be sure to volunteer to provide recommendations when the time allocated to the case interview is up.

In terms of the content of the case interview, what the interviewers are looking for in their Asian offices is broadly similar to what they're looking for in America and Europe. Keep in mind the following specifics:

First, the ability to think about and then ask the right questions at the appropriate time during the case interview is critical to driving the analysis forward. You are being assessed on the quality and frequency of questions during the case interview process. The questions must be insightful and incorporate all of the discussion so far, and you'll need to pose questions with enough frequency to drive the case forward, but not too often as to be disruptive.

Second, be as concise and structured as possible in a case interview. Even though you are encouraged to have a conversation with the interviewer, make sure to get to the point quickly. Say what you have to say, but do not babble out a stream of consciousness. State your conclusion, and then give the supporting data or rationales for the answer in point form if possible.

Third, you must project confidence and control throughout the case interview situation. This mirrors an actual client situation, in which it is important to appear professional and calm even when you may not have the answer right on hand when the senior client members ask for them. Similarly, in a case interview, even if you're temporarily stumped by certain aspects of the case interview itself, try not to let it affect how you present yourself.


Filed Under: Finance

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