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Future Applicants for Management Consulting Jobs – how to prepare for the case study interview

The case study interview gives you a chance to practice demonstrating your problem-solving skills, analytical ability, and strategic and logical thinking. The case interview is an example of a real business problem based on your interviewer’s past work experiences. The problems you will encounter are not designed to be brainteasers, or theoretical problems designed to stump you, but rather to reflect the challenges that your employer’s clients face. Case study interviews help the employer assess your common sense, creativity, and comfort with ambiguity. At the same time, the cases represent real client engagements so they allow you to gain insight into their approach.

Here are several tips to help you prepare for the case study interview:

  1. Make it a business discussion, not an interview. Approach your interview as a thoughtful and insightful conversation that demonstrates your business judgment, whilst maintaining focus on the question you are trying to answer.
  2. Be pragmatic when considering your recommendation and its implementation. Assess the practicality and opportunity costs of implementing your solution.
  3. Take this as an opportunity to demonstrate your communication and people skills – don’t be afraid to ask questions to further assess the case and get more information! Project your confidence, energy and interest, and demonstrate how you might interact with potential clients. Consultancy is all about professionalism, particularly when dealing with seniors.
  4. Use frameworks, but don’t force-fit them. Demonstrate that you can apply these to the specifics of the business issue and industry. A generic one that is typically used is the SWOT analysis, and can be a starting point in breaking down the case. A SWOT analysis is a structured planning method that evaluates four elements (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) of an organization, project, or individual. SWOT Analysis is a simple but useful framework for analysing the strengths and weaknesses, and the opportunities and threats that the organisation in the case faces.
  5. A good structure is really the key to succeeding in a case study interview. The process and approach is more important than your answer and it’s more important than the knowledge you bring in. Demonstrate that you can take a bunch of information thrown at you and create a logical structure, process it, and get to a good recommendation – there is no one-fit answer.
  6. Practice makes perfect. This cliché always holds through – many big consulting companies will have example case studies that you can work through. The more you practice, the more variants you will see, and the more comfortable you will be on the day of your actual interview. Working through a few case studies can give a boost of confidence on the actual day of the interview, and solidify the process and approach to taking these in your mind, in addition to getting a feel of the questions you need to be asking.
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