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Part Nine: Bain & Company Cases

Max is an aspiring consultant who is looking to secure an analyst role with one of the top firms for the upcoming recruitment cycle in September 2011. His interest in management consulting was sparked by a failed McKinsey interview last year. In this series of blogs, he will be sharing his background, case preparation process, useful resources, and any breakthroughs or setbacks that he experiences.


A few weeks ago I had the chance to attend a “Crack the Case” session offered by one of Bain’s North American offices. I would like to share my notes from the session, and I hope that you find them useful!

A bit about Bain:

• Bain is focused on quantifiable results – hence the motto “results not reports”

• In North America, Bain’s staffing model does its best to put you on projects around your home office

• Office transfer opportunities

• You can do a six month transfer to another location

• You can join Bridgespan (an affiliated not-for-profit consulting firm) for six months

How to solve case interviews:

Answer first approach:

• Start off with a hypothesis

• Identify the key questions that need to be answered in order to verify the hypothesis

• This approach is usually the best one and works about 90% of the time

Diagnostic approach:

• This method is used if there is very little background info

• This is the optimal approach roughly 10% of the time

[Max’s comments: When I do my cases I always strive to be hypothesis driven. I think the “diagnostic approach” is really the same as the “answer first” approach except that you need to take about 5 minutes to gather some info before you can formulate your hypothesis – maybe the Firmsconsulting team can add some additional comments on it.]

[Firmsconsulting: the answer first approach is leading with hypotheses. The diagnostic approach is about asking lots of questions to generate data to eventually arrive at an hypotheses]

Types of cases (for this particular office):

• Corporate Strategy

• Business Unit Strategy

• M&A Investment Strategy

Additional Tips:

• It is really your framework (how you structure the problem) that will distinguish you

• Take your time to come up with your own framework. Two or three minutes may seem like an eternity, but it’s perfectly acceptable

• Make the framework as simple as possible

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