Your case practice partner is the most important ally you have as you prepare. The problem is that most people completely squander this advantage. They tend to be unclear about their level of preparation and commitment they are willing to make. Many arrive late to practice sessions, prepare poorly and fail to keep track of their partners performance. When a practice partners breaks contact, you are left in the position of having to transfer all that important insight about yourself to a new practice partner and that is just inefficient even if it could be done. This podcast discusses ways to manage the problem.

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4 responses to How To Treat Your Case Partner Well

  1. You are welcome Nathan – Michael

  2. I see what you mean. Thank you for the clarification and advice, Michael! I indeed made the assumption that reaching out to actual consultants during the learning phase, could damage your reputation later on during the application phase. Also, I did not want to imply that practicing with peers has no value. Just, that I assumed, unless you are able to practice with more experienced applicants, as you point out, certain mistakes will likely be overlooked.

    Kind regards,
    Nathan

  3. Hi Nathan,

    I would disagree for the following reasons, and will also point out some obvious problems with paid coaches.

    Peers:

    Do not underestimate the value of practising with peers. While it is a case of the partially-blind leading the partially blind, observing others make basic mistakes is 1000X more valuable than someone explaining those mistakes to you.

    So use peers as a comparison point.

    Also use them as a point of reference to see how fast they are improving, where they are focusing, where they are not focusing etc. You can then judge what good looks like.

    The bottom line is that practicing with peers is useful provided you practise with more experienced people as well.

    Now, I do not see why you cannot be courteous, prepared and diligent when practising with this group? It seems to me that since many think this group adds no value they approach it like it adds no value, which leads to no value being created in the process.

    People mirror the behaviour they see and if you are diligent, slackers will not want to practice with you but the better students will. Also, be selective with whom you practice.

    Consultants:

    Consultants are usually going to be analysts or associates so will not have that much experience under their belt. Yet, at least you know what they are saying must be partially true.

    I am not at all clear how practicing with someone from McKinsey hurts your application, if your practice went poorly? Are you relying on them to refer you for an interview?

    Then the advice I provided still applies. Tell them this is the early stage for you and you are not practicing – you are still learning. To me, it seems that is the mistake you are making. You use the words “practising” and “learning” loosely.

    The problem is most people are not aware of the difference and set the wrong expectations with consultants.

    Paid coaches:

    Paid coaches have their own problems. I am guessing here but how many paid coaches actually tell you how bad you are versus giving you just enough confidence to pay for more sessions?

    Unless they are partners, no coach is clued up to handle final rounds. So basically, you are over preparing for the first round.

    If you are on a limited budget and can afford just 2 sessions, do you try to cover everything or learn the basics which can be applied to more complex stuff later? Most people try to cover everything, and coaches allow this. You would not try to learn calculus in 3 lessons would you? So why learn cases this way?

    Is the coach setting the training agenda or just giving you feedback on the agenda you set? A good coach is going to force you to follow the right study program versus simply providing useful advice on the study agenda you set. If you know little about cases, how can you know what is needed?

    Nathan, as you can see, you should develop a deeper relationship with one person or a group of people so you can develop a approach that works for you.

    Michael

  4. Hi Michael,

    I understand the good piece of advice, but I personally find it difficult to implement, especially if you are more restricted in paying for consulting coach services. The two groups that can help you with case interviews for free are either peers also practicing or actual consultants. Both have advantages and disadvantages. The former group of peers in that they can see your raw approach without the need for a candidate to impress them, as you point out in the podcast. However, very often the feedback is limited, since they are at the same level and many mistakes will likely be overlooked. The latter group of consultants can give constructive feedback, but showing any weaknesses will probably be held against you when applying. In addition, practicing with consultants also increases the pressure to perform, thus better approaching the real deal. This only leaves the third group of retired consultants or case interview coaches to have all the upsides without any of the downsides (exept for the price). Or am I to blunt in seeing it this way?
    Kind regards,

    Nathan

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