The Consulting Offer within our Premium membership is, by far, the best way to prepare for case interviews. However, you may be just starting your case interview preparation and not ready yet to commit the resources, time, the effort that is required for serious preparation. So you may be looking online for a business case example to practice with and dip your toe, so to speak, to see if pursuing consulting is even of interest to you.
Or it may be the case that you, lust like a large number of FIRMSconsulting members, are an executive or a manager outside of consulting, interested in developing problem-solving skills. If so, you may be searching for a business case example/business case analysis example to start honing your skills. If so, this article will also be helpful to you.
Before we dive into any particular business case example, you may be asking yourself do all consulting firms use similar interview style?
Well, yes … but…
McKinsey, BCG, Bain, Deloitte, Roland Berger etc. use similar but not exactly the same case interview styles. Even within the same firm, and even within the same office, styles may differ. A lot depends on the person interviewing you, e.g. how many years were they with the firm. For example, did a partner interviewing you “grow up” at McKinsey or did she join recently as hire from a competing firm?
So what are some differences you may anticipate between consulting firms when it comes to the way they conduct case interviews?
There are four main ways in which consulting firms conduct case interviews.
Interviewer-Led: In this scenario, the case is usually structured into a few sections. The first section usually includes the interviewer describing the case and asking an interviewee such questions as “What are the important questions?” or “How would you structure your analysis?” At this stage, they will be looking to see a candidate develop a structure / framework to solve the case but not to go deep into solving the case. If the interviewer is happy with your initial structure/framework they will likely point you in the direction they want you to analyze the case. Once you master interviewee-led cases, interviewer-led cases become much easier to manage.
Interviewee-Led/Candidate-Led case interview: In this type of scenario the interviewer presents a short problem, often a business problem, and then expects an interviewee to lead the case to get to an answer, sparingly giving up any additional information. An example of a business problem can be, “Our client is a multinational electronics manufacturer. They have seen a decrease in profits of 10% over the last year and the CEO wants to know how to proceed.” Interviewee-led cases are generally much harder than interviewer-led cases because the interviewer is offering far fewer prompts.
Group Interview: You probably heard that some consulting firms conduct a group case interview. The way it usually works is a few candidates are selected from the first round and moved to the final or next round which includes a combination of interviews, including a group case interview.
Before I took my corporate banking job during my MBA, I went through a case interview process with Monitor (that was before they became Monitor Deloitte). Once I passed the first round all final-round candidates had a combination of interviews in the firm’s offices in Toronto, which included a group case interview, one-on-one interview with an associate and a partner interview. Interestingly, after going through the process through the grapevine we found out they have not hired anyone during that recruitment period, probably because the acquisition was in the cards already.
But, anyway, the most important thing you need to remember about group case interviews is that small groups of candidates are given a case. They must solve the case together while the interviewer silently observes.
Written/Presentation Interview: In this scenario, you are given all the data upfront. The challenging part is to work through the unimportant data and get to the core of the issue. You usually have very little time to analyze the problem and develop a recommendation. At the end of the written / presentation interview you are expected to present your analyses and recommendation.
Remember to always expect variations of the above.
Yes, there are a few good business case examples you can use. Here is a summary list:
Now let’s dive deeper.
This case is a McKinsey style case, of medium level difficulty. It should take you 15-20 minutes to solve this case.
The question is given upfront, at 2:02. The part in black is the part the interviewer would share with you and a part in grey is the part interviewer may share as the case progresses. The interviewer wants to see if the interviewee understands the case and asks the right questions.
The case question is quite explicit but even so we will show you how you can adjust the case and make the case more explicit.
Everything rests on the key question. If anything is not part of the key question, ignore it. Even though lots of information is provided, take time to understand and set up the case.
Always show why information is needed, and show progress so the interviewer is they are willing to provide more information. It is a barter. And always use the case information provided and the appropriate language to push the case forward.
We did this recording a few months after we completed the training with Rafik (TCO I). This is one of the most complex market entry cases we had to put together. It has elements of operations, elements of pricing, elements of costing and, obviously, elements of market entry. And it is probably the most difficult market entry case we can do because most market entry cases that most interviewers focus on have a strong market attractiveness element, market profitability element. But very few people actually look at the operational issues of entering the market. And it does not matter who you are interviewing with: Bain, BCG or McKinsey. The bulk of the focus usually goes towards analyzing the market worthiness but not a lot on the operational issues. So we decided, in this case, to flip it around and give this case a strong operational theme.
Operations cases can be tackled in two ways: strategy and operations and within operations from productivity and the supply chain side. This case uses the supply chain side.
This case is candidate-led. As we mentioned above, candidate-led cases are much harder than interviewer-led cases. That is why we at FIRMSconsutling place so much more emphasis on teaching you how to lead cases vs. relying on the interviewer to lead. This will be considered an operations case. Pay attention to a very insightful brainstorming at 14:50 which includes at least one idea you most likely would not come up with if you were solving this case before watching this video.
Here is a good video from the Yale SOM Consulting Club. This case is realistic in terms of the difficulty you will see in real case interviews with McKinsey, BCG and Bain.
This is an average difficulty profitability case which the author mentioned is basically taken from his final interview with Bain.
The difficulty level is quite high and it is a great opportunity to practice with public sector cases. A big downside of this case is that the exhibit shown at 8:40 is not shared, which makes it impossible to fully practice this case. This is a candidate-led case.
In this complex case we examine declining profits at a Pharma company and explain the importance of portfolios and R&D probability calculations. It is a complex case to master.
This is another good case from the Yale SOM consulting club. A market entry case which is good for beginners. It is an interviewer-led case.
This is an easy case to start with. You can find the exhibit here, go to page 9.
This question is most useful because it is an easy question to practice. Think of it as a possible first-round case. The candidate’s performance could be a little better. But it is a good question to practice with on your own.
We hope you found at least one business case example above that helped you strengthen your problem-solving skills. If you know of any other “best business case examples” that should be included in this list let us know in the comments.
WHAT IS NEXT? If you have any questions about our membership training programs (StrategyTV.com/Apps & StrategyTraining.com/Apps) do not hesitate to reach out to us at support @ firmsconsulting.com. You can also get access to selected episodes when you sign-up for our newsletter above. Continue developing your strategy skills.