Start well. Ensure you have your two pieces of paper, pencil, a watch and are seated comfortably. Arrive early to avoid stress and have a glass of water close by.
In a case interview, the interview assesses fit as well; do you speak clearly, would you look good in front of a client, are you a team player, do you project calm confidence?
Understand the interviewer is there to help you. You must ask them questions to extract information from them. If you ask no questions, you will get no information.
The interviewer ALWAYS has hidden information. It is your job to ask questions to get it out of them.
This is facilitated problem solving. You must work with the interviewer to solve the case. You CANNOT solve the case alone.
Take the interviewer through your thinking. Do not leave them in the dark or make them guess why you did anything. If they have to guess your reasons, it will work against you.
Be very professional, speak clearly and articulately, be friendly and make it fun for the interviewer. They REALLY want to work with confident and fun people.
Treat the interviewer as you would treat a client. Even if you get stuck, phrase your question such that you ask for information without letting them know you are stuck. This is a powerful skill which will set you apart. Everyone gets stuck but only a few can move forward elegantly.
Do not try to be too smart. The interviewer does not want someone to work in isolation and present the answer at the end of the 30 minute case. They want you to work with them and together develop an answer. If you work in isolation then you are not a team player and will be rejected. Think of it as facilitated brainstorming.
Be logical. Have a reason for doing things and explain what they are at all times. But keep your explanation concise.
Write very neatly and logically. All they can see about how you think is what you say and what you write. Practice writing neatly and logically. To the interview, it says much about the way you think.
This also helps you not forget things. If you forget key information or do not write down important things, they see this as a sign of weak thinking or disorganization. It is also disrespectful.
Image counts. Look and act professional but be friendly. Do not confuse excitement for interest. You want to show the latter.
Prioritize. Use the 80/20 rule and always start with the most important parts of the case.
Always use MECE to test all the branches at a level.
After building each level of branches, think about MECE, and if are you solving the case and working with the interviewer.
If you get stuck DO NOT offer a solution. Ask general questions to help you continue building the case or kick-start your thinking.
ALWAYS frame your recommendation within the challenges of implementation. This shows maturity.
Do not assume things are going bad because the interviewer is unfriendly. It is your job to fill pauses and make the case work.
You are not given all the required information upfront to solve the case. You will need to ask probing questions to extract the information held by the interviewer.
The case will always contain either too little or too much information. It is your job to determine which information is necessary and use it wisely. The problem with memorizing frameworks is that it does not teach you to distinguish between necessary and superfluous data, nor how to extract relevant data.
While the structured approach you use is just as important as the answer, if you fail to arrive at the correct answer, it does not matter how logical your reason was. You still fail.
You cannot hope to solve the case unless you are good at solving problems in front of people. If you are person who likes to hide in a room and beaver away, then you need to change your style and become accustomed to working with people.
Reading body language and verbal nuances is crucial. The interviewer is always giving you signals through their body language and use of words. You need to be able to read this.
Critically, there are two parts to solving a case. Both are important. Part one is breaking down the problem and collecting all the necessary data. Part two, involves analyzing all the facts to arrive at a set of recommendations. Learning how to do both is essential.
The interviewer wants to see what you do. A logical layout of the analyses on your sheet of paper is used as a proxy for a logical mind. Untidy or difficult to follow analyses on a sheet of paper leads the interview to think you are unstructured.
If you solve the case, but show immaturity in your body language, mannerisms, phrases or even demeanor, you will fail. Consulting firms want adults in front of clients. We know of people who were declined even though they solved the case perfectly.
You may be surprised to hear this, but there are actually just a few frameworks you need to know. The challenge is, therefore, not in knowing the frameworks, but in knowing when and how to apply them.
You can solve cases using decision trees, logic trees, hypotheses or a combination of them all. We tend to teach decision trees and hypotheses since these can help you through all situations.
It helps to know the basic layout of an income statement, balance sheet and cash-flow statement. Most questions link back to these concepts.
It helps to read business magazines and newspapers like the Wall Street Journal, New York Times Business or even Fortune. You then become familiar with the terminology.
Too many people complicate a case question. Cases are really simple if you use logic. In our experience, many people try to force fit a framework to a case than simply using logic. We teach logic so that you can tackle any case approach.