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Case Interviews

Step 1

Let the interviewer ask you the case question, or give you the written case question. Ensure you understand the question and have received all the information. Be careful of terms like production, value etc since they have numerous meanings.

Have two sheets of paper, one for the framework development and one for assumptions and calculations. It is better to work with a pencil.

Imagine the interviewer is the client, and treat him as such.

Step 2

Ask for a few minutes (3-4) to think about the case. In this time doe the following:

1 – Think about what type of case is this?

2 – Write 3-4 questions to help you determine the key question in the case.

The KEY QUESTION is the question you are solving in the question. It is not always apparent and you need to determine this.

Ask questions to ensure you understand all words/information presented. Assume nothing.

Always ask “Why.” There may be another simpler way to achieve the same result. And the rest of the case is testing if the proposed action allows this objective to be accomplished.

Always ask general questions to understand the market and company position. Context is very important when solving cases.

Ask questions to understand the case and arrive at the key question. Never get lost and ask too many questions to solve the case. Follow the process.

Step 3

Once you have developed your 3-4 questions over 3-4 minutes in step 2, ask your the interviewer your questions. Ask clarifying questions to the interviewer’s responses.

Carefully listen and capture notes. Write neatly so you can use the information later.

Step 4

Using the responses provided, write a simple key question to solve. Ensure you place a question mark at the end.

If you can identify the type of case, think about the framework to use.

Also think about what you need to know to solve the key question since this forms the Level1 branches .Merge this with your framework to develop Level1 branches.

Step 5

Use the 80/20 rule to determine the most important L1 branch.

Break down the most important branch into sub-branches. Build an hypotheses if it makes sense to do so immediately.

Always ask clarifying questions and collect information. Write out the decision tree clearly and ensure it is designed to reflect data like % and #’s. That is, if you can add data or percentages to each branch, do it. For example, when breaking down costs, you can write the percentage fixed costs next to the fixed cost branch!

Continue asking for information to develop the decision tree.

You must develop the tree WITH the interviewer, but with you leading. The interviewer always has data. It is your job to find it. So work WITH the interviewer. Solving a case is like ball-room dancing for men. The man leads but needs to signal to his partner what she needs to do. If you do not communicate your signals, expect a horrible dance experience.

Step 6

At the L3 or L4 branch, develop a hypothesis. General rule of thumb is that the number of hypotheses must equal the number of level-one branches.

You can sometimes solve a case without hypotheses. Only use hypotheses if the tree is not generating an answer quickly.

Here is an example of an hypothesis. ALMOST everyone does not know how to write an hypothesis.

“Due to snow on the road (event causing the observable phenomenon), the trucks are running late (observable phenomenon), causing a shortage of clothing (event caused by the observable phenomenon).”

Expect to have about 2 to 3 good hypotheses.

Step 7

Tell the interview what tests (graphs) you will need to draw to test the hypotheses. Be practical and reduce it to the x-axis and y-axis data needed. You do not need to be so precise but the graphs help you to be concise and focused.

The interviewer will either tell you the answer or give you data to test the hypotheses.

Use their response or data to answer the hypotheses.

Step 8

Step back and think if you have solved the case. If not, think what is missing and ask for more information.

Step 9

Follow your steps from the Key Question all the way to the hypotheses answers to summarize your analyses and solutions. This should be short, articulate and very clear. Recommend solutions to the case. Speak clearly and state exactly what you propose, why and what will be the likely impact. Offer practical solutions but also be very creative.

In recommending solutions think very carefully about the challenges of implementation and the culture of the organization.

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