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Case Interviews are the most common type of interviews in management consulting, financial services and marketing. The objective of these interviews is to give the candidate a real life business scenario and observe their thought process as they work towards solving the problem or ‘cracking the case’ as they call it.
Most of the time the interview will start with a very generic case like ‘company xyz wants to enter a new market for toys, how would you recommend going about entering this market?’ The interviewer will feed data or answer questions as required but after giving the case, his role is just to observe the following:
· Whether the candidate understands the problem?
· What tools is the candidate using to break down the problem?
· What theoretical model is the candidate using to solve the problem?
· Whether the candidate has considered all the moving parts/variables that affect the solution?
· How sound are the candidate’s business concepts?
· How sharp is her business acumen?
· Can she think out of the box and come up with unique solutions that other candidates have not thought about?
· How comfortable is the candidate with numbers? Can she do back of the envelope calculations?
· How sound are the candidate’s assumptions in approaching the problem?
· How much time does the candidate take in arriving at a solution?
· How structured is her thinking?
· Does she actively engage the interviewer while she arrives at a solution?
· How financially feasible is the candidate’s solution?
The key to cracking the case is to be very structured and thorough in defining the problem, breaking it down into pieces, tackling each piece separately and finally assembling the pieces for a cohesive solution. The particular solution you arrive at is not as important as the process you choose to arrive at the solution. The idea is that if you have your thinking process sorted out, you will be able to solve most problems that will come your way in consulting.
There is no better way to prepare for case interviews than to practice them to death. You should solve so many cases that cracking cases becomes your second nature. You should practice structured thinking so much that it becomes your default way of thinking. That is exactly what the consulting industry needs.
You should buy case practice guides from Wetfeet or Vault and ask your colleagues or class mates to help you with mock case interviews every day. It is one of the easiest interviews to tackle provided you have mastered cracking the case.
Resources for Case Interviews
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