In my previous Case study interview article, I introduced a very helpful study tool to improve business intuition in order to perform better in case interviews: using professional “case studies” on consulting websites (those that have nothing to do with recruiting). In this article, I will further explain this by using some illustrative examples.
Note: if you are looking for some sample Q&As for typicalcase study interview questions, you may visit our Case Interview Questions page. This article is purely devoted to the illustration of using real-life case studies for business intuition purposes.
Now, as I mentioned in the previous article, there are a lot of good sources for real-life case studies. Let’s now use an example from McKinsey.
In any case study on McKinsey’s website, content is often presented in a very structured way with 3 sections: Challenge, Discovery, and Impact.
What I suggest is to read the “Challenge” part and STOP. Try to tackle it on your own as if it is the case you’d get in a real interview.
This is a sample “Challenge” from a case study at McKinsey:
“The IT department for a global multi-business company was struggling to meet heightened demand for increasingly complex technology solutions. This frustrated the company’s business leaders, who were relying on technological solutions to drive multiple changes in the business model.
The company realized that continuing down this path without making some adjustments in the technological delivery model jeopardized its goals for deepening its IT capabilities. This would have hindered its ability to quickly implement business strategies and to maintain a competitive edge in the market. Senior management asked McKinsey to help change the IT organizational model in a way that would more effectively support strategies.”
Several questions/items you can tackle yourselves to best simulate the real interview:
- Do a recap of the problem, rephrase the case context.
- What are some clarifying questions you would ask?
- What is the key objective of the case? In other words, what is the case question?
- Draw yourselves an issue tree (or framework) to tackle the problem.
- Pick a branch and dig deeper. What are some hypotheses on where the root-cause is?
- Of those root causes, what are some possible solutions?
- Are there any obstacles when implementing those solutions?
- Any other question you can come up with on your own…
Now if you are new to case interviews and to business in general, it’s very common to stall right at this step. Sometimes you face an industry and function you have little insights about. But this is a good exercise for your business intuition.
Once you have tried your very best tackling the questions above, it’s time to read on to the Discovery and Impact sections. Do so and try to go back to the questions above and tackle them again. That’s how you gain business insights and improve intuition.
Now this is the full link to the “challenge” example above! Click here
Have fun practicing with case studies for interviews and improving your business sense!
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Tags:interview case study, case studies for interview, case study for interview, interview case studies, consulting interview case studies
I applied online. The process took 6+ months. I interviewed at Deloitte (Chicago, IL) in October 2016.
Three rounds of interviews – (1) Phone screen with HR, mainly to make sure you understand the job description, have reasonable expectations for compensation and level, are comfortable with 80% travel, and seem competent. (2) Technical screen with a consulting practitioner, by phone, behavioral type questions (I.e., “tell me about a time you led a team.”) mixed with a resume walkthrough. (3) In-person interview day that consisted of three 45-minute interviews with consulting practitioners. One interview was a case, and the others were resume walkthrough/behavioral interviews similar to the second round.
I interviewed for their human capital practice and my cases were human capital related. The first was reviewing a slide deck written by a team member and providing constructive feedback on how to improve it. The second was solutioning for a client where the key stakeholders disagreed about major changes to the org structure. For the case, he shared the handout with me and allocated about ten minutes for me to prepare. I took notes/drawings which, not only jogged my memory when I was stating my solution and rationale, but also kept me organized and ensured I didn’t miss anything. I made sure the interviewer could see the paper too.
To prepare, I did three things. First, I reviewed my resume and took notes on each of my accomplishments/challenges from prior projects – the project where I led a sizeable team, the project where I worked with c-suite executives, the project where I sold substantial additional work, etc. so that I had good examples for behavioral questions. I prepared my two minute “elevator speech” for when an interviewer asks, “tell me about yourself.”
Second, I researched Deloitte extensively and wrote out educated questions (i.e., “I understand you send your new hires to Deloitte University. I am very excited about that! Do people attend annually? What is the process to get continuing education?”) This question instantly communicates to the interviewer that (a) I know a little about Deloitte, such as DU, (b) I am enthusiastic and curious, and (c) I have a question that can kickstart a conversation. I asked the same questions to each interviewer to see if the answers varied. I also aimed to ask personal/opinion questions, like why the interviewer came to Deloitte, chose the alignment they did, etc. or what they were currently working on.
Third, because I was given the interviewers’ names in advance, I could check them out on linkedin. Interestingly, I had commonality with almost all of them – same university, same major, experienced hire situation, grew up near my hometown, etc. This one is a bit controversial because of course you don’t want to cyberstalk somebody, but I did find it helpful in being able to establish some personal repoire; if nothing else, it made me less nervous going into the session, as I could put a face with a name.
Bring pencil/paper for the case interview.
Bring paper copies of your resume.
- Tell me about a time you had to work with someone you didn’t like.
What is your best advice for junior team members? Answer Question