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How To Ace Your Consulting Case Interviews

How To Ace Your Consulting Case Interviews

Preparing for consulting case interviews? This article is for you!

In the next four minutes, I’ll cover the following topics to help you prepare for interviews 👇

✔️ Clarifying Questions

✔️ Frameworks

✔️ Mental Math

✔️ Exhibits

✔️ Brainstorming

✔️ Recommendations

✔️ Mocking

✔️ Next Steps

My views are my own and while this series will not guarantee your success during interviews, I hope it will help you prepare to the best of your abilities!

Of course, another aspect is landing the interview. Check out my previous post for a cover letter template to get you more interviews and my Leveraging LinkedIn course to help you elevate your LinkedIn and networking game. 

Part 1: Clarifying Questions

You just received your case prompt and your mind is spinning with questions.

Here’s what to do next 👇

✔️ Don’t stress - most prompts are intentionally open-ended to see how you navigate them. You don’t need to solve the problem in the first 10 seconds of the case - you have the next ~25 minutes for that.

✔️ Thank the interviewer for the prompt and bring in personal insight (e.g. for a company looking to launch a new cereal brand: “Thanks {NAME}! I eat cereal every morning for breakfast so this sounds very interesting to me!”).

✔️ Keep it high level - ask for info you need to help you decide how you would approach the problem (goals of the client, how they make money, context about their products). You will be able to ask more questions throughout the case as you dive into your framework.

Part 2: Frameworks

You received your prompt and asked your clarifying questions. Now it’s time to decide how you plan on approaching the case. Here are some tips 👇

✔️ Victor Cheng’s videos and resources will introduce you to some basic frameworks. Keep in mind, everyone has access to these and they are very general. You’ll need to cater your frameworks to the specific case you’re given.

✔️ When walking through your buckets, use letters and numbers to help structure your logic so your interviewer can easily follow along (e.g. I’d want to look at 3 things, first X, second Y, and third Z. Within X, I’d look at 3 things, A, B, and C).

✔️ This can be the most challenging part of the case. Practicing reading case prompts, making a framework, and then checking the sample framework answer without finishing the entire case can help you get extra reps in.

Part 3: Mental Math

Almost every case interview you do will have math - this can make or break candidates.

Here are three tips to help you stand out while crunching numbers 👇

✔️ Set aside time each day to practice questions. Rocketblocks and Magoosh are great resources.

✔️ Put your numbers in tables to keep your calculations organized on your paper. Circling and starring important numbers will make it easier to refer back to them later.

✔️ Explain what you’re going to calculate before you calculate it so your interviewer can follow along.

Part 4: Exhibits

Your interviewer just handed you a complex exhibit

Here’s what to do next 👇

✔️ Ask for some time to absorb the exhibit and gather your thoughts so you can speak in a structured manner.

✔️ Pay attention to titles, axes, legends, units, and footnotes so you can correctly interpret the data and draw insights.

✔️ Communicate your findings from the exhibit and ask probing questions for follow up information as you transition away from the exhibit to the next part of your case.

✔️ Ensure you explain the reasoning behind your questions so your interviewer can understand your thought process and the direction you are going.

Part 5: Brainstorming

It’s time for brainstorming!

You’ll often need to brainstorm creative solutions during a case.

Here are three key considerations 👇

✔️ Timing

Instead of answering the question right away, ask for a minute to brainstorm a handful of ideas. Taking 30-45 seconds to produce a few great ideas is better than taking 1 second to produce a few mediocre ones.

✔️ Structure

Group your brainstorming into buckets (2 buckets with 3 ideas in each, rather than 6 random ideas).

E.g. If you’re brainstorming growth strategies, come up with 3 each of organic/inorganic, or domestic/international.

✔️ Creativity

Think outside the box for ideas that can differentiate you from other candidates. 

Part 6: Recommendations

Your recommendation should be no longer than 1-2 minutes.

Here are some tips to help end your interview on a good note 👇 

✔️ Provide a concise decision along with three reasons why you made it.

 “Regarding [problem], [company] should move forward with [decision] for three reasons. The 1st being [state reason, elaborate in 1 line], the 2nd being [state reason, elaborate in 1 line], and the third being [state reason, elaborate in 1 line].”

✔️ Outline two risks and provide mitigations to them.

 ✔️ Conclude with a three step action plan and ask if the interviewer has any questions.

Part 7: Mocking

Now it’s time to take the tips from this series and put it into action with mock interviews.

If you enjoy solving mock cases, you’ll likely enjoy consulting. Here are some tips 👇

✔️ Variety is key. Practice cases from a variety of sources, covering a variety of topics and industries, with a variety of people. Mocking with your best friend is fun, but it is also likely very comfortable for you. Step outside your comfort zone and mock with a classmate or acquaintance instead - this will help simulate an interview environment and provide a diverse set of feedback.

✔️ Create a schedule and stick to it. Use a spreadsheet to record your mocks so you don’t repeat a case. This also helps you track your diversity of case topics and industries.

✔️ If you can’t find partners to mock with or need extra practice, you can check out consulting company websites - many of them have interactive solo cases you can complete on your own! You can also look into my Interview Prep Package which includes 2 x 30-minute video calls coupled with advice on how to succeed in them! 

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Want to learn more about consulting? Check out my KPMG Internship Recap Article!

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