1. Before the mock case happens, make sure you communicate with your partner/coach about your strengths, weaknesses, preference on case types, and feedback plan.
If you are new to case interviews, tell them. If you would like to focus on the consulting math part, tell them. If you don’t want to waste time on market-sizing questions which you are already really good at, or you are going to interview with McKinsey soon and need to practice the interviewer-led format, tell them. Basically, try to make sure as much of the valuable time as possible is spent on the most target area(s).
2. Dress the part, mentally treat the case interview practice as if it were real.
Many say the most difficult aspect of cases is the mental part, not necessarily the content. In high-pressure and high-stake environments, it’s really easy to mess up regardless of how good your content is. So the best way to mentally prepare for cases? Treat practice cases as if they were real!
3. Ask for feedback during the case interview practice, regardless of the partners/coaches preferences.
I know different coaches have different styles. Some tend to give lots of feedback at the end. For just this very issue, you may want to ask them to go against their preference a little bit … because giving feedback during the case is far more effective! At the end, nobody remembers clearly what’s happened 10 or 20 minutes ago. The feedback ends up being very generic and vague. So, to be short: ask for feedback often and during the practice session.
4. Ask for a comprehensive evaluation at the end.
Ok you have all the specific and detailed feedback throughout the case, does that mean the comprehensive feedback at the end is not important? Nope! In fact it’s equally as important. It’s possible that both the interviewee and the coach went too deep into a few aspects and overlooked others. The comprehensive feedback at the end allows both to look into those overlooked aspects. To make that end-case feedback as productive as possible, as an interviewee, I always prepare for the coach and myself an evaluation sheet which both can go through at the end of practice sessions. Some coaches and partners have it, some don’t. Have one and don’t expect them to be 100% well prepared!
5/ Lastly, don’t forget to say thank you.
No matter what, those who are willing to devote one hour to do an intense brain-picking session definitely deserve special recognition from you, so say thank you and sincerely mean it.
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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