Acing the Case Study Assessment

The Case Study of the consulting interview process may seem like the most daunting part for some. But there is thankfully lots of information out there to help you get an idea of things that could be asked. At the end of the day, you have to remember that these are the kinds of scenarios you will be dealing with every day as a consultant, so the true future consultants will be eager with enthusiasm for this stage of the process.

Often the questions will address a variety of areas. These usually include Market Sizing, Business Operations/Strategy and Logic but could include some brain teasers too to test out your financial and business sense.

The first place to check out is the consulting firm websites themselves. They want you to do well and many of the firms have lots of tips and guidance, practice questions and help to get you through.

McKinsey – http://www.mckinsey.com/careers/join_us/practice_case_studies  Four practice case studies to work from here

Oliver Wyman – two practice examples here http://www.oliverwyman.com/careers/join-us/interview-preparation/case-interviews/step-3-case-studies.html

Accenture – has an excellent array of videos on youtube for general information about the work they do with plenty of interviews with current consultants. However, their interview prep section is surprisingly lacking. There are five short videos on the ‘Essential Skills’ consultants need here which are worth looking at to understand the competencies Accenture are looking for in their candidates https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL9D0F0C99A849963B

This document from Accenture explains how to do generally do well in interviews http://careers.accenture.com/au-en/Documents/Interview%20Stages.pdf And the Interview webpage has a short list of points to heed http://careers.accenture.com/gb-en/find-your-fit/experienced/recruiting/experienced/Pages/top-tips.aspx

LEK – has a useful youtube channel. This video on the general case interview is helpful and the interview playlist has some further worked through examples.

Bain & Company http://www.joinbain.com/apply-to-bain/interview-preparation/ Two practice cases and videos that go through questions with three answers – see if you can work out which is strongest.

Booz & Co  http://www.strategyand.pwc.com/global/home/join_us/apply/case_prep Very short bullet points on what they’re looking for

OC&C Consultants http://www.occstrategy.com/sites/default/files/01_burger_machines_v02.pdf One short case study example here in this pdf

A helpful video from a small consulting firm here, but a good helpful walk through of the case interview

Now watch this full half hour interview on how to crack the case study so you know what to expect when you’re the one sitting there!

Next, here are the top three Case Interview Gurus and their books and websites to check out…

1) ‘Case Interview Secrets: A Former McKinsey Interviewer Reveals How to get Multiple Job Offers in Consulting’ by Victor Cheng to go with his website www.caseinterview.com which gives free advice upon subscription to a free newsletter. This book has won praise from its explanation of the rationale behind the case interview process. When you know what the interviewer is thinking it can really help your understanding of how you can make your answers better.

Victor Cheng also has a recorded presentation here

2) ‘Case in Point: Complete Case Interview Preparation’ by Marc P. Cosentino is the book to go with his website www.casequestions.com The Wall Street Journal named it the MBA Bible so it is worth a read with 40 strategy cases and many other types of question too. Here you can watch a 2 hour workshop on case interview success on his website http://casequestions.com/free-workshops.cfm The website also offers some other useful resources including the following short pages on tips for acing the case interview https://www.casequestions.com/cp_tips.cfm a simple framework for working through the case interview https://www.casequestions.com/cp_frameworks.cfm and the ‘commandments’ to follow https://www.casequestions.com/cp_commandments.cfm On the flip side, have you ever wondered what the Interviewers are thinking? Well this pdf is aimed at those who are actually setting the questions – but potential applicants can read this to understand what they are looking for in answers http://www.casequestions.com/downloads/Case_Questions_10_Key_Things.pdf 

3) ‘Crack the Case System: Complete Case Interview Prep’ by David Ohrvall includes 150 integrated videos on the website www.mbacase.com. You can see one free example practice case here: http://www.mbacase.com/t-resources-free-practice.aspx

And here are 10 more useful resources to check out and improve your case interview knowledge:

1) https://community.bus.emory.edu/club/GCA/Shared%20Documents/consulting%20interview%20book.pdf A HUGE document here from the business school at Emory University which goes through literally hundreds of questions. It starts with getting the consulting interview but then goes onto detailing all the aspects of an MBA ‘in a nutshell’. This includes case study scenarios (helpfully listing the firms from which they originate) and which could be useful to take a look at for practicing your case study technique. Definitely take a thorough look through this for practice questions.

2) http://cs6256.vk.me/u25184492/docs/96c71aed668d/Ace_The_Case_2nd_Ed.pdf?extra=canvvE9IkaUMXSbar6lNBW_PSbX3SM2o7iHnjyh0bFV_y9H_U4kfjYLHxT08OiGehQRCEKGMMbQ0kFOBexl2Jx53nSJ0zQ A pdf guide from Ace the Case that goes through the entire case study process, including all the sections and worked through examples and comments on what the interviewer may ask and extend the discussion further. A definite must read!

3) http://sites.duke.edu/dukeapdconsulting/files/2010/08/Case_Book-Columbia20061.pdf An even more important document to read through! Written by the Columbia Business School it goes through the dialogue of case interviews to show how they progress and what interviewers may ask. Follow the work through examples and see if you would respond in the same way.

4) http://ucs.yalecollege.yale.edu/sites/default/files/Interviewing_Case_Structured.pdf A good pdf guide from Yale on how case studies are structured and includes some clickable links for further info at the end.

5) http://www.acethecase.com/glossary This is a really useful tool for the case interview as if you know all the vocab they might throw at you in a question then the method of calculating it shouldn’t be so daunting. This website also offers three free sample interview questions for Business Problems, Market Sizing and Logic before you have to pay to access more material. Only $14.95 for the ebook too

6) http://targetjobs.co.uk/career-sectors/management-consulting/306745-how-to-ace-your-case-study-interview-by-thinking-aloud Worried about those awkward silences in an interview? Targetjobs advises thinking aloud as a way of processing your thoughts – it’s certainly much more helpful for the interviewer than you sitting in silence!

7) http://www.consultancylinks.com/case_study_interviews.html A few useful tips on structuring your answer but note that the links are old and broken.

8) http://www.impactinterview.com/2010/01/160-consulting-case-interview-questions/ Not worked through examples though which is slightly less helpful. But plenty to work through to practice your technique

9) http://www.consultingcase101.com/tag/accenture/ Loads of examples here but requires a $6.99 monthly subscription to read the whole articles

10) http://www.wallstreetoasis.com/guide/consulting-case-interviews Buy 11 case studies for $49.99 from Wall Street Oasis .

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