Do you have questions about what the Bain case interview process is like, and how you can prepare for it? If so, you have come to the right place. Bain & Company, one of the Big 3 management consulting firms, is always looking for exceptional problem solvers to add to its family of consultants.
As you could have guessed, case interviews account for the bulk of the Bain interview process. However, there are specific things that Bain looks for in candidates as they determine who will become the newest Bainies to join their growing team. This article was written to equip you with what to expect from the Bain case interview process. It will also give you a few key tips to help you stand out.
What Are Bain Interviews Like?
The Bain interview process can vary slightly between offices and regions. Yet, it typically consists of two rounds of case interviews, with a brief behavioral portion right before each case. In the first round, candidates are generally given two 30-minute cases by consultants or case team leaders. These cases tend to follow the typical Case Interview Structure, including a market sizing or other math component, and may include visuals such as charts or data tables for you to analyze and factor into your final recommendation.
Bain final round interviews generally consist of three, 40-60-minute case interviews given by partners. These cases tend to be more open-ended than those in the first round. Because of this, don’t be surprised if you end up ditching your paper mid-way through the case and finishing the case interview by having a dynamic conversation with the interviewer about the client and industry. These cases are often based on real clients in the industry of the partner’s expertise.
For MBA candidates, some offices may administer one of the Bain final round case interviews as a written case. For the written case, candidates will be provided PowerPoint slides. These give context on the client situation and key question(s) to answer. Approximately one hour is given to review the slides and prepare brief recommendations before presenting and answering questions about their recommendations with an interviewer. Candidates are generally notified of the outcome of their interviews within a week (if not a few days) of the interview in each round.
Bain Case Interview Tips
Many people can get to the “correct answer” of a case interview. But below are three tips to help you push beyond just getting the right answer, and stand out as a stellar candidate in a Bain case interview.
Remember To Pull Yourself Out Of The Case And Into Real Life
After practicing dozens of cases, and in the heat of the moment, it can be easy to get so wrapped up in just cracking the case that you forget the actual purpose of the Bain case interview. It is designed to demonstrate how you would approach and navigate complex business problems in real life! It is important to practice elevating your thought process during your preparation and the actual interview by:
- taking a moment to forget all the frameworks you studied (don’t worry, we will explain more about this below)
- feeling empowered to make related commentary as you move through the case.
Taking a moment to forget all the frameworks you learned
You don’t want to come across stoic. Rather, to think creatively and only take parts of frameworks that apply to the case given. One instance you can do this is in the beginning of the case after receiving the case prompt, as you are structuring your thoughts. It can be good practice to take a moment to imagine someone is telling you about this client on a random afternoon, in a no-pressure situation. What questions would naturally come to mind for you about this client or their situation? What would be your instinctual suggestions for what to look into to help them solve their problem?
Taking just a moment to think about the case through this lens will help lead you to ask for the critical information you need to crack the case (that you potentially would have glazed over if you dove straight into a framework). It will also show the Bainie interviewing you that you are a problem solver who is thoughtful about the specific client dynamics at hand.
Feeling empowered to make related commentary as you move through the case
As you are probably aware, the behavioral portion of the Bain case interview is quite short (usually around 5 minutes or less before the case begins). This makes it even more important that your personality shines through during the case.
One way to do this is by sharing additional thoughts that come to mind as you progress through the case. For example, say you are solving a case interview related to music streaming services. During the case, you should feel empowered to share if the case reminds you of an article you might have read recently. It could be about the music streaming industry, or if the data you are analyzing aligns with or contradicts any of your own experiences using various streaming services.
The commentary should be brief, and should not interrupt the flow of the case. But it can indicate to your interviewer how you make higher level connections when approaching problems. It can even lead to a richer conversation during your Bain case interview. Needless to say, staying up to date with general news and industry trends that interest you will give you a broader knowledge base to draw from for this sort of commentary.
Consider How You’d Take The Case A Step Further, And Share That With Your Interviewer
Another tip for Bain case interviews that will help you stand out is to think about how you might take the case a step further if you could. For example, after completing the math portion of a case and processing insights to come to a recommendation, there may be an additional piece of analysis or research that you believe would help solidify your conclusion. Or, perhaps you think of a few key risks or dependencies that you think have important implications for your recommendation. You should incorporate these additional thoughts into your final recommendation statement. Do this even if the main questions do not explicitly ask for it. Thinking a bit ahead of what was asked of you demonstrates thought leadership to the interviewer. This is something that is highly valued on Bain teams.
Connect With Your Interviewer Throughout The Case Interview
The Bain case interview is not just an opportunity to showcase your problem solving skills. It’s also how you can contribute to extraordinary teams and lasting client relationships. These are two essential components of the Bain culture. You will have 30-60 minutes with each interviewer. During that time you should make sure your interviewer gets a genuine sense of who you are. Get to know more about your interviewer – both as a professional and a person. This can be as simple as asking how the interviewer’s weekend went on your way to the interviewing room. Remember those details in a thank you email. Or, be sure to share with the interviewer your passions outside of work and education.
Bain highly values the individuals that make up the firm and how they connect with one another. Though interviews can be intimidating, practicing communicating with confidence, candor, and thoughtfulness can make a huge difference. It helps with connecting with your interviewer getting to know you and how you could fit in at the firm.
Be sure to familiarize yourself with our Case Interview: Complete Prep Guide to build a strong case interview foundation to use in conjunction with the tips above.
Bain Case Interview Structuring
When structuring your case in a Bain interview, keep in mind that Bain values practicality and lasting results. Be sure to incorporate these considerations into your approach. The questions you ask can be very helpful in showing that you think like a Bainie. For more information on how to structure a case, check out this video, where ex-Bainie Jenny Rae walks through how to structure a case.
Bain Case Interview Practice
Like other case interview processes, a strong preparation plan can give you the confidence and comfort you need to do your best during a Bain case interview. The first step is to make sure you are familiar with case interview basics. From there, it can be helpful to read 3-5 cases to get a sense of what types of questions are asked. Do this before jumping into practicing live cases as soon as you can. When selecting case partners for live cases, it is ideal to practice with different partners who will give you honest feedback. They should have experience with navigating the case interview process.
After you get the basics down, working with an expert coach can really help hone your casing and get you interview-ready. Working with an expert can actually cut your needed prep time in half or more! They will review and critique your performance as you go through a live case. This make it just as valuable as doing a live case. Go back over the case and identify where you might have approached things differently. Then do the case again, drilling down into the areas you weren’t as strong. Additionally, film yourself. As awkward as it might feel, it can also be extremely helpful in improving your delivery, body language, and overall comfort with communicating during a case. You’ll know you are in a good place with your preparation when you realize you are having fun solving cases!
Bain is a firm that values each individual for what they bring to the table. They value this just as much as business acumen and problem-solving skills. This is a unique aspect of Bain, that many appreciate. Following these Bain case interview tips will help you better share how you think and will contribute to the team at Bain. Good luck!