Case Interview Prep Process

The case interview prep process can be overwhelming. Where do you start? Frameworks? Walkthroughs? Do you jump straight into paid coaching? With so many questions, options, and perspectives, how do you start off the right foot? Approach the case interview prep process correctly, and you can cut out up to half of the necessary time and practice! Do your case prep wrong, and waste a lot of time, and possibly your chance at a consulting offer. Watch Jenny Rae as she gives an overview of the complete case interview prep process – and where you should start, what to do, and how to properly prepare.

Case Interview Prep [Video]

Case Interview Prep- YouTube Transcription:

Hi, I’m Jenny Rae La Roux, the Managing Director of Management Consulted. And I’m here today to talk a little bit about the all-important case interview prep process. This is your complete guide to case interview prep process.

When To Start The Case Interview Prep Process

First of all, when do you start prepping for the case interview? Our recommendation is six months in advance. And in the best case scenario, you’re going to work through multiple different pieces of the prep process. You’re gonna go through a diagnostic interview, you’re gonna break everything down, you’re gonna dig into a lot of the issues that you might have, you’re gonna put it all back together, and you’re gonna do all this in a very systematic way. We recognize that a lot of you are gonna be coming to us and binge watching youtube videos three days before your interviews. So let me just speak to you.

Short Time Line Prep

What do you need to do if you’re prepping right away. You need to come through those very same diligent processes, incredibly quickly. So you need to start with a diagnostic interview. Then you need to practice sections of the interview, even if it feels like it’s time inefficient, and you’re too close to the interview. On your third day beforehand, you need to break down the interview and make sure that you’ve got all the component pieces just right. And then just before the interview you need to pull everything back together. So even if you’re working in a compressed timeframe, that’s our recommendation.

In addition the case interview prep process really can take longer than six months, if you have absolutely no business background. And you want to weave in some practical experience, to build in tools, for yourself so you can refer to them inside the interview.

How To Prepare

The second piece that’s really important to understand, is how to prepare. There are two main ways that are effective for preparation.

1. Audio Review

You can listen and watch other people doing case interviews. When you’re listening to them and you’re watching them happen, you get a sense for how the nuances of the flow works, for how the back-and-forth should be working, for when you should be driving, and when you should be receiving. If you don’t get that and you’re just reading the interviews, it seems like a much more static question and answer process. So understanding from the beginning, the way that the conversation naturally flows, is really critical. And again you can do that through audio resources, or you can for example, YouTube videos on case interviews.

2. Practice Out Loud

Then after you’ve absorbed some information or potentially even before, you need to make sure that you yourself are practicing out loud. Because again just reading something or going through it in isolation, does not give you the simulation for what you’ll need to go through the interview. So if you have a long period of time, I recommend that you do a diagnostic interview to start with, so that you know where you should be focusing. And then use your audio practice to build up some skills as you are working through your own processes.

If you have a very limited amount of time we recommend that you flip that, watch a few videos, listen to some audio, then dive straight into the practice. Now let’s talk a little bit about the structuring process.

Structuring Process

When you’re going through the beginning of a case, the most critical piece is building a good structure. At the beginning and it’s critical for two reasons. Number one, in many of the situations like a BCG or Deloitte case, you’ll actually use that structure to solve the case. So it’s important for your ability to complete the task you have. But for cases where you’re maybe not using that structure exactly, like a McKinsey case, it’s also really important to communicate that you have the ability to structure a work plan effectively.

How do you build a structure?

1. Isolated Categories

Well first of all, you need to make sure that you have isolated categories, four categories is our recommendation.

2. Draw On Practical Experience

Second, you need to make sure that you’re drawing on practical experience. It’s really important to the interviewer that every structure does not sound the same to one another, from case to case. And that every person structure does not sound the same, because you are relying on your own personal experience.

3. Prioritized

And in addition, you need to make sure that your structure is prioritized. Because you may use it to solve the case, and even if you don’t, what they want to see from you is that you can out of the sea of data that you can collect, identify the keys that you’ll really need to solve the case. Which brings me to my last point of the structure section.

4. Ace The Math

Every line in your structure, outside of the category headings, needs to be data driven. And there’s a reason for that. Because step number four of case practice, is making sure that you ace the math. And the one way you can make sure, from the beginning when you ace the math, is identify the data, that you’ll need to solve the problem. When you’re working through the math, there are other things you need to keep in mind.

When Working Through Case Math

Follow The Data, Not Your Structure

First of all follow the data, not your structure. So even if you came up in the beginning with some great ideas for how to structure the case, you need to make sure that you are identifying inside the case what data is available to you, that’s gonna be a hint, that it’s the key to an insight. Because data is only gonna be brought into the case if there is an insight there. In addition, you need to make sure that you spend five minutes working through the math portions of the case, and that you use our four recommended steps.

4 Steps For Case Math
    1. Recap The Problem
    2. Structure the math and you explain verbally what you’re about to do
    3. Solve the math
    4. Come up with insights

Practice All Three Types Of Math

And then finally make sure that you practice all three types of math.

  1. Verbal math
  2. Chart math
  3. Graph math

If you’re able to do all of those, you are going be adequately prepared for the math portion, inside the interview.

Round Case Math

And one final note about that, just a little tip or hint, we do recommend a minor amount of rounding to help facilitate speed in the math. But ultimately speed is not the most important thing, the level of your insight is important. And when we’re training people, especially if they have a good bit of time before the interview, we actually recommend that they don’t do any rounding. We look for exact numbers to build confidence in that ability.

How To Conclude

Final piece that’s important to understand when prepping for the case interview, is how to conclude. How to build a recommendation at the end. One thing that’s really important to note, as we’ve seen this in multiple parts of our practice and in our seminars, is that people are reluctant to make conclusions without perfect data. That’s not what they’re looking for from you. You need to know from the beginning, that they’re looking for a “Yes”, or a “No” answer. A “Do this” a “Don’t do that”. They’re looking for a clear recommendation even if it’s based on limited data. And you can put in your next steps of the recommendation what else you would like to do to verify where you are, but it’s really critical that you put all of that together.

Wrap Up

There’s so much more that we could say and do say about case interviews, in our other videos as well as our case interview course. And we would love to work with you to prepare for your case interview. Just visit us on social or at www.managementconsulted.com.

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