Management consulting is a decades old industry, and the case interview has been a consistent staple in the consulting recruiting process throughout this time. Consulting firms, however, continue to tweak their interview processes and have introduced the “case presentation interview” to test candidates in a new way.
Firms use this to test more than just your ability to crack a case. Instead, in a case presentation interview, your ability to understand which data is important, remain focused on solving the core business problem, and making a concise yet persuasive presentation is paramount.
Are you an auditory learner? Listen to a podcast our team recorded on case presentation interviews here.
What is the Case Presentation Interview?
The case presentation interview comes in various forms, but you’ll almost always encounter it during your final round interviews.
There are two kinds of case presentation interviews: solo and group.
Whether you have to face down a case presentation interview alone or with others, the process looks similar across formats:
- You are given a packet of information that includes the case prompt and data
- You are then given time either at home or on-site to review the information and create a presentation (usually PowerPoint); candidates typically get anywhere between 30min-48 hours to complete this process
- Then, the candidate presents insights and recommendations to one or a panel of interviewers
- Interviewers ask questions during and after the presentation
As a consultant, you’ll need to analyze information quickly and present actionable recommendations to clients. The case presentation interview is how firms test your ability to identify good data from bad, extract insights, turn them into actionable recommendations, and present these recommendations in a persuasive way. As a bonus, the firm also gets a firsthand look at the strength of your PowerPoint skills and teamwork ability.
The Biggest Challenge in Case Presentation Interviews
The biggest challenge you’ll face in the case presentation interview is time management. Usually, the firm will provide you with a large set of data and extraneous information. Don’t try to read through every detail. Instead, form a hypothesis quickly and find the data that will either prove or disprove it. If your hypothesis is disproven, start over with a different (and now more informed) hypothesis.
When you first receive the packet of information for the case presentation interview, budget your time. Set a hard stop for how much time you’ll give yourself to review the information and force yourself to start by building an Executive Summary on paper. Identify what you think the key takeaway is and choose 2-3 underlying arguments to support your hypothesis, building a storyboard on paper.
Then, source the data you need. Reshape your story based on the data you find. Once you have a final narrative arc, port your paper slides over to PowerPoint. It may seem counterintuitive to start with a draft Executive Summary, but this will keep you focused during the limited time you have. Following The Pyramid Principle is our recommended approach to building a case presentation.
Tips on Crushing the Case Presentation Interview
Keep these 4 things in mind as you navigate the case presentation interview:
1. Your goal isn’t to prove an academic point, it’s to gain buy-in and motivate action.
Don’t fall into the trap of trying to prove why your recommendation is “correct” by utilizing all of the data. Your goal in this process is to display your ability to identify what’s most important for the client and only include data in your presentation that directly backs up your main recommendation. This isn’t an academic project; it’s a proxy for how persuasive you’ll be on the job!
2. Use the case presentation interview structure to your advantage.
One of the biggest advantages you have is that the data you need is all right in front of you. Unlike most traditional case interviews where you have to mine for relevant data, the packet of information will have everything you need. After forming your hypotheses, you can instantly start testing to see which direction you should be headed.
3. Practice putting it all together.
If you know you’re about to face a case presentation interview, work with one of our MBB coaches. We have a private bank of presentation-style cases we use to prepare our 1:1 coaching clients. Not only will we help you analyze the data and develop a recommendation, we’ll help you build a presentation to communicate it too.
4. Maintain confidence when delivering your presentation.
After spending all of that time building your presentation, you don’t want your efforts to go to waste with a shaky delivery! According to a recent study published in HBR, 76% of your perception is based on your delivery (which means only 24% is determined by your content!). No matter how you feel about your recommendation and the process you took to get there, sell it to your interviewers. It’s exactly what you’ll have to do on the job as a consultant.
Which Firms use the Case Presentation Interview?
The case presentation interview is becoming more widespread across the management consulting industry. We’ve seen our clients encounter this kind of interview at niche boutiques and large global firms alike. However, you are most likely to see a case presentation interview at ZS Associates, Deloitte, and EY-Parthenon. No matter where you’re applying, you should at least be familiar with this style of case interview.
The case presentation interview is fantastic opportunity for you to highlight a breadth of transferable skills – analysis, communication, problem solving and more. With the right practice, and by following the tips we’ve laid out in this article, you’ll be well on your way to success in the case presentation interview.