Case Study Interview Questions and Answers

One of the most challenging aspects of case interviews is that after you are provided with the problem, there are an infinite number of ways the case can go. While that is true, there are types of questions that you’ll run across more frequently than others. Once you start recognizing these patterns, you will be able to create frameworks more accurately and efficiently. In this article, we’re be providing case study interview questions and answers for the top 5 most common business problems presented during case interviews.

Top 5 Case Study Interview Questions and Answers

  1. Increasing Profits
  2. Entering a New Market
  3. Developing a New Product
  4. Pricing Strategies
  5. Mergers & Acquisitions

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  1. Increasing Profits

Ultimately, any client’s goal is to increase profits. As a result, profitability is the most important objective in consulting case study interviews. Knowing how to analyze the major components of profitability is imperative for any aspiring consultant.

The profitability framework is broken into two components: revenue and costs. A profitability view requires looking into both components. Within each of these components, you can structure your framework to analyze the drivers within (price, quantity, variable costs and fixed costs) or the overall situation (big picture and potential solutions).

Case Study Interview Prompts Examples

    • Our client is a pharmaceutical drug company that has seen an increase in drug sales but a decrease in overall profit. Our client has hired us to figure out what the issue is.
    • Our client manufactures high-end watches and has been in business for several decades. Last year was the first year the company was unprofitable. Our client would like our help in understanding what went wrong.
    • Our client is a skincare company that has seen an explosion of sales after being in business for a few years. Even with a drastic increase in volumes, the company is in the red. Can you help figure out how to get the client into the black?

Potential Profitability Framework Categories & Questions:

    • Revenue
      • Price
        • What is our client pricing its products at?
        • How has pricing changed over the past few years?
        • What is our pricing strategy?
        • How is pricing expected to change over the next few years?
        • What are competitors pricing similar products at?
      • Quantity
        • What is the demand for our client’s products?
        • How has demand been changing over the past few years?
        • How is the client marketing its products? How have our marketing efforts affected demand
      • Big picture
        • What are our client’s revenue streams?
        • What percent of total revenue does each stream represent?
        • Have those percentages changed lately?
        • Have the revenue streams been declining or growing over the past 1, 3, 5, or 10 years?
        • How is our client growing relative to the industry?
        • What is our market share in terms of sales compared to competitors?
      • Ways to Increase Revenue
        • Increase prices
        • Update marketing strategy
        • Bundle products
    • Cost
      • Variable Costs
        • What are the variable costs with regards to variable labor? Has this been changing?
        • What are the variable costs with regards to materials? Has this been changing?
        • What are the variable costs with regards to distribution? Has this been changing?
      • Fixed Costs
        • What are the fixed costs with regards to salaried labor? Has this been changing?
        • What are the fixed costs with regards to rents? Has this been changing?
        • What are the fixed costs with regards to utilities? Has this been changing?
      • Big Picture
        • What are our client’s major fixed and variable costs?
        • How have costs changed over the past few years?
        • How are our client’s relationships with its suppliers?
        • Will reducing costs damage any of our revenue streams?
        • How do our costs compare against our competitors?
        • What does our client’s supply chain look like?
        • Is there anything happening within our client’s market or the economy that is impacting costs?
        • Are there any government regulations that impact our client’s costs?
      • Ways to Decrease Costs
        • Analyze areas of the business that aren’t producing results and reduce resources
        • Create a more efficient supply chain
        • Negotiate with supplier for better costs
  1. Entering a New Market

Companies often need to enter new markets to grow business. New markets represent new opportunities but also additional challenges. Case study interview frameworks for new markets should include categories and questions that are open-ended, since there are a wide range of possibilities to consider.

Case Study Interview Prompts Examples

    • Our client is a European-based speaker manufacturing company that is seeking further growth. The client is considering entering the US market but has some reservations and would like you to analyze whether it’s a good idea.
    • Our client is a light bulb manufacturer that is based in Brazil. Our client is seeing stagnant growth and therefore is trying to enter a new country in Latin America. Can you help the client determine which country is best to enter?
    • Our client is an agricultural powerhouse that produces many kinds of vegetables and fruits. The client currently has a surplus of produce and is looking for new countries where it can sell this produce. Can you help the client determine which countries seem most promising?

Potential Market Entry Framework Categories & Questions:

    • Market Situation
      • What is the size of the market?
      • What is the projected market growth or decline for the next 1, 3, 5, or 10 years?
      • At what rate has the market been growing or declining for the past 1, 3, 5, or 10 years?
      • Where is the market in its lifecycle?
      • Who are the customers and how are they segmented?
      • Will our client’s products become less useful over time with technological advances?
      • Have there been any major changes in the market lately?
      • What are the key factors that drive the industry?
    • Competition
      • Who are the main competitors and what are their market shares?
      • How do the competitors’ products compare to our client’s?
      • How will the competition respond?
      • What are our client’s competitive advantages?
    • Market Entry Considerations
      • What are the key risks to consider?
      • Are there any barriers to entry?
      • Would it be more profitable to enter through an acquisition, a joint venture, or by creating a business from scratch?
      • How will the client exit the new market if things don’t go well?
  1. Developing a New Product

Similar to new markets, companies need to develop new products in order to grow. This problem is intimidating for most clients due to potential high costs and a fear of the unknown. Your case study interview framework should dive deep into the new product before anything else.

Case Study Interview Prompts Examples

    • Our client is a mature paper company that feels it is in a saturated market. The company has great manufacturing and distribution capabilities and is looking into creating notebooks to expand its revenue streams. Can you help analyze this decision and see if it’s a good idea?
    • Our client is a cutting-edge technology company that is working on a smart television. The client has never worked on a product like this before and would like to understand its viability.
    • Our client is a national grocery store that is thinking of creating generic versions of sodas to sell at its own stores. There is some hesitation because our client hasn’t manufactured its own products before. They want your advice on what you think they should do.

Potential New Product Framework Categories & Questions:

    • New Product and Product Portfolio
      • What is the new product and how is it different from what is currently on the market?
      • How innovative is this product compared to others that exist in the market?
      • Is the product patented or have any rights that can protect it from being copied?
      • Are there similar products in the market that can act as substitutes?
      • How does the product fit within the client’s current product line?
      • Can the product be bundled with any existing products?
      • Will the product cannibalize any of the client’s current products?
      • Is the client replacing an existing product?
    • Market Strategy
      • Who are our customers and how can we best reach them?
      • How will this product expand our customer base and increase sales?
      • Is there any data or research supporting that customers want this product?
      • Who are the main competitors and how much market share does each firm have?
      • How will competitors respond to this new product?
      • Are we entering into a new market or are we serving the market we currently serve?
    • Feasibility
      • How much funding does this new product require?
      • Where will the funding be coming from?
      • If debt is required, can the client support debt?
      • Does the client have the manufacturing or production capabilities to produce this product on its own or does it need help from other parties?
      • Do we have relationships with the right suppliers that will help us create this product?
      • How will this new product impact our client’s profitability?

  1. Pricing Strategies

Another common case study interview question revolves around pricing strategy. Prices usually greatly impact volume and ultimately profits, so this case study objective comes up quite frequently.

Case Study Interview Prompts Examples

    • Our client is a medical device manufacturer that has developed a new CT machine. They just received regulatory approval and are now trying to market the product. What price should they sell the machine at?
    • Our client is a luxury handbag company that is diversifying its revenue stream by creating a more affordable handbag aimed at the masses. How should the client price this new handbag without diluting its brand?
    • Our client is a technology company that uses artificial intelligence to review medical records. How much should the client charge for its services?

Potential Pricing Framework Categories & Questions:

    • Product Information
      • What is the new product and how is it different from what is currently on the market?
      • How innovative is this product compared to others that exist in the market?
      • Is the product patented or have any rights that can protect it from being copied?
      • Are there similar products in the market that can act as substitutes?
      • Can the product be bundled with any existing products?
      • Could the product cannibalize any of the client’s current products?
      • What were the R&D costs required to create this product?
      • How big is the market for this product?
    • Competitive Analysis
      • How much are competitors charging for similar products?
      • How are competitors thinking about their pricing strategies?
      • How much does it cost for competitors to create similar products?
      • Are there any substitutions to our client’s product?
    • Pricing Strategy
      • What is our breakeven point?
      • How much does it cost to create and deliver the product?
      • Has there been any research completed to see how much customers are willing to pay for the product or similar ones?
      • Do customers need to be educated about the product?
      • What are the potential costs with bringing this product to market?
      • How much will be spent on marketing?
  1. Mergers & Acquisitions

Because they aren’t as common, M&A problems often can catch candidates off guard. You’re not recruiting for a finance position, but it’s still important to have a decent understanding of how mergers & acquisitions work.

Case Study Interview Prompts Examples

    • Our client is a soda company considering buying a nearby potato chip manufacturer to expand its product lines. Does this make sense? What should our client be thinking about?
    • Our client is a gym franchise that is considering an offer to buy the rights for one of the most popular exercise machines. Should they take the deal?
    • Our client is the largest leather manufacturer in the world. They are considering purchasing a smaller up and coming competitor. Should they do it?

Potential M&A Framework Categories & Questions:

    • Target Market
      • If our client doesn’t purchase the company, will a competitor?
      • How healthy is the industry the target is in?
      • How will competitors respond to this acquisition?
    • Target Company
      • How are the potential acquisition target’s financials?
      • Has the target’s revenue and profitability been increasing or decreasing over the past few years?
      • How unique are the target’s products?
      • What is the target’s customer base like?
    • Post-Acquisition Strategy
      • How much is our client going to be paying? What are the terms of the deal?
      • Is the price fair?
      • How will the deal be financed?
      • Will our client be taking on debt, and if so, can the client support it?
      • Why is our client thinking about purchasing the asset or company?
      • Are there any potential alternatives?
      • How does the company fit within our client’s broader product portfolio and strategy?
      • Are there a lot of potential revenue and cost synergies from the deal?
    • Risks and Benefits
      • How are the potential acquisition target’s financials?
      • Has the target’s revenue and profitability been increasing or decreasing over the past few years?
      • How special are the target’s products?
      • What is the target’s customer base like?
      • How healthy is the industry the target is in?
      • How will competitors respond to this acquisition?
      • Are there any legal or regulatory reasons this acquisition may not work?
      • Are there any financial reasons like tax advantages that make this a good transaction?

Concluding Thoughts

These common case study interview questions and answers are a great place to begin your case interview prep! This guide covers the majority of case studies that will come your way.

However, keep in mind that the best consulting frameworks are catered to the specific prompt. So while it’s helpful to know these business concepts and questions, they’re not enough to prepare you for all case study interviews.

Advanced candidates blend case study frameworks to best answer the problem at hand. Until you can do that, you’re not completely ready for an interview. Looking for expert help to get over the hump? Schedule a coaching session with an expert MBB coach today.

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