No Case Interview Experience? Start Here

A question we frequently receive from readers is, “Where should I start if I have no experience with case studies or case interviews?” It’s a great question, and we’re all too happy to provide a list of recommendations. If you’ve set your course toward a consulting career but are worried about having little to no experience with case interviews, keep reading for where to start!

Where to Start with Case Interview Prep, no case interview experience

Where to Start with Case Interview Prep

Where to start if you have no case interview experience? Begin with our free case course. We’ll walk you through the different pieces of a case, how they fit together, how firms score you, core frameworks, and more.

Then, it’s time to go through some cases by yourself. Start with market sizing questions to get a handle on the core case skills (the ability structure a problem-solving approach, make reasonable assumptions, do math, and arrive at business insights).

After that, utilize our free Case of the Month or purchase our Consulting Case Library to get access to 500+ practice cases (each one with a solution set). Overall, the cases you practice should represent the spectrum of problem types you might encounter in your interview, including profitability cases, market study cases, M&A cases, etc.

But which case interview types to start with? After you’ve done 10-20 market sizing questions, structure your first 10 cases this way: 4 profitability cases, 4 market study cases, 2 M&A cases.

How to Prep for Your Case Interview Like a Pro

After you’ve gone through those initial 10 cases, you are ready to do a live case with a partner. A friend or colleague will work, but an expert (like a Management Consulted coach) is preferred. Why invest in working with an expert coach? It saves you time in the prep process. An expert coach will pinpoint your specific weaknesses early in the process, and build a plan to help you address them so that you know you’re focused on the right things at the right time in your prep journey. When you don’t have a lot of time to prepare, this time savings is invaluable! You’re applying for a strategy consulting role – why not be strategic in the way you prepare?

When a coach identifies your gap areas, they should lead you through a drill-based program to level-set your weak areas. Once that is complete, it’s time to put it all together and begin doing full mock cases – again, preferably with an expert. We cannot stress this enough – the bulk of your improvement will come with out-loud practice. Why? Case interviews are about talking, thinking, and writing at the same time. Only out-loud practice simulates the interview environment. If you focus on this kind of prep, you are following our golden rule that quality practice > quantity practice.

What Not To Do In Case Interview Prep

Competing for an offer from a top-notch consulting firm is not for the faint of heart. On average, between 1-3% of candidates will land an offer. There’s not a lot of margin for error, so let’s touch on what not to do when prepping for case interviews.

Don’t feverishly read every blog and consume all the interview prep materials ever created. Yes, watch a few case interview videos on YouTube, but not 57 of them. You learn by doing, not necessarily reading or watching. Some information is useful, but there is a point where you’ll run into the law of diminishing returns.

Don’t do 1,000 practice cases on your own. Without a direction to shoot in (i.e., targeted feedback from a coach), it really is like shooting in the dark. We know it can be tempting to think that this is the best way to prep, and while it can be partially effective, this method will not ultimately get you to where you need to be when it comes to your case interview readiness.

Helpful Tips for Case Interview Prep

Utilize these pointers to make the most of your case interview prep time.

  1. Structure > The “Right” Answer

In your case interview, McKinsey, Bain, BCG et al. aren’t looking for you to get to the right answer – in most cases, there is none! Consulting firms are looking for how you approach a problem. They want to see how you think by creating a logical structure for the problem at hand and using quantitative methods to arrive at a recommendation that makes business sense. Structure isn’t just about your initial approach to the problem, however – you must remain structured (i.e., organized) in each area of the case – be it math, brainstorming, your final recommendation, etc.

  1. Use A Hypothesis-Driven Approach

If you want to land a consulting offer with MBB or any other top firm, you won’t get there without a hypothesis-driven approach. Welcome to the life of a consultant! From the get-go in your case interview, you need to be testing a hypothesis about what you believe is the solution for your client. As you work through a case, you will constantly test your hypothesis and revise it as you are provided with new data and arrive at new insights. The goal is to provide a strong recommendation at the end of your interview, backed up with two or three supporting reasons based on the data in the case. It all starts with a hypothesis.

  1. Insight > Robot-Level Calculations

Getting business insights from the numbers is the final piece to case math, and one that too many candidates ignore. There is a reason you are being asked to do calculations – and it’s not becuase your interviewer is grumpy or mean! You are being tested on your ability to do quick, boardroom-level calculations, but also on your ability to extract client-ready insights from your analysis.

  1. Have Fun!

The secret sauce for most competitive candidates? Enjoy the case interview process. It can be stressful, yes. But if you don’t enjoy this process, you certainly won’t enjoy life on the job. Engage your interviewer in a business conversation as you go through the case and showcase that you enjoy solving business problems. If you do that, you’ll be well on your way to case interview success!

Conclusion

Prepping for a case interview with no experience can be a daunting task. We hope we’ve given you some helpful tips for where to start with your prep. For expert help, join our Black Belt program for 8 hours of 1:1 cocahing and access to our entire online curriculum, including 500 practice cases, 9 video courses, 10K+ case drills, and more. We’ll build a customized plan and execute it together to prepare you for the case (and behavioral) interview.

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Filed Under: Bain Case Interview, Case Interview, case studies, Consulting Case Interview, consulting interviews, McKinsey Case Interview, Where do I Start?