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 an initial game plan. 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 your prep!
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 10 market sizing questions to get a handle on the core case skills (the ability to 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 550+ 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 market sizing cases, 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.
Note: If you’re a student at one of our partner universities and have access to our online curriculum, follow the prep plan you received in your welcome email!
How to Prep for Your Case Interview Like a Pro
Why invest in working with an expert coach? It saves you time and stress 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? In addition, the case prep process can be stressful – working with a veteran helps you breathe easier and enjoy the process more.
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’ll see 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 binge-read every blog and consume all the interview prep materials ever created. Watch a few case interview videos on YouTube, but not 57 of them. You learn by doing, not necessarily reading or watching. Learning some theory at the beginning is useful, but you’ll soon experience the law of diminishing returns.
In addition, don’t do to many practice cases on your own. Without a direction to go 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 at the beginning (and feel helpful), this method will not ultimately get you to where you need to be when it comes to your case interview readiness.
Finally, don’t over-prepare for just one company and one interview style. While we aren’t suggesting that you boil the ocean for consulting roles, we also want you to have a broad set of companies that interest you so that you have the best chance of your case preparation resulting in a job offer. Identify a small group of target companies and prepare for them in a structured manner to give yourself the best odds.
- 8 hours 1:1 Zoom sessions with MBB coach of your choice
- All access pass: 600+ cases, 10K+ math/structure drills, 9 video courses, 18 chatbot cases
- 2 Rounds of Edits each on 1 Resume and 1 Cover Letter
- Exclusive group training (Dec. 19, 1-3PM ET)
26 Spots RemainingAdd to cart
Helpful Tips for Case Interview Prep
Utilize these pointers to make the most of your case interview prep time.
Structure is More Important Than 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.
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.
Insights Beat Quick, but Robotic 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 because 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.
The secret sauce for most competitive candidates? Enjoying 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. Some of our recent MBA-level candidates who landed offers found that getting comfortable with cases made them more comfortable with real clients. Engage your interviewer in a 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!
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, 1 hour, 1:1 coaching sessions and access to our entire online curriculum, including 550+ practice cases, 9 video courses, 10K+ case drills, and more. We’ll build a customized plan and execute it together to prepare you for upcoming case (and behavioral) interviews.