Practice Case Interviews: How To Prepare The Right Way

Practice Case Interviews are one of the most important parts of successfully preparing for a management consultant interview. If you’re looking to land a spot at one of the top consulting firms, you’re going to have extremely difficult competition. Other applicants will be just as smart and hard-working as you are, and no one is a natural when it comes to the case interview. The crucial difference-maker is almost always which applicants have completed the most effective preparation for the case interview.

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Introduction To Practice Case Interviews

Now we know effective consultants don’t like to waste time. Unfortunately, that means that many applicants don’t start preparing until they have an interview scheduled. Typically, that will only leave you 3-7 days to study. For most people, that is not enough time to get a leg up on the competition.

Tip: – invest a significant amount of time in doing case interview prep. Practice makes perfect and your competition will be practicing case interviews.

Most successful hires report studying dozens and dozens of case interview practice cases in advance of their interview. Treat this process the same way you would treat studying for finals or the GMAT – the more time you allow yourself to prepare, the better off you’ll be. Ideally, you will have several weeks or even a few months to study and get ready for the actual interviews.

In this article, we’ll offer some tips for structuring your study process for the case interviews. We’ll also take a more in-depth look at how to prepare for a Bain Case Interview in particular. Bain is one of the top consulting firms in the world and their case interview process is unique. We’ll also explore whether you should practice case interviews with a partner and provide some ideas for how to practice cases.

How To Practice For Case Interviews

The most important resource in your Case Interview preparation is going to be working with quality practice cases. There is a huge selection of these available, so you’ll want to be sure you take your practice cases from a trusted source. Many consulting firms offer some sample cases for free on their websites. Real, past case interview problems, as well as expert-designed practice cases, are also available from trusted consulting education companies like yours truly.

Choose A Variety Of Practice Cases.

The practice cases you use should represent a variety of different case interview problem types. This should include add capacity cases, investment cases, math problems, new products, improve profitability cases, new business cases, business expansion cases, market sizing cases, and many others. This way you’ll be sure that you’re prepared for whatever kind of scenario you face in your actual case interview, whether it be with Bain, BCG, McKinsey, Deloitte, or another top firm.

Practice Working With Different Frameworks.

You don’t want to be surprised by a situation you could have easily prepared for. But at some point, studying different frameworks will offer diminishing returns. Focus on mastering a couple specific frameworks that work for you, which you can then modify to fit unfamiliar scenarios in your interview. Good, flexible frameworks to familiarize yourself with include the generic issue tree framework, the business situation framework, and the profitability framework. But remember, if all else fails, just a little structure can help you through a difficult case. You could simply suggest that you want to look at the situation from an internal and external perspective, for example.

Variety also applies to the kinds of practice case materials you’re working with.

The practice case literature comes in many shapes and sizes, from video demonstrations to physical anthologies of practice cases, to electronic case banks. You’ll probably find that electronic practice case libraries offer the most workability, but it can be good to explore other sources too. Different people have different learning styles and having a well-rounded practice regimen can make you a well-rounded interviewee.

How To Practice For A Bain Case Interview

If you’re looking to land a job at a world-class management consulting firm, Bain is sure to be on your list. But Bain has some unique criteria by which it judges its applicants. Let’s take a closer look at what you should focus on in your Bain case interview practice. In terms of structure, Bain applicants typically go through up to four rounds of interviews before being hired. Some early rounds may involve written case problems before applicants move on to a case interview with one or two interviewers. These interviews get more interactive and gradually involve more challenges, complexities, and interruptions from the Bain interviewers.

As Jenny Rae Le Roux, a former Bain interviewer, notes, Bain looks for very specific things. First, the firm looks for energy – interviewers want to see applicants who walk into the room smiling, confident, and immediately ready to go. Bain interviewers are looking for applicants they themselves would want to work with. So, in your Bain Case interview be sure to make the interviewers feel comfortable collaborating with and challenging you. You should also focus on the integration of different skills in your Bain case interview practice, as Bain does not score different skills separately as other firms do. Also, as part of your practice, be sure to focus on time management. Bain allows their consultants unparalleled freedom. The ability to organize and manage your time as you approach the problems in your case interview is crucial to getting hired at Bain.

Should I Use A Case Interview Practice Partner

It seems like the answer should be obvious: that working with a partner is preferable to working alone. After all, the case interview itself centers on a dialogue with other people, right?

It’s true that working with a partner can be helpful, but only under certain conditions. There is a lot to be gained in learning to approach case interview practice cases from the interviewer’s perspective. So, this is an argument for prepping with a partner. But a reciprocal collaboration like this also doubles your time investment–you and your partner both have to interview each other. It may only work if you have a lot of free time in advance of your interview. Also, prepping with other applicants offers no guarantee of their expertise—it can be like the blind leading the blind. In fact, if your partner has limited – or no – case interview experience, it’s probably not a good use of your time.

Working with an expert coach is an ideal solution. Except many coaches charge upwards of $1,000 an hour. Although we offer some far more affordable case interview coaching options, you don’t have to invest any money to find a reasonable practice partner. Try searching your extended network—including friends of friends and colleagues of colleagues. Look for people who have successfully made it through the interview process themselves, so you know you can trust their expertise. Some may be willing to help out of the kindness of their heart. Others might only be convinced if you offer something in return. This could take the form of meals or even a more reasonable amount of money than what a professional coach would demand.

What Can You Find Practice Case Interviews?

Now you know what it takes to prepare, whether for Bain case interview practice or a regular case interview. The next step is to get to work setting up your interview prep routine. Establishing a consistent routine takes all the guesswork and admin time out of the studying process, so you can maximize your efficiency. Once you get organized, you’ll be ready to start working with actual case interview practice cases.

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Filed Under: Case Interview, Consulting Case Interview, consulting interviews