Time or Help – The Two Essential Ingredients to Case Prep

Planning to recruit for strategy consulting? You need to be strategic about the way you prepare.

To be successful in the application process, you need a well-crafted resume, thoughtful cover letter, good networking, and rock solid case interview skills.

Most candidates who have a realistic chance of breaking in have a strong resume, can write a cover letter, have a basic idea of how to network in a professional setting, and have been succeeding in fit interviews for years. What sets students who receive offers apart from students who don’t is their casing ability.

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Two Paths For Case Prep

Learning how to case and understanding generally how a case works is fairly easy. Learning how to case at an MBB level is extremely difficult. McKinsey interviews the top 10% of applicants – really smart candidates with stellar backgrounds. Even with a great background, it’s really difficult to get an MBB interview. But less than 10% of candidates that McKinsey interviews – and these interview candidates are the top 10% of applicants – case well enough to get the job. The bar is simply that high.

If you have the academic background, extracurricular involvement, and networking acumen to get an interview at an MBB, Tier 2, Big 4, or top boutique firm, you have the intellectual horsepower to case at an MBB level.

Path One To Interview Prep Success: Time

Success comes down to two things – hard work, and either enough time to prep thoroughly or enough professional help to accelerate the process.

Many successful candidates – people who case well enough to get an MBB offer – use no professional help. They trust a combination of intelligence, hard work, and time to prepare sufficiently well. To get ready on your own, you should start your interview preparation at least 4 to 6 months before your projected interview date.

Giving yourself this much time to prepare allows you to thoroughly research casing, digest a combination of books and online material on the subject, and complete 40 to 50 live case interviews with a partner. Successful candidates typically prepare with friends and peers who are also recruiting. They complete between 2 and 5 live case interviews per week over their prep period, get feedback from listening to live cases online and on podcasts, and check in on their progress by working with their professors or with friends in consulting. For 95% of successful applicants, this is the amount of time and effort required to reach an MBB casing level.

The process takes this much time because case interviews test your ability to apply a structured process to a basically random problem. Investment banking applicants can memorize answers to common accounting questions, speak compellingly, and rely on their knowledge.
But prospective consultants must be able to take a random, extremely specific business problem – often taken from real life consulting engagements – and analyze it at a very sophisticated level – in 20 minutes.

These are problems difficult enough that Fortune 100 corporations pay MBB firms millions of dollars to solve them over a period of months. And you, as an interviewee, are expected to analyze a piece of one such problem and reach a compelling conclusion in less time than it takes to eat lunch.

If you have given yourself enough time to prepare effectively, you will absolutely be able to apply your developed process well enough to succeed. Putting in the time works.

Path Two To Interview Prep Success: Help

If you have a tighter deadline and have not had the time to prepare as thoroughly, you have a couple options. You can cram – spending 6 to 8 hours a day working through drills, researching, and trying to reach that 40 to 50 case mark. That works for some.

You can also invest in professional help. Here at Management Consulted, we offer the Black Belt program for candidates on a tight deadline who don’t want to let an offer slip through their fingers. Black Belt can massively accelerate your prep timeline by providing you with a detailed prep plan; granting you access to top-end drills with MBB-level solutions; and, most importantly, giving you 8 hours of 1:1 interview preparation with our elite team of interview coaches. Every one of our coaches is a former McKinsey, Bain, or BCG employee. They successfully navigated the recruiting process, cased at an elite level, worked at an MBB firm, and interviewed prospective applicants during their time there. They know what MBB level casing looks like and how to help you reach that point.

Black Belt is not cheap, but it is an investment. Don’t let years of academic success, extracurricular involvement, and leadership effort go to waste. If you receive a consulting offer, the ROI on an investment like Black Belt is mind-boggling. And 80% of Black Belts do.

Learn more about Black Belt today by clicking here.


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Filed Under: Case Interview