Best Case Interview Frameworks
There’s a lot of solving happening in a case interview. Not only that, applicants are likewise time-pressured to solve the case quickly. The interviewer doesn’t have all day, and there’s a long line of applicants waiting for their turn. How will you, the applicant, be able to think on your feet?
Case interviews are not all about you getting the right answer. There are several ways to approach a case, and perhaps, each approach can lead to an answer. So getting the right answer is not the whole point of a case interview.
The point of a case interview is for the interviewer is to understand what the applicant is thinking. They want to see your analytical, problem-solving, and communication skills. In short, they want to see your thought processes under time or psychological pressure.
To help you better prepare for the upcoming interview, you need a whole new approach in your thinking. You have to be quick and efficient to analyze and solve a case. What you need to do is to familiarize yourself with case interview frameworks.
What are Case Interview Frameworks?
Case interviews frameworks are a proven quick and efficient way to approaching and solving cases. Not only to solve cases in a case interview, but it also has real-life applications. When you become familiar with case interview frameworks, you can likewise use them on the job to assist your clients with their problems.
Case interview frameworks are templates for solving problems using a defined structure. The framework’s structures allow a user to break down problems into simpler and smaller component parts. The more a user examines the little details, the better they can see the bigger picture.
How you do your framework is critical for your case interview. It’s the “core” of your whole interview. Your performance here will greatly affect the next steps you are going to take. The better frameworks you have, the better performance you have. While poor frameworks will cause you to struggle to solve a case, taking too much time.
You need to appear precise and concise in front of your interviewer, and having a good framework helps out a lot. Think of a framework as dividing a problem, organizing them into different categories, and finally brainstorming ideas.
That said, here are some frameworks that can help you solve any cases efficiently.
Case Interview Frameworks
1.) Profitability Frameworks
Profitability cases are one of the most common cases you will encounter during a case interview. Likewise, a consulting firm also handles profitability cases regularly.
Just imagine, you own a company, and it’s been in decline for the past quarter. You saw that your efforts for recovery weren’t successful. For any company, its profits are the backbone of its existence. Without profits, there can be no company.
When this happens, they will call for assistance from the consulting firms to turn things around. That’s why profitability cases exist. So, how can you solve the case? Fortunately for you, profitability cases are some of the most straightforward cases.
Profitability frameworks are fairly basic and straightforward. You can simply break it down into two categories, basic revenue and cost components. With those two, you can find the root cause of the problem.
- Basic Revenue: Break down the revenue by the number of units sold by the business times the price per unit.
- Cost Components: Cost components can be broken into two categories, variable and fixed costs. And then, you can further break down the variable costs into the Number of units produced and cost per unit.
2.) Porter’s Five Forces
Porter’s Five Forces is a framework commonly used by the upper echelons of a company. They frequently use it to analyze the competitive dynamics of the market. Each market is different, and each is defined by its specific industry and by its competitors.
Some markets or industries are hard to stay competitive into, for example, mining, banking, and oil industries. On the other hand, some markets are easy to get into, for example, arts, software, and computer-related services.
Through Proter’s Five Forces, you can study a market’s viability both for new and experienced businesses alike. If the company is already within the market, you can still use the five forces to analyze its competitiveness.
Here are the five things to consider in a market study:
- Competition: Among the five forces, competition will be affected by the rest of the four forces. The more competition, a business has to exert more time and resources to stay competitive against its rivals.
- Supplier Power: If a business is great at bargaining prices, it can sell high-quality products at lower costs, thereby giving them an edge against its rivals.
- New Entries: The lower an entry is for a market, the more businesses will enter, which means more competition. Hence, prices are frequently changed to up the sales, thereby killing the other competitors.
- The Threat of Alternative Products: The more alternatives a customer has, the easier it is to switch. It helps cultivate the market environment, which drives more quality to attract new customers.
3.) Issue Tree Framework
Case interviews will require you to solve cases quickly on the spot. And sometimes, it’s hard to come up with a good framework on the spot. Trying to remember which framework will take time, and if you can’t come up with any, you have to move on.
If you don’t have any other frameworks in mind, try using the issue tree framework. Develop a graphical issue tree to break a complex problem down into its parts. After that, brainstorm to solve the case by approaching it with your hypothesis. It’s a simple approach, and it gets the job done quicker—which is a plus during the interview.
There are two types of issue framework:
- Problem-Issue Tree: Determines the root cause of the problem, and it asks the “why” question.
- Solution-Issue Tree: Aims to solve the problem, and it asks the “how” question.
To better illustrate the issue tree framework, picture it as a tree. The core would be the problem, and its branches are your breakdown of the problem into smaller pieces. Start addressing the small pieces first before underlying the big problem.
Keep in mind that case interview frameworks are just templates. Don’t stick on it too much, but adapt as you go along the case. They are a guide, not the solution to all cases.