How To Answer Case Interview Questions
If you are interested in becoming a consultant, you most likely will encounter case interviews. It’s unavoidable, and you have to prepare yourself for it. How to answer case interview questions?
Case interviews are a must-have for consulting agencies to get the right candidate. It is an aptitude test that will pick out who among the candidates can fix a problem the best. Yes, I said it right, the best. Getting the correct answer is not enough for a case interview.
Case interviews are nothing new, and they have been around as a screening tool for associate-level job positions. They need the interview since it’s their job to interact with other clients or other business associates.
Right now, case interviews are in every industry that needs analytical skills, problem-solving skills, research, and management. These industries include tech sectors, healthcare, NGOs, and consultancy firms. So even if you are not applying to become a consultant, you can still benefit from the article.
During the interview, a candidate will be presented with a problem that they will have to solve. You won’t have much time either since you are going to solve it on the spot. How you answer questions will depend on how you communicate them.
So say you prepared your approach or methodologies carefully, will you be able to communicate properly? The time is ticking, and you don’t have much time. You are going to be under pressure. Your skills can’t be of much help if you can’t communicate them properly. On top of that, you can even mess up.
That said, here are a handful of tips to help you answer case interviews.
Tips To How To Answer Case Interview Questions
1.) Write Notes
At the start of an interview, your interviewer is going to give you a lot of information. In some cases, like market-sizing questions, they are going to hand out data. Write some notes to avoid the interviewer having to repeat a question.
Any paper will do, but make sure that you looked prepared during the interview. Don’t ask for some paper, bring your own. Keep it simple by bringing a notepad since it’s portable. In some cases, an interviewer might collect your notes after the interview. Try to organize your notes to impress them.
2.) Ask Questions and Do Not Assume
In case interviews, it is a definite no-no to make assumptions. An interviewer will deliberately not mention all the details about the case. Currently, you are roleplaying the job, so assume that you are talking to a client. Extract all the details you can from the client to learn all about the current case. Do not assume as your solution might instead hurt a client’s business.
So how do you do it? Simple, ask questions. In fact, you are expected to ask questions in the interview. Ask as many intelligent questions as you need to see an accurate big picture of the case. By doing so, you are making an interaction with the interviewer rather than it being a one-sided affair. They will enjoy the experience too.
Practically likewise, a client can miss information or not being clear enough when stating the problem. If you are a newcomer, do not be hesitate to ask questions.
Asking questions is not being ignorant. Part of your consultancy job is to ask questions, and it’s a fatal error to avoid asking questions. If you do not understand the case, ask what it is all about. Not every consultant knows every nook and cranny in each market. It’s not like every consultant knows what it costs to advertise and make potato chips.
However, keep your focus on the context of the case, so ask questions related to the context. You may want to ask what are the current trends in the market where the case is situated.
So what are things you should ask? If you don’t understand the case too well, use your notes to summarize what the interviewer has said. Whenever you stumble on some points you want to clarify, ask for clarification. Perhaps, your interviewer will point out the pointers you interpreted incorrectly. It’s not a guarantee, though, so keep an eye for body language as an indication for approval or objection.
While you might have a long list of questions to ask, don’t get too worked up about it. You might get caught giving out so many questions that you forgot to listen to the answers. Listen to the answers, write them down if needed, and then incorporate them into your analysis.
4.) No Need To Rush
If you need to engage in deep thought, feel free to do it. Ask your interviewer to give you a minute or two to collect your thoughts. But don’t make them wait for too long.
5.) Structure, Structure, and Structure
Structure your approach to solve your case. Make an issue tree and break down the problem into many manageable components. Tackle each one by one. When put together, the small answered components might present answers to the case. To simply put, divide and conquer.
Likewise, your structure helps you make your explanation to be more concise.
6.) Be Expressive
Part of case interviews is the interviewer trying to learn what you are thinking. So, feel free to show off. Express how you are going about solving the problem. Show them that you can assess, gather, and scrutinize the information laid out to you. Speak out loud and express your reasons for your approach.
Not every one of us can be proactive when talking to people, but the job requires you to be one. To help yourself out, practice, practice, and practice. Practice in a mirror, record yourself and avoid using filler words. Filler words are the “ums”, avoid those and instead take a momentary pause. You will appear much more professional that way.
7.) Summarize Your Conclusions
Case interviews are standardized, so cases are not unique to each individual. Most likely, your interviewer has presented the same case to different candidates. If you are already in your conclusion, make it as brief and quick if possible.