How To Study For A Case Interview

When many first heard of case interviews, they would have imagined it as a hellish nightmare. Case interviews will ask you to solve cases, that’s right, cases with an s. It’s a gruelling venture for many to solve a series of cases under time and psychological pressure. But there’s a very good reason why consulting firms practise case interviews. 

In your preparation for case interviews, you can sometimes forget what’s the whole point of a case interview. It’s not there to torture applicants. Many think of case interviews as consulting firms trying to find individuals who are best at solving cases. However, it’s not entirely an accurate depiction. 

The purpose of why case interviews exist is to find applicants who have the talent and skills to be GOOD consultants. It’s not about who can answer it the best, and it’s much more than that. Even if it’s obvious, many still forget once the interview starts.

How To Study For A Case Interview
How To Study For A Case Interview

What’s A Case Interview All About

Surprisingly, a case interview portrays an accurate description of an on-the-job experience of being a consultant. If you very much dislike case interviews, you will inevitably also dislike being a consultant yourself. 

Every aspect of a case interview happens for a reason. For example, you will be asked by your interviewer to estimate the size of a specific market. Why is that? It’s because clients will always ask these kinds of questions all the time. “Hey Bob, how big do you think the current smartphone market is?”

You are going to estimate a lot during your interview, but you will do more once you get the job. Although firms do not expect you to know everything, you should still try to familiarize yourself with current market trends. 

Guess estimates are just a part of the interview, and there will be a lot more on your way. How you study for your case interview is your preparation for being a consultant. 

That said, how to study for a case interview? Don’t worry, as we will be introducing you to some steps to guide you on your study.

How To Study Effectively For A Case Interview

When studying for a case interview, it’s always important that you understand its purpose. You are not expected to know every single thing about every business sector. Rather, the interviewer is more interested in you being a good consultant for their firm.

What it means is that they want to understand your thought process. They want someone who can approach a problem with a logical and concise mindset.

They also want to see what frameworks you will use and if that framework is suitable for the current case. They are especially interested if you can ask insightful questions that can enhance their information that will lead to a good answer.

Now that the parameters are set, here are some practical ways to study for a case interview.

Study Frameworks

Frameworks are your gateway to solving a case quickly and efficiently. Not only are they useful in solving case interviews, but you likewise will be using them on your consulting job.

Frameworks are different templates that can solve different case problems using a defined structure. It will allow a user to break down problems into simpler and smaller parts. The better frameworks you have, the better your performance will be. While poor frameworks, on the other hand, will cause you to struggle to solve a case, taking too much time.

To impress your interviewer, you need to be precise and concise, and having a suitable framework can help you out. Study different frameworks and be well acquainted with them. There are plenty of resources online that expound on different frameworks for different topics. 

Be well acquainted with them until it comes naturally for you. However, keep in mind that frameworks are not magic tricks that can solve all the cases in the world. If it does, consulting firms will aim to save money and not hire you instead.

Each framework has a suitable case for it, but even then, it only suits it. It’s not specific, and that’s where you come in. Do not stick to textbook frameworks, and they are only a guide. Adapt and change the framework as you go, whatever suits you in helping solve the case much quicker. 

Study Math

Case interviews will need a lot of math, especially financial ratios. Fortunately, a lot of the math in case interviews boils down to simple arithmetic and algebra. Just know a 13-year-old’s math, and learn to calculate them quickly.

You may wonder, why do you need to be quick on math when there are calculators? When discussing business affairs, it’s not all about X equals Y. There are businesses at stake, so you need a qualitative approach when addressing cases.

Answering qualitative approaches will require intensive research and discussion. That’s why you need a pen and paper to approach cases.

Study To Develop A More Concise Style In Your Explanation

While a consultant is expected to know different business terms, it isn’t necessarily true for your clients. So if you have a suggestion or questions for them, explain it to them as clearly as possible.

Harvard Business Review has some articles that can help you explain your solutions concisely to your client.

Study And Practice Cases

To truly understand what it’s like to be in a case interview, you need to be in one. If possible, grab someone to practice a case interview with you. Be each other’s interviewer and give each other some feedback.

Research some cases that have been previously solved. Know their approaches and simulate them as accurately as possible. There are plenty of materials online that you can use as your reference.

Also, if you know which consulting firm you are trying to get into, study their previous cases. It helps give you a perspective on what type of cases they handle and how they handle them.

Study In Becoming An Eager Listener

Part of case interviews is listening to the case handed to you and the interactions between you and the interviewer. While it may seem obvious, listening is a cultivated skill.

There are plenty of instances where applicants are so eager to answer the question that they cut off an interviewer. It’s a rude act, especially if you are facing a client.

To learn to catch yourself from interrupting, do not think of an answer while the interviewer is still talking. Do not think in your head, and more especially in your mouth! Let them finish what they have to say.

How To Study For A Case Interview Final Thoughts

All of these points cannot be crammed in a single day. They have to be an active and consistent practice for it to work for you. Study consistently until it becomes natural for you. 

Even then, continue to study to further sharpen those skills.