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What Is a Case Study?
When you’re performing research as part of your job or for a school assignment, you’ll probably come across case studies that help you to learn more about the topic at hand. But what is a case study and why are they helpful? Read on to learn all about case studies.
Deep Dive into a Topic
At face value, a case study is a deep dive into a topic. Case studies can be found in many fields, particularly across the social sciences and medicine. When you conduct a case study, you create a body of research based on an inquiry and related data from analysis of a group, individual or controlled research environment.
As a researcher, you can benefit from the analysis of case studies similar to inquiries you’re currently studying. Researchers often rely on case studies to answer questions that basic information and standard diagnostics cannot address.
Study a Pattern
One of the main objectives of a case study is to find a pattern that answers whatever the initial inquiry seeks to find. This might be a question about why college students are prone to certain eating habits or what mental health problems afflict house fire survivors. The researcher then collects data, either through observation or data research, and starts connecting the dots to find underlying behaviors or impacts of the sample group’s behavior.
During the study period, the researcher gathers evidence to back the observed patterns and future claims that’ll be derived from the data. Since case studies are usually presented in the professional environment, it’s not enough to simply have a theory and observational notes to back up a claim. Instead, the researcher must provide evidence to support the body of study and the resulting conclusions.
As the study progresses, the researcher develops a solid case to present to peers or a governing body. Case study presentation is important because it legitimizes the body of research and opens the findings to a broader analysis that may end up drawing a conclusion that’s more true to the data than what one or two researchers might establish. The presentation might be formal or casual, depending on the case study itself.
Once the body of research is established, it’s time to draw conclusions from the case study. As with all social sciences studies, conclusions from one researcher shouldn’t necessarily be taken as gospel, but they’re helpful for advancing the body of knowledge in a given field. For that purpose, they’re an invaluable way of gathering new material and presenting ideas that others in the field can learn from and expand upon.
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Case study interviews
Case study interviews put you in the driver’s seat: you’re given a real business problem to work through and solve. The logical reasoning you use to work through the case is just as important as the conclusions you reach.
Case study interviews are common in recruitment for management consulting roles but can be used in other industries as well. They’re different to standard ‘question and answer’ interviews, as case study interviews involve working through a business problem or scenario with the interviewer to reach a logical conclusion. This situation mimics the work management consultants do for their clients, giving the interviewer an insight into how you might perform on the job.
Example case study interview formats and scenarios
Most case interviews are conducted face-to-face with the interviewer or a panel. Your case will be given to you either verbally or in writing, and you’ll be required to describe the assumptions, strategies and steps you’re using to solve the case out loud within a designated time frame. Most interviewers will provide pen and paper or a whiteboard and marker so you can record important information, perform mathematical calculations, or visually demonstrate your thinking process by using flow charts or diagrams. Less common case interview formats include written exercises or role plays.
The type of case or problem will vary depending on the employer and the role. Common types of cases include:
- Real or theoretical business scenarios : ‘LMN is a medium-sized grocery chain wishing to expand its online presence and services. What issues will need to be examined to decide whether this is a viable opportunity?’. You may be provided with some basic numerical and/or statistical data in these cases.
- Numeracy scenarios asking you to estimate figures: ‘How many people do you think will vote in the next New South Wales Government election?’
- Lateral thinking scenarios : ‘What creative suggestions and methods can you suggest to further decrease the number of smokers in Australia?’
- Interpretations of pictorial information such as graphs or charts.
- Corporate and business strategies examining profitability, growth opportunities, business mix, customer service improvements, investment strategy (viability of acquisitions) or performance improvement (e.g. effective management structuring, performance measurement, staff rewards systems and process improvements).
It’s not necessary for you to have in-depth knowledge of the industry on which the question or scenario is based, but it’s useful to have a reasonable grasp of basic business principles and some knowledge of current affairs in the corporate sector. Research your target company prior to the interview to find out more about their clients and the scope of their work.
What do case study interviews assess?
Working through a case gives you the opportunity to display problem-solving skills, quantitative reasoning skills, analytical skills, logical reasoning, communication skills, creativity, and the ability to think on your feet and work through a problem in real time.
The interviewer may also be assessing the personal qualities you display during the process of solving the case, like your ability to stay calm in a stressful situation and your general interpersonal skills.
Structuring your response
There may not be a single ‘correct’ answer to any case study interview question or scenario, as your thought processes used to reach a conclusion are as important as the conclusion itself.
When you are given your case, it can be useful to go through the following steps to ensure that your response is clear and well structured:
- Have a clear understanding of the case and what’s required: do you need to solve a problem, make a recommendation or help a company make a decision?
- Synthesise and filter the information provided as necessary. Identify the key issues and decide which information is most pertinent to the case. It’s possible that not all the information provided will be equally relevant.
- Develop a structure for how you will approach your answer and talk this through with your interviewer.
- Make sure your approach is organised – take it step by step.
- Explain your thinking and decision-making processes to the interviewer. Do not assume that they know why you are proceeding in a certain way.
- Ask for more information or clarification. The case interview is a two-way street and the interviewer may reveal further information if you ask (just be clear about why you are asking).
- Anticipate concerns or objections as the interviewer may ask questions to highlight weaknesses in your argument.
- Support your conclusions with evidence, particularly in scenarios where you have been given figures or statistics.
Tips for handling case study interviews
- Visit the web pages of any of the major management consulting firms and look for the section on careers and interview preparation for good tips. Practice talking through the cases as you would in the interview room.
- Listen carefully to what the interviewer says, take notes and refer to them if necessary to summarise the scenario, analysis and solution.
- Make use of any resources in the room, such as a whiteboard, pens and paper.
- Use visual aids to document and demonstrate your structure or response. Depending on the question, you could use organisational charts, pie charts, timelines, graphs, flow charts or any other project management methodology.
- Be realistic. The interviewer is looking for real-world solutions to the problem so be wary of proposing unrealistic budgets, risky endeavours or other solutions that would be excessively difficult to implement.
- Showcase your communication and interpersonal skills. Treat the interviewer as you would treat a client in the workplace. Use positive body language and try to explain your reasoning clearly.
- Ensure your conclusions flow logically from the steps you have taken throughout the interview.
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Sample job interview questions
Here are some common job interview questions to guide your practice. Research your industry and review the job ad or job description to determine which questions are most relevant to the role you’re seeking.
An assessment centre tests your abilities in a group setting so assessors can predict your performance in the workplace. Be authentic, remain professional, and work cohesively with your group.
Behavioural interviewing, also known as ‘competency-based interviewing’, is a common technique among internship and graduate recruiters.
Phone interviews are an important part of the recruitment process, requiring the same preparation and professionalism as a face-to-face interview.
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How to Prep for a Case Study Interview
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A case study interview isn’t your average interview. While most interviews ask you to give examples of how you use your skills on the job, in a case study interview, you’ll use those skills in front of the interviewer to solve a real-life problem.
It’s like auditioning for the school play. But instead of showing you can sing and dance, you’re showing how you provide innovative solutions to pressing business problems. Not sure how to get ready for this kind of interview? We’ve got you covered. This guide explains how to prep for a case study interview:
What Is a Case Study?
What is a case study interview, case study interview example questions, during the case study interview.
Case studies are used across a variety of industries — everything from business to medicine. They are an in-depth examination, analysis, and critique of a real-world scenario the company experienced. People discuss the situation and explore what they learned while forming new solutions to try when they face a similar situation in the future and improve their performance.
For example, doctors and nurses use case studies to improve how they diagnose and treat patients. Using real patient information, the medical team analyzes the case to see what the team may have missed and why they missed it. Learning from these errors helps the team better prepare for similar cases in the future to improve patient care.
While many industries use case studies to iterate and improve their performance, not every company uses case study interviews. This type of interview is very common at consulting companies (no matter what kind of consulting it is). But it’s not unusual for companies outside of consulting to use case study interviews for marketing or operations roles.
In a case study interview, you’re given a real-world situation the company has faced and are tasked with analyzing it and suggesting a course of action.
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Businesses use case study interviews to assess your abilities in real-time. While you’ll probably draw on a variety of skills, most case study interviews assess:
- Strategic thinking
- Analytical skills
- Common sense
The advantage of a case study interview is that the interviewer can evaluate your ability in each of these areas and see how you’ll actually use them on the job.
What Is a Fit Interview?
Some people use “case study interview” and “fit interview” interchangeably. While a fit interview and a case study interview both ask behavioral interview questions , they are not the same thing.
A case study interview assesses your ability to do the job. It primarily evaluates how you approach business problems and use your skills to solve them. A fit interview is about culture fit. The interviewer asks questions that assess how well you’ll fit into the company, like asking you questions about what motivates you or how you lead .
Both of these interviews are an important part of the evaluation process. Getting the job done is just as critical as getting along with coworkers and supporting the company’s mission. Depending on where you interview, you may have one fit interview and one case study interview, or the fit interview may be a smaller part of the case study interview.
What You’ll Learn in a Case Study Interview
A case study interview allows the hiring manager to see your skills in action and how you approach business challenges. But it also teaches you a lot about the company (even if you’re doing most of the talking).
In a sense, you’re behaving as an employee during a case study interview. This gives you a peek behind the curtain, allowing you to see the company’s inner workings, like how they approach business problems and what they expect from you and your performance.
>>MORE: BCG Introduction to Strategy Consulting Virtual Experience Program
For example, you may offer a novel approach to solving a problem. How does the interviewer react to it? Are they impressed? Surprised? Is there a scowl or frown on their face? Their reaction gives you insights into how the company will likely receive your solutions.
Depending on the specific company, you may have the case study interview questions in advance, but you may not. Whether you do or don’t, here’s how to prepare for a case study interview.
Conduct Deep Research
Good interview prep for any interview means researching the company. That includes things like learning more about the company’s mission and the challenges the industry faces. But when you’re preparing for a case study interview, your research needs to go deeper.
When you answer a case study question, your answer has to be specific to the company’s clients or business objectives. For example, if you’re interviewing for a role in strategy consulting , your answer shouldn’t focus on aspects of human resources consulting (unless it’s particularly relevant).
Your research needs to include the kinds of clients the company works with and what types of problems the company solves. For example, the company may only consult for Fortune 100 companies that need accounting advice. Keep these facts in mind as you prepare for the interview.
Case Study Interview Formats
There are four types of case study interview formats:
- Candidate-led: The interviewer asks you a specific question (or gives you a prompt), and you walk the interviewer through a detailed answer.
- Employer-led: The interviewer leads you through a series of specific (and predetermined) prompts and questions, no matter your answers.
- Presentation: You’re given a problem in advance to create and present a detailed case study.
- Video: Similar to a presentation case study interview, you’ll create a video presentation of the case study.
Most companies will tell you in advance which style of case study interview you should prepare for. But if they don’t, reach out to your recruiter or check the company’s website. Many include the essential details you need to prepare for the case study interview.
Seek Out Company-Specific Tips
Speaking of companies and their websites, not only do many companies that use case study interviews tell you the format, they often include helpful tips and tricks to help candidates prepare. This includes what to expect, what the company is looking for skill-wise, and what kinds of responses they want. They may even have a few practice questions and videos you can use to help you prep.
Unlike other common interview questions , it’s not as easy to prepare an answer to case study interview questions. Even though you know it’s a case study interview, you don’t necessarily know the specifics of the case or what problems you’ll be asked to solve.
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That said, it’s likely your case study interview questions will cover one or several of these concepts:
- Entering new markets
- Increasing profits
- Cutting costs
- Mergers and acquisitions
- Pricing strategy
- Developing new products
- Industry analysis
- Competitive response
While there are many ways to answer case study interview questions, a few basic prep tips can help you get ready for every question.
In addition to what you bring to a job interview , make sure you bring a notepad and pen or pencil to a case study interview. Taking notes will help you better understand the questions and formulate your answers. It also gives you a place to calculate numbers and figures if you need to. Not every case study interview allows calculators, so you’ll need to be ready to do your calculations manually.
Ask Specific Questions
As you’re working through the case study, you can and should ask any clarifying questions you need. The interviewer wants to hear specific, detailed answers that solve the problem. So, whenever you’re unclear, ask a follow-up question to not only get what you need but to give the interviewer what they need.
That said, your question(s) should be very specific. You need to verify exactly what the interview is asking so you can create an appropriate answer. Say the interviewer gives you a broad question: The client’s revenue is falling. How do you help them increase it? You can follow up with a very specific question or two to make sure you understand what the interviewer is asking:
You’re asking how I would help the client raise revenue, correct? Are you also asking how I would help them increase their profit and cut costs?
Talk Them Through It
A big part of the case study interview is seeing you in action. However, in this case, “see” really means “how you think.” Since the interviewer can’t hear your inner monologue, you’ll need to practice thinking out loud.
While the interviewer wants to hear your solution, they also want to hear how you got there. That means talking through your entire thought process. Instead of saying, “I’d do X,” you have to explain how you arrived at your decision while you’re getting there.
Because not everyone thinks out loud, it may feel unnatural to you, and you likely won’t be expected to do it on the job. But it’s crucial to practice this skill — and it is a skill — because the interviewer is expecting you to do it in a case study interview.
Want to give a case study a shot? Practice with the NSW Government Virtual Experience Program .
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Top 15 informational interview questions to ask (and why), what is an informational interview, one-way interviews: what they are (and how to master them).
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Case interview tips
Stacking your skills up against a real business challenge.
If you're a candidate for Deloitte Consulting LLP, you'll be asked to demonstrate your problem-solving skills, your analytical ability, as well as your strategic and logical thinking. These case interviews can also help us assess your common sense, creativity, and comfort with ambiguity. At the same time, you'll gain insight into our approach because these cases represent real client projects.
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How to stand out in your case study interview
During a case interview, you'll be asked to demonstrate your problem-solving skills, analytical ability, and strategic and logical thinking. Use these tips to help you prepare.
Cases can help us assess a candidate across multiple dimensions, and your answers should project clear thinking, practical judgment, and a professional demeanor. Apply this five-step approach while working through the case interview:
- Understand the issue; ask clarifying questions as needed
- Identify the underlying assumptions
- Summarize specific issues and findings
- State your recommendations
- Outline next steps and expected results/impacts
We want candidates to have an effective and enjoyable case discussion so we encourage you to follow the case interview tips below. You are not expected to provide the "right" answer, but rather clearly convey your logic and thought process. Sample case interviews provide examples and mimic an actual case dialogue.
To help you demonstrate your best thinking in the case interview, we encourage you to:
- Take notes throughout the case exercise
- Be sure you understand the case question
- Ask questions, but don't use them as a crutch—we're interested in how you connect the dots, not in painting the picture for you
- Develop and articulate a framework and the initial hypothesis that you intend to explore
- Take time to compose your thoughts–don't just start talking
- Structure your analysis into a clear, logical story
- Walk the interviewer through your thinking and explain your assumptions
- Don't panic—engage the interviewer in a business conversation
- Don't forget that the case interview is an opportunity to learn about a Deloitte project
View our case interview preparation tool for more help in getting ready for your case interview
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Case Study Interview Guide With Sample Questions and Answers
Updated February 3, 2023
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The case study interview is a critical piece of the employee selection process for professional service firms. For consultancies, its specific purpose is to assess aptitude for partner-track roles.
Historically, the case study interview has been used to hire associate-level employees – those who are expected to work directly with business clients and produce a stream of billable services.
In recent years, case study interviews have expanded to analyst-level employees, in organisations that are usually the target clients of consultancies, especially in tech, healthcare, eCommerce and even NGOs.
Such analyst-level employees provide internal support to senior management, researching and vetting strategic opportunities.
Practice Case Study Assessment with JobTestPrep
The case study interview typically consists of a single session, in which the candidate is presented with an authentic business scenario similar to one the firm regularly handles with its clients.
The candidate is asked to study the problem, perform analysis and render advice on how to handle the scenario. Depending on the industry the consultancy serves, the candidate may be asked to demonstrate how that advice might be implemented, and show specialized technical proficiency.
The session most commonly takes place onsite, in person, and one-to-one with the interviewer, but may be conducted remotely, or in a group setting.
No particular formal training is required to 'ace the case'. Yet most candidates find they need substantial preparation to get into the consulting mindset and sharpen the skills that interviewers are most looking for.
Prepare for Case Study Interview
The World of Consultants, Their Clients and Business Cases
Consultants are hired by senior managers of client organisations to advise on business strategy .
An effective business strategy drives competitive advantage, which in turn creates economic efficiencies that sustain multiple periods of cash generation, ultimately boosting the business value of the client organisation.
A business strategy is often characterised by a range of possible decisions, each having a unique set of risks and rewards. Deciding which path to pursue is highly momentous. Everything the client does hence comes at the expense of some opportunity it does not pursue.
The primary job of senior managers is to craft business strategy, determine the best course of action, and direct its execution. It is extremely difficult work requiring great focus, assimilation of tremendous amounts of information, intensive analysis, and serious reflection on all possible consequences.
The reality of senior managers’ jobs, however, is often much different. Their days are usually spent shuttling from one meeting to another, putting out fires, answering emails and phone calls, and in general, dealing with matters that are more urgent than important.
Time and attention are their scarcest resources, and there is never enough of either to devote to all the important aspects of business strategy.
Senior managers are fond of saying something to the effect of: “If I had just two weeks when I didn’t have to do anything else, I could do it myself”.
While that might be true, the fact is they aren’t ever likely to get even two hours, much less two weeks. Consultants provide that additional capacity senior managers so desperately need.
In some cases, that extra capacity comes in the form of expertise that the client firm doesn’t have readily available.
In others, consultants provide independent validation of business strategies, thereby assuring governing boards and executive committees that they aren’t committing their company’s fortune to a cleverly articulated hunch.
In short, successful consultants are trusted advisors and partners of their client firms’ senior managers, doing much of the work they would do if not so time-constrained.
Consultants perform research and analysis , evaluate business cases , and help manage the pipeline of business opportunities for their senior manager clients.
Over time they learn to complement their clients’ business intuition and anticipate future consulting needs.
What Is a Case Study Interview and Why Do Consultancies Like to Use Them?
A case study interview is a miniature simulation of a typical client engagement, centred on a business problem that a client has likely contended with.
The interview is usually conducted in a single session lasting 20 to 30 minutes, though sometimes it can be considerably longer.
During this time, candidates are briefed on a strategic decision similar to one a client has faced and will be asked to analyse the situation, interact with the interviewer, and devise a solution.
The case study interview may also include the candidate outlining a PowerPoint presentation that would be delivered to the client, and giving a verbal summary of each slide.
Most case study interviews are conducted in-person by the interviewer, with ample opportunity for interaction with the candidate.
Some case study interviews are less structured, and in these cases, it is up to the candidate to drive the interview.
Some may even be conducted remotely using a video-conferencing app, with the interviewer absent most of the time, and the candidate left alone to work on the case.
Consultancies favour case study interviews for several reasons. First and foremost, case studies represent an authentic work sample of the often fiendishly difficult work of business strategy, and the attendant tasks consultants deal with every day.
That includes gathering and analysing information, prioritising findings and determining what’s missing, creating structures to make things understandable, putting results into a greater context, understanding trade-offs, creating blueprints for implementation, and delivering presentations.
How candidates interact with the interviewer also provides insight into what sort of relationship they will have with senior managers who are paying hefty rates for the firm’s services. They are looking for evidence that candidates can communicate effectively with executives , and build durable, trusting business relationships with them.
Consultancies also like case study interviews because, as work samples, they are a valid predictor of future job performance . Additionally, the cases used in interviews are often standardised so that they can be used to compare multiple candidates according to the same criteria.
Finally, most applicants for consulting roles have high grades from top schools, a background of overachievement, and impressive work experience, and therefore cannot be differentiated on that basis. Case studies are an effective way to distinguish the best among a pool of the best.
If you need to practice consulting case interviews, try out this preparation pack from JobTestPrep .
At What Stage of the Application Process Can You Expect the Case Study?
The selection process for consultants always involves multiple stages, with the case study interview occurring later in the process, after you’ve successfully completed the so-called 'fit interviews' .
During the fit interview stage, candidates need to demonstrate that they have the temperament of a successful consultant, which is established mostly through behavioral interviewing . They also need to demonstrate that they’ll fit in well with the culture of the firm and its clients. In short, if you’ve made it this far, you have laid the groundwork to do the job.
But can you really do it? The case study interview seeks to determine whether you can apply your background, skills and achievements to future consulting work, day after day, client after client. No two consulting engagements are the same, and the work is often gruelling.
Much of the time you will find yourself stretched to the limit of your abilities. Your world will be full of unsolved problems, with no easy way to get answers. You will come to rely on the ingenuity of your colleagues as much as your own.
What Skills Are Case Studies Looking to Test?
At the case study interview stage, the major questions the consultancy will want to answer include:
- Are you someone they would want on their team, and can depend on for insight, energy and contributions?
- Are you inherently curious, a quick learner, and eager to learn about things even if they aren’t particularly interesting to you?
- Can you think on your feet and adapt to a changing conversation?
- Do you come across as presentable, poised and confident in front of clients, most of whom are senior managers?
- Can you make presentations that are clear, relevant, logical and actionable?
Specific skills they are wanting to see are:
Analytical thinking . Especially in framing issues, breaking situations down into a range of discrete alternatives, structuring complex situations, and rendering findings into concrete business language.
Asking appropriate questions . Interviewers want to see that you respect where the limits of available information are, and can quickly determine remedies. More practically, they want assurance that you are always mindful that both you and your client are understanding one another.
Business intuition . That includes focusing on relevant areas, avoiding getting hung up on trivia, and anticipating challenges in the absence of hard data.
Communicating effectively . That includes building rapport with clients and their staff, active listening, giving clients the confidence they’ve been heard, and speaking in the language of the client.
If you need to prepare for a number of different employment tests and want to outsmart the competition, choose a Premium Membership from JobTestPrep . You will get access to three PrepPacks of your choice, from a database that covers all the major test providers and employers and tailored profession packs.
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What to Expect on the Day of the Case Study Interview
The case study interview session will likely begin like a standard interview, with introductions and a small talk to help put you at ease. The location will usually be an interviewing room or a vacant conference room.
The interviewer will introduce the business situation and provide exhibits, which often include an excerpt from a financial statement, and perhaps a bullet-point summary of the facts of the case. The interviewer will ask if you have any questions, and then you will be prompted to begin working on the case.
Cases are usually self-contained, so it is unlikely you will need internet access to do research. However, you will likely have to perform calculations, and will either be provided with paper and pens or allowed to use the calculator on your mobile phone or the whiteboard in the room.
During the case, the interviewer may stay in the room to address any questions you have. The interviewer may also offer prompts, guide you to the next step, or provide hints.
Many interviewers will offer verbal or tacit feedback along the way, and it is important to pay attention to it. You may occasionally find yourself getting stuck, and it is entirely appropriate to ask questions of the interviewer to help get back on track.
At the conclusion, you may be given feedback on your overall performance, or an opportunity to debrief with the interviewer.
Common Types of Case Study Questions
Case study questions usually fall into one of the following four categories:
- Estimation questions
- Actual or theoretical client questions
- Brainteaser questions
- Graphic interpretation questions
JobTestPrep offers practice packages to prepare for assessment centre case studies .
This type of question requires you to think on your feet and work out the solution to a problem with only your own limited knowledge. Such questions include:
- How many cars are there in England?
- How many children are born each year in Europe?
- How many mobile phones will be sold in 2023?
- How many night buses are there in London?
Actual or Theoretical Client Questions
This type of question requires candidates to analyse an actual or possible client issue. Examples include:
- A well-known business wants to develop itself online. What is your advice?
- A well-known high-street cafe chain is doing badly. How do you suggest they improve?
- A company has found that its revenues are higher than ever, but the company is still operating at a loss. Why is this?
- You have been contacted by a sushi chain to help them develop a plan to enter the home delivery market in a community where another sushi chain already has a market-dominant position. You are the lead consultant for this client, what do you suggest they do?
Graphic Interpretation Questions
This type of question requires candidates to interpret data from some kind of chart or graph. The data may be actual company data, data that has been made up or data that refers to something else entirely.
Case Study Example Topics
Case study questions are most likely to cover general business strategy topics. Candidates can expect any of the following during their case interview:
Build a business case for developing a major new product, service, technology solution, or customer experience
Build a business case for a developing new line of business, spinning off an existing one, or creating a subsidiary business
Recommend whether to pursue a purchase, divestiture, acquisition, merger, joint venture, strategic alliance, or major partnership
Recommend whether to enter a new market and if so, by what competitive strategy (for example, cost, service, quality)
Determine how best to improve company or business unit growth, and how it might affect critical areas of the company’s financial statements, especially revenue, gross margin, EBITDA, or profitability
Determine how best to price or segment a new product or service offering Determine whether to rehabilitate a brand
Determine how to respond to a major competitive threat (for example, “Google / Amazon / Microsoft just entered our space”)
How to Prepare and Practice Effectively
When preparing for the case study interview, it is important to keep things in perspective. You are not being assessed on your mastery of business strategy. Rather, the interviewers are looking at whether you take a critical approach to complex business problems, and can break them down into components logically, thoroughly and clearly.
They want to see whether you apply a structure to those components, one that highlights meaningful differences in choices a client may face. And they are especially interested in whether you ask insightful questions that increase everyone’s knowledge and drive the conversation toward a solid conclusion.
In light of that, here are some practical ways you can prepare for the case interview:
Step 1. Gain a Working Understanding of the Standard Frameworks Used in the Consulting Industry
There are numerous online resources to help familiarise you or refresh your understanding.
Keep in mind these frameworks are not hacks and must be applied appropriately if you decide to use them during your case study interview.
Step 2. Get Comfortable With Fundamental Analysis Techniques
One of the most common is MECE (mutually exclusive and collectively exhaustive), but there are several others .
But the goal is the same – lay out a range of feasible solutions with no gaps in between.
Step 3. Sharpen Your Ability to Make Back-Of-The-Envelope Calculations
Especially financial ratios , so that you can make comparisons or decisions quickly.
Step 4. Develop a Concise Style for Putting Business Situations and Solutions Into Narrative Form
Harvard Business Review or MIT Sloan Management Review articles contain particularly good examples of consulting solutions told as compelling stories.
Step 5. Practice Several Actual Cases
Most of the top consulting firms offer online guidance, worked examples and actual cases.
Another good resource is your university’s careers services department. Many have extensive case interview preparation materials, and staff who can conduct a practice case study interview with you.
Step 6. Practice Active Listening
Listening is a highly cultivated skill among senior managers. You will come across as very junior if you cut them off or act too eagerly when it’s your turn to speak.
Note that if you are answering a question in your head while the interviewer is still talking, you are not listening!
To develop your consulting case interview technique, consider practising further using online resources such as this preparation pack from JobTestPrep.
Tips on How to Perform Well During the Case Study Interview
Actively engage with the interviewer . Ask questions to make sure you are both understanding matters, and being understood.
Demonstrate that you are enjoying the challenge . Consulting is gruelling work. Show that you can bring energy to a consulting engagement, and that you’re the kind of person clients would want to work with, especially when the going gets tough.
Treat the interviewer as you would one of the firm’s most valued clients . Communicate using the language of the client where appropriate.
Keep the conversation moving forward . At every step make sure that you are bringing structure to the business problem, and keeping all the issues in proper context.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are case study interviews.
Case study interviews are used in the latter stages of the application process for top-level roles, especially in the professional services or consultancy industry.
Candidates are presented with a case study based on a realistic and relevant scenario and must study the problem, analyze the provided data and information, and present a conclusion or a recommendation.
Case study interviews are about your ability to effectively understand and analyze a business problem to produce a solution, but they are also about your thought processes and ability to communicate decisions and recommend appropriate solutions.
The case study interview will normally take place in a ‘typical’ interview environment – in-person, at the office and with either a single interviewer or a panel. In some cases, it might happen remotely or as part of a group exercise with other applicants.
In the case study interview , you are being assessed on your strategy, how adaptable and fast learning you are, and how you use critical thinking and logic to analyze information. You will also be evaluated on your general business acumen and your knowledge of the company and wider industry, alongside desirable characteristics like insight and curiosity.
When presenting your findings, the interviewer wants you to come across as confident, presentable, and poised, while being able to distill complicated ideas and solutions in the simplest form to make them both understandable and easy to implement.
What type of jobs have case study interviews?
Case study interviews have been traditionally used as a part of the application process for associate-level jobs in the consultancy industry. These roles are usually directly involved in generating income for the business by collaborating with clients in a consultant capacity, so the case study interview is an in-depth work sample.
In recent times, case study interviews are also being used in the recruitment of analysts, where strategy and business acumen are needed alongside analytical skills for success in a job that provides detailed support for senior management in terms of internal problem solving and external profit growth.
You might also expect to deal with a case study interview if you are looking for a role in IT, especially at higher levels with some level of business-wide decision making. Managers in many industries might be provided with an employee-related case study to deal with as part of the interview process to assess leadership style and understanding of typical HR processes and procedures.
How do I prepare for the case study interview?
The case study interview is not as much about getting the ‘right’ answer as it is about the process of getting there, so it is a difficult one to prepare for. However, the more you know about what to expect in the interview, the better you will be able to perform. Articles like this one on Wikijob will give you an extensive overview of the structure of a case study interview, as well as what to expect on the day.
One of the best sources of information about the case study interview is likely to be the business for which you have applied. This is especially true with the Big Four consultancy firms (PwC, Deloitte, KPMG and EY) as they use the case study in many recruitment processes and have lots of resources on their recruitment site to help candidates to get prepared.
You will also be expected to have a good working knowledge of the wider industry that you are a part of, and the company you have applied for in relation to that. Knowing more about the consultancy space, for example, will give you an idea about what the business values are, and you can use this when considering the right course of action to suggest.
You can also get excellent preparation advice from JobTestPrep , with guided practice cases and revision resources to help you get used to different types of questions, how to approach the problem, and different strategies and structures to use to answer.
The case study interview is not just about how effectively you can analyze the problem – it is also about selecting and recommending a course of action. You will need presentation skills to be able to give this information to the relevant clients if you get the job, and this means that you need to hone your skills to perform well in the interview, too.
Practice active listening, speaking clearly, and using popular presentation software like PowerPoint because you might be expected to put together and talk about a slide show to make your recommendation.
What types of case studies can be given in an interview?
The case study that you will be given in your interview is likely to be realistic and relevant to the role you have applied for. In some cases, it will be a fictitious problem based on something that you might need to do if you get the job, while in others it might be a real customer problem that you are being asked to solve.
The case studies are usually based around different strategy issues and topics that a consultant or analyst might be asked to help with, including things like:
- Acquisitions – Whether to complete a merger or create a partnership or strategic alliance
- Creation – New business, new product line, enter a new market
- Growth – How to grow a business unit or the company as a whole
- Threat – Dealing with a big company entering the space
- Development – New technology, product, or service
- Pricing – How to price and segment a new product or service
What are the common case study interview questions?
The common case study questions that you might be asked in a case study interview are about strategy, but they are also usually relevant to the role you have applied for. There are three main types of questions that you might be asked:
- Graphic interpretation – Ability to read and understand data presented in a graph or table
- Estimation – A question that challenges your ability to extrapolate from your limited knowledge to find an answer to a question like “how many cars are in England.”
- Client questions – This is the most used type of question and is based on theoretical or genuine issues that a customer of the business might have. You might be asked to help a customer achieve a move into a new market, for example.
What are the best free online resources to prepare for case study interviews?
When you are applying for a job with a company that uses case study interviews as part of the recruitment process, you will often find the best free resources to help you prepare on their career site. Making use of the resources the company provides is the best way to be prepared because you will be using the information they have provided, which is usually closely aligned to the actual content of the assessments and interviews.
For a more broad view of case study interviews including techniques and definitions, articles like this Wikijob resource will provide you with a lot of information that will help you prepare, including tips.
We recommend that anyone facing a case study interview gets access to the free resources available at JobTestPrep , with practice case studies. The Prep Packs are a paid-for source of invaluable information that includes techniques, frameworks and extra ideas that will help you work to your absolute best in the interview.
How can you prepare a presentation for a case study interview?
It is highly likely that as part of the case study interview , you will be expected to create a presentation of your results.
In some cases, this might be through an informal discussion with the interviewer, but in many cases, you will have to present your recommendation more formally so that you can be assessed on your presentation skills, communication, and confidence.
In this case, you should prepare for the presentation by practicing presentations. Some case interviews will expect you to create a slideshow of your findings and speak about them, so knowledge of software like PowerPoint will help here.
The most important preparation you can do is about how you present yourself. The interviewer wants you to be poised, confident and comfortable with what you are saying, so you can get the best results by practicing speaking clearly, taking complicated ideas, and simplifying them, and actively listening when you are asked a question. Think of any topic – work-related or not – and create a short presentation on it that could be understood by anyone, and then present it to a friend or a relative.
What is the best way to structure and layout your notes in the case study interview?
When you undertake a case study interview , you will be provided with some source material and the facility to make notes – and these notes will be pivotal in your performance, ensuring that you can make the best recommendation through detailed analysis.
The way you approach the case study will depend on several factors, but you should always create some form of ‘issue tree’ that considers the problem that needs to be solved and can be branched out into smaller questions and problems.
To do this effectively, take a good couple of pages of notes related to the data and information that is provided by the interviewer. There will likely be some extraneous information provided that could muddy the waters of your thinking but making notes will help clarify it. It is especially useful to keep numbers in mind, whether that is related to staffing, profit, or stock – this is important.
You will then need to use a couple of pages to create the issue tree structure and begin to answer some of the questions.
The final part of your note-taking should be the recommendation and the preparation that you need to do to present your findings to the interviewer.
Don’t forget that you are expected to make notes through the process, but you should also speak to the interviewer and let them know what your thought processes are – and ask for more data if you have any gaps. When they are speaking, make sure you are listening and you understand what they are saying before taking any notes – active listening is an important skill in a consultant or analyst.
How much time do you have to think about the answer in a case study interview?
In the case study interview , you are not necessarily going to be given a specific amount of time to think about your answer because the whole interview is about your thinking process.
What this means in practice is that you will be reading and analyzing the information, devising a structure and a strategy and concluding in a live environment, consulting with the interviewer to ask questions and get clarity.
By thinking aloud and making notes, you will have enough time to contemplate how you are tackling the question.
A typical case study interview can last as little as 30 minutes, but many are considerably longer at half a day or even a full day (depending on the role, the company, and the industry you have applied for).
What should I study to ace the case study interviews?
One of the first things that you need to study for the case study interview is the material that is provided by the company you have applied for – or ones in the same industry.
As many of the major consultancy firms use case study interviews for associate-level recruitment and analysts, the case studies tend to be similar enough that the resources provided will be useful even for a job at a competitor.
You also need to be au fait with the company and the wider industry, identifying trends across businesses and the specific values of the organization you have applied for.
In terms of the case study itself, knowledge of analysis techniques and the frameworks used in consulting will be useful – even if you don’t use them in that particular case, you might need them later in the role (once you ace the interview).
Aside from confidently creating issue trees and ensuring your data gathering is Mutually Exclusive and Collectively Exhaustive (MECE), some things you will need to know include:
- Porter’s Five Forces (barriers to entry, competitive dynamics, supplier power, buyer power, threat of substitutes).
- 3 C’s (Company, Competitors, Clients)
- BCG Growth-Share Matrix
- McKinsey 7S Framework
- Affinity Diagram
- 4 Ps of Marketing (Product, Price, Promotion, Placement)
- Force Field Analysis
- Product Market Grid
- SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats
Think about what is important to analyze for a business too, like profit margins, expenses, and ROI, as well as consumer metrics like User Lifetime Value and demographics.
What is the next step after a case study interview?
The case study interview is usually the last step in a recruitment process for top-level roles and will have taken place after the more traditional ‘fit’ interview where you will be asked competency-based and motivational questions.
You will have already surpassed other applicants through the initial paper sift, any aptitude or psychometric testing, and interviews to get to the case study.
This means that if you are successful in the case study interview, the next step will be a job offer or a salary discussion.
You can’t cram for a case study interview. But you can prepare in such a way that your analytical acumen, communication skills , and business intuition are all razor-sharp on the day of the interview. Furthermore, you can show that you are one of the few who can take on the consultant mindset, and appear natural doing so.
In summary, here are the steps you can take that will show you grasp the fundamentals of consulting, and have the aptitude to master them over your career:
Get familiar with the most common business case scenarios, and the important differences between them.
Develop a working method for breaking down business cases into components, and for structuring these components.
Get knowledgeable about analysis frameworks , how they can be used as problem-solving tools, and where it is appropriate to use them.
Cultivate a narrative style that gets people interested and excited about your work.
Use a conversational style that begins with asking good questions, and is driven by wanting to be the best listener in the room – not the best talker.
This article was written in partnership with LiveCareer . Since 2005, LiveCareer has been developing tools that have helped over 10 million users build stronger resumes and CVs, write persuasive cover letters, and develop better interview skills. These tools include their free resume builder and CV builder .
You might also be interested in these other WikiJob articles:
Or explore the Interview Advice / Interview Questions sections.
Applications & Interviews: Case Study Interview Tips
The interview process is a dialogue aimed at getting to know you personally, learning more about your analytical capabilities and also introducing you to the company, the people and the work. You are assessed on your ability to listen, communicate effectively and present yourself with tact, energy, and persuasiveness.
The interviewer looks for intellectual curiosity and creative thinking. And sometimes, they just want to find out what it would be like to spend a week on the road with you, working together on a client project. Interviewers value a sense of humour and a bit of ‘sparkle’ in your personality.
Most interviews are divided into three parts: personal background, consideration of a case study, and an opportunity for the applicant to ask questions.
During the interview, the interviewer wants to find out more about you and how you would fit in the company. For example, you might be asked to describe ways you have been able to make an impact in a team environment. You could be asked to describe a time when you were able to overcome obstacles, persuading others to go along with a decision that they had initially resisted. The interviewer may simply be curious to hear your motivation for choosing to pursue a career with the company
The case study gives you an opportunity to demonstrate your problem-solving skills. Because the case is likely based on a real client project your interviewer has worked on, you will gain a unique insight into what consulting is like.
The case study will feature a business problem that you will seek to solve during the interview. It will not require extensive knowledge of specific industries or processes and some cases have no right or wrong answers. Your questions and thought processes are more important than coming up with an actual solution.
Questions and answers
The interview is your chance to ask questions about working in a firm or your interviewer’s personal experience. It is an opportunity for you to get to know the people and the culture of the company. Come prepared with a handful of questions that matter to you, and your interviewer will make every effort to answer them
Preparation for the case study
To prepare for the case study discussion, you can review some practice cases from the BCG website. These examples will give you an idea of what to expect in the case study portion of the interview. You can also practice using BCG interactive online case.
On the day of the interview, relax and be yourself. While there are no set rules on how to solve a case study, you will find below some advice that can help you succeed.
Listen to the interviewer and ask questions The interviewer will begin by laying out the problem. You should take time to align your thinking, ask clarifying questions, and communicate your line of reasoning to your interviewer. The interviewer will also give you hints and help along the way, so don’t be afraid to take notes.
Structure the problem and form a framework Take a moment to think about the case to gain perspective. Putting together a structure and a framework will help you clarify each step and enable you to identify the analysis you may want to perform to reach a solution.
Think before speaking Take some time to organise your ideas; don’t jump too fast to conclusions.
Focus on high-impact issues Concentrate on the issues that will really make a difference and create value for your ‘client’, but make sure that you explain the reasons behind your choices.
Generate a hypothesis and explore options creatively Make suggestions on how to solve the key issues you have identified. The interviewer will be looking for the same things a client would expect when working with a consulting firm – innovative approaches that can change the rules of the game and creation of lasting competitive advantage.
Demonstrate business judgment Given that there is limited information available, the interviewer will ask you probing questions about your comments, hypotheses, or conclusions to test your capability to use your judgment.
Make quick and accurate calculations At some point, the interviewer may ask you to make some simple calculations. Rather than testing computational skill, this is meant to see if you can use numbers to quickly form opinions and guide decisions. Your calculations should be accurate and integrated into what you have discovered so far.
Synthesise your thoughts and draw conclusions from your analysis At the end of the interview, you should summarise the key hypotheses and options you have developed. Then, conclude with your recommended solution to the client’s problem.
Don’t rush into the analysis without developing an understanding of the problem During the discussion, the interviewer will work with you to organise your thoughts and steer you towards a solution. Don’t be afraid to ask questions that check your understanding.
Don’t panic if the answer is not apparent There is no right or wrong answer in our interviews, and you are not expected to know everything about business. The objective of the interview is for the interviewer to learn about your approach to solving business problems, so remember to discuss your line of thought with them.
Don’t defend your solution at all costs If the interviewer challenges the solution you propose, don’t go on the defensive. Acknowledge the possibility that the interviewer has brought up a relevant perspective that you had not considered and re-examine your thinking accordingly.
Don’t internalise your thought process The interview should be a dialogue between you and the interviewer, so make sure you communicate your logic and underlying assumptions.
One last piece of advice: be yourself and have fun discussing the case. If you find this conversation exciting and entertaining, you’ll likely enjoy being a consultant.
About the Author
- Organisation: Boston Consulting Group
- About The Boston Consulting Group: This article was contributed by staff at The Boston Consulting Group.
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Case Study Interview Examples: Questions and Answers
- What would be your approach for introducing a product into a foreign market? What are the risks and benefits to consider i.e. producing in your own country vs producing in the new country, etc?
- Company ABC is struggling, should it be restructured? Identify the three main problems it's facing. What is the most important problem the company is facing? How would you recommend the company address this problem? How would you turn this company around? Provide your reasoning for your recommendation(s).
- A toy company has been experiencing decline sales for the last two seasons. Research suggests that introducing several new product lines is the solution. Develop a marketing strategy for the company's largest product line, including pricing, product packing, etc.
- A large chain of retail clothing stores is struggling with profitability. Bases on your review fo the company's financial statements, what problems can you identify? Can this company be turned arounds? How would you go about deciding?
- A new Eddie Bauer Store is being opened up in London. Discuss all the marketing issues regarding the opening of this new location.
- Take in information quickly and remember what you hear.
- Identify key issues, prioritize and logically solve problems.
- Make quick, yet accurate, decisions.
- Manage time efficiently.
- Perform under pressure.
- Be aware of resource constraints.
- Identify customer needs.
- Be original and creative.
- Please provide the total weight of a fully loaded Jumbo Jet at the time of take off.
- How many light bulbs are there in the United States?
- How many photocopies are taken in the United Kingdom each year?
- How much beer is consumed in the city of New York on Fridays?
- How many people sell AMWAY products in the United States?
- If there are 7,492 people participating in a tournament, how many games must be played to find a winner?
- How many golf balls will fit in the Empire State Building?
- How many car tire are sold in Canada each year?
- Given thhe numbers 5 and 2000, what is the minimum number of guesses required to find a specific number if the only hint you're given is "higher" and "lower" for each guess made?
- How do you determine the weight of a blue whale without using a scale?
- Take time to think before you answer the question.
- If given a pen and paper, take notes and write down key information. Use the paper to make calculations, write down ideas and structure your answer.
- Ask additional questions if you feel you are missing information. The interviewer is often expecting you to ask to find missing information.
- Use lateral thinking and be creative. There isn't always just one right answer. Just make sure your answer is backed up by sound logic and numbers that make sense.
- Make sure you know your math. At minimum you'll need to perform some basic arithmetic or mathematical calculations.
- These quesitons are often used to test your ability to structure, as well as your ability to think laterallly, make logical links and communicate clearly.
- Make mental calculations quickly by making sensible estimates and rounding numbers up or down.
- Does your answer make sense? If you're answer doesn't make sense, chances are you've made a bad assumpation, estimate or calculation. Go back and carefully check your work and provide a new answer.
- You can use business frameworks (SWOT, Porter's Five forces, etc.) or mind mapping to support your analysis and answers, as long as it makes sense.
- Many market sizing questions revolve around issues being faced by an organization or industry. Commercial awareness can be very important to answering market sizing questions.
- How would you work with a subordinate who is underperforming?
- You're consulting with a large pharmacy with stores in multiple states. This company has improved sales but experienced a decrease in revenue. As a result, it is contemplating store closings. Explain how you'd advise this client?
- You are working directly with a company's management team. It is organizing a project designed to significantly increase revenue. If you were provided with data and asked to supervise the project, what steps would you take to ensure it's successful?
- You have been assigned to work with a small company that manufactures a popular product. However, a competitor begins selling a very similar product which incorporates state of the art technology. What would you advise your client to do?
- You have been assigned to advise a company with a large Western European market. Company management wants to open the Chinese market. What advice do you have for this company?
- The firm has assigned you to consult a company intending to drop a product or expand into new markets in order to increase revenue. What steps would you take to help this company achieve its objective?
- You have been assigned to consult a shoe retailer with stores throughout the nation. Since its revenue is dropping, the company has proposed to sell food at its stores. How would you advise this client?
- Vault Guide to the Case Interview
- Vault Career Guide to Consulting
- Case in Point: Complete Case Interview Preparation
- Mastering the Case Interview
- Ace Your Case! Consulting Interviews (series 1-5)
- Bain Case Interview Preparation
- BCG - Interactive Case
- Cornerstone Research Cases
- Deloitte - Case Interview Preparation
- Gotham Consulting Case Studies
- McKinsey Interview Prep
- Mercer Case Study
- Oliver Wyman - Practice Case Studies
- pwc Case Studies
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A case interview or case study interview involves a business or organisational problem the company may have faced, and is a chance to demonstrate your analytical, reasoning and communication skills. They are designed to assess your ability to do the work of a consultant, i.e. work with a client to identify key problems or challenges facing their business or organisation and to develop effective solutions and actions to address these.
You might be invited for a case study interview if you are applying for consulting positions and will generally be invited in the second round of interviews. It will be a one-to-one interview with a consultant, followed by competency based questions .
Case interviews usually work best if they develop into a discussion between the interviewer and you. Ask questions and try out ideas with the interviewer.
What is the company looking for?
Case interviews are not intended to test your business or sector knowledge but it is important to be able to demonstrate your commercial awareness. You will find it helpful to have a basic understanding of key business concepts e.g. revenue, fixed and variable costs, profit, market share, customers, competitors and stakeholders.
As well as this, recruiters will be looking for a genuine curiosity about, and enthusiasm for, business issues and problems.
Try to demonstrate how you can:
- Work with a client to identify key problems facing their company
- Develop effective solutions to these
- Listen actively
- Ask relevant and probing questions
- Problem solve, show you can thinking in a structured manner
- Confidently work within a time limit
- Apply your commercial awareness
- Analyse quantitative data
- Think creatively and on your feet
- Translate analysis into actionable recommendations
- Communication conclusions in a concise and persuasive manner
- Interact well with clients
- Show enthusiasm, motivation and maturity
Having a knowledge of some common frameworks that can be used to structure the analysis of a problem or issue, such as SWOT analysis, Boston Matrix, Porter’s 5 Forces, may help, but do not slavishly apply one of these; your knowledge of frameworks is not important, your ability to think in a structured, creative way is.
How should I respond to a case study?
It is important to understand your primary objective is not to find ‘the’ solution to the case but rather to demonstrate your analytical, reasoning and communication skills.
Do not jump to conclusions or rush towards an answer. It is the process by which you get to your conclusions that interests the interviewer.
- Identify the critical issue from the written case study
- Listen carefully to verbal information or responses to your questions or comments
- Break the problem into parts, describe this out loud. Do not be tempted to follow a common framework (such as SWOT analysis or Boston Matrix) although knowledge of these may help you structure your answer
- Ask relevant questions to gain a fuller understanding of the problem
- Make notes of important facts, figures or thoughts and make calculations if you think this would help – avoiding calculations when they are necessary could look as though you are not confident using numbers
- Describe your overall approach out loud so the interviewer understands your thought processes and can point you in the right direction if you are heading the wrong way – always use this advice if it is given
- Similarly, if you get stuck say so and ask for extra input
- Show that you are enjoying the process – do not show frustration or lack of confidence
- Identify a range of options for consideration
- Conclude by recommending one or two ideas for action
How should I prepare for a case study interview?
- Brush up on your maths (formulae, percentages etc.)
- Practise using sample case studies
- Practise with a friend
- Attend a case study careers seminar
- Book a case study practice interview at LSE Careers
- Come to the careers service and use the paper resources and books
- Read business news
- Look at firms' websites
Practice case study appointment
LSE Careers offers one-to-one practice case studies designed for students with interviews at management consultancy firms coming up. We can offer feedback on the structure, content and presentation of a case study. We have a small bank of practice case studies for management consultancy covering areas like profitability and strategy.
A practice case study can also help if you are preparing for case interview with a Big Four firm but would not be appropriate for an economic consultancy role in a Big Four firm or specialist economic consultancy.
Please see our practice interview information for details of how to book.
Resources from LSE Careers
- Vault: Career insider Free for LSE students and alumni, this popular careers portal has lots of company profiles for consulting firms as well as general application and interview advice. They produce two e-guides to case interviews contains advice and practice cases - both free to download for LSE students - Vault guide to the case interview and Vault guide to the case interview practice guide 2
- CaseCoach Free to students and alumni (up to five years post graduation). CaseCoach is a comprehensive online preparation course for consulting interviews, developed by former McKinsey consultants. The course covers both the case and the fit interviews. It includes a library of 25+ cases with solutions, practice exercises, 12 bite-sized video lectures covering the skills assessed by the top firms and 14 interview videos featuring successful candidates.
More case interview tests and tips
This list below contains links to sample case study interviews and advice articles.
Case interviews question and answers
Useful information about case interviews and three examples to practice
Case interview tutorials and advice on what consultancy firms are looking for in an applicant. Free registration is required.
Gives sample case questions, including 'back of the envelope' questions and business problems
Dartmouth's resources on careers in management services and consulting. Includes powerpoint presentations on case study interviews from Accenture, Bain, BCG, Parthenon and Investor Group. Resources on careers in management services and consulting. Includes presentations on case study interviews from Accenture, Bain, BCG, Parthenon and Investor Group.
This guidebook is designed to help aspiring consultants understand, prepare for and succeed in consulting interviews
Excellent UK-based graduate careers website containing lots of advice articles, information about graduate entry to consulting careers and up to date listings for graduate and internship recruitment schemes and insight events.
Contains case study information and resources including the updated sections of their 'Crack the Case' publication
Learn about the types of interviews at McKinsey.
An online bootcamp to help you prepare for case study interviews.
Advice and resources for succeeding in psychometric tests, assessment centres, e-tray exercises and case studies
Site that offers articles on case study interviews
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Applications and interviews for students with disabilities, legal case studies and written exercises, lse careers blog, lse volunteer of the year award, student volunteering week from a student’s perspective, nominees for lse volunteer of the year – part 1.
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How to succeed in a case interview.
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A guide to tackling case interviews with ease.
If you’re interested in consulting , you’ve almost certainly heard of a case interview — a job interview in which you are presented with, and asked to solve, specific business challenges. But increasingly, case interviews aren’t just for consultants. Professionals in finance or business operations, as well as those seeking high-level positions within an organization (think: Director level or above) may very well encounter these challenging interviews as well.
The tough part about case interviews is that you’ll have to be specific and demonstrate hard skills — you won’t earn any points with vague or fluffy answers, no matter how charismatic you are. Interviewers want to see analytical thinking, creative problem-solving and data-driven reasoning.
So, what do you need to know to succeed in a case interview? Read on.
Case Interview Questions
At the heart of case interviews are case interview questions. These aren’t your typical interview questions , though, like “ Tell me about yourself ” or “ What are your strengths and weaknesses? ” Instead, you will typically hear a description of a business challenge, and then be asked to come up with a solution.
Jaime Chapman , executive career coach and founder and CEO of Begin Within , shared an example of one such question:
You have a 10-minute window to discuss pricing strategies for a new pair of wireless headphones with the Sales Director. The headphones come in a variety of colors, connect with any Bluetooth capable device and will be sold at select big-box retail stores in North America.
On the list provided, you will see a list of production costs including marketing, manufacturing, packaging and other components of bringing the headphones to market.
In this situation, how would you price the headphones? How would you pitch the price point to the Director of Sales? Is there any other information you would like to know before getting started?
Another question you might be presented with is a brainteaser — an oddball question intended to exercise your logical reasoning. For instance, a candidate who interviewed at Facebook was asked the following:
You’re about to get on a plane to Seattle. You want to know if you should bring an umbrella. You call 3 random friends of yours who live there and ask each independently if it’s raining. Each of your friends has a 2/3 chance of telling you the truth and a 1/3 chance of messing with you by lying. All 3 friends tell you that “Yes” it is raining. What is the probability that it’s actually raining in Seattle?
Regardless of what question you are asked, there is rarely one correct answer.
“Case interviews do not have right or wrong answers more so because the candidate is working with limited or hypothetical information. What interviewers are really looking for is the candidate’s ability to think logically and analytically to come up with feasible solutions to a problem,” says Chris Chancey, founder of Amplio Recruiting .
Case Interview Formats
While all case interviews begin with a question, the manner in which you answer them will vary depending on what format the interview takes. Here are a few common examples of case interview formats:
- Candidate-Led: In these case interviews, you will be presented with a question by the interviewer and then expected to lead them through to an answer step-by-step.
- Interviewer-Led: These types of case interviewers involve “1-2 interviewers leading a candidate through a multi-step case problem,” says William Wadsworth of Exam Study Expert . “Each step might be a 5-15 minute analysis exercise, and could involve estimating a market size, diagnosing the root cause of a business problem or brainstorming ways to turn the situation around, before presenting a short conclusion or recommended action on the entire case at the end.”
- Presentations: For presentation case interviews, you will be given a problem and then expected to present the solution in a deck. This allows you to go much more in depth, so make sure to perform ample research beforehand and cite it in your presentation.
- Video: In rare cases, a company might want you to do a case interview via video before you do an in-person interview . This might involve you being interviewed on a video conferencing platform like Skype or Zoom, or recording a video answer to a case interview question and submitting it.
Before the Case Interview
There’s plenty that you can do before a case interview to ensure your success. Make sure to take the following steps in the days leading up to the interview:
If you’ve been given the question ahead of time, make sure to research everything you can about it. For example, if given the wireless headphones question outlined above, you could look into real companies in that space (e.g. Bose, Sony, Apple) and learn about their products, pricing, financial reports, challenges they’ve encountered, etc. All of this can inform how you answer the question. If you haven’t been given a question to prepare for in advance, look up Glassdoor interview reviews to see which questions previous candidates have been asked, or simply search online for “case interview questions.” Look at how others have answered them, and think about how you would answer them yourself.
With questions as broad as the ones you’ll hear in case interviews, your answer might be long-winded and rambling if you’re not careful. That’s why “the development of a problem-solving structure or framework is at the core of acing a case interview,” according to Chancey. “There are numerous theoretical frameworks out there, for example, the 3Cs, 4Ps, Porter’s Five Forces, Pricing Framework, Market Entry Framework etc.”
Look up some of the most common frameworks, and think about how you can apply them in a given situation.
“The idea is not to memorize these frameworks and regurgitate them during the interview, but to use them as a way to support your strategic thinking process. In the end, interviewers are looking for candidates who can use existing theory to come up with customized frameworks to solve unique problems,” Chancey adds.
While research and knowledge are important to succeeding in a case interview, they can only take you so far.
“People do not regularly articulate their internal thought process so if you do not practice articulating that process before your interview, your description is less likely to be clear,” says Mike Cox, President of Cox Innovations and author of Living Your Best Career . “If you have the money and time to hire a career coach who is experienced in case interview preparation, that’s ideal, but even just enlisting a friend or family member to help you can create a step-change improvement in performance.”
Before heading out to the interview, “make sure you bring a notebook to take notes, watch to track time and calculator in case you need to do some calculations,” says Joseph Liu , Career Consultant & Host of the Career Relaunch podcast. “You absolutely cannot use your smartphone to do any of these things because it simply looks unprofessional to interviewers.”
During the Case Interview
Want some advice on how to best deliver your response? Keep these tips in mind.
There’s nothing wrong with getting more information in order to clarify and help inform your own approach, so don’t be shy about asking interviewers questions .
“Look at case interviews more like an interactive session with your interviewer and less like a test that you are required to complete on your own,” Chancey recommends. “Engage the interviewer by asking questions and verbalizing your problem-solving framework and process as you go along.”
Remember: if you don’t believe in your own response, the interviewers won’t either.
“Any signs of insecurity, uncertainty or random reasoning will not bode well for the interviewee. Being firm [and] decisive with the ability to support one’s conclusions will serve the interviewee the best,” says Nick H. Kamboj, Chief Executive Officer of MBA admissions services firm Aston & James, LLC .
Confidence should not just be heard in your voice, but also projected through your body language.
“Responses should also be articulated well through the use of effective body language techniques such as high to mid steepling with clear, open-faced hand gestures followed with triangulation of eye movements,” Kamboj adds.
You won’t be the only one asking questions in the interview — your interviewer will almost certainly ask probing questions into your approach that you must be prepared to answer.
“Candidates should expect to receive a lot of ‘why’ questions. For example, ‘Why are you choosing that particular approach?’ or ‘What other ways could you look at the problem? Why do you think this one is the best?’” Cox says. “Candidates should describe their thought process as transparently and thoroughly as they can.”
Though proper research and preparation are important, you don’t want to sound like you’re just echoing other case studies you’ve read or frameworks you’ve practiced.
“The MOST important words of wisdom that I have is that you should absolutely be yourself. Say what you wish to say and say it with confidence,” Kamboj advises.
The company is interviewing you for a reason — they see potential in you! So always make sure to bring your unique perspective to the table.
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