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Case Presentation Interview: New Style of Case Interview
Management consulting is a decades old industry, and the case interview has been a consistent staple in the consulting recruiting process throughout this time. Consulting firms, however, continue to tweak their interview processes and have introduced the “case presentation interview” to test candidates in a new way.
Firms use this to test more than just your ability to crack a case. Instead, in a case presentation interview, your ability to understand which data is important, remain focused on solving the core business problem, and making a concise yet persuasive presentation is paramount.
Are you an auditory learner? Listen to a podcast our team recorded on case presentation interviews here .
What is the Case Presentation Interview?
The case presentation interview comes in various forms, but you’ll almost always encounter it during your final round interviews.
There are two kinds of case presentation interviews: solo and group.
Whether you have to face down a case presentation interview alone or with others, the process looks similar across formats:
- You are given a packet of information that includes the case prompt and data
- You are then given time either at home or on-site to review the information and create a presentation (usually PowerPoint ); candidates typically get anywhere between 30min-48 hours to complete this process
- Then, the candidate presents insights and recommendations to one or a panel of interviewers
- Interviewers ask questions during and after the presentation
As a consultant, you’ll need to analyze information quickly and present actionable recommendations to clients. The case presentation interview is how firms test your ability to identify good data from bad, extract insights, turn them into actionable recommendations, and present these recommendations in a persuasive way. As a bonus, the firm also gets a firsthand look at the strength of your PowerPoint skills and teamwork ability .
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The Biggest Challenge in Case Presentation Interviews
The biggest challenge you’ll face in the case presentation interview is time management . Usually, the firm will provide you with a large set of data and extraneous information. Don’t try to read through every detail . Instead, form a hypothesis quickly and find the data that will either prove or disprove it. If your hypothesis is disproven, start over with a different (and now more informed) hypothesis.
When you first receive the packet of information for the case presentation interview, budget your time. Set a hard stop for how much time you’ll give yourself to review the information and force yourself to start by building an Executive Summary on paper. Identify what you think the key takeaway is and choose 2-3 underlying arguments to support your hypothesis, building a storyboard on paper.
Then, source the data you need. Reshape your story based on the data you find. Once you have a final narrative arc, port your paper slides over to PowerPoint. It may seem counterintuitive to start with a draft Executive Summary, but this will keep you focused during the limited time you have. Following The Pyramid Principle is our recommended approach to building a case presentation.
Tips on Crushing the Case Presentation Interview
Keep these 4 things in mind as you navigate the case presentation interview:
Your goal isn’t to prove an academic point, it’s to gain buy-in and motivate action.
Don’t fall into the trap of trying to prove why your recommendation is “correct” by utilizing all of the data. Your goal in this process is to display your ability to identify what’s most important for the client and only include data in your presentation that directly backs up your main recommendation. This isn’t an academic project; it’s a proxy for how persuasive you’ll be on the job!
Use the case presentation interview structure to your advantage.
One of the biggest advantages you have is that the data you need is all right in front of you. Unlike most traditional case interviews where you have to mine for relevant data, the packet of information will have everything you need. After forming your hypotheses , you can instantly start testing to see which direction you should be headed.
Practice putting it all together.
If you know you’re about to face a case presentation interview, work with one of our MBB coaches . We have a private bank of presentation-style cases we use to prepare our 1:1 coaching clients. Not only will we help you analyze the data and develop a recommendation, we’ll help you build a presentation to communicate it too.
Maintain confidence when delivering your presentation.
After spending all of that time building your presentation, you don’t want your efforts to go to waste with a shaky delivery! According to a recent study published in HBR , 76% of your perception is based on your delivery (which means only 24% is determined by your content!). No matter how you feel about your recommendation and the process you took to get there, sell it to your interviewers. It’s exactly what you’ll have to do on the job as a consultant.
Which Firms use the Case Presentation Interview?
The case presentation interview is becoming more widespread across the management consulting industry. We’ve seen our clients encounter this kind of interview at niche boutiques and large global firms alike. However, you are most likely to see a case presentation interview at ZS Associates , Deloitte , and EY-Parthenon . No matter where you’re applying, you should at least be familiar with this style of case interview.
The case presentation interview is fantastic opportunity for you to highlight a breadth of transferable skills – analysis, communication, problem solving and more. With the right practice, and by following the tips we’ve laid out in this article, you’ll be well on your way to success in the case presentation interview.
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Home Blog Business A Guide for Case Study Interview Presentations
A Guide for Case Study Interview Presentations
You’ve been called for an interview at your dream firm and spent the entire night rote learning policies, laws, and theories to impress the panel of interviewers with your ability to retain knowledge. However, when the interview presentation begins, contrary to your expectations of being asked to recall the information you’ve memorized, you are handed a piece of paper, which entails details about a financial embezzlement scandal. You are instructed to analyze the document and provide solutions to the problems mentioned at the end of the document.
The above-mentioned hypothetical situation is an example of a case study interview, often used by professional services firms to assess and hire applicants.
Table of Contents
What is a case study interview?
Why a case study interview, format of a case study interview, non-profitability cases, startup and early stage ventures, market sizing framework, profitability framework, market study framework, merger & acquisition cases framework.
- Example Scenario 1
Example Scenario 2
A case study interview is one in which the candidate is interviewed about a scenario-based business organizational challenge that the company may have experienced. The case interview allows candidates interested in a career in consulting to exhibit their analytical, communication, and reasoning abilities. The case study interviews are constructed in such a way that they aid in identifying key issues in order to develop effective solutions. ( LSE )
To gauge a potential employee’s ability to apply theoretical knowledge to real-world situations and develop workable answers in a constrained amount of time, interviewers use the case study interview method. Big market players, like McKinsey, Deloitte, or Bain and company, use case studies in their job interviews. The interviewer may measure a candidate’s ability not just to grasp technical elements of a real-life problem, but also to come up with creative solutions, by asking case study questions.
Case study interviews are often carried out in one of two ways, depending on the goals and specifications of the company conducting the interview.
- Interviewer-led interview
- Candidate led Interview
During a case study interview, the interviewer is the one who sets the tone, pace, and overall structure. It is a highly structured interview where the candidate should be prepared for a sudden change of style depending on the interviewer. The interviewer continues asking questions they’ve already prepared regardless of the candidate’s answers.
In contrast to an interviewer-led, a candidate-led is less regimented, and the candidate takes the wheel. They are expected to shape the Interview from start to finish. In this case, the candidate’s answers determine the line of questions. It is convenient for a firm to assess if an individual can handle situations independently by conducting a candidate-led interview.
In the final section, we’ve provided candidate- and interviewer-led interview cases in our examples.
Archetypes of Case Study Interviews
Not every case study interview is centered on profit or revenue-generating scenarios. The interviewer may begin with a case of Non-Profitability. The analyzed organization might face a challenge to reach an objective. It requires a situation analysis in order to provide a diagnosis. The candidate will run the analysis, provide a diagnosis, and based on it will define a strategy to overcome the challenge and reach the objective.
During the case interview, the focus is on strategic issues and recommendations for developing an industry’s environment while dealing with challenges. Regulations, consumer preferences, and more might all fall under this umbrella. Here, a SWOT analysis is useful in identifying the competitive landscape.
Taking into account the emerging Industrial Revolution 4.0 startup boom. The interviewer will most likely use this as an example in your case study interview. Market entry cases are comparable to startup, and early venture case studies, except the company, is smaller and employs fewer people. One must have a strong product or service in order to have a foothold in the market with significant profit margins.
The case study discussion should focus on the following three areas: the right people, the right problem, and the right solution. A minimum viable product and a well-thought-out business strategy are necessary. Startups are more likely to be agile and successful when these three characteristics are present.
In a market sizing question, commonly known as ‘guesstimate,’ the candidate is asked to estimate the size of a market randomly selected by the interviewer with little or no data available. Market size questions should be approached by segmenting data and adapting the MECE technique. In a case study interview, you may also solve market sizing problems by using the issue decision tree .
Case study interview questions can be the following:
- Estimate the market size of frozen foods in a suburban area of Melbourne.
- How many individuals are currently consuming vitamin water in China?
Every firm’s ultimate goal is to earn profits; therefore, the profitability framework seeks to identify whether the candidate can correctly assess the cause of decreased profitability or ways of increasing profitability. Candidates are usually provided with names, figures, and facts to answer questions pertaining to different aspects of profitability.
A market study framework generally aids in determining an individual’s ability to assess market factors like market entry potential, revenue growth, and market share.
In order to construct a framework for a market study in a case interview, the candidate must focus on five components. The market, rivals, customers, your firm, and your product/service are all included. This market analysis methodology necessitates the candidate to ask further clarifying questions on the financial and profitability impact on the company in discussion.
The merger and acquisition cases framework is considered one of the most accurate judges of the candidate’s potential as it deals with all major components of market analysis, including but not limited to market sizing, profitability, and market study factors. These case study interview questions usually deal with whether or not two or more companies should opt for a merger/acquisition.
When addressing an M&A case, three components should be taken into account: the synergies between the two organizations, the integration of talent, technology, and so on, and regulatory approvals.
Case Study Interview Example Scenario 1
Objective: Country X is situated in Asia and has a population of 20 million. It is developing a national action plan to transform its education system. It wants to improve the quality and quantity of children’s education. The objective is to advise the client on transforming their education system.
Description: Country X is a developing nation of 20 million residents and has emerged as a free market economy after spending decades under communism. The Country aspires to have an economic action plan for transforming education. The schooling system in Country X is completely public (state managed) and has government-run schools spread throughout the Country. Children are admitted from age 5 to 18. The objective is to evaluate the current state of the education system and how it can meet the aspirations of the Government.
This type of scenario mostly follows an interviewer-led approach. This falls under the Non-Profitability case study example. The primary purpose is to examine the issue from the top-down approach to get a higher-level view. Initially, qualitative analysis is performed.
- The interviewer will first ask how you intend to analyze and evaluate the problem’s underlying issues.
An approach is to structure the response into three sections. A PowerPoint slide with a clear bifurcation of these three sections can be presented under a separate heading.
The initial section should emphasize some quantitative metrics of education. This encompasses observations such as how age, gender, and geography affect access to education. How many teachers are working in schools around the region? How much is spent on healthcare?
The second component is the quality of education, including the curriculum, teaching methods, etc. The second question is quantitative and requires analysis of a table containing distinct informational values relative to competitor nations.
A third element of the analysis could be to understand the effect of education in Country X’s economics objectives.
You will be provided with a table with figures for the number of pupils and teachers, health care expenditure, student-to-teacher ratio, etc. You will be expected to evaluate competitor values in comparison to Country X. Among the observations that can be made are how Country X compared to other nations regarding health care spending and the student-to-teacher ratio. The table values can be interpreted as, e.g., Country X has the highest education expenditure but has the lowest student-to-pupil ratios. All this information can be presented using SlideModel PowerPoint templates .
Comparing the observation to international standards is another way of acquiring a deeper understanding of the provided data. Because only 15 percent of Country X’s population is enrolled in school, the question is how many schools should be opened given that Country Y surpasses Country X in an international comparison. To solve such a puzzle, you will use comparable data to compute the number of schools utilizing population and school information from the provided data. This will assist you in determining a solid number to present in the Interview. The final number can be presented as a percentage or an absolute number in a much larger font on the ppt slide. SlideModel has a variety of case study templates you can choose from to showcase your result in a much more engaging manner.
These two approaches for the qualitative and quantitative aspects of the case Interview enable us to cover the fundamentals of a case study interview.
Objective: Client Y is about to launch a new phone and desires to determine the size of the Apple product market. The objective is to determine how many iPhones Apple sells in the United States annually.
Description: Client X seeks an analysis of the current market size of the iPhone, its primary rival in the mobile phone industry. The current population of the United States is 320 million, and iPhone has a very large client base in the Country. The client requests that you calculate a number that provides a reliable estimate of the size of the iPhone market in the United States.
We will use a Three-step technique for a market size example to tackle this problem.
Step 1: Formulate the right question
To define market size, asking appropriate clarifying questions is a must. It is useful to define what the market size is and how to give a proper estimate for the market segment based on the given information.
Are we concentrating on a single iPhone model or the entire lineup?
Is it simply applicable to the United States, or do we also need to estimate worldwide iPhone sales through the US outlet?
After asking the appropriate clarifying questions, you can formulate a coherent strategy.
Step 2: Building a Framework
There are two sorts of problem-solving strategies for gauging the market questions. The top-down method and the bottom-up method.
The appropriate and easy way to solve this is to utilize top-down methodology and show it via an Issue tree. Using the MECE (Mutually conclusive and Collectively exhaustive) technique , an issue tree is a logical tree that may be depicted graphically to address difficult business challenges. It is quite common in market size questions. On the SlideModel website, you will discover a choice of templates for creating an excellent visual tool, i.e., The Issue/Logic tree.
You might convey it by beginning with the United States 320 million people.
Determine what proportion of phones are iPhones.
Identifying the frequency with which an individual purchases an iPhone each year.
And determine the number of iPhones sold based on the frequency and quantity of iPhone owners.
Step 3: Estimating and making assumptions
The estimated population of the United States is 320 million. Assuming that 75 percent of the United States population possesses a mobile phone and 30% are iPhone users because the number of smartphone users has multiplied in the digital era, we obtain:
75 % x 320 million = 240 million Mobile Phone users.
30 % x 240 million = 72 million iPhone users.
Again, we suppose that each of these 72 million people buys an iPhone every two years. A single client will acquire one iPhone 0.5 times in a year.
Therefore, 0.5 times 72 million is 36 million iPhone sales.
To estimate the size of the iPhone market in the United States, we might assume the average iPhone price is $100.
By calculating the cost by the number of units sold a year, we get:
$100 x 36,000,000 = $3.6 billion USD.
Therefore, the annual market size for apple goods is $3.6 billion.
Calculations and estimations utilizing the said frameworks require practice and findings. SlideModel will assist you in organizing your framework and offer you visual tools to successfully convey your findings to the interviewer.
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9 Tips For Delivering A Stellar Case Presentation Interview
Recently, case presentation interviews are used for analyst-level employees in many healthcare, tech, and e-commerce consulting firms.
In this article, you will learn what skills a case presentation interviewer is looking for, the biggest challenge of a case presentation interview, the major tips you can use to ace your case presentation interview and land your dream job! + a bonus Insightful video with tons of examples for consulting case interviews.
What is a case presentation interview?
Case Presentation Interviews usually follow this process:
What skills are the interviewer looking for during a case presentation interview?
A case presentation interview is an interviewee’s opportunity to prove to their interviewer that their soft skills and analytical skills are relevant within a realistic business context.
Highly Recommended Next Articles to Read:
What is the biggest difficulty in case presentation interviews?
Time management tops the list of difficulties that would be faced during a case presentation interview. The firm often provides the interview candidate with a large set of data and extrinsic information.
You can do this by randomly giving yourself a short but budgeted time to solve semi-difficult maths problems without using a calculator.
There are three things you can do to help yourself:
Just so you know, whether the allotted time is 30 minutes or 2 hours, it would go by very quickly, hence the need for a time budget. Interviewers often understand the limited time constraints, but you must move on from spending your time analyzing the information and draw out their presentation quickly.
Case Interview for Beginners Video
We hope that this article has helped simplify the preparation process – one way or the other. Check back soon for more tips and guides on a similar subject matter.
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 Presentation Interview – Ace the Written Case Interview With Ease
Are you about to have your written case presentation interview ? Lukasz shows you the main differences between the different case types and gives you a detailed overview of the five essential steps in your case interview to prepare you for the process effectively. Moreover, our expert guides you through the decisive evaluation criteria . With his longstanding experiences and smart tips, you will master your written case interview more successfully.
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Join the world’s leading case interview community today and get everything you need to prepare for your upcoming case interviews!
What to Expect in This Article
- 1. Intro to Case Presentation Interviews
- 2. How Is Your Performance Assessed?
- 3. Ace The Case
- 3.1 Understand the Business Problem, Case Objectives, and Questions
- 3.2 Create a Framework
- 3.3 Gather Information and Match it to Areas in Your Framework
- 3.4 Analyze Information and Decide on a Recommendation
- 3.5 Structure and Prepare Slides
- 4. Last Tips
- 5. About the Author
Case Presentation Interview is a unique variant of the traditional case study interview . The underlying structure of the case is the same - you’re placed in a hypothetical business situation and are asked to resolve a business problem . However, in this type of case study, you’re asked to solve the case by working independently rather than by collaborating with the interviewer. Case Presentation Interviews are less commonly used but are as important for candidate assessment as traditional ones. You can encounter them as part of the BCG or Bain first or second-round interview, as well as when applying for managerial roles in the corporate strategy departments or startups. They have been growing in popularity in recent years given their 360° approach to testing candidates in “on-the-job” work leveraging real-life scenarios .
The specific details of this type of case interview differ by the company. In the case of BCG or Bain, you’re usually given a handout of 20 to 40 pages of information including graphs, charts , or tables , and given 1 to 2 hours to analyze information and prepare 3 to 5 slides with your analysis and recommendation. However, there are three major differences among different types of written case studies you should be aware of:
Depending on the case study , you might get an overall business problem or a specific list of 3-4 key questions to investigate and answer. In the former, you have to decide on areas to explore and you have the freedom to solve them, while in the latter you should focus on areas mentioned in the questions. The difference is similar to interviewer- vs interviewee-led traditional cases.
If you’re in the recruitment process for BCG or Bain you’ll most probably get 1-2 hours to analyze information and prepare the slides . However, for smaller consultancies and business roles it became a standard to give case studies with a 2-3 days deadline - which requires your resolution to be more refined and thorough.
In the majority of written case interviews , you are expected to create slides from scratch . This involves both the visual and content sides of the presentation. However, you might also encounter case interviews where you’ll be given (partially) pre-filled slide templates (e.g., titles, graphs, charts ). Then your focus should be on analysis and filling in the missing numbers or messages.
Case Presentation Interview simulates the consulting job environment by placing you in a hypothetical business situation with access to data and further presentation of your insights and work. It helps to predict how you would perform if you joined the company for the role . While they are aimed at testing similar skills to traditional case interviews , they help to assess your critical reading and problem-solving skills , as well as your ability to research and analyze information . It also tests your communication and more “technical” skills in preparing an actual presentation.
The following points are the usual assessment criteria for Case Presentation Interview:
- Logical and structured thinking (using logic and reason to derive conclusions & then being able to convey complex messages in a simple way)
- Data and information analysis (using an analytical approach to data & prioritizing key outcomes)
- Slide making (making the output easy to understand and digest through a compelling story and clear visuals/content)
- Presentation skills (communicating in a clear, concise and persuasive way)
There is a clear five-step process you should follow to successfully solve the Case Presentation Interview:
You should start solving the Case Presentation Interview by making sure you understand the objective and the primary business question you try to answer. Solving the wrong problem or misunderstanding key challenges is the quickest way to fail the case interview. Spend time reading the instructions and understanding the primary problem or questions you are trying to answer. This will allow you to understand the most important areas of the case and derive your framework. In case you get a specific list of questions then focus on those.
Before you begin collecting, reading, and analyzing the data, you should create a basic framework to help guide your analysis. This framework will also shape your target presentation agenda and storyline . Remember - each case is unique and it doesn’t necessarily fit in one of the typical frameworks described in multiple casebooks (applicable especially in the interviewee-led approach). Don’t be afraid to apply a tailored solution, an out-of-the-box way of thinking could make you shine among all other applicants (but still - be complex). You should start by selecting 3 to 4 areas that are needed to answer the primary objective of the case study. If you received a list of detailed questions these can often substitute the framework and there’s no need to add anything else. However, you may identify other important areas and you might decide to add them to your framework. Also, if you received pre-filled slide templates, they will usually provide support on what are the areas you should focus on. Otherwise, you will need to create your framework from scratch . Use your knowledge of the business problems , screen through the data available, and determine the main areas of your framework .
The next step is to understand the data available to solve the case. For interviews with only 1-2 hours of preparation time, you will be given a handout with information to be leveraged for analyzing and solving the case. Don’t spend time reading and analyzing every slide. That would take too much time. Instead, understand what data and information are out there. Decide and prioritize which information is important to read and analyze in more detail later to solve the case interview. Case presentation interviews have strict time constraints , so you want to make the most of the limited time that you have.
Next, match different pieces of information that exist to areas in your framework . This will enable you to conduct further analyses and solve the case study.
You should already know what questions you need to answer based on the framework you created. You also understand the data and information available for answering each question. All that is left is to process and analyze information and data that is relevant for each area of the framework. As you analyze the data and start answering major questions in your framework make sure to summarise your learnings and takeaways . It is important you keep a record of key answers that you can then leverage for the storyline of your presentation as well as make it easier to remember the work and decide on target recommendations. Following an analysis of all relevant materials, you should have a list of key takeaways and answers for all core elements of your framework . You should now proceed to define the comprehensive recommendation derived from these data points which would be collectively supported by them.
Not each takeaway will support your final recommendation. Sometimes you might find a takeaway that goes against your hypothesis and proposed recommendation. In this case, you need to mediate conflicting insights and decide on which one is the most important. You might decide that contradicting takeaway is a potential risk or the next step to be further discovered in the way of investigation.
Remember that there is no such thing as a wrong recommendation. As long as your proposal is supported by data-driven evidence your solution will be solid enough for the interviewers.
As soon as you decide on a recommendation and collect all the supporting data and evidence , it’s time to prepare a structure for the presentation slides. For this purpose, you can structure your presentation into a simple communication pyramid structure - start with the recommendation and 3 supportive arguments , deep dive into supportive reasons and data on the following slides (one slide for each argument), finish with a summary of all covered information, and then present potential next steps or open questions . In case of having received pre-filled slide templates, the structure of your presentation slides might have been already decided for you. Otherwise, you can leverage the approach described above. In the end, you should derive a structure of 6-10 slides which you can start filling in with the content.
Once you finalize the structure of the presentation, the next step is to start putting your content and key messages on them. Make sure you use descriptive slide titles communicating the message of the slide , as well as creating a sound storyline when combined together. Moreover, prepare your slides in a way they’re easy to digest. None of the slides should have more than one, powerful key message.
In case you’re left with some time, review your slides one more time. You should correct any mistakes or errors as well as clean up the slides for them to look neat and polished. Obvious omission can be perceived as a big question mark to your ability to work under pressure in a client-facing role.
Moreover, you should spend the last minutes thinking about potential questions interviewers might ask you during your presentation. These might include your approach used to analyze or your conclusions. Be prepared for challenges of your assumptions and interpretations of the data!
There are 4 small tips I’d like to share with you that you should keep in mind when preparing Case Presentation Interview:
- Start your presentation with your recommendation first and then follow the framework
- Focus on slide titles and make sure they make a coherent storyline
- Always remember that one slide should have only one message
- Include next steps and open questions at the end of your presentation
You can practice those by solving an example of a BCG Written Case study which can be found here .
Please leave feedback if you found those tips useful and good luck with your Case Presentation Interviews!
- Professional Experience: Delivery Hero, Deloitte Consulting, McKinsey & Company
- Languages: English, Polish
- Location: Germany
After being a consultant for Deloitte, Lukasz has worked for several years as a Senior Consultant at McKinsey. He has helped over 50 candidates land their dream job as he has worked together with consulting firms such as McKinsey, BCG or Bain. Lukasz is currently working as a Manager in a global startup and is also a CoachingPlus Expert here at PrepLounge.
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Case Study Interview Guide With Sample Questions and Answers
Updated March 8, 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.
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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 .
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