Case studies are designed to test your ability to think creatively, logically, and at times, quantitatively whilst under pressure, thus mimicking the working environment in which you might find yourself if you embark upon a career as a consultant. Consultants work with different types of firms on a wide variety of problems. Case interviewers will thus aim to test your ability to handle a variety of different problems and scenarios in order to assess the processes you use to construct solutions and provide recommendations. If you enjoy solving case studies, this is a good indication that you will enjoy working as a consultant.
There are two main types of case interviews: candidate-led and interviewer-led. Case interviews are typically structured as follows:
- Opening the case: the interviewer first provides you with an overview of the business problem. You should reiterate the situation back to the interviewer and ask for the clarification of any potential ambiguities so as to ensure you understand your task. You could also ask for an insight into the “bigger picture” (e.g. asking the interviewer to explain the reasons why your client is trying to achieve a particular objective/resolve a particular issue) to ensure you understand the context of the case. At this stage, you then present your hypothesis.
- Analysis: in this section of the interview, you will need to work out a logical way of breaking down the problem, then assess different aspects of the problem in front of the interviewer. This may involve using one of the various frameworks (detailed in the next section of this handbook) to help you structure your analysis and reach an informed solution.
- Close the case: To close the case, you would need to state your final recommendation and support it with your key findings. More on how to go about it will be covered later in this handbook.
Regardless of the type of interview you are undergoing, always take a few seconds to compose yourself if you are not absolutely sure of what the interviewer requires of you. Clarify any ambiguities, perhaps by restating to the interviewer the essence of that which you are required to consider. This means you are less likely to go off on an incorrect tangent from the outset.
By Jake Schogger - City Career Series