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Follow My Pace to Ace the Case

“Pls fx, thx.” – the short for Case Interview.

Here’s a longer definition: The glorious door you eagerly open to set foot in the prestigious life of 3 hours of sleep per day or 5 when you’re lucky.

Here’s a longer version if you insist, wherein I’ll show you how to ace such interviews.

Case Interviews are just as any other job interview; however, they’re among the hardest. They’re mostly used by consulting firms to test the candidate's problem-solving skills and other soft skills. And what you should keep in mind is that the interview isn’t solely for the company to get to know you, it’s also for you to get to know them.

The interview process differs from firm to another, but generally, firms could schedule up to 6 interviews, usually divided into 2 rounds. There could be 1 to 2 resume interviews, 1 written interview, and 2 to 3 case interviews, and for that you need to be well-prepared.

Here’s how:

Before the case interview:

  1. Do your homework.

    1. Why consulting?

    2. Why this firm?

    3. What are your short-term goals?

    4. What are your long-term goals?

    5. What are your middle-ter – ok fine I’m kidding, anyway;

    6. Talk to a professional.

  2. Try talking to a recruiter for tips and advice.

    1. Look up YouTube videos of recruiters if you couldn’t talk to one.

    2. Some top consulting firms have recruiting podcasts, listen to those.

  3. Use the firm’s services.

    1. Some firms have interview coaching sessions, check those out.

    2. Read sample questions and solve practice cases on the firm’s websites.

  4. Mentally prepare yourself and have some calm space before you go.

  5. Prepare for the case interview:

    1. Get together with 3 of your peers for lunch.

    2. Start by giving a case to the person facing you and let them solve it while the other two are watching. Repeat this with the other two and take turns giving and receiving cases. Do this over the course of several weekends.

    3. Little practice over a long period of time is better than intensive practice on the interview’s eve.

    4. Ideally, practice out loud to really feel what comes out of your mouth. It’s not a read a book and ace the test kind of thing.

    5. Watch some case interview examples on YouTube.

During the case interview:

  1. Case preparation is important, but don’t forget a good handshake, eye contact, and a warm smile every now and then. These could make you stand out!

  2. Think of the interview as a nice dialogue with a friend or coworker.

  3. Knowing the terms and concepts of consulting will help you understand the questions better.

  4. What the interview should look like.

    1. The interviewer states the case question.

    2. You make a small recap to make sure both of you are on the same page.

    3. After the interviewer confirms, ask them some questions to clarify the case.

    4. Take a short timeout to understand the problem and gather your thoughts.

    5. Create an issue tree and analyze the root causes of the problem out loud.

    6. Identify the root causes of the problem.

    7. Take some time out to think of solutions before that.

    8. Propose possible solutions in a closing pitch!

Finally, keep in mind that case interviews play a very important role in shaping your future! After those 30 minutes, you’re one step closer to your consulting dream, no matter what the results are. You’re either accepted to the second round of interviews, which is one step up, or rejected, which will also serve as a closer step because it will teach you the dos and don’ts of your next interview with another firm!


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