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Preparing for Case Interviews: What Every Candidate Should Know

ByDave Stopher

Jun 12, 2024

Hey there, future consulting champs! So, you’re gearing up for the big league – the case interview, huh? Don’t worry, you’re in good hands. Here’s your go-to guide to tackle this challenge like a pro.

Let’s start with the basics: what’s a case interview? It’s like a brain teaser, a puzzle, or even a mystery to unravel. They want to see how you think on your feet, solve problems, and explain your solutions without getting all frazzled.

In the next part of this guide, we’ll dive deeper into what you need to know about case interviews – from understanding how they work to getting yourself prepared and ready to crush it. Stick around for more tips and tricks on how to ace the case interview and land that dream consulting gig!

Why Do Companies Love Case Interviews?

But why do companies love these case interviews so much? Simple – they want to see if you’ve got what it takes to handle the real-world challenges they throw your way. It’s like a sneak peek into the life of a consultant – every day brings a new problem to solve, and they want to make sure you’re up for the challenge.

But here’s the thing – it’s not just about finding the right answer. It’s about showing your work, explaining your thought process, and communicating your ideas in a way that anyone can understand.

 The Structure of a Case Interview

Case interviews come in different flavors, but they all aim to test your problem-solving skills. Some might be more like a casual conversation, while others feel like solving a puzzle. It’s important to know the various formats so you can be prepared for whatever comes your way.

In a typical case interview, you’ll face a scenario akin to solving a puzzle on the spot. Your task? 

To dissect the problem, analyze its components, and present a viable solution. It’s not just about finding an answer; you’ll need to articulate your thought process, navigate through data, and maintain composure—all while under the watchful gaze of your interviewer.

How to Prepare for a Case Interview

  • Researching the Company and Industry

Before you waltz into that interview room, make sure you’ve done your homework. Research the company inside and out, get to know its industry, and familiarize yourself with any recent news or developments. It’ll show that you’re not just another candidate – you’re someone who’s genuinely interested in the company and what they do.

  • Practicing Case Studies

Practice makes perfect, and case interviews are no exception. Get your hands on as many case studies as you can and start practicing like there’s no tomorrow. Work through them on your own, with a study buddy, or even with a coach – whatever works best for you. The more you practice, the more comfortable you’ll become with the format and the types of problems you’ll encounter.

  • Developing Problem-Solving Skills

Problem-solving is like a muscle – the more you exercise it, the stronger it gets. Take the time to develop your problem-solving skills by breaking down problems into smaller, more manageable chunks, looking for patterns, and brainstorming possible solutions. It’s all about training your brain to think critically and creatively – skills that’ll serve you well not just in the case interview but throughout your career.

  • Tips for Improving Mental Math

Let’s face it – mental math isn’t everyone’s strong suit. But fear not! There are plenty of tips and tricks you can use to improve your mental math skills. Practice doing quick calculations in your head, learn some handy shortcuts and tricks, and don’t be afraid to use pen and paper if you need to. With a bit of practice, you’ll be crunching numbers like a pro in no time.

  • Mock Interviews and Feedback

Last but not least, don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and do some mock interviews. Whether it’s with a friend, a mentor, or a professional coach, mock interviews are a great way to simulate the real thing and get valuable feedback. Pay attention to areas where you can improve, work on your communication skills, and remember – practice makes perfect!

Dos and Don’ts of Case Interviews

Alright, let’s talk about dos and don’ts – the golden rules for navigating the wild ride; that is the case interview. Think of these as your trusty guideposts, keeping you on the straight and narrow as you tackle each challenge head-on.


  1. Communicate Clearly and Concisely: Picture this – you’re explaining your solution to the interviewer. You’ve got this killer idea, but if you’re rambling like a waterfall, they might miss the brilliance of it. Keep it clear, keep it concise, and watch as your ideas shine bright like a diamond.


  1. Ask Clarifying Questions: Don’t be afraid to ask for clarification if something isn’t clear as day. It’s better to ask a silly question than to charge ahead blindly and end up lost in the wilderness.


  1. Structure Your Approach: Have you ever tried building a house without a blueprint? Yeah, not the best idea. The same goes for a case interview. Break down the problem, lay out your plan of attack, and watch as your solution comes together like clockwork.


  1. Think Aloud: You know that voice inside your head that never seems to shut up? Yeah, let it loose. Thinking aloud not only helps you organize your thoughts but also gives the interviewer a peek into your brilliant mind.


  1. Stay Calm and Confident: Easier said than done, I know. But picture this – you’re cool as a cucumber, calm as a summer breeze, and confident as a lion on the hunt. That’s the vibe you want to channel during your case interview.


  1. Jumping to Conclusions: We get it; you’re eager to impress. But hold your horses, cowboy. Jumping to conclusions is like shooting in the dark – you might hit the target, but chances are you’ll miss the mark.


  1. Ignoring Data or Information: Every piece of information is like a puzzle piece – it might not make sense on its own, but put it all together, and you’ve got yourself a masterpiece. Don’t ignore data or information just because it doesn’t fit your preconceived notions.


  1. Being Overly Nervous or Defensive: It’s natural to feel a bit jittery during a case interview. But let me tell you a little secret – your interviewer wants you to succeed. So take a deep breath, shake off those nerves, and remember – you’ve got this.


  1. Rushing Through the Case: We know you’re a go-getter, a real go-hard-or-go-home kind of person. But rushing through the case interview is like trying to sprint a marathon – you’ll burn out before you reach the finish line.


  1. Memorizing Solutions: Look, we get it – you’re a smarty-pants, a real brainiac. But memorizing solutions won’t get you far in a case interview. It’s like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole – it just won’t work.

Stick to these golden rules, and you’ll be well on your way to case interview success. Remember, it’s not just about finding the right answer – it’s about how you get there.