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Business case prep

Our interview process is usually in two stages. Each round normally consists of two 45-minute interviews. Both involve some general discussion so we can get to know each other, as well as a case discussion where we try to understand how you analyze real-world business problems. We also try to keep the last five to 10 minutes for any questions you may have.

Each business case is modeled after a real business situation or management problem. This portion of the interview is your opportunity to show us how you go about solving complex business problems, and how you structure your thoughts on the issues.

The business case discussion makes up about half of the interview time. Prepare by practicing as many case scenarios as possible, talking aloud with a partner, and generating hypotheses and solutions you can confidently defend.

Here are some tips to help you do well in the business case interview:

  • Listen carefully; ask questions if there are any points you don’t understand.
  • Once the interviewer gives you the case parameters, summarize the case for the interviewer in your own words to be sure you understand the problem.
  • Then take a minute to think; don't be afraid of the silence.
  • Find a way to structure the problem; this will guide your discussion with the interviewer. Briefly explain the framework you plan to use, giving the interviewer a chance to comment. In general, the simpler the framework, the better. Once the interviewer endorses your framework, stick to it.
  • Start with the first element of your framework and work through the answer out loud so the interviewer can evaluate your analytical structure and help you along.
  • Be aware of the time you have, moving through your framework at a pace that allows you to touch on all the elements you described at the beginning.
  • Pause every so often so your interviewer has a chance to course correct. If your interviewer gives you advice, take it – assume it’s intended to be helpful.
  • Toward the end of the case discussion, be prepared to take a stand and make some sort of recommendation. You might feel uncomfortable making a call with so little data and so little time to discuss all the issues. But respect the exercise and make your recommendation based on the conclusions you were able to reach from your discussion.
  • Be confident and – perhaps most importantly – relax and try to have some fun. You’ll feel more relaxed if you practice, practice, practice before the interview.
  • You can get sample cases to practice on from the consulting club at your school. Don’t read the cases ahead of practicing – find a partner (ideally a second-year student who just completed a consulting internship) to test you, and don’t be embarrassed if you don't do well. No one performs well on all cases, especially in the beginning.

Remember there is no single right way of answering a case. If you’ve shown your thought process and come to logical and reasonable conclusions, you will have successfully "cracked the case!"

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