Consulting firm interviews top the list of the most challenging job interviews. The process and questions posed are daunting, and the interviewers are often intimidating. But with the prospects of a better career and future, you’ve no choice but to ace the interviews and land an offer.

Luckily, these interviews are not impossible. Since you know you’ll get a case interview, you can better prepare and position yourself for success. Like other interviews, the basic recipe for success includes arriving at the venue before time, dressing the part, exuding confidence, and knowing your stuff.

As for case interviews, you’ll have to do more than that.

Having covered the basics, we’ll go on to some crucial tips on case interview prep. These are fundamental ideas that apply to whatever industry you are interviewing in to make sure you are walking into the interview room (or taking the interview video call, these days), as ready as you can be!

Case Interview, What is it?

A case interview is simply a hypothetical client problem presented to you during an interview to determine your suitability for the position and the industry. Though it is a hypothetical problem, it mirrors real-life problems as a management consultant, and in some instances, it’s a recent past case. The case interview features every stage that a three or six-month client engagement entails compressed in thirty minutes.

Take medical drama TV shows, for instance. Residents go through a trial by fire. They are presented by patient medical records and asked to suggest potential treatments. They recommend diagnostic tests, explain why they are necessary, the conditions and diseases they suspect, and why. And when the test results are back, they interpret them to confirm or disqualify their initial impressions and thoughts.

The same case applies in management consulting interviews, but instead of a patient, you have a company. For instance, you might receive a case of a company in the car manufacturing business. Their concern is how they should respond to the growing interest in self-driving cars and electric cars. You’ll have to advise them on their next best step.

Arriving at the right answer is crucial. But even more important is the approach you take to arrive at your answer.

Why Are Case Interviews Important?

Remember, it’s not always about the answer but about the approach you take. It should be provable and reliable. Your recommendation won’t count if the firm cannot replicate the process to solve other cases.

The main concern of a management consulting
firm is to hire candidates that can develop a creative protocol or follow existing ones to analyze data and make factual conclusions from the data provided. Consulting firms are suckers for justifiable conclusions.

Behind every company is a CEO that has to justify plans to their boss, shareholder, or board. These justifications are essential because they are publicly traded. So for them, the consulting firm they hire should provide this justification, and in turn, the consultants the firm hires should provide the same. And the best way to get such candidates is through case interviews.

These interviews offer insight into the skills you possess, including:

· Problem structuring

· Analysis

· Logical reasoning

· Drawing conclusions from data presented

· Ability to digest and effectively communicate your recommendation and conclusions

Also, the recent industry change to prefer specialized consultants makes case interviews all-the-more important. Unfortunately, there’s a shortage of the right talent.

How to Improve Success Rates on Case Interviews

Now that you know and understand the purpose of case interviews, how do you get ready for one? A job offer in a consulting firm could change your life. Preparation is critical since case interviews trip even the best minds.

To improve your chances, here are some tips to follow.

Have Ample Time

Don’t underestimate case interviews. They are lengthy and demanding. Also, if this is your first rodeo, you’ll have to rewire your thinking, have sufficient industry knowledge, and maintain a conversation. Getting a handle on all of these takes more than a couple of hours.

Think of this process, like creating a habit. Usually, it takes 21 days to form a new habit. We recommend taking about the same time to prepare for the case interview.

Get the Basics Right

The only way you can break down a problem logically and offer a systematic approach to the solution is if you understand the basics involved. Case interview cases can seem daunting, but once you break them down, you can gobble them up with ease.

So if you are getting into a new industry, make sure you read up and have the fundamentals on your fingertips. In the process, brush up on your math skills.

As a consultant, you’ll always have access to a calculator and Excel, but that’s not the point of the interview. Interviewers want to know your mental math is sharp.

To make things easier for yourself, don’t calculate everything in your head. Instead, show your work and catch the errors in the process. Also, avoid working with messy numbers and voice the calculations for the interviewers to follow along.

Learn to Communicate

Aside from gauging your problem-solving skills, case interviews are designed to determine how well you convey your findings. As you solve the hypothetical problem, engage the interviewer. It’s the only way they know what you are thinking and the approach you are using.

At times, interviewers will help you along, but this is only when they know your line of thought.

Get a Practice Buddy

Practice, practice, practice. Review as many case studies as you can. But don’t make the mistake of memorizing the solutions. Instead, train your mind to think like a management consultant – there-in lies the true test of case interviews.

Have a practice buddy to try out different case studies online. Having a buddy will help you to articulate your structure and thought process. You’ll learn more and faster this way.

Hit the Ground Running!

Hopefully, it’s now all clear. What’s left is for you to put in the work and implement the above tips. With some dedication and creativity, you’ll have your dream job.

Author's Bio: 

Luna Dean is journalist and professional writer. She loves to write about trending topics.