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- 1. A case interview is a scenario-based problem-solving exercise Case questions test many of the skills necessary to be a successful consultant Skill Key Questions Do you effectively organize information? Analytical Skills Do you develop a logical framework for analysis? How comfortable are you with numbers and mathematical operations? Do you demonstrate sound business understanding and logic? Business Insight & Judgment Do you understand the implications of your decisions? Are you approaching the problem at the right level of detail? Can you make sound decisions based on limited data, and defend them? Decision-Making Ability Are you flexible in adapting them to new information? Creativity Do you come up with interesting or original ways to tackle problems? Are you relaxed and confident? Poise Can you bounce back from mistakes or adapt to uncomfortable situations? Are you a good listener? Communication Skills How well do you articulate your questions and answers? Would co-workers and clients enjoy working with you? Interpersonal Skills Are you engaging? 1 KAISER ASSOCIATES
- 2. There is no “right answer” – you will be evaluated on your framework and thought process Collect and Structure Assemble Articulate Evaluate the Problem Solution Findings Data How you structure the case is the most critical part of the interview Keys to Success Common Mistakes Listen carefully and understand the Not listening to the setup question Not understanding the objective Create a solution framework Diving right into the details without Break the problem down into creating a structure manageable parts Trying to force-fit a text-book Organize the given data framework 2 KAISER ASSOCIATES
- 3. There is no “right answer” – you will be evaluated on your framework and thought process Collect and Structure Assemble Articulate Evaluate the Problem Solution Findings Data A complete understanding of the problem requires thorough fact-finding Keys to Success Common Mistakes State assumptions and hypotheses Generating answers too quickly Start at a high level Not asking enough questions Prioritize your analysis, keeping the Not asking clear, specific questions objective in mind Asking questions for the sake of Be thorough and organized asking questions, without relating them back to the framework 3 KAISER ASSOCIATES
- 4. There is no “right answer” – you will be evaluated on your framework and thought process Collect and Structure Assemble Articulate Evaluate the Problem Solution Findings Data Relevant facts must be pieced together to build up an answer the original question Keys to Success Common Mistakes Drive towards answering the Losing sight of the original question question Giving incomplete solution Organize data to support your Not gathering enough data arguments Not relating your data or thought Be thorough in your analysis process to the bigger picture Do a “sanity check” 4 KAISER ASSOCIATES
- 5. There is no “right answer” – you will be evaluated on your framework and thought process Collect and Structure Assemble Articulate Evaluate the Problem Solution Findings Data Close by clearly summarizing your conclusions and addressing any open issues Keys to Success Common Mistakes Be persuasive and complete Failing to fully answer the question Communicate a game plan for Failing to summarize findings addressing issues you’ve identified Rambling 5 KAISER ASSOCIATES
- 6. Let’s now use the knowledge we’ve acquired to crack an easy sample case interview I live in Washington, DC I’m a fan of baseball, and of the Washington Can operating a T- Nationals in particular shirt vending cart outside RFK Stadium I’ve noticed many single-vendor carts outside RFK Stadium at the Nationals’ home games, selling be a profitable things like ice cream, hot dogs, clothing, etc. business? I’m thinking of getting in the business by buying a cart and selling T-shirts I’ve done some research, and have found the following: – Average Game Attendance: 30,000 – Number of Nationals Games per Season: 160 – Average Game Duration: 5 hours – Average Ticket Price: $40 Tell me if this is a good idea 6 KAISER ASSOCIATES
- 7. First, we need to develop an appropriate framework to answer the problem We need to determine whether this business can be profitable Profit Revenue Costs Profit equals revenue minus costs Quantity Price Fixed Variable Here, we break the problem down further, into smaller parts that we solve more easily Now that we have our framework, we can organize our thought process and questions to tackle each of these mini-problems 7 KAISER ASSOCIATES
- 8. In this case, the cost piece is probably easier to calculate, so let’s go after that first Profit Revenue Costs Quantity Price Fixed Variable What are the various costs I would incur? Which ones are one-time vs. recurring? How often do they recur? Which ones depend on how much I sell? 8 KAISER ASSOCIATES
- 9. We proceed by asking relevant questions, and making assumptions where appropriate Profit Revenue Costs Quantity Price Fixed Variable Annual cart leasing Labor: $10 / hour fee: $5,000 T-Shirts: $2 each Annual operator’s license: $1,000 Variable costs: ? – We need to figure out $6,000 fixed costs per quantity year 9 KAISER ASSOCIATES
- 10. We turn now to the revenue piece of the problem Profit Revenue Costs Quantity Price Fixed Variable How many T-shirts can we sell per game? How much can we charge for each one? – Answer: $15 10 KAISER ASSOCIATES
- 11. Estimating the quantity is key, so we structure this as a mini-case in itself How many people will buy my T-shirts per game? What is the per- game attendance? 30,000 attendees per game How many 24,000 don’t buy attendees buy 6,000 buy things (20%) things? things How many of 4,500 buy other these people buy 1,500 buy T-shirts (25%) T-shirts? things How many of them 50 buy my T- 1,450 buy buy from me? from shirts (3%) others 11 KAISER ASSOCIATES
- 12. It is important to always “sanity check” our numbers to see if they are realistic Does 50 T-shirts per game sound realistic? – If I sell 50 T-shirts out of 1,500, and assuming that other vendors sell similar numbers, it implies that there are 30 T-shirt vendors in total outside the stadium – Is this a realistic number? – The bulk of my sales probably come in the pre-game and post-game periods, say 3 hours in total, implying that I sell 1 T-shirt every 3-4 minutes – Can one person handle a transaction every 3.5 minutes? Our assumptions seem reasonable 12 KAISER ASSOCIATES
- 13. Now that we’ve calculated each component of our “profit tree,” we can put them back together Profit Revenue Costs Quantity Price Fixed Variable 50 T-shirts sold per $15 per T-Shirt Annual cart leasing Labor: $10 / hour for 5 fee: $5,000 hours Annual operator’s T-Shirts: $2 each for license: $1,000 50 T-shirts $750 per-game revenue $6,000 annual cost $150 per-game cost 13 KAISER ASSOCIATES
- 14. Next, we annualize our numbers, and come to a conclusion Total Revenue per Game $750 LESS Total Cost per Game ($150) Net Margin per Game $600 Number of Games per Year 80 Annual Gross Margin $48,000 LESS Annual Operating Costs ($6,000) Total Annual Profit $42,000 It’s important to sanity check the final answer – Does the number make sense? Too high? Too low? 14 KAISER ASSOCIATES
- 15. You should also think about, and mention, additional factors that may be relevant What does this figure of $42,000 really mean? – Is it attractive? Why or why not? – How can we answer this question? What else could influence this business? – Maybe people buy more when their team is winning? – More games if the Nationals qualify for the playoffs? – Can T-shirts be sold at other events or locations? – Can I rent out my cart to other vendors at other sports events? – Could I diversify into other kinds of merchandise? – Can I differentiate my T-shirts somehow? – What happens when games are canceled due to weather? – Etc. 15 KAISER ASSOCIATES
- 16. Finally, be prepared to walk through your solution in a clear, concise way Summarize your findings Make a firm and actionable recommendation Mention additional considerations and how to begin to deal with them 16 KAISER ASSOCIATES

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