Case Interview Overview


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Case Interview Overview

  1. 1. Intro to Case InterviewsJen MoughalianAssociate Director, MBA Career ManagementSurvivor of Numerous Case InterviewsSeptember 7, 2010
  2. 2. Who I am Jen Moughalian Associate Director MBA Career Management 15 Years Consulting, Government, NFP Experience • The Chartis Group (Boutique Strategy & Ops) • The Advisory Board Company • White House Office of Management and Budget • Close Up Foundation BA, University of Richmond MBA/MPM, University of Maryland2
  3. 3. Agenda 1. Overview of Case Interviewing 2. Anatomy of a Case Interview 3. Practice Case (time permitting) 4. Next Steps3
  4. 4. Why do (consulting) firms use case interviews? • Contrary to popular belief, the case interview is not to embarrass or humiliate you! • Case questions provide employers an opportunity to assess a candidate’s: • Intellectual curiosity, • Analytical abilities, • Logical and structured thinking, • Poise, confidence, and communication under pressure, • Ability to think on one’s feet, • Tolerance for ambiguity and information overload, and • “Fit” in a consulting environment.4
  5. 5. Types of Case Interview Questions • Brainteasers • You are locked into an empty room with only a working refrigerator plugged into a standard electric outlet. The room is uncomfortably warm, and your goal is to cool the room to the maximum extent possible. What can you do? • Back-of-the-envelope • How many gas stations are there in the US? • Situational/How would you.. • You are building a financial model for a client presentation, and your manager asks you to email it to her by 6 PM. At 5:59 PM, you realize there is an error in the assumptions. What do you do? • Business cases • oral • written5 Source: Case In Point by Marc Cosentino
  6. 6. The Typical Case Interview (45-60 Minutes) 2. 4. 3. Case 1. Intro Behavioral Candidate Discussion Questions Questions Duration Duration Duration Duration • 2-5 Minutes • 5-10 Minutes • 20-35 Minutes • 5-10 Minutes Content Content Content Content • Introductions • Interview • Interactive • Questions posed • Small Talk questions discussion of by candidate stated problem Goals Goals Goals Goals • Build rapport • Show qualities • Show problem • Show interest, • Pass airplane of a great solving ability, thoughtfulness test consultant client-readiness • Demonstrate • Demonstrate • Work research research collaboratively6
  7. 7. Agenda 1. Overview of Case Interviewing 2. Anatomy of a Case Interview 3. Practice Case (time permitting) 4. Next Steps7
  8. 8. Intro/Behavioral Questions (10-15 minutes) Tips • Answer in PAR (Problem-Action-Result) format • Outline answers to common questions in advance Commonly asked interview questions • Tell me about yourself • Why consulting? • Why Georgetown? • What do you know about xyz position and firm? • Tell me about a time you showed leadership, led an initiative, were on a difficult team, managed a crisis, etc. • What are your 3 greatest strengths and weaknesses? • Why should I hire you?8
  9. 9. Case Interview: Opening (5 minutes) 1. Listen and take (high level) notes 2. Summarize the key issues and confirm your goal 3. Ask clarifying questions (when it makes you look good) 4. Take a minute to develop a comprehensive structure 5. THEN walk the interviewer through your thinking and begin the discussion9
  10. 10. Case Interview: Discussion (30 minutes – eternity) An interactive discussion with the interviewer where you: • Lead a discussion of your analysis and recommendations • Will be interrupted with questions and challenges • Calculate numbers while talking and thinking of your next point (aka multi-tasking) • Could get stuck and need to redirect10
  11. 11. Case Interview: Discussion Tips (30 min. – eternity) Tip # 1: The first 5 minutes can make or break you. Tip # 2: Use frameworks to inform your thinking and structure, but the frameworks don’t solve the case. Tip # 3: Communication/rapport is critical to your success. Tip # 4: Listen to hints from your interviewer. Tip # 5: Don’t lose your cool. *See appendix for sample frameworks.11
  12. 12. Case Interview: Discussion Challenges (30 min. – eternity) Challenge #1: Getting stuck/losing your way Symptoms: 1) Digressions and tangents 2) Halfway through, no idea what case question is Challenge #2: Getting stuck/losing your way AND faking it Symptoms: 1) Constant, meaningless chatter 2) Pulling numbers out of your ____ Challenge #3: Giving up/complete surrender Symptoms: 1) Silence 2) Asking rapid-fire, open-ended questions in the hopes of stumbling upon the answer The best/only way to overcome these challenges is practice.12
  13. 13. Case Interview: Conclusion (2 minutes) You will often hear: “You get on the elevator with the CEO and he asks you how your project is going…” That is your signal to: 1. Summarize key points succinctly 2. Make recommendations persuasively13
  14. 14. Candidate Questions (5-15 minutes) • Your opportunity to show that you • Understand the consulting business • Know this firm (research) • Have the makings of a great consultant! • Avoid generic questions, e.g. a day in the life • Ask thoughtful questions specific to the firm, e.g. I saw the white paper on your website about xyz and was wondering if you could tell me more about abc.14
  15. 15. Agenda 1. Overview of Case Interviewing 2. Anatomy of a Case Interview 3. Practice Case (time permitting) 4. Next Steps15
  16. 16. Practice Case The US Postal Service projects a $2 billion loss next year. How can they return to profitability? In small groups, take 5 minutes to lay out the structure and approach you would use to lead this case discussion.16
  17. 17. Agenda 1. Overview of Case Interviewing 2. Anatomy of a Case Interview 3. Practice Case (time permitting) 4. Next Steps17
  18. 18. Next Steps 1. Practice and master the case interview • Books (Case in Point, Ace the Case, Vault Case Guide) • Online (Consulting firm websites: BCG/Bain/McKinsey/Deloitte) • Crack the Case workshop with David Ohrvall (Register in GMCC) • Intro – 10/1 @ 4 PM, 10/2 @ 10 AM, Advanced -10/2 @ 2 PM • Practice, Practice, Practice • Practice groups (your own or consulting club) • Peer Advisors • Friday alumni mock case interviews (Mod 1 EP/M11, Mod 2 EP/M11/M12) • Case competitions / classroom activities 2. Don’t forget to do all the work to get to the interview! • Research companies and create target lists, as prep to… • Learn about the companies through events and info interviews • Attend CM and Consulting Club workshops • Ensure your cover letter and resume are tailored.18
  19. 19. Appendix: Frameworks • Understanding the key problem you are trying to solve is integral to choosing the right structure and framework • A new market strategy can be framed with Porter’s Five Forces • A new product price can be determined by examining the Four Ps • Profitability decline can be diagnosed using both profitability tree AND Porter’s Five Forces • Other frameworks that inform your case structure • Four Cs of marketing • Contribution margin • Internal vs. external • M&A synergies19