Top 5 Case Interviewing Tips

Andrew Savage
case interview prep

If you're interested in consulting, you have probably heard of the case interview. If you are exploring consulting as a potential career path and unfamiliar with the case interview, it is a component of the interview process where the employer is looking to see how you would analyze and solve a business problem. As you prepare for the possibility of a case interview, check out our top 5 tips for successfully navigating a case. Then, dedicate time in your schedule to review the resources below in more depth to cover all your bases.

First, learn how case interviews are structured.

Most case interviews will last around 30 minutes. When presented with the problem by the interviewer, be sure to actively listen to the case as it is presented to you. Ask clarifying questions before you begin your work if needed to get started on the right track.Be careful to avoid making assumptions and engage with your interviewer throughout the case. Take your time and lay out your structure and thought process for the interview, they want to know how you think. 

Become familiar with what the firms are looking for in the case interview. 

Remember, these are likely cases from past clients the firm has worked with so the employer wants to know how you would approach it. They want to see how you organize and structure a problem in real time and one of the most important skills as a consultant is being able to communicate in a clear and concise manner. Be sure to think before speaking and presenting your ideas. The problem you are asked to solve will likely involve a level of math. What level of analysis varies across the firms but it is in your best interest to practice mental math to be ready to think off the cuff. Here are some examples of figures you may want to be familiar with. 

Mistakes happen and that is okay, employers are looking to see how you work through a problem including when mistakes are made. When you do notice something is wrong, how do you react, how do you communicate a potential solution, these are the key questions to consider. 

Practice case interviewing questions before your first interview.

Practice a variety of questions on your own, with a partner, and during workshops posted in Handshake or with consulting clubs. Some of these sessions even allow you to sit in to listen and you can learn strategies for how a case can be run. Watch these videos for both an example of a case interview in action but also some common tips to be successful in an interview. 

You’ll find practice questions, live practice opportunities, and/or guidance here:

Navigating the day of the interview, what should I expect? Check out this resource from Capital One on preparing for a virtual case interview. 

An example of a basic case could be: “Your client is a ski resort. Global warming has made it such that natural snowfall has been reduced by 50%. The client is concerned. What should they do and why?”

Before your start solving, ask your interviewer any clarifying questions you might need like:

  • Did I hear you correctly that….

  • Did I paraphrase what you said correctly?

  • What sort of impact do you think…..

It is so important, especially in the virtual interview process, to talk out loud about your thought process, reasoning, and what you’re doing as you progress through tackling the question. Ask clarifying questions where you need to and engage the interviewer throughout. Once you have a solution, communicate your summary with your recommendations. 

After your interview, take some time to reflect on your experience.

Every interview is a learning opportunity, take time to celebrate your successes with what went well and spend time analyzing what could have been better. 

  • How did you feel about your math skills?
  • Were there elements of the summary that could have been stronger?
  • Did you ask all the questions you needed to form a complete assessment? 

Practicing cases is going to be your best way to prepare, just like picking up any new skill! After each interview, you will feel more and more confident with your ability to complete a case. Be confident, you can do it!