It is not a surprise if you consider a career in management consulting after your MBA graduation. Like many other graduates, you will probably consider sending your management consulting cover letter and resume to top tier consulting firms like McKinsey, Bain, and Booz, hoping to break into consulting. If you pass the initial screening process, your next obstacle is the loved and hated case interview. We will give you some advice in this article.
Understand the Purpose of Case Interviews
The case interview is the most crucial step because it is the ultimate test of your capability to work for a consulting firm. If you get through the eye of the needle, you will enjoy the rewards of being a part of the consulting industry. Some of these rewards are the promising compensation scheme, the countless networking opportunities, development of your professional skills, and the sense of fulfillment from helping organizations improve their business.
Consulting firms employ case interviews to gauge if you can analyze complex problems critically and break them down in a logical manner. This goal implies that interviewers are not interested in the right answer, but in the utilized process. You need to demonstrate that you are a good problem solver.
Know Different Types of Interview Questions
Business cases are the most common type of questions in case interviews. You are usually given an ambiguous business problem, and you are expected to resolve it within limited amount of time while being observed in all aspects. Many applicants fail in this challenge.
You might also be asked guesstimate questions based on incomplete information. An example of that would be, "How many shirts were bought in California last month?" The other type of question is the brainteaser. Interviewers utilize this to assess how well you can think outside the box. For more details on types of interviews, read this free guide on how to get a management consulting job.
Prepare for the Interview Extensively
You never know what questions you will get, but you can always prepare. A good way to prepare is to read as many business dilemmas as possible and look at references on consulting case interview prep. The more types of cases and case frameworks you are familiar with, the smaller the risk of encountering an incredibly difficult problem. Case frameworks help you structure your answer by giving you detailed guidelines on how to generate solutions. Examples of frameworks: segmentation of a market, analysis of a competitor’s initiative, product pricing, etc. If you cannot think of a specific framework for the given problem during the interview, try combining what you know.
Also, familiarize yourself with the entire interview process. Rehearse some different types of cases with a friend or with someone who can give valuable feedback.
Stay Focused and Calm
When you are sitting face-to-face with an interviewer, you might be intimidated by his or her presence. It is not convenient to be assessed; it would be natural to fidget and get nervous. However, you need to manage these tendencies carefully so that you demonstrate confidence and focus on problem solving. Concentration is key. Listen carefully to the business scenario and to the cues given by interviewers. Pause for a while to think of the next step. You will be fine as long as you do not lose your focus and common sense. This is one of many different types of advice on management consulting jobs that have been proven throughout the years.
Communicate Your Thoughts Clearly
Think aloud. If you keep things to yourself, the interviewer will not understand your thought process, thereby making the interview valueless. Tell the interviewer the factors you are considering and strategies you plan to use. If you decide to reject an option, explain a valid reason. In addition, verbalizing your ideas puts you in a more reflective mode, and this reinforces your ability to arrive at an acceptable answer.
If you need help in answering the business case, do not hesitate to ask for assistance. If you do not completely understand the problem, ask for clarification. If you are stuck in a specific step, you can solicit for some guidelines. If you seek for additional information, explain your rationale behind it, and the interviewer will be willing to provide what you need. The management consulting case interview is a two-way street. You can (and should!) involve the interviewer in a sensible manner.
ConsultingFact.com is an online resource for management consulting career advice, application, and interview preparation. The website was founded in 2010 by a former McKinsey consultant. The ConsultingFact.com team has produced consulting guides and winning articles about the industry. The team also offers an innovative online course, Consulting Job Academy: Learn How to Get a Management Consulting Job. This course teaches applicants everything they need to know to get a job in management consulting.