Written by Amélie Van Hoecke
‘How to ace a case interview’ is probably one of the most asked questions on Google among final year students looking for a job in consulting. Not too long ago, we were those students trying to prepare ourselves to the best of our ability for the case interviews at BrightWolves. We know how stressful it can be and that’s why we decided to share some of our tips & tricks that can come in handy when preparing the case interview round at BrightWolves.
Preparation is key
You are not the first one to go through a case interview, and you definitely will not be the last one either. This means that you’ll be able to find a goldmine of information online to prepare you for this phase of the application process. It would be impossible to read every possible article or post about it. Just remember it is simply about practice and getting insight into the casing structure.
So where did I start? My point of departure was to turn to my friends who already did a case interview and asked them about their experience. This helped me to compose a short list of materials that I wanted to read and make a to-do list on how to prepare myself to the best of my ability. Now, I would like to share some of those materials with you! First, the 'Case-interview secrets' of Victor Cheng allowed me to be introduced into the casing world and grasp the reason of this – what appeared to me as – torture. I also watched some videos and did some parts of the courses of Crafting Case. Last but not least, I did a couple of mock-up cases using materials found online (Preplounge, Case in Point, …) which really helped to get some practice.
While these tips will help you for any case interview, BrightWolves gives you a little extra by sending out an extended slide deck with great tips on how to crack a case, useful tools and frameworks that will help you. But whatever you do, DO NOT try to learn the frameworks by heart! The goal is to learn how to create your own frameworks that will help you solve a problem in a structured way. The only way you will master this, is to practice, practice, practice. Ask your friends to play the interviewer and do a mock-up interview. You will see, each interview you will improve and the way you handle the case will become more efficient.
The hours leading up to the case interview
You can learn every framework by heart, you can do a thousand mock interviews, the moment when you are entering the building can feel like stress is taking over. Obviously, this is different for every person and while one might be very stressed in the days before, some might be more relaxed (lucky you!). For the more stressed individuals among us it could help to think about some practicalities such as transport. If you come by car, make sure to take into account traffic that can cause delays and the same goes for public transport. This may seem obvious, but you never know and for your own piece of mind it’s nice to think about this beforehand. Luckily, the Brightwolves office is located by a nice pond with some benches around it where you can sit down if you’re too early for your interview.
In the current circumstances, it’s not getting there that can cause stress but the technology you will have to use. If you are doing your interview remotely, take some time beforehand to check if everything is working as it should be. Are your webcam and microphone working? Can you hear everything well, and can the other side hear you without buzz? Also, pick a nice and neutral background or make sure to blur your surroundings. You don’t want to distract the interviewer with your housemates passing by behind you, or the pile of clothes that you forgot to move.
Another thing that will avoid needless stress: pick out an outfit in advance. Make sure that you are comfortable and that you do not have to try on outfits right before you need to leave. Something as trivial as clothes is not worth the additional stress. Finally, do not go over frameworks or cases the night before, but do something that relaxes you. It will benefit your night rest, which you will need for your case day.
Main elements to remember during the interview
During the interview, the case may appear vague or you might have the feeling that you did not receive a lot of information. Don’t worry, this is done on purpose. It is very important to restate the question that is asked as well as to ask questions throughout the whole interview. Questions can be about the company, the product/service, the industry. If the question is not important, the interviewer will tell you and there is nothing wrong with that. The interviewer is there to challenge you with the case but will also guide and help you. They do not want to let you fail and will support you where needed.
When you receive the information, structure it! Here is where your framework knowledge comes in. The way you structure problems will play an important role in how you approach the problem, but especially in how you will solve it. Don’t forget, you are always allowed to ask for a few minutes to bring clarity to your head so use it. Take this time to put your thoughts on paper so you can move on from there in an organised way.
You have found your recommendations, great! However, you haven’t finished yet. The most crucial point is to communicate your conclusion. A good conclusion comes with a decent structure which can be found in an RRR format: Result, Recommendation, Risk.
Results: what are your findings?
Recommendations: What do you recommend that will solve or improve these findings?
Risks: What risks could be attached to these recommendations?
Case interviews are not only about the case interview
Obviously, case interviews are part of every hiring process in consulting to assess whether you have the right problem-solving capabilities and analytical skills. But there is much more to it. The person that is sitting in front of you also wants to get to know you as a person. Be prepared to spend the first part of the interview talking about yourself. Not only about your cv, but also about you as a person, so prepare some memorable stories that show your personality. You might like to know that this part of the interview will significantly reduce your stress, especially when you have prepared it. At least, that was the case for my BrightWolves case interviews! I felt really at ease at the start of the actual case thanks to the relaxed talks with my interviewers beforehand.
In many cases, case interviews are also the first time you are at the company's offices and that you meet people face-to-face. So, take advantage of being there and look around, take the opportunity to talk to potential future colleagues and see whether you see yourself working there. In any case, with this article you are already one step ahead.
Are you interested in joining BrightWolves or curious about our application process? Schedule a virtual coffee with one of the Wolves!