Have you been told that you have a consulting interview coming up? If you are interested in joining a consulting firm then you already know which type of interviews to expect: a case interview.
A case interview is a type of interview consulting firms use to select the best job applicants. The interviewer will be assessing you in several areas that make a great consultant, such as your fit with the firm, your ability to solve problems and translate solutions into actionable insights, your communication skills, and your business judgment.
Case interviews are broken into two parts, solving cases and FIT/PEI.
During the case portion of the interview, the interviewer will present you with a business problem, usually based on a real business problem from the interviewer’s current or past clients. For example, how can MaxMart grow two times faster? You may also be presented with some brain teasers such as how many tennis balls you can fit in this room?
During the FIT/PEI portion of the interview, you will be asked questions such as why consulting, why BCG, what is your biggest accomplishment and so on. You can familiarize yourself with some common consulting FIT questions here.
The skills tested during case interviews include problem-solving ability, ability to think and communicate in a structured manner, communication and numerical agility. Below we include some tips to help you prepare for case interviews.
1. Engage the interviewer
Focus on making interview enjoyable for the interviewer. Ask questions, bring in personal observations as you are solving a case and use the interviewer’s name. Think of the case not as a test but as a conversation through which both you and the interviewer will solve a business problem.
Pay attention to subtle cues. The interviewer may try to steer you in a different direction. Listen to the interviewer and answer the interviewer’s specific questions. Not listening to the interviewer and not paying attention to subtle cues is one of the common mistakes candidates make during case interviews.
2. Learn case interview skills and only thereafter practice with case partners
If you start practicing cases before you develop at least the basic case interview skills, you will likely develop bad habits and may do more harm than good with your practice sessions. With FirmsConsulting.com members we recommend working at least through the whole of The Consulting Offer Season 1 with Felix before starting to practice with partners.
3. Pay attention to structure
There is structure in solving a case and structure in answering FIT/PEI questions. Even if you are not a naturally linear or structured thinker you can learn to approach cases and FIT/PEI questions in a structured way and you will perform better if you do.
A good structure breaks down a problem into elements. We recommend learning this brainstorming technique as part of your case interview preparation to help you develop good structure during interviews.
Lastly, as you start preparing for consulting case interviews view it as an opportunity to develop skills that will serve you for the rest of your life, regardless of joining a consulting firm or not. In our experience, candidates do much better during case interviews with this mindset and benefit more from the skills they develop during their preparation period, including after the recruitment period is over. Strong consulting skills are a valuable asset and can change the trajectory of your career.
Next, strengthen your case interview skills by going through these free case interview examples and learn the brainstorming technique of consulting partners.