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Types of interview

Case study interviews

How to tackle case study interviews 

The aim of the case study interview is to assess your ability to construct a convincing response to a problem. Often it will be a business dilemma but sometimes you may be given a brain teaser. Most case study questions will have several valid solutions. Rather than looking for you to provide the answer, the interviewer will be much more interested in your thought process. 

You will impress your interviewer if you show engagement, energy and a real interest in the problem under discussion. They will expect you to talk through your thinking and ask for additional information in a logical order. Essentially you are demonstrating that you are able to analyse information, solve problems and use good judgement in unfamiliar situations and within a tight timescale.

Here are some tips to help you prepare:

  • Listen to the question and clarify if necessary – it is a good idea to paraphrase it back to the interviewer to ensure you understand 
  • Take your time – organise your ideas and don’t jump too fast to conclusions. Break down the problem and put your ideas on paper 
  • Talk through your thought processes – your interviewer will want to understand how you tackle the problem, analyse information and structure your conclusions
  • Take notes – you will be given hints as you go and it is really important that you don’t forget or ignore important facts
  • Structure the problem and develop a framework – this will help you identify the best analytical approach to reach a solution
  • Ask supplementary questions where needed – the interview should be interactive. You will be expected to ask questions but make sure the interviewer knows why you need this information. 
  • Watch for cues from the interviewer – when you are given information listen carefully and follow their lead
  • Prioritise the issues and objectives – focus on key concepts to explore. Don’t try to deal with every aspect but concentrate on issues that will really make a difference to the client
  • Be happy working with numbers – you will need to be comfortable with basic arithmetic and working with large quantities. You might also be asked to perform estimations
  • Generate a hypothesis and explore options creatively – make recommendations on how to solve the key issues. The interviewer will be looking for innovative approaches that could create a competitive advantage
  • Do not defend your solution at all costs – if your solution is challenged, acknowledge that the interviewer has brought up a relevant consideration and re-examine your thinking

If you have a case study interview you will need lots of practice. Here are some resources to help you: 

McKinsey & Company  - Practice case study questions with include follow up questions and an insight into what the interviewer would be looking for 
Strategy&  -  Interactive case study from Strategy&
Ace the Case - sample case questions with solutions