Girish Mahajan (Editor)

Case interview

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A case interview is a job interview in which the applicant is given a question, situation, problem or challenge and asked to resolve the situation. The case is often a business situation or a business case that the interviewer has worked on in real life.

After the applicant is given information about the case, the applicant is expected to ask the interviewer logical questions that will help the applicant understand the situation, probe deeper into relevant areas, gather pertinent information and arrive at a solution or recommendation for the question or situation at hand.

Case interviews are mostly used in hiring for management consulting jobs. Consulting firms use case interviews to evaluate candidate's analytical ability and problem-solving skills; they are looking not for a "correct" answer but for an understanding of how the applicant thinks and how the applicant approaches problems.

During case interviews, interviewers are generally looking for the following skills:

  • Numerical and verbal reasoning skills
  • Communication and presentation skills
  • Business skills and commercial awareness
  • Candidates are often asked to estimate a specific number, often a commercial figure (such as market size or profitability) or determine action plans to remedy a business problem (such as low profitability or decreasing market share). Questions are generally ambiguous and require interviewees to ask questions or make assumptions to make a reasonable, supported argument to their solutions. Candidates are expected to demonstrate reasoning rather than to produce the exact answer.

    A case interview can also be conducted as a group exercise. Here several candidates are given some briefing materials on a business problem and asked to discuss and agree upon a solution. The interviewers normally sit around the exterior of the room as silent observers. They assess candidates' communication and interaction as well as analytical thinking and commercial awareness. Interviewers "red flag" candidates who try to dominate the conversation; consultants work in teams so it's important to be a team player.

    Frameworks Used by Business Analysts:

    1. Benchmarking: comparison of metrics to competitors
    2. Balanced Scorecard: tracking key objectives as a prevention method
    3. Porter’s Five Forces: industry analysis to assess potential company profitability
    4. The General Electric-McKinsey Nine-Box Matrix: used to help assess opportunities
    5. The BCG Growth-Share Matrix: used to assess relative product line strength
    6. Core Competencies: define proficiencies in areas unique to the company

    References

    Case interview Wikipedia


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