How to Ace a Case Interview

Case interviews are broad, two-way discussions, rather than one-way questions, that are used to hire people with analytical skills, communication accuracy and quantitative thinking. You are assessed based on how you approach and handle the problem, rather than on your specific answers.


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    Know what's important. Don't go into the interview with the assumption that your mathematics skills are the most important thing. While they are definitely valued, you can impress your interviewer even more by being knowledgeable on topics that are directly related to consulting, such as economics.
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    Listen to the problem. Make sure you understand exactly what you are being asked to do. Don't be afraid to ask for clarification if you're unsure about a particular point.
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    Devise a problem solving structure. Your interviewer will give you a couple minutes to look over and take notes on the data that they give you. Use this time to your advantage. The interviewer doesn't care if you're smart enough to wing it; you'll look much more impressive if you use the time and are able to communicate your answers in an organized, well thought-out way than if you don't take the time to prepare and end up stumbling over your words.
    • Remember to use the simplest framework you can to still answer the question thoroughly. While it's tempting to use a complex framework to show off to the interviewer, know that they're looking to see that you can solve the problem in the most efficient manner.
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    Communicate as you work through your process. Be honest if you don't know something. Don't be afraid to ask the interviewer a question if you're unsure of something. Not only will this help save you embarrassment later, but it may even work in your benefit, because you're willing to admit that you don't know everything. As stated above, the most important part of this interview isn't that you get the right answer, but that you're on the right track to a sound structure and thinking process.
    • Even if you do understand everything, communication is very important. Explain each choice you make thoroughly, and give an honest opinion based your own analysis of the data in front of you.
    • Avoid the temptation to speak really fast and shoot out answers as fast as possible. It's okay to take your time, especially if you come back with a strong response.
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    Step back periodically. Summarize what you have learned and what the implications appear to be. Summarization is really important for a couple of reasons. For one, it allows you to refer back to your key points and lump them together in an impressive bundle. Generally, you should limit the "key points" to about three—any more will bombard your interviewer with information, and they may miss the most important points. Secondly, it puts all of your correct answers at the forefront of the interviewer's memory. This is an elegant way of directing your interviewer's attention away from any mistakes you may have made.
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    Relax and enjoy the process. Think of the interviewer as a teammate in a problem-solving process and the case as a real client problem that you need to explore and then solve.
    • Stay calm and collected. While your interviewer should always be professional, sometimes they'll heckle you a little to see how you respond under stress. Being grouchy or rude is probably just them testing the way you respond to stressful situations. If you get asked additional questions or your conclusion gets contradicted, don't lose hope. Stick to your guns and try not to let the stress get to you.


  • Be comfortable with numbers. You will almost always have to work with numbers in a case. This requires comfort with basic arithmetic and sometimes large quantities. You may also be asked to perform estimations.
  • Stay organized.
  • Ask for additional information when you need it. Make sure that the interviewer knows why you need the information.
  • Remember that the interviewer wants to know how you handle the problem, not whether you provide the correct solution.

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Categories: Interview Skills