Cultivating a Consultant | What kind of feedback did you receive from people who helped you practice case interviews?

Here is the third video in our Cultivating a Consultant series including some very helpful commentary below from Alex.  Enjoy!

As mentioned in the previous commentaries, the case interview has different components that are used to evaluate the candidate in different ways.  Although every single part of the case interview is important, the framework used to solve the case is the most important part since it is the backbone of the case.

The framework is so important because it shows a candidate’s ability to think strategically, and structure the approach to solve the case in just a couple of minutes.  If you read any case interview book/guide, you will find different variations of these three main frameworks:

 

 

  • Profitability framework: company losing money, etc.
    • Profits = Revenues – Cost
  • Business situation framework: market entry, new product, new business, etc.
    • Customer, Product, Company, Competition
  • M&A framework: company merging or acquiring other company
    • How is the target company doing, is it a good fit, potential risks

The first step to master case frameworks is to study the different types and understand in which cases you can use each framework.  After, you should start doing case starts (as explained in the video).

There are two main challenges that I went through when studying frameworks: (1) struggle with tailoring frameworks, (2) struggle with including only the minimal info needed to solve the case.

  1. It is very difficult to tailor the framework to a case. For example, if you are given a profitability case about a groceries company, this is how the untailored and tailored version of the framework would look:
    1. Untailored: (a) Revenue: price * units sold, (b) costs: fixed cost + variable cost * units sold.
    2. Tailored and correct version: (a) Revenue: price of products * units for the different categories, e.g. fruits, meats, vegetables, dairy, etc. (b) costs: fixed costs (e.g. cost of rent, insurance, etc), variable costs: labor costs, COGS, electricity, etc.

The tailored version shows the interviewer that you are not repeating a standard framework that you memorized, but that you are thinking critically about the case and you are adapting to the context.

  1. It is very challenging to only include in your framework the right amount of information needed to solve the case. When I was preparing for the interview, I found myself including many different things on my framework that weren’t necessary.
    1. For example: I was given a mock case about a company that needed help deciding between two projects. Instead of just including in my framework costs, benefits and risks, I also included one bucket on industry and competitors. If this were to be a real case it is obvious that we would need to understand the state of the industry and competitors. However, in the case interview, since you only have ~45 minutes, you are expected to prioritize and include only what is relevant to solve the case on a high level.

-Alex Aserraf

 

By Rachid Macer
Rachid Macer Student Director, CareerEdge and Think Tank Colleague Team Rachid Macer