What You Need to Know About Case Interviews

Photo Credit:  BONNINSTUDIO  on Stocksy

Photo Credit: BONNINSTUDIO on Stocksy

Congrats! You made it to the interview process…but you were told to prepare for a case interview. Don’t stress—this is a common part of job interviews in the finance and other related fields. If you don’t know what a case interview is yet, I’m going to break it down and help you prepare for one here.

What is a Case Interview?

A case interview is a type of job interview that presents questions in the form of a case study. You, and possibly a group of other candidates, are presented with a scenario you’ll likely encounter if you were to work for the company. You are then challenged to investigate and propose a solution to the scenario.

What You Need to Know About Case Interviews

Case interviews are designed to test applicants’ analytical and problem solving skills in a realistic business context. While the answers you come up with are a necessary part of the task, interviewers are paying much more attention to the processing capabilities you demonstrate. They want to see your thought process and know you have a logical approach and response to the problem they give you. And if this is a group interview, they’re paying attention to how you communicate, interact, and collaborate with team members.

How to Ace a Case Interview

Start with understanding the question—repeat it back in case you need clarity. Ask questions to gather more information. You will have to make some assumptions and base much of your analysis on estimates—be comfortable with not having a perfect answer. Keep asking questions. Oftentimes there will be plenty of right answers because the questions are so open-ended. As I said, interviewers are more interested in your approach and thought process, so take notes to detail your thinking. Don’t rush—take the time you need to arrive at a quality answer.

It’s your job to show what you know, don’t know, and would need to know to make a solid recommendation. It’s possible your interviewers will specifically withhold information for the purpose of seeing if you ask questions and probe further (good), or jump to a recommendation without great information (bad).

When you’ve arrived at your answer, you must thoughtfully explain and possibly defend your conclusion.

Practice Makes Prepared

Case interviews are common in management consulting and investment banking, so it’s handy to know what to expect, especially if you’re entering these industries. I recommend practicing with this case study interview prep tool from Deloitte before your next interview to get a feel for what it’s like. While the issues Deloitte will lay out may not be as relevant to you, this tool is key to getting a firsthand look at what kind of thought process you need for a case interview.