1. The key to landing your consulting job.
Case interviews - where you are asked to solve a business case study under scrutiny - are the core of the selection process right across McKinsey, Bain and BCG (the “MBB” firms). This interview format is also used pretty much universally across other high-end consultancies; including LEK, Kearney, Oliver Wyman and the consulting wings of the “Big Four”.
If you want to land a job at any of these firms, you will have to ace multiple case interviews.
It is increasingly likely that you will also have to solve online cases given by chatbots etc. You might need to pass these before making it to interview or be asked to sit them alongside first round interviews.
Importantly, case studies aren’t something you can just wing. Firms explicitly expect you to have thoroughly prepared and many of your competitors on interview day will have been prepping for months.
Don’t worry though - MCC is here to help!
This article will take you through a full overview of everything you’ll need to know to do well, linking to more detailed articles and resources at each stage to let you really drill down into the details.
As well as traditional case interviews, we’ll also attend to the new formats in which cases are being delivered and otherwise make sure you’re up to speed with recent trends in this overall part of consulting recruitment.
Before we can figure out how to prepare for a case interview, though, we will first have to properly understand in detail what exactly you are up against. What format does a standard consulting case interview take? What is expected of you? How will you be assessed?
Let's dive right in and find out!
Before going further, if this sounds like a lot to get your head around on your own, don't worry - help is available!
Our Case Academy course gives you everything you need to know to crack cases like a pro:
To put what you learn into practice (and secure some savings in the process) you can add mock interview coaching sessions with expereinced MBB consultants:
And, if you just want an experienced consultant to take charge of the whole selection process for you, you can check out our comprehensive mentoring programmes:
Now, back to the article!
2. What is a case interview?
Before we can hope to tackle a case interview, we have to understand what one is.
In short, a case interview simulates real consulting work by having you solve a business case study in conversation with your interviewer.
This case study will be a business problem where you have to advise a client - that is, an imaginary business or similar organisation in need of guidance.
You must help this client solve a problem and/or make a decision. This requires you to analyse the information you are given about that client organisation and figure out a final recommendation for what they should do next.
Business problems in general obviously vary in difficulty. Some are quite straightforward and can be addressed with fairly standard solutions. However, consulting firms exist precisely to solve the tough issues that businesses have failed to deal with internally - and so consultants will typically work on complex, idiosyncratic problems requiring novel solutions.
Some examples of case study questions might be:
- How much would you pay for a banking licence in Ghana?
- Estimate the potential value of the electric vehicle market in Germany
- How much gas storage capacity should a UK domestic energy supplier build?
Consulting firms need the brightest minds they can find to put to work on these important, difficult projects. You can expect the case studies you have to solve in interview, then, to echo the unique, complicated problems consultancies deal with every day. As we’ll explain here, this means that you need to be ready to think outside the box to figure out genuinely novel solutions.
2.1. What skills do case interviews assess?
Reliably impressing your interviewers means knowing what they are looking for. This means understanding the skills you are being assessed against in some detail.
Overall, it’s important always to remember that, with case studies, there are no strict right or wrong answers. What really matters is how you think problems through, how confident you are with your conclusions and how quick you are with the back of the envelope arithmetic.
The objective of this kind of interview isn’t to get to one particular solution, but to assess your skillset. This is even true of modern online cases, where sophisticated AI algorithms score how you work as well as the solutions you generate.
Broadly speaking, your interviewer will be evaluating you across five key areas:
2.1.1.One: Probing mind
Showing intellectual curiosity by asking relevant and insightful questions that demonstrate critical thinking and a proactive nature. For instance, if we are told that revenues for a leading supermarket chain have been declining over the last ten years, a successful candidate would ask:
“We know revenues have declined. This could be due to price or volume. Do we know how they changed over the same period? ”
This is as opposed to a laundry list of questions like:
- Did customers change their preferences?
- Which segment has shown the decline in volume?
- Is there a price war in the industry?
2.1.2. Two: Structure
Structure in this context means structuring a problem. This, in turn, means creating a framework - that is, a series of clear, sequential steps in order to get to a solution.
As with the case interview in general, the focus with case study structures isn’t on reaching a solution, but on how you get there.
This is the trickiest part of the case interview and the single most common reason candidates fail.
We discuss how to properly structure a case in more detail in section three. In terms of what your interviewer is looking for at high level, though, key pieces of your structure should be:
- Proper understanding of the objective of the case - Ask yourself: "What is the single crucial piece of advice that the client absolutely needs?"
- Identification of the drivers - Ask yourself: "What are the key forces that play a role in defining the outcome?"
Our Problem Driven Structure method, discussed in section three, bakes this approach in at a fundamental level. This is as opposed to the framework-based approach you will find in older case-solving
Focus on going through memorised sequences of steps too-often means failing to develop a full understanding of the case and the real key drivers.
2.1.3. Three: Problem Solving
You’ll be tested on your ability to identify problems and drivers, isolate causes and effects, demonstrate creativity and prioritise issues. In particular, the interviewer will look for the following skills:
- Prioritisation - Can you distinguish relevant and irrelevant facts?
- Connecting the dots - Can you connect new facts and evidence to the big picture?
- Establishing conclusions - Can you establish correct conclusions without rushing to inferences not supported by evidence?
2.1.4. Four: Numerical Agility
In case interviews, you are expected to be quick and confident with both precise and approximated numbers. This translates to:
- Performing simple calculations quickly - Essential to solve cases quickly and impress clients with quick estimates and preliminary conclusions.
- Analysing data - Extract data from graphs and charts, elaborate and draw insightful conclusions.
- Solving business problems - Translate a real world case to a mathematical problem and solve it.
2.1.5. Five: Communication
Real consulting work isn’t just about the raw analysis to come up with a recommendation - this then needs to be sold to the client as the right course of action.
Similarly, in a case interview, you must be able to turn your answer into a compelling recommendation. This is just as essential to impressing your interviewer as your structure and analysis.
Consultants already comment on how difficult it is to find candidates with the right communication skills. Add to this the current direction of travel, where AI will be able to automate more and more of the routine analytic side of consulting, and communication becomes a bigger and bigger part of what consultants are being paid for.
So, how do you make sure that your recommendations are relevant, smart, and engaging? The answer is to master what is known as CEO-level communication.
This art of speaking like a CEO can be quite challenging, as it often involves presenting information in effectively the opposite way to how you might normally.
To get it right, there are three key areas to focus on in your communications:
- Top down: A CEO wants to hear the key message first. They will only ask for more details if they think that will actually be useful. Always consider what is absolutely critical for the CEO to know, and start with that. You can read more in our article on the Pyramid Principle.
- Concise: This is not the time for "boiling the ocean" or listing an endless number possible solutions. CEOs, and thus consultants, want a structured, quick and concise recommendation for their business problem, that they can implement immediately.
- Fact-based: Consultants share CEOs' hatred of opinions based on gut feel rather than facts. They want recommendations based on facts to make sure they are actually in control. Always go on to back up your conclusions with the relevant facts.
For more detail on all this, check out our full article on delivering recommendations.
Prep the right wayLearn how to think like a consultant instead of outdated frameworks Learn more
2.2. Where are case interviews in the consulting selection process?
Not everyone who applies to a consulting firm will have a case interview - far from it!
In fact, case interviews are pretty expensive and inconvenient for firms to host, requiring them to take consultants off active projects and even fly them back to the office from location for in-person interviews. Ideally, firms want to cut costs and save time by narrowing down the candidate pool as much as possible before any live interviews.
As such, there are some hoops to jump through before you make it to interview rounds.
Firms will typically eliminate as much as 80% of the applicant pool before interviews start. For most firms, 50%+ of applicants might be cut based on resumes, before a similar cut is made on those remaining based on aptitude tests. McKinsey currently gives their Solve assessment to most applicants, but will use their resulting test scores alongside resumes to cut 70%+ of the candidate pool before interviews.
You'll need to be on top of your game to get as far as an interview with a top firm. Getting through the resume screen and any aptitude tests is an achievement in itself!
For readers not yet embroiled in the selection process themselves, let’s put case interviews in context and take a quick look at each stage in turn. Importantly, note that you might also be asked to solve case studies outside interviews as well…
2.2.1. Application screen
It’s sometimes easy to forget that such a large cut is made at the application stage. At larger firms, this will mean your resume and cover letter is looked at by some combination of AI tools, recruitment staff and junior consulting staff (often someone from your own university).
Only the best applications will be passed to later stages, so make sure to check out our free resume and cover letter guides, and potentially get help with editing, to give yourself the best chance possible.
2.2.2. Aptitude tests and online cases
This part of the selection process has been changing quickly in recent years and is increasingly beginning to blur into the traditionally separate case interview rounds.
In the past, GMAT or PST style tests were the norm. Firms then used increasingly sophisticated and often gamified aptitude tests, like the Pymetrics test currently used by several firms, including BCG and Bain, and the original version of McKinsey’s Solve assessment (then branded as the Problem Solving Game).
Now, though, there is a move towards delivering relatively sophisticated case studies online. For example, McKinsey has replaced half the old Solve assessment with an online case. BCG’s Casey chatbot case now directly replaces a live first round case interview, and in the new era of AI chatbots, we expect these online cases to quickly become more realistic and increasingly start to relieve firms of some of the costs of live interviews.
Our consultants collectively reckon that, over time, 50% of case interviews are likely to be replaced with these kinds of cases. We give some specific advice for online cases in section four. However, the important thing to note is that these are still just simulations of traditional case interviews - you still need to learn how to solve cases in precisely the same way, and your prep will largely remain the same.
2.2.3. Rounds of Interviews
Now, let’s not go overboard with talk of AI. Even in the long term, the client facing nature of consulting means that firms will have live case interviews for as long as they are hiring anyone. And in the immediate term, case interviews are still absolutely the core of consulting selection.
Before landing an offer at McKinsey, Bain, BCG or any similar firm, you won’t just have one case interview, but will have to complete four to six case interviews, usually divided into two rounds, with each interview lasting approximately 50-60 minutes.
Being invited to first round usually means two or three case interviews. As noted above, you might also be asked to complete an online case or similar alongside your first round interviews.
If you ace first round, you will be invited to second round to face the same again, but more gruelling. Only then - after up to six case interviews in total, can you hope to receive an offer.
2.3. Typical case interview format
Before we dive in to the nuts and bolts of case cracking, we should give you a bit more detail on what exactly you’ll be up against on interview day.
Case interviews come in very similar formats across the various consultancies where they are used.
The standard case interview can be thought of as splitting into two standalone sub-interviews. Thus “case interviews” can be divided into the case study itself and a “fit interview” section, where culture fit questions are asked.
This can lead to a bit of confusion, as the actual case interview component might take up as little as half of your scheduled “case interview”. You need to make sure you are ready for both aspects.
To illustrate, here is the typical case interview timeline:
- First 15-30 minutes: Fit Interview - with questions assessing your motivation to be a consultant in that specific firm and your traits around leadership and teamwork. Learn more about the fit interview in our in-depth article here.
- Next 30-40 minutes: Case Interview - solving a case study
- Last 5 minutes: Fit Interview again - this time focussing on your questions for your interviewer.
Both the Case and Fit interviews play crucial roles in the finial hiring decision. There is no “average” taken between case and fit interviews: if your performance is not up to scratch in either of the two, you will not be able to move on to the next interview round or get an offer.
NB: No case without fit
Note that, even if you have only been told you are having a case interview or otherwise are just doing a case study, always be prepared to answer fit questions. At most firms, it is standard practice to include some fit questions in all case interviews, even if there are also separate explicit fit interviews, and interviewers will almost invariably include some of these questions around your case. This is perfectly natural - imagine how odd and artificial it would be to show up to an interview, simply do a case and leave again, without talking about anything else with the interviewer before or after.
2.4. Differences between first and second round interviews
Despite interviews in the first and second round following the same format, second/final round interviews will be significantly more intense. The seniority of the interviewer, time pressure (with up to three interviews back-to-back), and the sheer value of the job at stake will likely make a second round consulting case interview one of the most challenging moments of your professional life.
There are three key differences between the two rounds:
- Time Pressure: Final round case interviews test your ability to perform under pressure, with as many as three interviews in a row and often only very small breaks between them.
- Focus: Since second round interviewers tend to be more senior (usually partners with 12+ years experience) and will be more interested in your personality and ability to handle challenges independently. Some partners will drill down into your experiences and achievements to the extreme. They want to understand how you react to challenges and your ability to identify and learn from past mistakes.
- Psychological Pressure: While case interviews in the first round are usually more focused on you simply cracking the case, second round interviewers often employ a "bad cop" strategy to test the way you react to challenges and uncertainty.
2.5. Differences between firms
For the most part, a case interview is a case interview. However, firms will have some differences in the particular ways they like to do things in terms of both the case study and the fit component.
As we’ll see, these differences aren’t hugely impactful in terms of how you prepare. That said, it's always good to know as much as possible about what you will be going up against.
2.5.1. Candidate led vs interviewer led case formats
Most consulting case interview questions test your ability to crack a broad problem, with a case prompt often going something like:
"How much would you pay to secure the rights to run a restaurant in the British Museum?"
You, as a candidate, are then expected to identify your path to solve the case (that is, provide a structure), leveraging your interviewer to collect the data and test your assumptions.
This is known as a “candidate-led” case interview and is used by Bain, BCG and other firms.
However, a McKinsey case interview - especially in the first round - is slightly different, with the interviewer controlling the pace and direction of the conversation much more than with other case interviews.
At McKinsey, your interviewer will ask you a set of pre-determined questions, regardless of your initial structure. For each question, you will have to understand the problem, come up with a mini structure, ask for additional data (if necessary) and come to the conclusion that answers the question.
McKinsey’s cases are thus referred to as “interviewer-led”. This more structured format of case also shows up in online cases by other firms - notably including BCG’s Casey chatbot (with the amusing result that practising McKinsey-style cases can be a great addition when prepping for BCG).
Essentially, these interviewer-led case studies are large cases made up of lots of mini-cases. You still use basically the same method as you would for standard (or candidate-led) cases - the main difference is simply that, instead of using that method to solve one big case, you are solving several mini-cases sequentially.
2.5.2. The McKinsey PEI
McKinsey brands its fit aspect of interviews as the Personal Experience Interview or PEI. Despite the different name, this is really much the same interview you will be going up against in Bain, BCG and any similar firms.
McKinsey does have a reputation for pushing candidates a little harder with fit or PEI questions, focusing on one story per interview and drilling down further into the specific details each time. We discuss this tendency more in our fit interview article. However, no top end firm is going to go easy on you and you should absolutely be ready for the same level of grilling at Bain, BCG and others. Thus any difference isn’t hugely salient in terms of prep.
2.6. How are things changing in 2023?
For the foreseeable future, you are going to have to go through multiple live case interviews to secure any decent consulting job. These might increasingly happen via Zoom rather than in person, but they should remain largely the same otherwise.
However, things are changing and the rise of AI in recent months seems pretty much guaranteed to accelerate existing trends.
Even before the explosive development of AI chatbots like ChatGPT we have seen in recent months, automation was already starting to change the recruitment process.
As we mentioned, case interviews are expensive and inconvenient for firms to run. Ideally, then, firms will try to reduce the number of interviews required for recruitment as far as possible. For many years, tests of various kinds served to cut down the applicant pool and thus the number of interviews. However, these tests had a limited capacity to assess candidates against the full consulting skillset in the way that case interviews do so well.
More recently, though, the development of online testing has allowed for more and more advanced assessments. Top consulting firms have been leveraging screening tests that better and better capture the same skillset as case interviews. Eventually this is converging on automated case studies. We see this very clearly with the addition of the Redrock case to McKinsey’s Solve assessment.
As these digital cases become closer to the real thing, the line between test and interview blurs. Online cases don’t just reduce the number of candidates to interview, but start directly replacing interviews.
Case in point here is BCG’s Casey chatbot. Previously, BCG had deployed less advanced online cases and similar tests to weed out some candidates before live case interviews began. Now, though, Casey actually replaces one first round case interview.
Casey, at time of writing, is still a relatively “dumb” chatbot, basically running through a pre-set script. The Whatsapp-like interface does a lot of work to make it feel like one is chatting to a “real person” - the chatbot itself, though, cannot provide feedback or nudges to candidates as would a human interviewer.
We fully expect that, as soon as BCG and other firms can train a truer AI, these online cases will become more widespread and start replacing more live interviews.
We discuss the likely impacts of advanced AI on consulting recruitment and the industry more broadly in our blog.
Here, though, the real message is that you should expect to run into digital cases as well as traditional case interviews.
Luckily, despite any changes in specific format, you will still need to master the same fundamental skills and prepare in much the same way.
We’ll cover a few ways to help prepare for chatbot cases in section four. Ultimately, though, firms are looking for the same problem solving ability and mindset as a real interviewer. Especially as chatbots get better at mimicking a real interviewer, candidates who are well prepared for case cracking in general should have no problem with AI administered cases.
2.6.1. Automated fit interviews
Analogous to online cases, in recent years there has been a trend towards automated, “one way” fit interviews, with these typically being administered for consultancies by specialist contractors like HireVue or SparkHire.
These are kind of like Zoom interviews, but if the interviewer didn’t show up. Instead you will be given fit questions to answer and must record your answer in your computer webcam. Your response will then go on to be assessed by an algorithm, scoring both what you say and how you say it.
Again, with advances in AI, it is easy to imagine these automated interviews going from fully scripted interactions, where all candidates are asked the same list of questions, to a more interactive experience. Thus, we might soon arrive at a point where you are being grilled on the details of your stories - McKinsey PEI style - but by a bot rather than a human.
We include some tips on this kind of “one way” fit interview in section six here.
3. What do I need to learn to solve cases?
If you’re new to case cracking. You might feel a bit hopeless when you see a difficult case question, not having any idea where to start.
In fact though, cracking cases is much like playing chess. The rules you need to know to get started are actually pretty simple. What will make you really proficient is time and practice.
In this section, we’ll run through a high level overview of everything you need to know, linking to more detailed resources at every step.
3.1. Business fundamentals
Obviously, you are going to need to be familiar with basic business concepts in order to understand the case studies you are given in the first instance.
If you are coming from a business undergrad, an MBA or are an experienced hire, you might well have this covered already.
However, many consultants will be entering from engineering or similar backgrounds and the major consulting firms are hiring more and more PhDs and non-MBA master's graduates from all subjects. These individuals will need to get up to speed on business fundamentals.
Luckily, you don’t need a degree-level understanding of business to crack interview cases, and a lot of the information you will pick up by osmosis as you read through articles like this and go through cases.
However, some things you will just need to sit down and learn. We cover everything you need to know in some detail in our Case Academy course. However, some examples here of things you need to learn are:
- Basic accounting (particularly how to understand all the elements of a balance sheet)
- Basic economics
- Basic marketing
- Basic strategy
Note, though, that learning the very basics of business is the beginning rather than the end of your journey.
Once you are able to “speak business” at a rudimentary level, you should try to “become fluent” and immerse yourself in reading/viewing/listening to as wide a variety of business material as possible, getting a feel for all kinds of companies and industries - and especially the kinds of problems that can come up in each context and how they are solved.
The material put out by the consulting firms themselves is a great place to start, but you should also follow the business news and find out about different companies and sectors as much as possible between now and interviews. Remember, if you’re going to be a consultant, this should be fun rather than a chore!
3.2. How to solve cases like a real consultant
This is the really important bit.
If you look around online for material on how to solve case studies, a lot of what you find will set out framework-based approaches. However, as we have mentioned, these frameworks tend to break down with more complex, unique cases - with these being exactly the kind of tough case studies you can expect to be given in your interviews.
To address this problem, the MyConsultingCoach team has developed a new, proprietary approach to case cracking that replicates how top management consultants approach actual engagements.
MyConsultingCoach’s Problem Driven Structure approach is a universal problem solving method that can be applied to any business problem, irrespective of its nature.
As opposed to just selecting a generic framework for each case, the Problem Driven Structure approach works by generating a bespoke structure for each individual question and is a simplified version of the roadmap McKinsey consultants use when working on engagements.
The canonical seven steps from McKinsey on real projects are simplified to four for case interview questions, as the analysis required for a six-month engagement is somewhat less than that needed for a 45-minute case study. However, the underlying flow is the same.
This video has more information on how frameworks can be unreliable and how we address this problem:
Otherwise, let's zoom in to see how our method actually works in more detail:
3.2.1. Identify the problem
Identifying the problem means properly understanding the prompt/question you are given, so you get to the actual point of the case.
This might sound simple, but cases are often very tricky, and many candidates irretrievably mess things up within the first few minutes of starting. Often, they won’t notice this has happened until they are getting to the end of their analysis. Then, they suddenly realise that they have misunderstood the case prompt - and have effectively been answering the wrong question all along!
With no time to go back and start again, there is nothing to do. Even if there were time, making such a silly mistake early on will make a terrible impression on their interviewer, who might well have written them off already. The interview is scuppered and all the candidate’s preparation has been for nothing.
This error is so galling as it is so readily avoidable.
Our method prevents this problem by placing huge emphasis on a full understanding of the case prompt. This lays the foundations for success as, once we have identified the fundamental, underlying problem our client is facing, we focus our whole analysis around finding solutions to this specific issue.
Now, some case interview prompts are easy to digest. For example, “Our client, a supermarket, has seen a decline in profits. How can we bring them up?”. However, many of the prompts given in interviews for top firms are much more difficult and might refer to unfamiliar business areas or industries. For example, “How much would you pay for a banking license in Ghana?” or “What would be your key areas of concern be when setting up an NGO?”
Don’t worry if you have no idea how you might go about tackling some of these prompts!
In our article on identifying the problem and in our full lesson on the subject in our MCC Academy course, we teach a systematic, four step approach to identifying the problem, as well as running through common errors to ensure you start off on the right foot every time!
This is summarised here:
Following this method lets you excel where your competitors mess up and get off to a great start in impressing your interviewer!
3.2.2. Build your problem driven structure
After you have properly understood the problem, the next step is to successfully crack a case is to draw up a bespoke structure that captures all the unique features of the case.
This is what will guide your analysis through the rest of the case study and is precisely the same method used by real consultants working on real engagements.
Of course, it might be easier here to simply roll out one an old-fashioned framework, and a lot of candidates will do so. This is likely to be faster at this stage and requires a lot less thought than our problem-driven structure approach.
However, whilst our problem driven structure approach requires more work from you, our method has the advantage of actually working in the kind of complex case studies where generic frameworks fail - that is exactly the kind of cases you can expect at an MBB interview.
Since we effectively start from first principles every time, we can tackle any case with the same overarching method. Simple or complex, every case is the same to you and you don’t have to gamble a job on whether a framework will actually work
In practice, structuring a problem with our method means drawing up either an issue tree or an hypothesis tree, depending on how you are trying to address the problem.
These trees break down the overall problem into a set of smaller problems that you can then solve individually. Representing this on a diagram also makes it easy for both you and your interviewer to keep track of your analysis.
To see how this is done, let’s look at the issue tree below breaking down the revenues of an airline:
These revenues can be segmented as the number of customers multiplied by the average ticket price. The number of customers can be further broken down into a number of flights multiplied by the number of seats, times average occupancy rate. The node corresponding to the average ticket price can then be segmented further.
It is worth noting that the same problem can be structured in multiple valid ways by choosing different means to segment the key issues.
That said, not all valid structures are equally useful in solving the underlying problem. A good structure fulfils several requirements - including MECE-ness, level consistency, materiality, simplicity, and actionability. It’s important to put in the time to master segmentation, so you can choose a scheme isn’t only valid, but actually useful in addressing the problem.
After taking the effort to identify the problem properly, an advantage of our method is that it will help ensure you stay focused on that same fundamental problem throughout. This might not sound like much, but many candidates end up getting lost in their own analysis, veering off on huge tangents and returning with an answer to a question they weren’t asked.
Another frequent issue - particularly with certain frameworks - is that candidates finish their analysis and, even if they have successfully stuck to the initial question, they have not actually reached a definite solution. Instead, they might simply have generated a laundry list of pros and cons, with no clear single recommendation for action.
Clients employ consultants for actionable answers, and this is what is expected in the case interview. The problem driven structure excels in ensuring that everything you do is clearly related back to the key question in a way that will generate a definitive answer. Thus, the problem driven structure builds in the hypothesis driven approach so characteristic of real consulting practice.
Join thousands of other candidates cracking cases like prosAt MyConsultingCoach we teach you how to solve cases like a consultant Get started
3.2.3. Lead the analysis
A problem driven structure might ensure we reach a proper solution eventually, but how do we actually get there?
We call this step "leading the analysis", and it is the process whereby you systematically navigate through your structure, identifying the key factors driving the issue you are addressing.
Generally, this will mean continuing to grow your tree diagram, further segmenting what you identify as the most salient end nodes and thus drilling down into the most crucial factors causing the client’s central problem.
Once you have gotten right down into the detail of what is actually causing the company’s issues, solutions can then be generated quite straightforwardly.
To see this process in action, we can return to our airline revenue example:
Let’s say we discover the average ticket price to be a key issue in the airline’s problems. Looking closer at the drivers of average ticket price, we find that the problem lies with economy class ticket prices. We can then further segment that price into the base fare and additional items such as food.
Having broken down the issue to such a fine-grained level, solutions occur quite naturally. In this case, we can suggest incentivising the crew to increase onboard sales, improving assortment in the plane, or offering discounts for online purchases.
3.2.4. Provide recommendations
So you have a solution - but you aren’t finished yet!
Now, you need to deliver your solution as a final recommendation.
This should be done as if you are briefing a busy CEO and thus should be a one minute, top-down, concise, structured, clear, and fact-based account of your findings.
The brevity of the final recommendation belies its importance. In real life consulting, the recommendation is what the client has potentially paid millions for - from their point of view, it is the only thing that matters.
In an interview, your performance in this final summing up of your case is going to significantly colour your interviewer’s parting impression of you - and thus your chances of getting hired!
So, how do we do it right?
Barbara Minto's Pyramid Principle elegantly sums up almost everything required for a perfect recommendation. The answer comes first, as this is what is most important. This is then supported by a few key arguments, which are in turn buttressed by supporting facts.
Across the whole recommendation, the goal isn’t to just summarise what you have done. Instead, you are aiming to synthesize your findings to extract the key "so what?" insight that is useful to the client going forward.
All this might seem like common sense, but it is actually the opposite of how we relay results in academia and other fields. There, we typically move from data, through arguments and eventually to conclusions. As such, making good recommendations is a skill that takes practice to master.
We can see the Pyramid Principle illustrated in the diagram below:
To supplement the basic Pyramid Principle scheme, we suggest candidates add a few brief remarks on potential risks and suggested next steps. This helps demonstrate the ability for critical self-reflection and lets your interviewer see you going the extra mile.
The combination of logical rigour and communication skills that is so definitive of consulting is particularly on display in the final recommendation.
Despite it only lasting 60 seconds, you will need to leverage a full set of key consulting skills to deliver a really excellent recommendation and leave your interviewer with a good final impression of your case solving abilities.
Our specific article on final recommendations and the specific video lesson on the same topic within our MCC Academy are great, comprehensive resources. Beyond those, our lesson on consulting thinking and our articles on MECE and the Pyramid Principle are also very useful.
3.3. Common case types and the building blocks to solve them
You should tackle each new case on its own merits. However, that’s not to say there aren’t recurring themes that come up fairly reliably in cases - there absolutely are. Business is business and case studies will often feature issues like profitability, competition etc.
Old fashioned framework approaches would have you simply select a defined framework for each kind of case and, in effect, just run the algorithm and wait for a solution to fall out.
We’ve already explained how frameworks can let you down. In this context, too many candidates will fall into the trap of selecting a framework for that case type that simply won’t work for their specific case.
The counterpoint in favour of frameworks, though, is that they are at least fast and prevent you having to start from the ground up with a common kind of case.
Ideally, you should have the best of both worlds - and this is why, in our articles on this site and in our MCC Academy course, we have developed a set of “building bocks” for common case themes.
As they name suggests, building blocks give you modular components for different kinds of case to help build out your own custom structures faster. These then allow you to leverage the symmetries between cases without inheriting the inflexibility of frameworks.
Let’s take a look at five different case types and get a brief idea of how our building block approach helps you with each. You can find more detail on each in the full length articles linked, as well as in the full-length video lessons in our MCC Academy course.
Consultants need to push forward to provide definitive recommendations to clients in a timely manner despite typically not having access to full information on a problem. Estimation of important quantities is therefore at the heart of real life consulting work.
Estimation is thus just as fundamental to case cracking.
A case interview might centre on an estimation question, and this might be quite common for a first round interview. However, estimation is also very likely to be a crucial part of pretty well any other kind of case question you receive is likely to include estimation as a crucial component of your analysis.
The kinds of estimation you might be asked to make in a case interview can be very daunting:
- How many bank branches are there in Italy?
- How many cars are sold in Berlin in one year?
- How many people will buy the latest high-tech smartphone on the market?
You might have no idea where to begin with these examples. However, tempting as it might be, your answer cannot ever be a simple guess.
A decent estimation does have a guessed element - though this should really be an educated guess based on some pre-existing knowledge. However, this guessed element is always then combined with a rigorous quantitative method to arrive at a reasonable estimation.
In context of a case interview, it’s important to realise that your interviewer doesn’t really care about the right answer (they don’t need to ask you to find out, after all). What’s important is showing the rational process by which you get to your answer.
A guess that was somehow exactly correct is no good compared to a “wrong” answer that was reached by a very sensible, intelligent process of estimation. In cases, this method will often be a matter of segmentation.
So, where would we start in working out how many cars are sold in Berlin, for example?
The key to estimation case questions is the ability to logically break down the problem into more manageable pieces. In consulting case studies, this will generally mean segmenting a wider population to find a particular target group. For example, starting from the total population of Berlin and narrowing down to the cohort of individuals who will buy a car that year.
There are usually many ways to segment the same starting population, and several different segmentation schemes might be equally valid. However, it is crucial to choose the specific method best suited to the goal in answering the question and allowing you to best leverage the data you have available.
Segmentation must be allied with assumptions in order to arrive at an estimation. These assumptions are the “guessed” element of estimations we mentioned above. Assumptions cannot just be plucked from thin air, but must always be reasonable.
The example below showcases both the segmentation and assumptions made in an estimation of the size of the wedding planning market in London:
Our articles on estimation and the MECE concept are great starting points in getting to grips with consulting estimation. However, the best place to learn how to make estimations is with the dedicated building block video lesson in our MCC Academy course.
Those of you from physics or engineering backgrounds will probably see a lot in common with Fermi questions. We have plenty of estimation cases for you to work through in our free case library. However, Fermi questions are a great way of getting a little extra practice and you can find a lifetime’s supply online.
The fundamental goal of any normal business is to maximise profits - nobody is getting up and going to work to lose money. Even Silicon Valley tech start-ups are supposed to be profitable some day!
Profitability problems are thus bread and butter issues for management consultants.
Clients often tell consultants broadly the same story. The business was doing in well in recent years, with strong profits. However, some recent turn of events has upset the status quo and led to concerns around profit levels. Consultants are brought in as businesses are often sufficiently complex that it can be difficult to figure out precisely where and why the company is losing money - let alone how to then reverse the situation and restore healthy profits.
Despite steady growth in customer flow, the Walfort supermarket chain has seen falling profits in the past year. What is the reason for this decline?
Understanding profitability ultimately means understanding the various components that determine a company’s profit. You will need to learn to decompose profit first into revenues and costs (profit being the synthesis of these two factors). Crucially, you then need to segment further, distinguishing different specific revenue streams and separating various fixed and variable costs.
To take an example, just examining the revenue side of profit, the incoming revenues for an insurance firm might be broken down as follows:
Improving profitability will inherently mean increasing revenues and/or decreasing costs. To solve profitability problems, we thus have to understand the ways we can minimise different costs, as well as ways to drive sales and/or optimise pricing to increase revenue. Importantly, you must be able to judge which of these options is best suited to address specific scenarios.
The key to tackling the complex kind of profitability questions given by MBB-level consultancies lies in this proper segmentation.
By contrast, old-fashioned case interview frameworks will simply have you look at aggregate cost and revenue data before recommending generic cost-cutting or revenue-driving measures. However, this will often lead to negative outcomes in more involved cases, making matters worse for the client.
For example, it might well be that a company actually makes a loss when it serves a certain cohort of customers. An airline, for instance, might lose money on economy class customers but make a healthy profit on each business class customer. Attempts to boost revenue by increasing sales across the board might actually reduce profit further by increasing the number of economy class customers. What is required is targeted measures to increase focus on business class and/or mitigate economy class losses.
You can start learning to segment these kinds of cases properly in our article on profitability, whilst the best way to really master profitability questions is our full lesson on the subject in the Building Blocks section of our MCC Academy course.
For a company to be profitable at all, it is a pre-requisite that it charges the right price for whatever it sells. However, establishing what price to charge for any one product - or indeed a whole suite of related products - can be a highly complex business.
Consultants are often engaged to negotiate the many variables, with all their complex interdependencies, at play in pricing. Correspondingly, then, pricing is a common theme in case interviews.
- A company launches a new smartphone with a significantly improved camera. How much should they charge?
- A doughnut chain wants to start selling coffee in their shops. How much should they charge per cup?
Clearly, lot of different factors can influence the answers to these questions, and it can be difficult to know where to start. To get a handle on all this complexity, you will need to take a methodical, structured approach.
To really understand pricing, you must begin from fundamentals like the customer’s willingness to pay, the value captured by the company, and the value created for the customer. These basics are shown in the diagram below:
This might seem simple enough, but the exact level at which prices are ultimately set is determined by a whole host of factors, including product availability, market trends, and the need to maintain a competitive position within the market. In particular, if we are changing the price of an existing product, we must consider how the price elasticity of demand might cause sales to fluctuate.
Our four-step method for pricing starts from establishing the customer’s next best alternative, calculating the value added by our own product, and working from there. A summary of this method is given, along with an overview of pricing in general, in our article on the subject. However, the most complete resource is our pricing lesson in the MCC Academy.
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Valuation is fundamental to any kind of investment. Before allocating capital towards a particular opportunity, an investor must understand precisely what value it holds and how this compares to the other available options.
In short, valuation tells us how much we should be willing to pay to acquire a company or an asset.
There are many ways to value an asset - indeed the finer points are still subject to research in both the academic and private sectors.
Standard ways to assign value include asset-based valuations (notably the Net Asset Value or NAV) and the various multiples so widely used by market traders.
However, in consulting case interviews, you will only usually need to be familiar with Net Present Value (NPV). This means you need to learn and master the NPV equation:
CF = Cash Flow
r = Discount Rate
Whilst this is a pretty simple equation on the face of it, in order to make proper use of it, you will also need to develop a feel for interest/discount rates appropriate to different cases. This will be essential, as you will often have to estimate rational values for these rates for different investments before plugging those values into the NPV equation. Our Case Academy course has more detail here.
Note, though, that NPV is only really half the story.
NPV provides a kind of “absolute” value for an asset. However, the fact is that the worth of any asset will be different for different buyers, depending largely upon what the buyer already owns. In just the same way a spare clutch for a 1975 Ford will be a lot less valuable to a cyclist than to someone restoring the relevant classic car, so a courier business will be more valuable to an online retailer than to an airline.
As such, what we call the Total Enterprise Value (TEV) of an asset is calculated as a function of that asset’s NPV and of the potential cost and revenue synergies resulting from an acquisition. This is shown in the useful structure below:
You can learn more about all aspects of valuation in our article here, as well as in our dedicated video lesson in MCC Academy. These include guides to the kind of interest rates typically required to finance different kinds of investment.
3.3.5. Competitive Interactions
Most of what we’ve discussed so far in terms of case themes and our building block approach to them will all depend upon the prevailing competitive landscape our client exists within. Product prices, profit levels and ultimately valuations can all change over time in response to competition.
What is more, the zero sum dynamics of competitive interactions mean that these things can change quickly.
Companies enjoying near monopolies for years or even decades can quickly see their values go to zero, or near enough, in the face of some innovation by a competitor coming onto the market.
Nokia and Kodak thoroughly dominated the mobile phone and photography markets respectively - until new companies with new products pulled the rug out from under them and led to precipitous collapses.
New market entrants or old competitors with new ideas can throw a company’s whole business model up in the air overnight. Complex decisions about profound changes need to be made yesterday. Firms trying to save themselves will often slash prices in attempts to maintain sales - though this can actually make things worse and result in a corporate death-spiral. Consultants are then frequently called in to help companies survive - with this type of engagement carrying over to inform case interview questions.
You are running an airline and a low-cost competitor, like Ryanair, decides to start operating on your routes. You are rapidly losing customers to their lower fares. How do you respond?
Your eventual solutions to competitive interaction problems will likely need to be novel and unique to the situation. However, the process by which we understand competitive interactions and move towards those solutions is usually very methodical, moving through the limited dimensions in which a company can take action.
The following structure neatly encodes the general options open to responding to new sources of competition:
Of course, we would never suggest that you blanket-apply any strict, inflexible methodology to a whole swathe of case questions – this is precisely the approach that causes so much trouble for candidates using old-fashioned frameworks.
This structure is only a starting point - a shortcut to a bespoke framework specific to the case question in hand. You might well have to alter the details of the structure shown and you will almost certainly have to expand it as you lead the analysis. How you build out your structure and the solutions you provide are necessarily going to depend upon the specific details of the case question.
Thus, in order to deal with competitive interactions, you will need to put in the time to understand how the different strategies available function - as well as how competitors might then react to implementing such strategies. With enough practice, though, soon you won’t be fazed by even the most complex cases of competition between firms.
3.4. Mental mathematics
Almost every interview case study will feature some mental mathematics and this is an area where many many candidates let themselves down.
As such, it makes sense to out in the time and make sure you are fully proficient.
Nothing beyond high school level is required, but you probably don’t do much mental arithmetic day to day and will likely need to practice quite a lot to get good enough to reliably perform at pace, under pressure.
We give a high-level overview of what you need to know in our consulting math article , but devote a whole section of our MCC Academy course to a deep dive on consulting math, with plenty of practice material to get you up to scratch.
4. How do I practice for case interviews?
As we said above - case interviews are much like chess. The rules are relatively quick to learn, but you need to practice a lot to get good.
If you’re working through our MCC Academy course, we recommend getting through the core Problem Driven Structure section. After that, you should be practising alongside working through the remainder of the course and beyond. However you do things, you need to get up to speed with the fundamentals before practice is going to do much more than confuse you.
Of course, if you’re enrolled in one of our mentoring programmes, your mentor will let you know precisely when and how you should be scheduling practice, as well as tracking your progress throughout.
4.1. Solo Practice
For solitary preparation, one of the best uses of your time is to work on your mental mathematics. This skill is neglected by many applicants - much to their immediate regret in the case interview. Find our mental math tool here or in our course, and practice at least ten minutes per day, from day one until the day before the interview.
Once you've covered our Building Blocks section, you should then start working through the cases in My Consulting Coach's case bank alongside your work on the course. This is a large library of case interview questions and answers in different formats and difficulties.
To build your confidence, start out on easier case questions, work through with the solutions, and don't worry about time. As you get better, you can move on to more difficult cases and try to get through them more quickly. You should practice around eight case studies on your own to build your confidence.
4.2. Peer practice
One you have worked through eight cases solo, you should be ready to simulate the interview more closely and start working with another person.
Here, many candidates turn to peer practice - that is, doing mock case interviews with friends, classmates or others also applying to consulting.
If you’re in university, and especially in business school, there will very likely be a consulting club for you to join and do lots of case practice with. If you don’t have anyone to practice, though, or if you just want to get a bit more volume in with others, our free meeting board lets you find fellow applicants from around the world with whom to practice.
4.3. Professional practice
You can do a lot practising by yourself and with peers. However, nothing will bring up your skills so quickly and profoundly as working with a real consultant.
Perhaps think about it like boxing. You can practice drills and work on punch bags all you want, but at some point you need to get into the ring and do some actual sparring if you ever want to be ready to fight.
Of course, it isn’t possible to secure the time of experienced top-tier consultants for free. However, when considering whether you should invest to boost your chances of success, it is worth considering the difference in your salary over even a just few years between getting into a top-tier firm versus a second-tier one. In the light of thousands in increased annual earnings (easily accumulating into millions over multiple years), it becomes clear that getting expert interview help really is one of the best investments you can make in your own future.
Should you decide to make this step, MyConsultingCoach can help, offering the highest quality case interview coaching service available. Each MCC case coach is selected as an MBB consultant with two or more years of experience and strong coaching expertise.
Case interview coaching is hugely beneficial in itself. However, for those who want to genuinely maximise their chances of securing a job offer - and especially for time-poor, busy professionals or hard-pressed students who want to take the guesswork and wasted time out of their case interview prep - we also offer a much more comprehensive service.
With one of our bespoke mentoring programmes, you are paired with a 5+ year experienced, ex-MBB mentor of your choosing, who will then oversee your whole case interview preparation from start to finish - giving you your best possible chance of landing a job!
4.4. Practice for online cases
Standard preparation for interview case studies will carry directly over to online cases.
However, if you want to do some more specific prep, you can work through cases solo to a timer and using a calculator and/or Excel (online cases generally allow calculators and second computers to help you, whilst these are banned in live case interviews).
Older PST-style questions also make great prep, but a particularly good simulation is the self-assessment tests included in our Case Academy course. These multiple choice business questions conducted with a strict time limit are great preparation for the current crop of online cases.
5. Fit interviews
As we’ve noted, even something billed as a case interview is very likely to contain a fit interview as a subset.
Here though, the important thing to convey is that you take preparing for fit questions every bit as seriously as you do case prep.
Since they sound the same as you might encounter when interviewing for other industries, the temptation is to regard these as “just normal interview questions”.
However, consulting firms take your answers to these questions a good deal more seriously than elsewhere.
This isn’t just for fluffy “corporate culture” reasons. The long hours and close teamwork, as well as the client-facing nature of management consulting, mean that your personality and ability to get on with others is going to be a big part of making you a tolerable and effective co-worker.
If you know you’ll have to spend 14+ hour working days with someone you hire and that your annual bonus depends on them not alienating clients, you better believe you’ll pay attention to their character in interview.
There are also hard-nosed financial reasons for the likes of McKinsey, Bain and BCG to drill down so hard on your answers.
In particular, top consultancies have huge issues with staff retention. The average management consultant only stays with these firms for around two years before they have moved on to a new industry.
In some cases, consultants bail out because they can’t keep up with the arduous consulting lifestyle of long hours and endless travel. In many instances, though, departing consultants are lured away by exit opportunities - such as the well trodden paths towards internal strategy roles, private equity or becoming a start-up founder.
Indeed, many individuals will intentionally use a two year stint in consulting as something like an MBA they are getting paid for - giving them accelerated exposure to the business world and letting them pivot into something new.
Consulting firms want to get a decent return on investment for training new recruits. Thus, they want hires who not only intend to stick with consulting longer-term, but also have a temperament that makes this feasible and an overall career trajectory where it just makes sense for them to stay put.
This should hammer home the point that, if you want to get an offer, you need to be fully prepared to answer fit questions - and to do so excellently - any time you have a case interview.
6. Interview day - what to expect, with tips
Of course, all this theory is well and good, but a lot of readers might be concerned about what exactly to expect in real life. It’s perfectly reasonable to want to get as clear a picture as possible here - we all want to know what we are going up against when we face a new challenge!
Indeed, it is important to think about your interview in more holistic terms, rather than just focusing on small aspects of analysis. Getting everything exactly correct is less important than the overall approach you take to reasoning and how you communicate - and candidates often lose sight of this fact.
In this section, then, we’ll run through the case interview experience from start to finish, directing you to resources with more details where appropriate. As a supplement to this, the following video from Bain is excellent. It portrays an abridged version of a case interview, but is very useful as a guide to what to expect - not just from Bain, but from McKinsey, BCG and any other high-level consulting firm.
6.1. Getting started
Though you might be shown through to the office by a staff member, usually your interviewer will come and collect you from a waiting area. Either way, when you first encounter them, you should greet your interviewer with a warm smile and a handshake (unless they do not offer their hand). Be confident without verging into arrogance. You will be asked to take a seat in the interviewer’s office, where the interview can then begin.
6.1.1. First impressions
In reality, your assessment begins before you even sit down at your interviewer’s desk. Whether at a conscious level or not, the impression you make within the first few seconds of meeting your interviewer is likely to significantly inform the final hiring decision (again, whether consciously or not).
Your presentation and how you hold yourself and behave are all important. If this seems strange, consider that, if hired, you will be personally responsible for many clients’ impressions of the firm. These things are part of the job! Much of material on the fit interview is useful here, whilst we also cover first impressions and presentation generally in our article on what to wear to interview.
As we have noted above, your interview might start with a fit segment - that is, with the interviewer asking questions about your experiences, your soft skills, and motivation to want to join consulting generally and that firm in particular. In short, the kinds of things a case study can’t tell them about you. We have a fit interview article and course to get you up to speed here.
6.1.2. Down to business
Following an initial conversation, your interviewer will introduce your case study, providing a prompt for the question you have to answer. You will have a pen and paper in front of you and should (neatly) note down the salient pieces of information (keep this up throughout the interview).
It is crucial here that you don’t delve into analysis or calculations straight away. Case prompts can be tricky and easy to misunderstand, especially when you are under pressure. Rather, ask any questions you need to fully understand the case question and then validate that understanding with the interviewer before you kick off any analysis. Better to eliminate mistakes now than experience that sinking feeling of realising you have gotten the whole thing wrong halfway through your case!
Once you understand the problem, you should take a few seconds to set your thoughts in order and draw up an initial structure for how you want to proceed. You might benefit from utilising one or more of our building blocks here to make a strong start. Present this to your interviewer and get their approval before you get into the nuts and bolts of analysis.
We cover the mechanics of how to structure your problem and lead the analysis in our articles here and here and more thoroughly in the MCC Case Academy. What it is important to convey here, though, is that your case interview is supposed to be a conversation rather than a written exam. Your interviewer takes a role closer to a co-worker than an invigilator and you should be conversing with them throughout.
Indeed, how you communicate with your interviewer and explain your rationale is a crucial element of how you will be assessed. Case questions in general, are not posed to see if you can produce the correct answer, but rather to see how you think. Your interviewer wants to see you approach the case in a structured, rational fashion. The only way they are going to know your thought processes, though, is if you tell them!
To demonstrate this point, here is another excellent video from Bain, where candidates are compared.
Note that multiple different answers to each question are considered acceptable and that Bain is primarily concerned with the thought processes of the candidate’s exhibit.
Another reason why communication is absolutely essential to case interview success is the simple reason that you will not have all the facts you need to complete your analysis at the outset. Rather, you will usually have to ask the interviewer for additional data throughout the case to allow you to proceed.
NB: Don't be let down by your math!
Your ability to quickly and accurately interpret these charts and other figures under pressure is one of the skills that is being assessed. You will also need to make any calculations with the same speed and accuracy (without a calculator!). As such, be sure that you are up to speed on your consulting math.
Finally, you will be asked to present a recommendation. This should be delivered in a brief, top-down "elevator pitch" format, as if you are speaking to a time-pressured CEO. Again here, how you communicate will be just as important as the details of what you say, and you should aim to speak clearly and with confidence.
6.1.5. Wrapping up
After your case is complete, there might be a few more fit questions - including a chance for you to ask some questions of the interviewer. This is your opportunity to make a good parting impression.
We deal with the details in our fit interview resources. However, it is always worth bearing in mind just how many candidates your interviewers are going to see giving similar answers to the same questions in the same office. A pretty obvious pre-requisite to being considered for a job is that your interviewer remembers you in the first place. Whilst you shouldn't do something stupid just to be noticed, asking interesting parting questions is a good way to be remembered.
Now, with the interview wrapped up, it’s time to shake hands, thank the interviewer for their time and leave the room.
You might have other interviews or tests that day or you might be heading home. Either way, if know that you did all you could to prepare, you can leave content in the knowledge that you have the best possible chance of receiving an email with a job offer. This is our mission at MCC - to provide all the resources you need to realise your full potential and land your dream consulting job!
6.2. Remote and one-way interview tips
Zoom case interviews and “one-way” automated fit interviews are becoming more common as selection processes are increasingly remote, with these new formats being accompanied by their own unique challenges.
Obviously you won’t have to worry about lobbies and shaking hands for a video interview. However, a lot remains the same. You still need to do the same prep in terms of getting good at case cracking and expressing your fit answers. The specific considerations around remote interviews are, in effect, around making sure you come across as effectively as you would in person.
It sounds trivial, but a successful video interview of any kind presupposes a functioning computer with a stable and sufficient internet connection.
Absolutely don’t forget to have your laptop plugged in, as your battery will definitely let you down mid-interview. Similarly, make sure any housemates or family know not to use the microwave, vacuum cleaner or anything else that makes wifi cut out (or makes a lot of noise, obviously)
If you have to connect on a platform you don’t use much (for example, if it’s on Teams and you’re used to Zoom), make sure you have the up to date version of the app in advance, rather than having to wait for an obligatory download and end up late to join. Whilst you’re at it, make sure you’re familiar with the controls etc. At the risk of being made fun of, don’t be afraid to have a practice call with a friend.
You might get guidance on a slightly more relaxed dress code for a Zoom interview. However, if in doubt, dress as you would for the real thing (see our article here).
Either way, always remember that presentation is part of what you are being assessed on - the firm needs to know you can be presentable for clients. Taking this stuff seriously also shows respect for your interviewer and their time in interviewing you.
An aspect of presentation that you have to devote some thought to for a Zoom interview is your lighting.
Hopefully, you long ago nailed a lighting set-up during the Covid lockdowns. However, make sure to check your lighting in advance with your webcam - bearing in mind what time if day your interview actually is. If your interview is late afternoon, don’t just check in the morning. Make sure you aren’t going to be blinded from light coming in a window behind your screen, or that you end up with the weird shadow stripes from blinds all over your face.
Natural light is always best, but if there won’t be much of that during your interview, you’ll likely want to experiment with moving some lamps around.
The actual stories you tell in an automated “one-way” fit interview will be the same as for a live equivalent. If anything, things should be easier, as you can rattle off a practised monologue without an interviewer interrupting you to ask for clarifications.
You can probably also assume that the algorithm assessing your performance is sufficiently capable that it will be observing you at much the same level as a human interviewer. However, it is probably still worth speaking as clearly as possible with these kinds of interviews and paying extra attention to your lighting to ensure that your face is clearly visible.
No doubt the AIs scoring these interviews are improving all the time, but you still want to make their job as easy as possible. Just think about the same things as you would with a live Zoom interview, but more so.
7. How we can help
There are lots of great free resources on this site to get you started with preparation, from all our articles on case solving and consulting skills to our free case library and peer practice meeting board.
To step your preparation up a notch, though, our Case Academy course will give you everything you need to know to solve the most complex of cases - whether those are in live interviews, with chatbots, written tests or any other format.
Whatever kind of case you end up facing, nothing will bring up your skillset faster than the kind of acute, actionable feedback you can get from a mock case interview a real, MBB consultant. Whilst it's possible to get by without this kind of coaching, it does tend to be the biggest single difference maker for successful candidates.
You can find out more on our coaching page:
Of course, for those looking for a truly comprehensive programme, with a 5+ year experienced MBB consultant overseeing their entire prep personally, from networking and applications right through to your offer, we have our mentoring programmes.
You can read more here: