One of our customers wrote us:
I have practised around 100 cases and feel reasonably confident about the verbal case interview. The written case, however, seems like a big and quite scary unknown. I didn’t have the chance to practice much on the written format, so I just hope that what I have been doing to prepare for the verbal cases will be useful.
The verbal case study and the written case study are essentially the same concerning logic, structure and analytical thinking. Hence, preparing for the verbal case will be extremely valuable for your written case. However, the difference in format will require you to complement the typical case interview skills with a more comprehensive set of skills, including communication, time management and lateral thinking. Based on my experience and those of colleagues, the following tips are helpful for a successful written case:
1. MANAGE YOUR TIME
Usually you’ll have 55 minutes to prepare, and while it’s enough, it’s not a lot. In those 55 minutes you need to get through about 30 slides, come up with a recommendation, and support that recommendation with facts. Candidates are also meant to go through a huge pile of data which could make them susceptible to mistakes. Proper time allocation is required in order for candidates to work quickly while also making sure not to commit errors.
2. BACK UP YOUR RECOMMENDATIONS
It is not enough to give recommendations based on sound logic, because at the end of the day, decision makers want to see (in figures) what effects your recommendation will have on their pockets. It is crucial that you back up your recommendations with actual figures as it lends better credibility to your work.
3. KNOW THE PROS AND CONS OF YOUR ANSWERS
While writing your recommendations, thinking carefully about why you made certain decisions will help you write a more balanced report. Since there is no right answer for the case, it is crucial to anticipate what you could have done differently as the interviewer might decide to investigate your choices. Know the strengths and weaknesses of your recommendation going into the conversation, so you can have a good conversation about why you chose the path you chose, and what would need to be true to change your mind.
4. ANSWER FIRST
When you present your findings to your interviewer, start with your recommendation. Then, you can walk through your reasoning, the risks, and any alternatives you considered.
5. AN INTERVIEW IS A CONVERSATION
Although a written case is a formal presentation, make your presentations like a dialogue. Be ready to explain your assumptions and modify them if needed. Also, watch out for when an interviewer is giving feedback, and readily incorporate them. After all, that is how you would tackle it in a work setting.
Getting overly tensed up would do you no good and you would be more susceptible to errors. The written case study is similar to what you would face on a daily basis at any consulting project. Let it flow in you naturally.