In consulting and a growing number of other fields, the case interview, or case study interview, is used to provide you an opportunity to demonstrate your ability to analyze a problem you may face and organize a thoughtful response. Your performance in the case interview may factor strongly into a hiring manager's decision to offer you a job. While there is no shortcut to gaining the knowledge necessary to perform a case interview in your field, rehearsing your note taking, your communication style and how you structure a response to case interviews can go a long way toward making you feel comfortable. It also helps you to make a strong case for hiring you.
Use practice case interview examples for prepare. The more case studies you can practice on, the less likely you will be caught by surprise during an interview. Your school career center, consulting club or other student associations keep files of case interviews experienced by former students during interviews. You can also find case study question examples on the Internet or by purchasing a case interview prep book.
Read through several dozen case interviews to understand the type of structure and questions that employers are looking for. A hiring manager is less concerned with you arriving at the right answer and more concerned with how you structure your approach to the problem.
Practice taking neat and organized notes when going through case studies. Keep at the top of the page the objective of the case so that you don't lose focus while sifting through the large amount of information that the interviewer may present to you. Keep any calculations organized and circle or highlight the best intermediate results for quick reference.
Rehearse obtaining information for the cases with a friend or fellow student using cases you have not previously covered. Avoid asking broad questions such as, "What is going on with the economy?" Instead, demonstrate you are aware of the current economic conditions -- e.g., labor costs, consumer spending or interest rate -- and ask whether you should interpret the case among those conditions, according to Marc Costentino of Harvard Career Services.
Practice interpreting graphs, both well-made and poorly made ones. Often, during a case interview, the interviewer will present you with a graph and expect you to draw the information you need to solve the case from the graph.
Prepare yourself for a stress interview. Whatever industry you're in, you will always be forced to interact with people who are rude, angry or are just having a bad day. You will be expected to keep your cool when faced with this. Stress interviews may involve two interviewers ganging up on you, giving you the silent treatment, cutting off your answers or telling you that you're wrong at every opportunity.
Practice taking a moment to gather your thoughts before answering, even if you already know the answer. A employer wants to hire someone who always thinks before speaking and will not blurt out something out in front of a client.
Practice as many cases as possible with another person. Though you can go a long way in preparation on your own, there is no substitute for doing a case interview person-to-person.
- Case in Point: Complete Case Interview Preparation; Marc P. Costentino
- Cornell Career Center: Case Interview Resources
Chris Daniels covers advances in nutrition and fitness online. Daniels has numerous certifications and degrees covering human health, nutritional requirements and sports performance. An avid cyclist, weightlifter and swimmer, Daniels has experienced the journey of fitness in the role of both an athlete and coach.