Bad Case Interview

If you are interviewing for jobs in management consulting, investment banking jobs or the like, you will probably get asked some case interview questions. The hiring manager will give you a hypothetical question, situation, problem or challenge and ask you to resolve it. If you do not know how to answer these questions, you will probably have a bad case interview.

This means you have to know how to prepare for a case interview. Not all interviews are the same, and there isn’t a perfect step-by-step guide. However, there are some commonalities that you can use to your benefit. In order to avoid a bad case interview, you have to know examples of what case interview questions are and how best to answer them.

Examples of Questions Asked During a Case Interview

A case interview is meant to show the hiring manager how you solve problems. You will be introduced to a dilemma, and then you will have a few minutes to analyze the situation, identify key issues and discuss how you would solve the problem. You will probably get asked some difficult questions. Some examples of case interview questions are:

  • Estimate the market for light bulbs in Australia.
  • How heavy is a Boeing 777 200?
  • How would you redesign an ATM to make it more user friendly?

  • Your niece runs a hot chocolate stand. Yesterday was Tuesday and she was open from 2:30 pm to 5 pm. She only sold one cup. What should she do differently?

  • A restaurant owner is getting ready to open a new restaurant. He has to decide what kind of facilities to put in the bathrooms for customers to dry their hands. He is choosing between paper towels, roller towels and hot air dryers. He has to make the decision today. What should he consider in his decision making process?

  • You have a client who owns a gas station. The market is so competitive that they are unable to make any profit on gasoline sales. They only make a profit on their convenience store sales. What is the profit maximizing way to layout the convenience store and why?

  • A very large rope is run around the Equator of the earth. The rope is extended by 600m. How high above the ground would it sit?

  • You need to relocate an average sized mountain 10 miles. You only get to use an average sized dump truck. How long would it take?

    • How many quarters are in a mall?

    These are a few examples of different case interview questions. You may notice that there are really only a few different types of case interview questions. The main case types are calculation, problem, probing, business operations, business strategy, resume case and brainteaser. No matter which type of question you get asked, you want to make sure that you answer it well so you don’t have a bad case interview.

    How to Answer a Case Question

    If you know that you will have to go through a few case interviews, follow these tips to avoid having a bad case interview:

  • Practice extensively. Use books and websites to practice cases.

    • Listen carefully to the question.
  • Paraphrase it back to the interviewer to make sure that you understood it correctly.

  • Silently think about the case, but don’t stay silent for too long. You are expected to collect your thoughts, but taking too much time can turn into a bad case interview.

  • Remember, the process you take to reach your answer is as important as the answer. Also, there is rarely one right answer.

  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Many times this type of interview question is meant to be interactive.

  • Create a logical framework that you can use to explore the critical issues of the case.

    • Prioritize the issues and objectives.
    • Don’t be afraid to think creatively.
  • Try not to take too long when you are answering the question.

    Following these useful tips will help you keep your interview going well. A bad case interview can mean a lot of different things. It can mean that you just gave an answer to the question, but you didn’t let the interviewer understand your thought process. It could also mean that you over thought your answer.

    Case interview questions are hard to answer. The only way to be sure that you can handle a case interview is to practice, and to realize that the answer isn’t the only important part. You need to let them know what your thought process is. Don’t let a bad case interview bog you down. Use the tools available to practice in order to have a really good interview.

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