Published on: May 30, 2017
Depending on the field in which you enter, you may be asked to take part in a very special type of interview called a case interview. This type of conference is generally employed by investment banking companies and management consulting firms although numerous other types of organizations have been known to utilize it as well. During a case interview, you will be asked to work through a particular business dilemma. You will need to evaluate the situation, identify key issues of the question and discuss how you would resolve the problem. Numerous aspects of your personality are being analyzed such as your communication skills, ability to think under pressure, analytical skills, quantitative skills and problem solving capabilities.
Answering Case Interview Questions
Regardless of the situation you are presented with, there are certain things you should do in every one of these scenarios. As the old adage goes: practice makes perfect. You should have no problem finding example case interview questions online or in business school textbooks. Review as much as you can so that you will be better prepared for the case you are given. Not only is reviewing example cases important, but you should also practice giving your answers. You should have a friend or family member conduct a mock case interview for you or simply record yourself answering an example. This is an excellent way to detect any pauses you make in your speech. It is also a great way to see if you say "Like" or "Umm" too often.
When you are actually in the interview, it is okay to ask for a minute to think it through. Coming across at someone who is willing to take the time to think through a scenario will be seen as a positive, but you should keep in mind that you do not want to take too long. Anything over a minute could be seen as a red flag. The conclusion you arrive to is not the sole thing a hiring manager is looking for. He or she is also trying to gain a better sense of what your thought process is like, so it is perfectly acceptable to talk aloud about what you are thinking.
Asking questions is another beneficial part of the process. The initial case interview question you are given might not give you all the information you need to make an informed decision, so feel free to ask more about the case so that you can apply it to your answer. Case interviews are meant to be interactive, and interviewers are impressed if you show that you are willing to gather additional information when needed.
Tips for Handling Case Interviews
Similar to any other interview, eye contact is crucial. If you are constantly diverting your gaze, it may give off the impression that you are not confident in your responses. Engage with the interviewer to show your poise. Displaying a sufficient amount of enthusiasm is also recommended. Interviews are tough, and sometimes they are not always the most fun thing in the world. However, you want to show that you would tackle the responsibilities expected of you in this position with enthusiasm. If offered the job, you will be working with the interviewer quite often. This is your chance to show that you would be fun to work with and that you have unique, creative ideas to offer.
It is also vital that you bring the right materials to the interview with you. This includes plenty of paper, both lined and graphed, in case you need to jot down notes or do some math. Have a writing utensil with you, too. It is possible that the interviewer will have some supplies you can use, but you should not expect that. Being prepared also reflects positively on you as an employee, so make sure you have everything you need to answer the question effectively.
Case interviews have been known to be conducted in groups, so prepare yourself for that scenario. If this occurs, you do not want to come across as an overbearing leader. You also do not want to be too shy, so pitch in when you can and do your best to divide tasks among the team members. It can take a while to thoroughly master the case interview, but if you are sincerely interested in entering the consulting or business management field, then it is highly beneficial to learn all the ins and outs.