Consulting Case Study Interviews
All management consultancy firms, and many other City organisations, use case studies as part of their interview process.
For a management consulting job you are likely to have three to five interviews, of which two to four will probably involve a case study. The case study section of a one-to-one interview can last between 10 and 30 minutes, and you might even have two case studies within a half hour interview.
For a case study your interviewer will present a situation or question to explore and resolve either orally, or in writing, or both. For example:
- How would you choose the optimal balance of economy/business class seats on an airline?
- What strategy should a New World wine producer use when seeking to enter a European market?
- How many washing machines are sold each year in the UK?
The question may be as brief as those above, may be a slightly more specific business problem explained to you verbally, or may require preparation by reading related documents right before the interview. Occasionally, the interviewer may ask you the business issues around something from your own background, so be prepared!
Case studies simulate aspects of consulting assignments and may even be based on a recent project led by the interviewer. Each case allows the recruiter to assess your capability and performance and you will need to perform well on a number of case studies to secure an offer of employment.
According to consulting companies, the key attribute they look for is passion. This translates into you needing to demonstrate engagement, energy, and interest in the problem under discussion as well as working through the question at hand. Remember, the interviewer is likely to be someone who manages consulting projects day-to-day (‘Job Manager’, ‘Engagement Manager’, ‘Senior Associate’) and so, as in all interviews, one of the judgements they will be making is whether or not you are someone they would want on their team.