Case Interview Practice in Everyday Life

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I wanted to thank you for your help.  The emails and the videos that you provide have been, without a doubt, the best resource to help prepare me for case interviews.

I recently heard back from McKinsey Dallas with an internship offer.  I wanted to just explain two things that really helped me with the process.

1.  Whenever I was presented with a situation with which I was not comfortable, I tried to use a MECE Binary format to quickly organize my thoughts.

Some of the simplest are Act/act, internal/external, this cause/other, etc.

I found myself using this especially later on in the case when new information was presented.  This helped during cases that did not fit a typical business framework.

2.  I found that one of the best ways to prepare when you don't have someone to practice a case with is to simply create your own mental case (Pun not intended).
What I mean by this is to observe problems or situations and analyze them.

For example, as I walk to class, I give myself cases such as: Should we put up a stand in this area on campus to increase awareness for an event?; should Taco Bell open up a location here on campus?; etc.

I found that forcing myself to organize my thoughts on a consistent basis paid dividends when I was asked to do so in a controlled setting.

Thank you again for your help.

My Reply:

Congratulations on your McKinsey internship offer. Glad my case interview practice materials were useful to you.

I really like your habit of practicing cases in everyday life. It is an easy way to work on case structuring skills in particular.

The key is to take decisions you would normally just make intuitively and attempt to structure them.

For example, for the long weekend, should I go visit the beach or visit the mountains?

If I want to pick a new hobby, how should I decide which hobby to pick?

I noticed the airport has a new electric train shuttle from the parking lot to the terminal, under what circumstances would this make sense (e.g., the hypothesis is: it's a good idea; what are the factors that would have supported this hypothesis?)

Every decision like this can be structured into a hypothesis and a supporting issue tree.

What should we go out to eat for dinner? Steaks? Seafood? Mexican? Italian?  What is the issue tree that helps you decide?

Should I order the fish or the steak? What is the issue tree that helps you decide?

You go to the parking lot of your local grocery store and you notice the parking spaces are narrower than in other parking lots. Clearly someone thought this was a good idea. What was the issue tree that supported this decision?

Similarly, you can do what I used to and read Bloomberg BusinessWeek and "reverse engineer" every major business decision in the news.

It's a bit tiresome to go through every decision in life this way, but it is a good way to squeeze in extra practice for a case study interview through everyday life.

Let me warn you though, your friends will probably think you are crazy when you answer the question "Where do you want to go to dinner tonight?" with a hypothesis, issue tree and strong opening statement to your analysis.

Don't ask how I know this. 🙂

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