Case Interview Tools

When I am contacted by candidates who have made it through the case interview process with a successful offer, often I get emails like the one below with tips for those still interviewing.

Field Report:

It's been about 8 months that I was dreaming to write this e-mail to you. Tomorrow I'm joining McKinsey in the Middle East and I'm very excited about it. There is definitely your part in my success and please let share my story and my thoughts - they might be useful for those who are going through a recruitment process now.

In the course of getting into consulting I witnessed many stories of success as well as stories of failure. On few occasions I met people who did 0 practise cases and got into top firms, and couple times I met people who did 70+ cases and didn't get any offers despite interviewing with multiple firms. The important thing to realize is that a correlation between your effort spent on preparation and your probability to succeed exists and I suspect that it is statistically significant.
I structured my way through recruiting process in the following way.

  1. Find the right tools
  2. Learn how to use chosen tools
  3. Apply under pressure

1. Finding the right tools

I can confidently say that LOMS is the best tool for developing your case interviewing skills. Its great advantage that it gives very specific advice on what to do and what to avoid in the course of solving the case. What I really enjoyed about LOMS is that it develops the skill of disciplined analytical thinking and also the skill of communicating the results of your analysis. Both are very improtant for successful case interview.

2. Learn how to use chosen tools

I had to have a considerable amount of practice to become comfortable with the case solving technique. Reflecting on how my skills were developing I would outline the following consequence:

  • Being structured; going through one branch of analysis at a time; synthesizing what I learnt in each branch
  • Consciously being hypothesis-driven
  • Prioritizing issues to be analyzed based on their importance; consistently applying 80/20 rule
  • Polishing communication of hypothesis and synthesis.

I happened to practice quite a lot because I had long gaps between my interviews and my goal was to be in a good shape before each interview. I was listening LOMS while cycling to work, during lunch breaks, while sailing in the Adriatic Sea, once even when having sex (couldn't really concentrate that time). I even decided not to prolong a contract with my current employer at that time because I was sure that I want to get into consulting.

Again, you might get away with much less practice, but I was risk averse and decided that this will help to maximize my chances.

3. Apply under pressure

This can be tricky. When I was thinking that my future was at stake during those interviews, it was sometimes hard to stay cool. I think what helps here is again practice. I can recall that if right before the interview I was a bit stressed, when we were moving to fit questions and cases I was getting in the zone and genuinely enjoyed the process. Practising simple math is instrumental as well. Remember, one math mistake can cost you an offer.

It turned out to be a long e-mail, but hopefully it might be useful for someone.

Victor, if you are ever in [my country], please let me know. It would be a great pleasure to meet with you. I do think that you made an impact on lives of many CIBs turning them into F1Y. And consulting firms probably experienced "Victor Factor" in their recruiting since LOMS came out. By that I mean that the quality of solving the cases on average increased, which in turn means for the firms more candidates to choose from, and for the candidates it means tougher competition.

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