Tip to Effectively Improve Case Interview Skills

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Question:

Firstly, I would like to say a big thank you. I recently passed my first round interview at McKinsey, and the feedback from my interviewer was great! He said that I did very well during the case, very well structured and hypothesis.

After using your method, I really progressed and started to understand the case interview a lot better. Having benefited greatly from your program (securing an offer from L.E.K. and passing first round McKinsey interview), I personally really believe in your method. It works!

I will give all credits to your online material, especially LOMS, which quickly become my most important source. Although I only managed to listened to it one and a half times before the interview, I gained an enormous amount from it.

It might sound weird, but I repeat out loud whenever you speak in the audio. I think it helped me to get used to the particular way of hypothesising and structuring. I will definitely listen to it many more times before my next round.

 

My Reply:

Thanks for sharing the good news, and best of luck in the rest of your recruiting process.

I would like to comment on your "weird" technique for using Look Over My Shoulder®.

The free Case Interview Secrets video series was designed to teach concepts. LOMS was designed to use an immersion/ practice approach to sharpening case interview skills (i.e., getting good at applying the concepts in a real world setting).

The process you described around repeating how I rephrased a candidate's "okay" case structuring, hypothesis statement, or synthesis statements to make it "great" is a technique described in learning circles as "synthetic experience."

When an Olympic athlete visualizes breaking an Olympic record and winning a Gold medal in the 40 seconds before her race, this is "synthetic experience".  While real experience is superior to synthetic experience, synthetic experience comes a very close second in terms of effectiveness.

It is the same technique that is used to train airplane pilots to practice emergency landings in flight simulators (rather than crash real planes to learn).

And come to think of it, when I focused on developing my writing skills, I did something very similar. I found some writers whose work I admired. And to develop my own "synthetic experience" in how to think and write like they do, I found some articles they wrote, got a pen and some paper out, and I wrote the other person's article out in its entirety -- dozens of times.

By doing so, I found that I was forced to use certain writing techniques and phrase combinations that I would not normally use. The first time I did this, I found it to be very awkward.

By the 12th time I did this, I found that for certain passages and writing patterns, I could anticipate what words would come next -- I had internalized the thought process behind the words and anticipated the next step in that particular writing technique / pattern.

So I am not at all surprised that you found the "say what I said out loud" technique to be useful for you. I have suggested this case interview practice technique to others, but you are the first person to specifically mention using that tip, and I hope others will follow your lead.

I will also expand on my original suggestion to LOMS members to use LOMS in this "say it out loud" kind of way.

Since the launch of LOMS, I have been receiving many emails from people saying that their case performance from an analytical standpoint has been very good (according to interviewer feedback), but the same feedback has indicated they seem nervous.

What I have been suggesting to people in this situation is to read articles from Business Week and try to synthesize the key takeaways while standing in front of a mirror looking at yourself.

The "standing in front of the mirror" technique I now realize is really just my way of creating a "synthetic experience" that causes you to be self-conscious.

Just as it can be an awkward experience to be in an interview where someone is "evaluating" you, talking while looking at yourself in a mirror is also an awkward experience because now someone is also evaluating your performance -- in this case, it's yourself!

The twist I will suggest to my original suggestion is this.

If you are concerned that you may be coming across as nervous, I suggest you use the "say it out loud" technique for the LOMS materials... but say it out loud while looking at yourself in a mirror.

This is basically a layered approach to synthetic experience.. work on two skills independently, master them, then work on combining the skills and mastering the combination.

I definitely encourage this "synthetic experience" approach to using Look Over My Shoulder® to accelerate your case interview training.

The other twist is to use your computer to audio or video record what you say, and play it back to see if what you say sounds crisp and precise (two very good words to describe what you want to aim for... and two communication traits that people at McKinsey very much respect).

Thank you for sharing the tip (even if it does seem a little weird).

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