To ace the case interview, it's important to understand what the interviewer is looking for in candidates and to be able to demonstrate those skills under the pressure of a real interview.
As a former McKinsey case interviewer, I find that most candidates fail to ace the case due to one of two reasons - either they are under-prepared or they are under-practiced.
Let me explain what I mean. The case interview differs substantially from the traditional job interview. Most job interviews are designed to elicit information from you about your previous job experiences and the interviewer decides if you have the experience they are looking for.
Stated differently most interviews evaluate your HISTORICAL performance. In a case interview, you're evaluated on your REAL-TIME performance and demonstration of skills during the 30 - 45 minute interview.
In other words at the case interview phase, the interviewer does not care what you've done in the past. They want to know what you can do RIGHT NOW.
- Got a PhD from Harvard in Biology? Irrelevant.
- Got a MD/MBA from Stanford? Nobody cares.
- Graduated the #1 high school student in your country? So what?
All of this is irrelevant unless you ace the case.
It all comes down to how you solve hypothetical business problems during the 30 - 45 minutes of the interview.
How to Ace the Case Interview
- Understand the Format
- Learn the specific skills needed to do well in the case
- Practice like crazy (seriously)
The last step, practice like crazy, is self-explanatory. But do NOT underestimate it's importance. At the risk of scaring you off with the truth, the practice level needed to ace the case runs around 100 hours of learning, preparing and practicing.
Sure some people get offers with less prep time, but it's a minority. Based on the feedback I receive from my blog readers, I would say 80% - 90% of those who have received offers put in 50 - 100 hours of practice time.
As for the first two steps in the process, understanding the interview format and learning the skills needed to do well, you'll want to watch my 6 hour video tutorial on the case interview.
These videos, the slides and corresponding handouts are all available for free to registered members of my website. To register, just fill out the form below.