Below is a success story and case interview preparation tips I received from a new Bain consultant who was recruited as an industry hire.
After celebrating the Bain offer, I am finally debriefing you on my recruiting prep. Your videos and newsletter were just great. Thanks a lot again! I think you are doing an amazing job, it helps lots of people prepare for case interviews. I hope my debrief can contribute to this cause.
My recruiting process was very traditional regarding case interview formats. I think it would be useful to share what materials I used for preparing and my interview “ideal” script (which derives mainly from your recommendations and some parts from Bain web site materials, but there are some subtle differences, especially when it comes to framework structuring and role).
Main materials I used:
- Your 10H videos – amazing, should be the first material to study!
- Your articles and newsletter – the greatest insights that make the difference!
- Case in Point book – great professional experience interview prep material and insights, great cases to practice (though there are only real answers from students, but not the “ideal ones” and I think not structured enough for MBB, but the author provides some good insights: worth reading!)
- Caseinterviewmath.com / Excel random calculus
- MBB web site materials and cases
- Contemporary Strategy Analysis from R.Grant – for “framework stock” (I will explain that later)
- Feedback from Bain interviewers – helped a lot to focus on issues to improve during the process. I used every feedback to guide my next steps on preparation (both case interview and professional experience interview).
I didn’t have a partner to practice, which I would strongly recommend, if possible.
Ideal Interview Script
After preparing with those materials, passing interviews rounds at Bain, making mistakes and almost getting dinged… I came up with this ideal script before the final round. I will share the entire script. I think the main difference is I find there are risks and limitations on trying to match questions to a set of defined frameworks, because:
- You may become a framework robot, missing insights and subtleties of the case;
- You may depend on a set of frameworks that will not cover 100% of the cases, rather than a process that works for virtually any case;
- You may impress poorly the interviewer, as people start using more and more of those standard frameworks.
Instead of matching questions to frameworks, I recommend developing a MECE issue tree and inserting on it customized and carefully selected frameworks as you structure the case (you can also draw small frameworks as you move on the case analysis).
To be able to draw those customized frameworks, I had a stock knowledge of frameworks, summarized on handwritings that I would review before the interview (even though I did not memorize every detail, I knew the business concepts and how to apply them). This framework stock can be built from caseinterview.com, case prep books like Case in Point and academic books like Contemporary Strategy (just make sure you know what you are using).
So, let’s go to the ideal script itself (that I actually practiced before the cases)
- Listen and take notes
- Summarize the question
- Verify the objectives
- Ask clarifying questions
- Develop a hypothesis
- Create a MECE issue tree (as Bain recommends on its web site: focus on key issues / no laundry list)
- Draw out the framework, rotate 180 and show it
- Explain the initial hypothesis and rationale
- Start on rationale-selected branch
- Identify key issues within each branch
- Ask specific questions to get std data
- Go deeper down the branch and identify critical problems
- Go up and refine your hypothesis
- (keep drawing space organized)
- (explain everything you’re doing and why)
- (synthesize throughout the case)
- Translate analysis into actionable recommendation
- Generate creative range of solutions to each critical problem
- Identify the most likely / attractive solutions
- Figure out what’s important (insight)
- Provide a Big Picture point of view
- Support your point of view with data (eventually draw or link analysis under the conclusion)
- Recommend action to generate value
So that’s it. I actually practiced on how to communicate those points, saying things out loud while practicing some cases. During real cases, some parts went very quickly. But I wanted to be prepared to go deep when necessary.
I hope this will be useful.