Case Interview Glossary

I get a lot of emails from people who are totally new to the world of business. They want to learn everything they need to know, and they want to learn it fast.

My advice is usually to start reading The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, and Fortune magazines while Googling any terms or concepts you don't understand.

It occurred to me that this is a somewhat time-consuming process and maybe not the most efficient if you’re trying to learn in just a few days.

I’d like to propose another solution. I would like to assemble a dictionary or glossary of common business terms and what they mean. My goal is not to create a massive business dictionary, as I'm sure that has already been done by others. My goal is to define maybe the 30 to 50 most important terms that you should be familiar with if you’re totally new to business.

In addition, I'd like to assemble a compilation of business concepts or business "patterns" that are familiar to those who have been in business for years, but which someone new to business may not recognize.

For example, "industry consolidation" refers to the process of small businesses merging into a larger business so that an industry with many small companies ends up being an industry with only a few large companies.

Many years ago, the U.S. auto industry had 300+ auto manufacturers. Today, there are three main large ones. This is the result of industry consolidation.

For the glossary of business concepts, I’d explain how industry consolidation typically occurs, the common challenges for the smallest companies in the industry, and common opportunities for the largest ones. The idea is, if you were to discuss industry consolidation in a case interview, you would have an intuitive and conceptual idea of what typically happens in these situations. Ultimately, it will help you form a hypothesis quicker.

So, to inform my writing process, I have a few questions to ask of you – especially if the business world is new to you.

1. What business terms or jargon are/were you most confused by?
2. What general business concepts (not necessarily case interview concepts) do/did you find confusing?

Please submit your answers below in the comment section. I will use your comments to create a foundation for the glossary so that I can make it as useful as possible. Thank you!

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