Case Interviews in a Non-English Language


I would like to thank you for creating the LOMS program and for all those very helpful emails!

I have started going through the LOMS program tomorrow - in order to prepare for my interviews with two major European consultancies in about six weeks' time.

I will be interviewing in German - so will practically need to practice by literally translating all the useful phrases into German, while creating the "synthetic experience."

Just in case you have heard of any tips as to how to approach the linguistic challenge the best way, please let me know.


My Reply:

Thanks for your kind note about the "Look" Over My Shoulder (LOMS) program. I'm glad you are finding it useful.

In answer to your question about about to prepare for your interview in German, considering all of my case interview preparation materials are in English, my answer differs depending on whether German is your native language or a language you learned later in life.

If German is your stronger language (compared to English), then I would suggest preparing mostly in English.

Here's why.

All of my materials, although they are in English, are designed to get you accustomed to thinking and communicating about business problems in a very specific way.

The point is not to copy the specific phrases I used in the Case Interview Secrets free video tutorials or the "Look" Over My Shoulder program, but rather to copy the structure and approach.

If you "get" how to think through these kinds of problems, then for most people translating the actual words from your weaker language (English) to your stronger language (German) is relatively easy.

For example, I speak Mandarin Chinese (my weaker language) at a very basic conversational level, and of course am fluent in English, my native language.  When I translate something I hear from my parents in Chinese to a friend who only speaks English, I find I can do it automatically -- it doesn't require much critical thinking.

However, the reverse -- translating from your stronger language to your weaker language -- is much more difficult for me and presumably for others as well.

So, if you are interviewing in your weaker language, then it does make sense to translate and get accustomed to certain frequently used business and case interview phrases -- hypothesis, issue tree, segmentation, market share, profit margins, etc... -- and practice using them.

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3 comments… add one
  • Arun Apr 2, 2013, 3:57 am

    Hi Martin,
    Did you get a final interview call , where the interview was in Vielen Danke und Gruß

  • Martin Mar 13, 2012, 6:26 pm

    Hope this is helpful for anybody in this situation:

    I am interviewing with McKinsey in Germany. I kindly asked the recruiting contact person if I could conduct the interviews in English, as I would feel more comfortable doing so.

    Her response: “Of course. English is our company language. I don’t think your interviewers should therefore have a problem with speaking English.”

    I have yet to go to the interview, but I was informed to mention my language preference to the interviewers and that would be it.

    • Gautam Jul 4, 2013, 9:27 pm

      Hi Martin

      I’m pretty much in a similar situation. Did they eventually interview you in English or German (or both?)?


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