Case Interview 101 - A great introduction to Consulting Case Study Interviews

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I still remember the first time I heard

about case interviews I felt excited

then I quickly got lost on where to


I heard people speak about some useless

concepts that they had no idea what they

were how they were related or where they

fit into the big picture well later I

realized that those concepts were not

that mysterious at all it's just that

nobody had quite done a good job

teaching me in a structured and top-down

way how to learn them in this video I'll

try to be that first somebody to rescue

you and others that in that same

position that I found myself with all

these rough starts welcome to our case

interview 101 video the very first case

interview lesson every newbie should



hi my name is Ken Chen I'm a former

McKinsey consultant than the founder of

the platform management consulting prep

the insights I'm about to share with you

are the results of years of experience

in both management consulting and in

case interview coaching I have coached

hundreds of candidates of various

backgrounds from the brightest students

of Harvard Wharton to some real newbies

and no matter what many don't have good

grasp of the basics of case interviews

in this video I'll show you case

interviews through the eyes of an

absolute beginner we will meet and

explain many concepts along the way this

will ensure that you can learn these

concepts in an intuitive way and still

see the big pictures and how those

concepts relate to each other

so what is a case interview in the

broadest sense a case interview is like

a normal job interview but with business

content involved by doing this companies

can have a better idea of how well a

candidate thinks analyzes and works

through business problems so what does

the format look like each company uses a

slightly different format of case

interviews but for the scope of this

video we will focus on the most common

format that the big three McKinsey Bain

& BCG all use that is the one-on-one

format with no case data revealed before

the actual interview to better

illustrate the concept we just discussed

here's a typical example of a business

problem in a typical case interview at

McKinsey Bain and BCG let's say we have

restaurant called in and out burger with

recently falling profits how can you

help the case interview will be a

working session between the interviewer

and the candidate to solve that business

problem during this process the

candidates skill sets will be exposed

and evaluated what is evaluated in case

interviews in case interviews the final

result is not as important as the

process in other words the interviewer

will see whether you work through the

business problem in the right way

regardless of whether

you're not you solved it correctly this

is because consulting firms believe that

if a candidate has a good methodology he

or she can consistently solve many other

business problems not just one whereas

if a candidate just luckily solves a

case using a rusty approach he or she

may not be able to solve future cases so

what is a right way to solve cases well

there's several components to this

number one a good method will look for

the root cause or reason behind the

problem not just the surface or the

symptom of the problem for example if a

patient is having pain in his chest a

non root cause approach will be to

provide some painkiller medications

whereas a root cause method would be to

run tests and see what is really causing

the chest pain and cure that root cause

could it be a bone issue or a lung

problem or even a heart disorder so

simply put look for the root cause now

that we know how to find the root cause

the next thing is to make sure that we

can identify all root causes that leads

us to number two a good method will

break down the big problem into smaller

pieces in a messy way the concept of me

see me C stands for mutually exclusive

and collectively exhaustive which in

simple language really means two things

first the small pieces of those big ones

cannot overlap with each other

this is mutually exclusive for example

an on me see weight to break down the

student body of a course is a group of

international students and a group of

female students these two groups do

overlap some international students can

be female second those small pieces all

added together has to equal the big

problem for example an on me see weight

to break down the student body of a

course is a group of students from China

and a group of students from the United

States these two groups combined to do

not necessarily equal the total student

body in this example some me see ways to

break that student body down are male

and female or international students and

domestic students now back to the

original story we were discussing the


pone of a good method in case interviews

which is to break down any big problem

into smaller pieces in a mici way what

would that look like in the in-and-out

example then so here's a bad method

could declining profitability maybe we

do two-week management increase in

competition increase in beef costs or

shift of consumer tastes while all the

above can very well be the root cause

reason that's not an easy way to break

down the big profitability problem

there's some overlapping Xand no

guarantee that all possible root causes

are listed here's a good method

declining profitability is either caused

by a decreasing sales revenue or B

increasing cost then within each branch

we can further break down now you may

wonder how do we consistently do this

what is a good way for always breaking

down big problems in the proper form

this leads us to our next concept case

interview frameworks the concept of case

interview frameworks in simple language

a framework is like a preset template

the candidates can use to break down

frequently seen business problems or

cases by using frameworks you can be

certain that your approach is always

structured and me see some of those

popular frameworks are the profitability

framework use for profitability cases

McKinsey M&A framework used for merger

and acquisitions cases Porter's five

forces used for market entry cases than

others like for C for P etc frameworks

have used for other general cases you'll

find more detailed information on case

interview frameworks in other videos and

on our website wwm consulting prep comm

okay let's come back to the big picture

now that we can break down the problem

in nisi ways we have to find the root

cause fast the number three component of

a good method is to appropriately

prioritize which small piece to go

deeper into this leads us to the next

concept hypothesis the concept of

hypothesis a hypothesis is an educated

guess of where the root cause might be

and therefore going into branches that

are more likely to contain the root

cause hypotheses should be based on

information provided in the

kake's see other videos and visit our

website for more detailed information

so to summarize a good method to

approach and tackle business problem has

three components number one look for the

root cause reason and solve it not just

the symptoms number two look for the

root cause by breaking down the big

problem into smaller pieces in a mici

way number three use hypothesis to

prioritize pieces that most likely

contain the root cause what is the

common flow of case interviews the flow

of a case interview differs between

interviewers and firms to easily

visualize this let's imagine a spectrum

where the two ends represent two types

of case interviews on one end the

interviewer rarely intervenes the

candidate will lead the approach from

structuring the problem drawing

frameworks asking for data and solving

the case this is referred to as the

candidate drive case on the other end

the interviewer significantly controls

the process he or she may help out in

structuring the case and has the

candidate work on specific parts of the

overall problem this is referred to as

the interviewer drive case most case

interviews fall in the middle of the

spectrum so distinguishing the two types

of case interviews only matters in the

preparation process what does it take to

do well in case interviews

based on my experience this is probably

one area that most students don't

realize leading to an unbalanced and

insufficient preparation for interview

days so to answer the question there are

three equally important factors that

decide whether you get the offer or not

number one how good are you with

consulting math numbers and quantitative

ability number two is what I refer to as

case interview tips and techniques this

includes a wide variety of habits from

showing your structured mindset saying

the right things ask me for a timeout at

the right times getting clarifications

too even organizing your notes certainly

these are skills and habits that are

learn about if one has the right

materials and a good study plan number

three is your business intuition how can

you be insightful and creative and very

business context a candidate

insufficiently prepared for this is very

much like a basketball player without

physical strength and athleticism no

matter how skillful he is he can't

compete well of the three factors this

is probably the hardest and it may take

the longest time to prepare for so now

what if this is actually your very first

case interview lesson you may be

wondering what are some of the next

steps I should take for my study

step one see you read some sample case

interviews in action to connect what you

learn in this video with the real

illustration you may find this in our

later videos on consulting firms

websites or in various other prep

materials no need to do a mock case

interview at this point it can be very

frustrating and discouraging if you

haven't got the basics yet

step 2 develop the habit of reading

business publications to improve your

business intuition the earlier you start

doing this the better there are many

good sources of business publications

but I strongly recommend those from

McKinsey Bain and BCG find the links

below step 3 get started with your math

practice again again the sooner the


watch your consulting math video or

visit our website for more information

step 4 learn those tips and techniques

see our other videos or visit our

website for the right materials and

study plan

step 5 only at this point you should do

a mock case interview do it reflect

study the area you don't feel

comfortable with go back and do a few

more mock cases and keep the cycle going

on I hope this has been a good first

lesson on your case interview

preparation journey if you have any

questions or comments please leave them

below this will allow us to develop

content that better suits your needs and


thank you for watching and don't forget

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friends if you think this video is

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