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A typical consulting interview is divided into three sections. The process will begin with a personal fit interview. This section will need you to discuss your CV, cover letter, and other personal track-related topics. Then there’s the case interview. You’ll be confronted with a problem and must figure out how to solve it. After the interview, there will be some time for a Q&A session.
In the following article, we’ll walk you through the different phases of the consulting interviews. Always keep in mind that the personal fit and Q&A parts are also really important. While you’re at it, it’s a good idea to take a quick look at the McKinsey PEI, which stands for personal experience interview.
The 5 steps to acing any consulting case interview
First of all, you need to remember the names of the steps. It all starts with structuring the problem, developing your own hypothesis, analyzing further, coming up with a solution, and presenting the solution right there and then.
1) Structuring the problem
Once the interviewer gives you a question, make sure you repeat it. Do not sound too confident, as if you already know the answer. That’s the easiest way to make a mistake. Make sure you repeat the whole question, not just certain parts of it. Often, the solution lies in the details, and out of anxiousness or over-confidence, we miss them. This is also the perfect time to see if there are any misunderstandings, and also make sure to ask if there’s anything else you need to know.
If you’re having some doubts, or the problem seems unfamiliar to you, feel free to ask them about it. Nobody expects you to be a know-it-all, especially about businesses and sectors you don’t know anything about. After you cleared it up, give yourself a minute to draw an issue tree, with three main branches, divided into at least 3 to 4 smaller parts to them. After you’ve done this, show it to the interviewer. Make sure you’re precise, without any shady work, as that’ll bring you nowhere.
2) Developing a hypothesis
After drawing the tree and getting a positive reaction from your interviewer, it’s time for finding a possible solution to the problem. Go over every branch of your tree, and think about it thoroughly. While you’re at it, ask the person interviewing you questions that might help you with finding a good solution. Now that you have all the information, it’s time to organize it better. You can either add more info to the tree, or you can put them aside, clearly written for you to notice them. Form your first hypothesis, and make sure you’re open with your interviewer at all times. They want you to succeed, so they’ll give you valuable tips and insight.
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3) Further analysis
In this part, you’ll take an even deeper dive into the problem. You’ll discuss the info that you’ve gathered, and along the way, you’ll also get some other information. Make sure to solve any math problems that came along the way, that are related to the budget and expenses related to the problem. Show your calculations and double-check them, so no mistakes can occur from this.
Always look at the information separately until this step. This is the time when you step back and look at all the info as a whole. That way you gain better insight into it, and you can visualize the problem better. It will help you greatly in finding a solution. If you need more time, feel free to ask the interviewer, and make sure you stay calm the whole time. Everything will work out just fine, as long as your thoughts are collected and your mind focused.
4) Solution time
This is the time when you organize all of the information and come up with a solution for the existing problem. Make sure you think out of the box. Think of yourself as a client, then as a customer, and always ask yourself important questions that either one of them would ask. Of course, there are different kinds of target groups, so it’s really important to know how the market behaves. You should discuss that with the interviewer before proceeding to a solution.
5) Present the solution
The final step will present a solution to the problem. Once you come up with a conclusion out of all the information and insight, it’s time to present it to your interviewer. You’ll start off by giving a clear and concise solution, that it’s easy to be processed and understood. After that, you’ll start presenting the details, so state at least 2 to 3 facts that support your conclusion. Lastly, you’ll give a final thought on the problem. Always make sure you’re collected and confident when presenting because your attitude and the way you present are actually the keys to success.