Case Interviews

Some fields, like consulting, use the case interview technique to screen candidates.  Unlike traditional behavioral questions that focus on your past experiences, research, and/or accomplishments, case interviews focus on the way you think and how you go about addressing complex issues and solving problems.

Typically, you will be presented with a challenging scenario (or case) with varying background or details.  Cases may come in the form of a brainteaser, market-sizing scenario, financial analysis, or management/strategy issue.

 Sample Case Questions include:

  • How many pounds of coffee beans does Starbucks grind in a year?
  • Goodyear is considering unveiling a tire that never needs to be replaced; what are the economics of this decision?
  • Our client is considering opening up a cupcake shop in Chapel Hill; do you recommend he do so?

Your client is a large agricultural equipment manufacturer. Its primary product line, farming tractors, is losing money. What questions would you ask of your client to help them solve their profitability problem?

Interviewers aren’t necessarily looking for the “right answer” to the case.  More importantly, they want to see your ability to be analytical, logical, quantitative, and creative.  In addition, your listening skills, insight, communication style, and powers of persuasion are also key to a successful case interview.

There are many strategies that go into attacking a case interview question, and the best way to prepare is to practice.  Many consulting firms, such as Bain, McKinsey, and BCG , have extremely helpful, interactive practice case interviews on their websites.  In addition to our online and print resources, UCS also provides case interview workshops and mock interviews to assist you.

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