Strong problem-solving skills are sought by all consulting firms, be it McKinsey, BCG, Bain, Deloitte or any other consulting company. In this article, we will go through 6 common mistakes candidates make during consulting case interviews and we will provide some suggestions on how to avoid them.
1. Giving up
It is very common for candidates to give up while solving a case. Yet, it is very hard to recover from this. Clients don’t hire consulting firms to solve easy problems. If it were easy, clients would solve the problem themselves. So, consultants generally deal with very difficult problems in high pressure environments and hiring someone who gives up easily is not an option.
If you made an error, relax. Everyone makes mistakes. Do not apologize profusely and don’t waste time on mentially belittling yourself. Focus on fixing the error. If you don’t know where you made a math mistake, ask to take a minute to go over your work to find the mistake. If the interviewer asks you to move on, shake it off and move on wholeheartedly.
2. Not preparing for the FIT/PEI portion of the interview
This is one of the most common mistakes we see candidates make. They heavily prioritize preparing for cases and do not sufficiently prepare for the FIT/PEI portion of the interview. Although the case portion might seem like the more challenging part of the process it is crucial to remember that both parts are equally important. You can find a list of some common FIT questions here.
3. Not talking the interviewer through your thinking process
Guessing an answer or giving an answer without taking the interviewer through your thinking process is another common mistake candidates make during the case interview preparation process. Keep in mind that interviewers use the case interviews process to evaluate your problem solving abilities/analytical skills, among other skills, and not your knowledge of answers to their questions.
4. Trying to wing it
The case interviews recruitment process is very competitive. You are competing with top performers from top MBA programs, top PhDs programs and experienced hires who achieved significant success to justify getting an interview. Winging it is not an option for most candidates. The way interviewers look at it is, if a candidate is not willing to put in the time required to prepare for case interviews, they don’t really want the job. It takes a few months of diligent preparation to be a competitive candidate in the case interview process.
5. Not asking for clarification
Another common mistake is missing a data point or not knowing the meaning of a word or a concept interviewer refers to and not asking for clarification. It is of course much better to not ignore information presented and try to work with a concept discussed. However, using a concept incorrectly will lead to a worse outcome than the initial minor embarrassment of asking the interviewer to explain a concept.
6. Using a cookie cutter framework for your answer
Clients don’t pay millions of dollars to consulting firms to come up with cookie cutter frameworks when analyzing their problems. Instead of memorizing frameworks learn to develop your own unique framework for each unique problem. Examples of cookie cutter frameworks include the four Ps of marketing, revenues minus cost formula, etc.
Hopefully, the above points will help you avoid some common case interview mistakes and do very well in your interviews.
Next, strengthen your case interview skills by going through these free case interview examples and learn the brainstorming technique of consulting partners.