The case interview is employed primarily by management-consulting firms, as well as investment-banking companies, and is increasingly being used by other types of corporations as at least part of the job-interviewing process. During this type of interview, “you are introduced to a business dilemma facing a particular company. You are asked to analyze the situation, identify key business issues, and discuss how you would address the problems involved” (MIT’s Careers Handbook).

Types of Case Interview Questions

  1. Estimation questions: How many stop lights are there in NYC?
  2. Actual or theoretical client questions: If our profits have decreased by 10% in the past year, how would you plan to increase them?
  3. Brain Teaser Questions: Why are manhole covers round?
  4. Graphic Interpretation Questions: Candidates are asked to interpret data in a chart or other form of graph.

How to Prepare for a Case Interview

Your goal here is to convey that you are confident in breaking down and analyzing a problem while being able to talk your way through it. You will present observations and conclusions. The more you practice, the better prepared you will be to tackle whatever problem you get. The following advice and tools can help you.

Familiarize yourself with talking your way through solving a problem that has nothing to do with consulting, e.g., how to make a pot of coffee or change a tire. Practice summarizing, avoiding words such as “um” and “like.”

Read the Wall Street Journal, the Economist or other business publications. Read case studies that may be used for practice provided by business schools. Pay attention to different industries and how the different components within an industry (suppliers, distributors, customers) interact.

Analyze company performance of the organization you will be interviewing with relative to its market. Think about what characteristics drive the economies in various industries. Become familiar with the concepts of basic microeconomics.

Think about products or services that are integral to your life and how you interact with them. Why do you choose these products? What sets up your decision-making criteria? Analyze the steps from factory to end-user that these products take. What is their brand identification—how do they differ from competitors?

Talk to other alums, professors, friends—anyone with experience in case interviewing who can give you advice and answer questions.