Case interviews are an important component in the job application process because they show potential employers how you can perform certain job duties. As you prepare for a case interview, it's important to be familiar with answering scenario-based questions. Knowing how to prepare for a case interview effectively can help you feel more confident in providing successful answers. In this article, we discuss case interview prep, explain why it's essential and provide steps for how to prepare for a case interview.
What is case interview prep?
Case interview prep is the action an individual takes to make themselves ready for scenario questions in a job interview. This may include answering practice questions or researching a company to learn more about what skills it's looking for in a candidate. Case interview prep may also include developing related skills, such as problem-solving. Individuals can take these steps to help support their success in their interviews.
Case interviews are common for roles with consulting firms because they can help show interviewers how candidates might work on typical projects in this field. Marketing companies also use case interviews to see how an individual might handle a certain business scenario, such as how they might promote a particular product for the company. Some other industries that use case interviews include:
Why is case interview prep important?
Case interview prep is important because it helps you better demonstrate your ability to solve business problems and perform day-to-day activities for potential employers. Organizations often use case interviews to see your relevant skills in action. This helps them determine whether you'd be successful in the role and guides their decision about hiring you.
Preparing for case interviews helps you feel more confident during the interview because you can practice how to format your responses and review the types of clarifying questions you might ask while answering. Similar to studying for a test, preparing for a case interview can help you provide in-depth answers and allow you to become familiar with the structure of these types of interviews. This also helps you to understand what interviewers are looking for and how to process new information effectively.
Read more: 7 Ways To Prepare for a Case Study Interview
How to prepare for a case interview
When preparing for a case interview, take the following steps:
1. Stay current with various industries
Because case interviews may involve questions about a variety of industries, it's important to stay current on what's happening. Read the news to see if any big industry events occurred, such as a major company's competitor generating more sales. This helps you discover problems that businesses can face.
It's also helpful to stay knowledgeable on industry trends so you know how to best respond to certain situations. For example, if a store wanted to create a franchise, it may consider the competition in the area they're considering for its new location. Understanding these scenarios can help you better answer a case interview question on this topic.
2. Develop your problem-solving skills
If you work on further developing your problem-solving skills, you can better understand how to respond to situations the interviewer may give you. Development can include learning or further exploring ways to find the cause of a problem and identify its potential solutions. When answering a case question, it's important to show the interviewer your thought process and how you reached your decision. As you prepare for your case interview, practice brainstorming and completing puzzles to keep your problem-solving skills fine-tuned.
3. Understand different frameworks
When answering a case interview scenario, it's important to present your response in a structured framework that outlines how you analyzed the problem and made your decision. Before your interview, research some common frameworks, such as Porter's Five Forces and the four P's, to help you find one you could most comfortably apply to an answer. Learn about how these frameworks can help you support your thinking process.
4. Research the company
Before your case interview, research the company to understand what types of cases an interviewer may present during the job interview. Conducting research can help you get an idea of the company's overall mission and personality. It also allows you to understand its pain points so you can brainstorm ways to help resolve them. For instance, a consulting company's hiring manager may ask you questions about profit optimization, such as "How can our company grow its net income?" Consider researching similar companies to gather more ideas about potential scenario questions.
5. Practice sample questions
During your preparation, review sample questions employers may ask. You can search online to find common examples. When reviewing these questions, read them out loud and practice your answers aloud as well. You also can ask clarifying questions to simulate the actual interview.
When practicing, time yourself to see how long your responses take. This helps you determine whether you need to speed up or slow down. Common practice is taking no more than three minutes to respond. As you rehearse, also practice using structure to present your information because interviewers often look for this. It's also helpful to rehearse with a partner, so you can feel more confident speaking to someone directly.
Read more: A Guide To Acing Your Next Case Interview
6. Brainstorm your own scenarios
Besides practicing sample questions, come up with your own case scenarios. Reflect on the research you conducted to identify any problem areas the company you're interviewing with may have. You can then brainstorm ways you could help the company increase its revenues or decrease costs for materials.
7. Collect relevant interview items
As you prepare for your case interview, gather relevant items that you might bring with you to the interview. This can include a notebook and pen for recording important information or points you want to make, a watch for keeping track of your time and a calculator to help you make calculations you might use in your responses. Bringing these items can show the employer your preparedness and help you avoid depending on your cellphone.