Consulting Case Study

The case study is the key test in the recruitment process of a consultant, but it’s not the only one. A look at this page from BCG, on the case studies, provides an understanding of the scope of such an exercise, which is not limited to interviews in consulting firms, as many other companies use cases to select their candidates.

consulting case study

For instance, one of the candidates that I coached gave me amazing feedback on his experience during his job interview in a large insurance company. He targeted a position of manager, and during each of his interviews he had to rub shoulders with case studies! Of course, the case study asked during an interview in a service company or a specific industry firm is less complex than in a consulting firm. But to achieve a good performance, the standard of consulting will allow any candidate to fly over this type of exercise in any firm. We know that the case studies tend to become more and more conventional to recruit candidates, but personally, I was surprised to see them used so consistently.



Case Interview Challenges


The case study is a challenging exercise, as part of improvisation is necessarily more important than in a conventional interview. In a traditional interview, once the candidate has been trained, it is a matter of practice. Of course, one must understand the intricacies of job interviews. There is a mechanism to master and to roll-out at a good pace on  D-Day, but it’s little compared to a case study.

If you do not yet have very clear ideas on what a case study is, here are a few items to help you grasp the stakes:

1) It’s a business issue that needs to be resolved in a short period of time.

2) In general, this time is half an hour in a consulting firm.

3) The objective of the candidate is not limited to solve the case with the data available: he must also go fishing for the missing information to build his reasoning.

4) The case study is almost always positioned after the fit interview: you will, therefore, begin by presenting yourself and answering questions as in a classic interview, before the case starts.



consulting case study


Now, here are my comments on these four characteristics of consulting cases: 


1) When we talk about problems in business, acceptance is to take in the broadest sense: cases are not confined to issues which concern only the private sector. You may have to deal with issues concerning public institutions, NGOs, and even states…. Moreover, the spectrum of subjects is absolutely not limited to the classic statement likes “increase sales,” “reduce costs,” and “increase profits.”


2) The duration of a case study is about half an hour. In a “real” case, you will find that it is very short: time to take notes, to clarify the subject, to discuss with your interviewer all make time run very quickly in such an exercise. It is essential to apply an approach that takes into account these types of artificial constraints due to the recruitment process. The Consulting Case Revolution is entirely built with this objective of standing out, by optimizing each of the components constituting this formidable challenge during interviews. For example, do you know how to demonstrate your ability to structure your analysis within two minutes of discussion? If so, it’s perfect, because that is exactly the level that you need to reach to receive an offer.


3) When we learn that less than 10% of top global Business School students end up at McKinsey, BCG, and Bain, this is something to ask about. For sure, these candidates are undoubtedly endowed with excellent abilities and skills. What do 90% of candidates miss then? I will answer this question in the following way: a case study is not comparable to an academic exercise. Although it requires a certain formalism, the case study of consulting firms is not just an exercise, like one’s used to doing in the academic world. For example, if a teacher asks his students at Stanford or INSEAD a question during an examination, the statement is supposed to be sufficient to answer the question. In the classroom, if that is not the case, you have all legitimacy to raise your hands to tell the teacher that his statement does not give enough data to answer the question. After a moment of hesitation, the teacher will then complete his statement for you. In a consulting case study, it’s exactly the opposite: a priori, by default you will not have  all the necessary information to solve your problem! And then pointing out to your examiner, pending the missing data as a chick that waits for his meal with an open beak , will not be the solution to being competitive… Knowingly, making assumptions to build your reasoning is a key point in a consulting case study.


consulting case study


4) The fact of always having to start by the fit section of the interview is a real bias in the consulting firm’s selection process. Too many candidates do not exploit this bias in their advantage. But the idea is simple: one’s need is to reach the highest standards in the fit interview. I mean really hit these first 10-15 minutes, not be limited to the level that allowed you to enter your MBA or Business School or succeed in interviews outside of consulting. The secret here is to take a real lead over other candidates, distancing on the fit interview. I think the structured and step-by-step roll-out of this strategy is responsible for  most of the incredible rate of success of the Consulting Case Revolution (CCR) training!

In summary, remember that a case study is primarily the simulation of a real consultant project in an artificial setting, of course – but this is the harsh law of recruitment. The ultimate goal is to test your skills as a future professional consultant. In the series of articles in this section, I detail the most classical reasons for the failure of candidates in consulting case studies. This content is extracted from the first slide of the module 5 of the CCR training that would be your secret key to enter a consulting firm.

Preparation For The Case Studies: How To Understand Well The Specific Expectations Of Your Examiners During The Interviews In The Consulting Firms ?

attentes des études de cas

    One of the most critical steps, when preparing for the case studies within the consulting firms, is to exactly understand what the interviewer’s expectations are. You already know that your prestation will be examined from every angle in order to evaluate your performance under a large number of parameters — between 15 and 20 according to the firms. ...

Read More »