How to be successful in your consulting case studies – almost – every time ?

In this article, I will go through a couple of levers that any candidate has to absolutely master in order to succeed with his case studies.

But let me start with a preliminary consideration: a candidate that succeeds in his case studies has understood that the recruitment process within the consulting office is not limited to these cases studies. One needs to take into account the entire recruitment process, including the “fit interview,” the “preparation planning,” the “pre-selection tests,” the “quantitative tests,” etc. Sparing the challenges, you will be able to stand out on each step of the process. So, for starters, anticipate that your preparation will not have to be limited to the “classic cases studies.”
This being said, here is a selection of levers to almost certainly be successful in your case studies, in desceding order according to their importance:

1) Return to simple things

2) Succeed your case study start

3) Don’t slow down during the case

4) End your case on a high note


Return To Simple Things During Your  Consulting Cases Studies


Considering the feedback of hundreds of candidates I train each year, most of the candidates who fail their consulting case study have gotten into too complicated things. This often implies missing simple and common sense reasoning. Oh, the common sense, it is essential to work it out during your preparation. Of course, it does not replace solid knowledge to be able to reconstruct the D-Day, but in case of trouble, it will be about showing your value in situations where you have forgotten everything. Then your common sense will constitute your lifeline when it comes to reasoning. If you find yourself facing a roadblock in the case, start by asking yourself, in a very concrete manner, what you would do if you were in charge of your client’s company. This will help you to project yourself into your client’s boots. Don’t try to take shortcuts, advance on the contrary step-by-step. Try as well to capture the “global picture”of your problematic; don’t throw yourself directly into too pushed reasonings, or those that are too targeted. This method of acting also functions very well for the quantitative case studies.

  •  Shortly, if you face a difficulty, move your reflection cursor towards the “easy” mode, rather than towards the “complex” mode. 


Succeed Your Consulting Case Study Start


90% of the candidates who don’t succeed in the selection process in consulting get mistaken from the beginning of the case. To be more accurate, what is the duration of a “beginning of a case”? I am going to give you a proxy that will no doubt astonish you: 2 minutes!

I’m not bluffing; I’m not trying to exaggerate. I can guarantee that the prestation of a candidate in his 2 first minutes of the case study is largely sufficient to determine if he has or has not reached the competitiveness level. The parallel with the “true life of the consultant” is striking. When you observe (will observe) efficient consultants in their activity, you will notice their effectiveness in starting any action. Whether it is the beginning of an analysis, the first meeting with the client, with the partner on the project…these top-performers know how to show their value very quickly. It is exactly the same thing in a case study; you have to start on a good track so that the interviewer is confident from the start of the case. Here we come back to the first lever – stay simple in your reasoning.

  •  Shortly: aim from the first 2 minutes to show your added value as a future consultant. 


Don’t Slow Down During The Case


Let me illustrate this point. So, the candidate has very quickly built a competitive analysis, in the first 2 minutes of the interview. Everything goes right and the discussion is engaged with the interviewer. You have to understand that a case is a discussion, a game of questions and answers asked by the recruiter to the candidate. After having shared his plan and his ideas to address the problematic, the candidate finds himself face to face with the risk of being “breathless” or even more “dry,” “out of ideas.” Some candidates formalize their thinking during their preparation and try to remember it during the interview. It is better than nothing, but far from being optimized. The Consulting Case Revolution suggests an approach that works extremely well in this framework: it is impossible to be dry when having the discussion on the case study if you apply the recommendations of the mentioned training to the letter. The CCR assures you a complete differentiation on this flap, by construction.

  •  Make sure when you prepare yourself to be well “armed” against the lack of discussion resources. 


End Your Case Study On A High Note


How to conclude a consulting case study ? It is about how to systematically synthesize your discussion, which has typically lasted for half an hour. You will need to pay attention to distinguish between the analyses, the diagnosis, the recommendations and the elements that are still unresolved after the discussion. In order to be efficient on this dimension, I put it to you that you have to take care of the way you take notes: this has to be clear and structured so as to serve you as a support in your analyses.

  •  During your training preparation, spend 30 seconds to gauge on the appearance of your notes. They will give a clear indication about your capacity to end your case on a high note.  

Other resources on consulting case study


Links of interest - PwC
Videos on this topic - McKinsey
Related concepts- business case interview examples
- consulting business case
- case in point pdf