Bain: "The Four Types of Cases I Encountered in Interviews"
A recent blog post from Bain Voices is a description from a new consultant on the types of cases that she faced in her first- and second-round interviews at Bain & Company. Unlike many more, marketing-speak postings from firms, I found it provided real insight into the types of interviews you can expect to face. She breaks it out into four types of cases:
1. The Seemingly-Easy Question
“Would it be profitable for us to open MyPizzaCo to compete with PopularPizzaCo around the corner from here?”
2. The Charts & Data Overload Question
“Should ConglomerateCo open a new factory in X location?”
3. The Quantitative Challenge
“How many gallons of white paint do US households buy each year? Should Private Equity Co buy WhitePaintCo?”
4. The Creative Challenge
“Should JuiceCo sign a partnership with CoffeeCo?”
I think this accurately hits on the key qualities that consulting firms are looking for when they interview candidates, and is the reason why students will go through multiple interviews before receiving an offer.
You have to show good structure ("The seemingly easy question"), you have to make sense of complicated data ("The charts & data overload question"), you have to be comfortable with numbers ("The quantitative challenge") and you have to think creatively ("The creative challenge"). You have to show proficiency in all these areas before a firm will be willing to give you an offer.
The key here is that you can become better at each type of case.
1. To improve your structure, read cases and practice laying out how you would structure your approach. No need to go through the entire case - simply compare your structure to the actual answer. Were there any critical questions you had forgotten to list in your initial structure?
2. To deal with charts and data, practice analyzing charts, tables, and graphs! Part 5 ("Focusing on the Details") of The 6 Steps to Success has a section on the steps you should take when you're greeted with a chart. Practice makes perfect here.
3. For the quantitative challenge, Part 4 ("Refining your Knowledge") of The 6 Steps to Success has a section on practicing your math. Make sure you're comfortable with mental math and with rounding appropriately - makes all the difference in the world.
4. To boost your creativity, you should be reading up on the business world - check out Part 3 ("Developing the Basics") of The 6 Steps to Success. This will expand your horizons and help you come up with potential solutions that make sense. And make sure you're bringing real-world examples to your interviews; think about things that you've done in previous internships or volunteer roles.
Interested in learning about the most common case interview types? Check our our blog post on the topic.
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