How To Perform Case Interview Prep For A Job Interview
Updated 4 February 2023
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When you interview for a job, some employers may conduct case interviews to evaluate your analytical skills and problem-solving abilities. It is helpful to prepare for this type of interview so you can respond in a way that highlights your skills and qualifications for the position. Knowing how to prepare effectively can help you feel confident about answering situational questions during a case interview. In this article, we explain what case interview prep is, describe how to conduct this type of preparation and offer tips to help you prepare effectively for case interviews during the hiring process.
What Is Case Interview Prep?
Case interview prep is the process of making yourself ready to answer questions during this type of job interview. During a case interview, the interviewer asks a candidate questions related to business problems or challenges. The job candidate can use their responses to discuss how they may handle those situations based on their skills and experience. There are different strategies you can use when preparing for a case interview, such as researching the company or practising answering example questions with a friend or family member.
Many employers use case interviews to evaluate job candidates in a variety of industries, including retail, finance, technology and marketing. Commonly, consulting firms use case interviews to determine how candidates may use their expertise to help companies implement projects or strategies. Companies use these types of interviews to gain insight into a candidate's skills and qualifications. Typically, employers use two types of case interviews during the hiring process:
During this type of case interview, an interviewer asks a broad question and allows the candidate to respond without intervening. The candidate controls the flow of their response. Typically, the candidate begins by outlining or defining the problem, analysing potential outcomes and proposing effective solutions to resolve the challenge. The candidate may ask for additional data from the interviewer but otherwise answers the question independently.
Related: Case Study Questions (Definition, Types And Examples)
In this type of case interview, the interviewer asks a series of questions related to a central business problem or challenge. This type of case interview may feel more like a conversation, where an interviewer responds to a candidate's answer with a follow-up question or request for clarification. Rather than asking one broad question, the interviewer asks several specific questions to evaluate how a job candidate may solve a problem incrementally.
Related: Different Types of Interviews And How To Prepare For Them
How To Conduct Case Interview Prep
Here are the steps you can take to prepare for case interviews:
1. Stay current with your industry
Case interviews typically involve questions directly related to a specific industry, so it is important to stay current in your field. Read the news to see if any significant industry events have occurred, such as a major company's competitor generating more sales. This research can help you discover and understand challenges businesses may face in the industry you work in.
It is also helpful to stay knowledgeable on industry trends so you know how to best respond to certain situations. For example, if a store wants to create a franchise, it may consider the competition in the geographic area of the proposed 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 exploring ways to find the cause of a problem and identify its potential solutions. When answering a case question, it is important to show the interviewer your thought process and how you reached your decision. As you prepare for your case interview, practise brainstorming and completing puzzles to maintain or improve your problem-solving skills.
Related: Problem-Solving Questions For Interview (With Examples And Tips)
3. Understand different frameworks
When answering a case interview scenario, present your response in a structured framework that outlines how you analysed the problem and made your decision. Before your interview, research some common frameworks, such as the STAR interview response technique, to help you find one you could apply to an answer. Learn about how these frameworks can help you support your thinking process.
Related: How To Use The STAR Interview Response Technique
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 understand the company's mission and culture. It also allows you to understand its potential challenges so you can brainstorm ways to help resolve them. For example, a consulting company's hiring manager may ask you questions about profit optimisation, such as 'How can our company grow its net income?' Consider researching similar companies to gather more ideas about potential scenario questions.
5. Practise 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 practise your answers. You also can ask clarifying questions to simulate the actual interview. As you rehearse, practise presenting your information, analysis and solution in a structured format because interviewers often look for this type of response. It is also helpful to practise with a partner, so you can feel more confident speaking to someone directly.
Related: How To Prepare And Practise For A Mock Interview
6. Brainstorm your own scenarios
Besides practising sample questions, come up with your own case scenarios. Reflect on the research you conducted to identify any problem areas the company you are interviewing with may have. You can then brainstorm ways you could help the company find solutions to those challenges, such as identifying ways to increase revenue or recommending production efficiencies to decrease the costs of materials.
7. Ensure you have relevant interview items
As you prepare for your case interview, make sure you have the necessary items to bring with you to the interview. These may 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 distinguish you from other job candidates.
Importance Of Case Interview Prep
If you plan to apply for jobs where employers may use case interviews during the hiring process, it is important to prepare effectively so you can highlight your skills and qualifications in your responses. Employers often use candidates' responses in case interviews to determine whether they can succeed in a new role within the organisation. Effective preparation for a case interview can help you to:
Demonstrate your abilities. By preparing effectively, you can answer case interview questions thoroughly to demonstrate your abilities to handle business-related challenges and find effective solutions.
Explain your strengths. You can prepare for case interviews by developing a framework for scenario questions so you can explain your strengths as an employee, such as your problem-solving skills or your experience managing complex challenges.
Show confidence. When you prepare for a case interview, you are more likely to be confident in your skills and abilities, which can help you create a positive impression on employers.
Related: How To Prepare For A Job Interview
Case Interview Prep Tips
Here are some tips to help you prepare for case interviews:
Practise active listening. During a case interview, it is important to listen closely to an interviewer to ensure you understand their questions. Practise active listening by engaging with others, paying attention when they speak and responding appropriately.
Ask others for feedback. When you practise case interview questions with a friend or family member, ask for their feedback on your responses. Use this feedback to identify areas where you can improve as you continue practising.
Record yourself. Whether you practise independently or with another person, record yourself speaking so you can analyse your responses. Listen carefully to evaluate the tone, speed and quality of your responses.
Time your answers. Most case interviews last 15 to 30 minutes, and interviewers may ask one question or a series of questions. It is helpful to time yourself while practising so you feel comfortable answering questions concisely or speaking for longer periods of time.
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