The Case Preparation method allows students to develop an open-ended question or problem with multiple potential solutions. Case assignments can range from a one-paragraph answer to a fully developed group action plan or proposal.
Cracking a case interview takes work. Many candidates irretrievably mess up their analysis and write off the discussion within the first few minutes.
Getting Started Early
Getting started early with case preparation is a critical aspect of success. The earlier you begin preparing for cases, the more time you have to work out flaws in your approach. The more confident you’ll be going into your interviews.
The best way to find and fix these flaws is by practicing until you internalize a robust method for solving cases. The most successful candidates will spend a lot of time in this stage, analyzing their strategies and determining what changes need to be made.
While every new case is unique, a few recurring themes (e.g., profitability and competition) are standard across industries. Old-fashioned framework approaches can fall short when presented with these regular challenges, as the frameworks may not be appropriate for that specific type of case. Fortunately, there are more targeted prep strategies that can help you prepare for these challenging scenarios. The time frame of a judge reviewing your appeal varies, and it largely depends on the caseload of the specific court handling the request, making it challenging to predict the exact duration of the process.
Using Data to Your Advantage
Firms have unique approaches to case interviewing, especially for firms that employ a more structured format (often called interviewer-led cases). Some utilize this more streamlined approach that requires candidates to identify a clear path to solving the issue and then ask the interviewer 1-3 questions to clarify information, get clarification, and test assumptions.
Regardless of the format, most case assignments require an analysis of open-ended questions and some form of supporting data (e.g., statistics, links to data or research, quotes, and testimony). In addition, most case interviews include estimation questions, which is why thorough preparation is essential. Estimation questions can range from simple estimates to very complicated calculations. For example, how many banks are there in Italy, or how many cars will be sold in Berlin in one year?
Creating a Strong Argument
Creating strong arguments is something that requires a lot of research and thought. It also needs to be backed up by firm lines of evidence. An idea should be specific, meaningful, and able to stand up against counterarguments.
Strong arguments also allow for other viewpoints. For example, if the case question asks you to assess the impact of rain on student academic productivity, you can argue that rain affects different students in various ways.
Developing a solid argument is an exercise in synthesis, which involves bringing together claims, evidence, and reasoning to create your main claim. It is one of the most challenging – and rewarding – aspects of critical thinking. This is because it allows you to combine insights from your analysis and evaluation of other sources while integrating your thoughts and ideas. It is this process that differentiates a strong argument from a weak one.
Developing a Strategy
With case preparation, developing a strategy to guide your work is essential. In the same way that a sound trial strategy can help a good lawyer or an excellent law firm. A strong case preparation strategy can be the difference between someone who survives and someone who thrives.
When preparing for case interviews, you’ll want to focus on your weakest areas first and then work to improve those weaknesses. For example, if you’re struggling with case math or case interview structure. You can do practice drills to improve these areas of your skill set.
It’s also important to find resources that can help simplify the process of developing a case preparation strategy. There are several excellent online resources. In addition, look out for print resources that can provide a good overview of business concepts. Invest time into these materials to give yourself the best chance of cracking a case!