The first and most critical way to increase your chances of success during these challenging interviews is to prepare. Once you have been informed about the date of your assessment centre or interview, make a preparation plan and set this out in an Excel spreadsheet. Aim to schedule at least two hours of preparation per day in the few weeks ahead of your interview. There are lots of published books and internet resources, such as the website of each of the major consultancies, which give examples of case study interviews. Read as many of these as possible. Have a search on YouTube for videos of case study interviews from various firms to understand various possible approaches.
Typically, cases cover such areas as improving a company’s efficiency, mergers & acquisitions, expanding into other regions/globally, re-structuring. Make sure you have some understanding of each of these areas. I normally advise incorporating a business framework(s) to a case study in point. It is worth reviewing SWOT, Porter’s etc. Interviewers like to see the candidate being able to apply their academic knowledge to a particular real-life situation.
Structure your answer carefully, starting with an overview of the industry, company, products and then drilling into the detail of the case. I normally recommend that candidates come up with a minimum of three factual recommendations grounded in the information provided. Make sure to refer to all the graphs provided, but keep in mind that some information may be less relevant to the case and included as a test of your analytical judgement. Point this out during the interview or assessment centre.
Interviewers want to see critical thinking and innovative solutions. So read up on the latest economic/political/technological news and developments around the world so you can supplement the information provided in the case with relevant real-life knowledge. This is a sure way to distinguish yourself from other candidates. Management consultancies particularly favour case studies involving emerging markets so following developments in Latin American countries, such as Brazil, Russia, China, India at a minimum should be a bonus when facing your interviewer.
And of course, make sure to role-play – with a professional coach, somebody you know from the consultancy you have applied to, or family and friends. Practice and role plays will make a tremendous difference to your performance on the day as you will feel more confident having received prior feedback on how you present and justify your conclusions.
And most importantly, believe in yourself! If you were good enough to get selected for this particular stage in the process, you are good enough to progress to the next stage and ultimately get that job. You just have to prove it. Good luck!