Case-Style Interview Questions

Case-Style Interview Questions

What is case-style interviewing?

The case interview is different from other job interviews in that it is not a discussion about your past experiences. In a case interview, the interviewer will give you a scenario modeled after a real business or management problem, which you will be asked to analyze and provide a solution to.. The case interview is designed to test your:
  • Communication skills
  • Analytical and reasoning skills
  • Ability to organize and present information
  • Ability to perform under pressure
  • Understanding of basic business principles
  • Creativity and resourcefulness

Who uses the case style interview?

Many consulting firms, including many of the management consulting firms that recruit Iowa Wesleyan students, use the case interview as part of their interview process. The case gives candidates a sense of the type of work that consultants do and allows the employer to test the candidate’s ability to analyze, present information, and perform under pressure. However, any employer who is looking for strong problem solving and presentation skills can use the case-style interviewing method.

There are several types of case questions:

Business problem and strategy questions are given to see how much general business knowledge candidates have and how they can apply their knowledge to a common business problem. Several types of business questions might be asked, in areas such as: profit and loss, organizational structure, and marketing. An example of this type of question is: “An airline finds that, while its revenues are high, the company is still operating at a loss. What is going on?”
  • Brainteasers are puzzles or logic questions used to gauge creativity, quantitative skills, and problem solving skills. An example of this type of question is: “Why are manhole covers round?”
  • Market Sizing/Estimates questions use logical deduction and general statistical information to estimate some number or size. An example would be: “How many divorces take place in the United States in any given year?” or “How many gas stations are in the U.S.?”
Your answers to case style questions should demonstrate your problem solving abilities. There is often not one correct answer to a case question. You should focus more on getting your process you use to arrive at an answer more than the answer itself. There are several things you can do to increase your chances of successfully answering a case-style question:
  • Listen carefully
  • Take notes
  • Summarize the question
  • Create a dialogue with the interviewer
  • Clarify any points you do not understand
  • Take time to think. Don’t be afraid of a little silence.
  • Ask good questions to show your understanding of the problem and to get more information
  • Talk through your answer out loud, so the interviewer can evaluate your analytical skills
  • Use examples from your classes, internships, or extra-curricular activities to provide insight beyond the case
  • Present a well-structured conclusion

How to prepare for a case-style interview

The interviewer is often more interested in how you came up with the answer than the answer itself. Therefore, keep a few things in mind:
  • Communication and interpersonal skills are essential
  • Organize your thoughts logically and speak clearly
  • Business experience is not essential – however, general knowledge of business practices and theories will be important
  • Read industry magazines and journals
  • Familiarize yourself with some basic statistics, such as the population of the U.S.

There are several resources available both in the career center and online, which can help you prepare for case style interviews.

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