Case Style Interview

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 would use this?

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. This style of interview 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.

Interview 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 puzzle 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/Estimate 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 explaining the process you take to arrive at an answer more so than detailing the answer itself. There are several things you can do to increase your chances of successfully answering a case style question. They include:
  • Listening carefully
  • Take notes
  • Summarize the question
  • Create a dialogue with the interviewer
  • Clarify any points you do not understand
  • Take time to think
  • Do not be afraid of a little silence
  • Ask good questions to show understanding and information gathering
  • Talk through your answer out loud - this provides the interviewer an opportunity to 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

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. Stop in and see us for more information!