Heidi Winney Heidi provides career and executive coaching for managers and professionals of varied backgrounds and industry sectors, including members of the Australian Institute of Management and the Macquarie Graduate School of Management's Alumni. Following senior corporate Human Resources roles, she established 'Strategic Career Development' in 1995 focusing on her real interests and passion - assisting individuals to create strategies to achieve their goals. To find out more view Heidi's full bio or email Heidi at winday@bigpond.net.au

Case Study Interviews

Written by Heidi Winney, Strategic Career Development

First we had the ‘traditional’ interview – now well and truly out of fashion. Then, in the early 90s the “behavioural” interview arrived and slowly gathered speed and took hold – to the extent that there is almost no “traditional” style used during the interview process. Also popular is the “assessment centre” approach which is very often used during large-scale hiring by the public sector, by airlines and by the banking and finance industry.

This week a client asked me to coach her specifically in passing a “Case Study” interview, and while this is not entirely new, it is becoming more common to not only go through the ‘behaviour’ interview but to also pass a ‘Case Study’ interview

I’m summarising below what a ‘Case Study’ interview is and what I suggested my client do to prepare for this type of interview. Because this approach is becoming more common, I would also really like to hear from others who have attended this type of interview to share your experience.

If management consulting is your ideal career and you’ve undertaken and passed your MBA from one of the top Australian Graduate Schools with at least a Credit if not Distinction pass, then you may be invited for an interview with a top tier management consulting firm. While the first step will always be a ‘behavioural’ interview, if you pass this interview you will be asked to attend a Case Study interview.

What is a Case Study Interview?
This is an interview during which a classic business case or scenario is used to test your analytical and problem solving skills and how you apply your logic to solving a given business case or scenario.

You might be given 30 minutes at the beginning of such an interview to read the business case and to summarise your answer as to how you would go about dealing with such a situation. Then, you would discuss this with the interviewer.However, you might be in a ‘live case interview’ where you will not be given preparation time and will have to quickly grasp the situation and demonstrate your analytical and problem solving skills. Either way, your ability to think quickly and analytically will be tested.

You will also need to be numerate and demonstrate your skill in assessing the financial impact of your decision and how you applied your logic.

How do you prepare and pass a “Case Study” Interview?
The following are some useful points from McKinsey’s website:

  • Be concise – if asked for the top two issues, confine your response to two items.
  • Provide logical backup for your answers. Explain what case facts led you to a conclusion and how you reasoned from those facts to reach your conclusion.
  • Ask clarifying questions along the way. If you don’t understand the case facts, you will find it tough to ‘ace the interview’.

What the Interviewer looks for during the Case Study Interview

  • Big picture thinking – a focus on the key issues, not the detail and being prepared to discuss why you chose the answer you did
  • Problem-solving logic - demonstrated by discussing the elements of the problem and factors for consideration
  • Focus on value – the interviewer will leave you to choose which avenue to pursue and will be assessing which path you choose instinctively and why
  • Business intuition – demonstrated by the depth and breadth
  • Results orientation –how would you get results in a difficult environment

What should you do to pass the Case Study Interview?
I’ve deliberately left this blank because I’m hoping for some feedback and information in my research on this important style of interview. We invite you to share your experiences…

Written by:Heidi Winney, Strategic Career Development, 0414 438 577 or: winday@bigpond.net.au


  • Digg!
  • Add to del.icio.us
  • Bookmark to magnolia
  • Bookmark to Spurl
  • Bookmark to StumbleUpon
  • Bookmark on Blinklist
  • Bookmark on Simpy

One Comment

  1. Excellent posting - I hope that you receive a good number of responses. It will be interesting to see how others have handled this, and hopefully they will provide information on the type of position they are going for, the industry and the location.

Leave a Comment

Recent Posts

The Authors