The case interview is a format used most often by consulting firms to test your problem-solving skills in a high-pressure environment. The interview is meant to be intimidating in order for the organization to judge if you would be able to perform well if complex problems come up on the job.
The format of the case interview is a bit different from other interviews. The interviewer will give you a complicated math or logic problem and ask you to solve it or they will present a hypothetical situation and ask how you would come up with a solution. The good news is that the interviewer is usually not looking for a “right” answer, because there often isn't one correct answer. Rather, they are more interested in how you go about solving the problem because that reveals how you would solve issues in the workplace.
- Practice doing complex math problems without using a calculator. If the job involves doing a lot of work with numbers, sometimes the interviewer is just trying to determine your arithmetic skill set.
- The case interview can be stressful so prepare yourself mentally and try to remain confident and calm. This is a test of how you work under pressure so maintaining a calm, professional manner will gain you points with the interviewer even if you do not know how to solve the problem.
- During the interview, remain calm and work at your own pace. Working too fast on the problem may result in mistakes in your calculations.
- If you have a clarification question or need more information in order to work towards an answer, ask the interviewer. This will not reflect badly on you. In fact, your ability to recognize what information is missing or what facts you need to find a solution will show off your problem solving skills.
- One possible approach to solving the problem is by breaking it into parts. First, make sure you understand the question and ask the interviewer for any further information you need. Then work through the problem step by step. For example, if it is a complex math problem, make sure you do each calculation accurately before moving on to the next one. Finally, present your solution(s). Again, do not stress out if you are not confident in your answer. The most important thing is to demonstrate how you face a problem and the method you use to work through it.
- Send a thank-you letter to the interviewer within a few days after the interview so that your last impression on them is of you as a candidate who is enthusiastic about the organization.