Victor gave me a clear understanding of how to structure a case interview using a On my second attempt two years later, I followed everything Victor Cheng Figure 4: Profitability Framework Printable Version: A PDF of this framework. Case Interview Secrets A Former McKinsey Interviewer Reveals How to Get in Consulting by by Victor Cheng PDF File: ([PDF]) Case Interview 2 Secrets: A. Victor Cheng neogosynchpromath.gq Case Interview Marathon Workshop. Victor Cheng's. Case Interview Core Frameworks v By Victor Cheng.
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neogosynchpromath.gq Case Interview Marathon Workshop. Overhead Slides v By Victor Cheng neogosynchpromath.gq These materials provided on an. Former McKinsey case interviewer, reveals his insider secrets to passing the infamous case interview. Read Case Interview Secrets PDF - A Former McKinsey Interviewer Reveals How to Get Multiple Job Offers in Consulting by Victor Cheng.
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Published by Innovation Press 93 S. Jackson St. I want to thank my parents who put me in educational environments where my talents had the room and opportunity to shine. I also want to thank two people who helped me get my multiple job offers in consulting. The first is Josie Welling, a Stanford Graduate School of Business alumna and former Oliver Wyman consultant who gave me my first practice case interview.
I more or less out of the blue asked her to help, and she was generous enough to oblige. I was never able to pay her back, so I started thinking about how I could pay it forward.
If Josie was willing to help out an eager undergrad, the least I could do was the same.
The result is www. And while I receive a lot of emails from around the world thanking me for creating the site, I have to in turn thank Josie for her inspiration. I also want to thank Kevin Lo, a former Bain intern and consultant who is a friend of a friend. He was kind enough to spend an hour with me on the phone and introduce me to the concept of a framework, which up until that point I had never heard of before.
The frameworks you see in this book are based largely on the ones he shared with me during that phone call. I still have my original notes. Overview 1. Introduction 2. Quantitative Assessments 3. McKinsey Problem Solving Test 4. Estimation Questions Part Three: Case Interview Fundamentals 5. Why Case Interviews Exist 6. What Interviewers Look for and Why 7. The Core Problem-Solving Tools 8. The Hypothesis 9. The Issue Tree Drill-Down Analysis 4.
Synthesis Part Four: Frameworks Core Frameworks Profitability Framework Business Situation Framework Mergers and Acquisitions Framework Frameworks in Action Part Five: The Candidate-Led Case How to Open a Candidate-Led Case How to Analyze a Candidate-Led Case Variations on the Candidate-Led Case The Interviewer-Led Case The Written Case Interview The Group Case Interview Getting the Offer How to Get Multiple Job Offers How to Project Confidence Advanced Case Interview Resources 5.
Firms use the case interview to evaluate candidates with wide-ranging backgrounds, from newly minted undergraduates, MBAs, and PhDs to experienced hires.
How I Learned What I Know about Case Interviews When applying to the top consulting firms years ago, I encountered the case interview for the first time—and totally bombed.
An interview that was supposed to have lasted 40 minutes ended after only 3. I quickly realized that none of my schoolwork had taught me how to do well in a case interview. It was a new skill—and arguably a far more important one than anything taught in any of my classes. As an aspiring consultant, I soon understood that the single most profitable skill I could learn while in school did not have to do with English, math, psychology, history, economics, or science. The most profitable skill I could learn would help me pass the damn job interview!
And in the management consulting industry, that job interview is the case interview. Fortunately, my first case interview was only a trial run. She agreed, and I bombed. After that humiliating first attempt, I decided to make passing the case interview my No. There was no good reason to spend hours every quarter studying academics that alone would not directly get me a job; I needed to put at least as much effort into learning the one skill that could get me hired.
The path I took to learn about case interviews was ridiculously time-consuming. Books like this one and websites like mine www. Hundreds of hours later, I had learned enough to assemble an overall picture of how the case interview process unfolds. I voluntarily dropped out of my Booz final round, and I did not pass my first-round interview at BCG. After passing 60 case interviews out of 61 attempts, I accepted an offer from McKinsey. Of the Stanford students who had applied for jobs with McKinsey, only six received job offers—a 1.
Had I known this statistic before I applied, I would have been far too intimidated even to try. Success as a job seeker is not the only factor that has shaped my perspective of the case interview; my experience working in consulting has too. About people were in my starting class when I joined McKinsey as a business analyst. Two years later, only ten 10 of us globally were promoted directly to associate the post-MBA, post-PhD position.
The remaining 90 were asked to leave the firm permanently or attend business school, or were directed to continue their work as business analysts. I was in that elite group of consultants in the top 10 percent globally—and at 24 years old was one of the youngest associates in McKinsey history.
Through this promotion I learned how consulting firms work and how consultants think. I also learned why consultants, who also serve as case interviewers, ask the questions they do in the interview process. An interviewee who understands life on the job can better anticipate what these firms are looking for in candidates. I will share this knowledge with you throughout the pages that follow. Thus, my perspective on case interviews is based on my experience as 1 a multiple-job-offer candidate, 2 a top 10 percent McKinsey consultant, and 3 a case interviewer.
Part One provides a big-picture view of the case interview process and the different types of evaluation tools used. Part Two covers quantitative assessments. Part Five covers the traditional candidate-led case interview format, which is the oldest and most common approach.
New case interview variations have emerged over the past few years, but they all are derived in large part from the original candidate-led format. This section offers plenty of suggestions, by way of numerous examples and practice tips, for honing your case interview skills.
Part Six describes the other types of case formats and how to handle them successfully. It also provides useful tips for practicing and mastering your case interview skills. Part Seven discusses how to pull all the skills together to get the job offer. How to Get the Interview This book focuses on how to pass the case interview. Of course, to pass the interview, it helps to get the interview first! For more information on getting the interview, I recommend that you read my free online tutorials on this subject: As part of that ongoing effort, the firms continually evolve their recruiting methods.
To keep you current on the latest case interview developments, I publish an email newsletter with the latest insights on what the major consulting firms are doing right now. With tens of thousands of visitors a month to my website and a global network of aspiring consultants in countries, I receive daily emails from around the world keeping me up to date.
In turn, I keep my newsletter readers up to date. One day after BCG started experimenting with a problem-solving test in Scandinavia, my readers were learning how to prepare for it.
When Bain Western Europe started testing a written case interview, my readers found out by the end of that same week and were given tips on how to prepare for it.
In addition, my website includes video demonstrations of many of the techniques described in this book, as well as printable versions of many of the key diagrams that appear in these pages. To receive my real-time updates, the video demonstrations, and the printable diagrams, visit www.
Firms have been modifying the traditional case interview format to add their own twists, thereby creating many different types of case interviews. Today, the major consulting firms use seven primary formats grouped into two categories: First, many of the written quantitative assessments include a mini case as part of the assessment process.
Second, sometimes interviewers give candidates a quantitative assessment in the middle of a hypothetical-situation case interview. Because consulting firms intertwine these two categories of evaluation tools, you will need to familiarize yourself with both.
Below are overviews of the various case interview formats. I address how to tackle each type of case in subsequent chapters. The following summaries will give you some idea of what interviewers expect from you.
Quantitative Assessments Format 1: The Quantitative Test The quantitative test assesses math skills, data interpretation, and numerical critical-reasoning skills. For example, a math skills question would evaluate your ability to do arithmetic, fractions, and percentage calculations. A data interpretation question would ask you to examine a chart or graph and determine which of four conclusions would not be supported by the chart. A numerical critical-reasoning question would use words and numerical data to test your reasoning abilities: For additional information on the McKinsey PST, including sample questions and sample tests, visit www.
You can access this free tool here: Format 2: An estimation question involves the interviewer asking you to estimate some number without the benefit of any research or access to Google. Below are a few examples of estimation questions: How many gallons or liters of gasoline does a typical filling station pump each week? Assume the year is , and Motorola just invented a new technology called the cellular phone.
The first three years of revenues for this technology have been terrible. As manufacturing 9. Justify your estimate. How long does it take to relocate an average-size mountain 10 miles elsewhere using an average-size dump truck? You might be wondering if these odd questions represent actual interview questions. Well, interviewers asked me these questions during my own interview process, so I can assure you that they very much represent the type of questions you may be asked.
The only tools you will be given are a pen and a piece of paper. And to make things even more challenging, the interviewer expects an answer in five to seven minutes.
Interviewers ask these questions more to assess how you answer them and less to assess the accuracy of your answer. But once I started working at McKinsey, I realized that clients ask consultants these questions all the time.
So if you want to blame someone for what you endure in the recruiting process, blame the clients. Hypothetical-Situation Case Interview Format 3: You can ask the interviewer questions and request certain types of data, and some interviewers will give you hints, but others will sit silently for 30 minutes unless you request specific pieces of data.
Because of the enormous ambiguity of this type of case and the lack of direction from the interviewer, we call this a candidate-led case interview. Format 4: The Interviewer-Led Case Interview Although the interviewer-led case interview requires the same problem-solving skills as the candidate-led case interview, the dynamic between interviewer and candidate differs significantly in each instance.
McKinsey uses the interviewer-led format nearly exclusively, so you will want to familiarize yourself with how this format is applied. Its two distinguishing features are as follows: The interviewer not you determines which parts of the case are important, decides which questions are worth asking, asks you those questions, and then expects you to answer them.
The flow of the case is very abrupt. If a case has four key areas, in a traditional case you would determine which of the four areas is most important, analyze the first area, move on to the second most important area, determine your conclusion, and present that conclusion.
Format 5: The Written Case Interview In a written case interview, you are given a lot of charts and exhibits; expect somewhere between 5 and Other variations include starting a case in written format and finishing it in another format, such as a group or presentation-only case interview.
Format 6: The Group Case Interview In a group case interview, the interviewer presents a case problem to you and, typically, three other candidates. The interviewer gives you and your teammates several exhibits, poses an open-ended question, and expects you to work with each other to solve the case.
Format 7: The Presentation-Only Case Interview The presentation-only case overlaps partially with the written case. As in the written case interview, you will typically be presented with a large stack of charts and exhibits, given an hour or two to analyze the information, and then be expected to create a slide presentation of your findings and recommendations. After preparing your presentation, you meet the interviewer for the first time. Your presentation is the sole factor the interviewer uses to decide whether you pass the case.
The interviewer never observes your analysis or problem-solving skills—only how you present the results of your analysis and problem solving. Of the major firms, McKinsey headed in this direction first, and Bain and BCG have experimented with this approach in some countries. It is primarily a math, estimation, logic, and critical-thinking test written to be accessible to people with nonbusiness backgrounds and from a variety of countries and cultures.
In some respects, having some business background could be a bit of a liability in this situation. Someone with an analytical and logical bent will take the questions and data literally—which is good.
I suggest you read each question carefully. If you rush, you might think a question is familiar and quickly answer the question you think is being asked. Instead, answer the literal question being asked, using the actual data presented. Take sample tests from McKinsey and some of the other firms that use a similar process.
The upside is that these are the most realistic representations of the real tests. The downside is that there are very few sample tests available online, so you likely will go through them quickly. One of the main skills evaluated is how to solve a math word problem—a verbal description of a situation for which you have to figure out the type of math computation required, given what is asked.
This general skill is very useful on the job as a consultant. Another fundamental skill is data interpretation—you have data in charts, graphs, and tables, but what does it mean?
Which data is necessary to answer the question? Which data is just a distraction? Math and numerical critical-reasoning skills are like muscles—the more you use them, the stronger you get.
To sharpen these skills, I recommend using a subset of questions from GRE practice tests. If you become extremely proficient and efficient in answering the straightforward math questions that are, relatively speaking, easier to prepare for in advance, you maximize the time you have available during the test to answer the more complicated, multipart questions that require math computation, data sufficiency, and critical-reasoning skills.
Note that the math, numerical critical-reasoning, and data interpretation practice resources help with only 50 to 70 percent of the test. Practice the speed and accuracy of your arithmetic. The McKinsey PST is a timed test designed to identify only those who are very good at math and logical thinking. Even if you are really good at math, you will barely finish the test. Even if you have a PhD in physics or math, it is very important that you practice your math computations. I have received many emails from engineers who had 4.
Flex those math skills often and Practice Resources Because these tests evolve over time, I have a resource guide on my website with up-to-date links to practice resources, sample questions, and sample tests: I also provide a tool to help with arithmetic speed and accuracy: This tool compares your math accuracy and speed to those of other www. In consulting, clients often ask you to evaluate dozens of potential opportunities.
Often consultants determine whether an opportunity is worth considering by evaluating whether the estimated financial impact is even remotely close to the minimum financial return expected. Using this estimation skill can easily eliminate 80 percent of the opportunities from consideration.
For example, I recently worked with a client to develop options to grow the business. The executive team came up with 30 different possibilities, but the company, being relatively small, simply did not have the manpower to analyze, let alone pursue, 30 new revenue streams simultaneously.
Using a marker and flip chart, I worked with the client to estimate the best-case-scenario revenue impact for each opportunity. I asked the client the following questions: What percentage of the existing customer base would be prospective downloaders of the new product? In the best-case scenario, what percentage would realistically download?
What is the maximum price you could realistically charge? We killed the idea on the spot and ended a three-year debate in just ten minutes. Clients value the ability to resolve long-standing debates of opinions, using estimates based on reasonable assumptions.
And if clients value something, then consulting firm partners value finding people who can give clients what they want. Given this context, you can see why interviewers ask estimation questions. Computation-Level Estimates To effectively answer estimation questions based on a set of basic facts that provide a snapshot of a particular situation, you must be able to 1 do mental math with larger numbers, and 2 round numbers intelligently.
Estimation Skill 1: Ideally, you need to be able to do these computations in your head or, at most, with only a pen and a piece of paper. The trick is to simplify the problem before you attempt to solve it. Let me illustrate using the example above. If we draw out the equation in the order it is given, it appears as follows: So I try to move decimal points only when the math is very simple. Looking at the following equation, I think about which type of operation multiplication or division will be less confusing to tackle.
I go with multiplication. The formula is currently: All I need to do is solve the first part of the formula and split it in half in order to get the second half: Often it is much easier to solve a long series of simple math problems than a short series of complicated ones. You may not need to break down this problem into as many simpler parts as I did, but the process of doing so is important when it comes to passing quantitative assessment tests. In the example above, I simplified the problem enough that I felt comfortable doing the math computations in my head.
You can simplify a problem in any mathematically correct way you choose. The secret here is to become accustomed to rearranging a large-numbers math problem into a simpler format before you compute anything.
As with any new habit or skill, you will want to practice this math-simplification skill. You can do so by using the large-numbers math practice tool available here: Estimation Skill 2: We need a directionally correct answer only. Pay attention not only to the math but also to my thought process and rationale for why I make certain adjustments. I start with the following formula: I need to get it to a round number. I could round down to 50 million or up to 60 million. It is very important to keep track of whether your estimate will be too high or too low.
Back to the computation, we now have: I have a decimal in there, and 17 is a hard number to work with. Well, I could round to 15 percent or to 20 percent, and both are 2. That means my estimate so far is too low. So, if possible, in my next step I want to round in the opposite direction, up. So now I have: This is the mental thought process you want to use when estimating numbers—round numbers intelligently in an offsetting fashion. If you round down to start, you want to round up next, and vice versa.
The discreet hand signals I use are as follows: Estimation Skill 3: Finding a Proxy One of the big secrets to solving extremely complicated estimation questions is to find a useful proxy. What is a proxy? As manufacturing costs and prices decline, what will sales for cellular phones be in ?
When interviewers asked me questions like these, my instinctive response was to panic, but I successfully answered these questions, passed the interviews, and got offers from all three firms that asked me those questions—Oliver Wyman, McKinsey, and Bain. The interview process for these firms today differs from when I went through it. The examples that follow illustrate the range of difficulty you can expect when tackling a question like this.
However, you should not use my personal experience as an indicator of which firms ask these types of questions in which interview round. As a candidate, I solved many of these estimation questions without explicitly realizing what I was doing. That step is finding the proxy. When I first learned how to tackle estimation questions, most of the examples I found were about estimating a market: How many X are sold in America? Without realizing it, I used population as a partial proxy for market size.
The key to solving estimation questions is not to base your estimates on population size automatically. Instead, base your estimates on a relevant proxy coincidentally, this is population much of the time. Example 1 How many gallons or liters of gasoline does a typical filling station pump each week? What factors correlate with how much gasoline a typical filling station pumps on a given weekday?
Any thoughts? Here are mine: The average number of pumps each station has on-site The average number of cars that drive by, based on time of day more cars during commuter hours, fewer cars during off-peak hours The average percentage of pumps being used The average volume of gasoline pumped per car The average pump time per car Example 2 Assume the year is , and Motorola just invented a new technology called the cellular phone.
I nearly answered this tough question wrong. First, let me provide the context. It was my Bain final-round interview. I had done well with all the other interviewers, and this was the last question, from the last interviewer, in the last round. I heard the interviewer ask the question, and I panicked.
Furthermore, based on personal knowledge, I knew the mobile phone would ultimately succeed. But how could I prove this based on what was knowable in as opposed to what we know today? As I often do when I panic, I stalled for time! I smiled calmly on the outside, but inside I was scratching my head. Here was my thought process: Clearly, sales will be a function of the size of the U. I also knew that sales of this technology would skyrocket and be significant, so clearly population alone was not the best proxy.
But what was? The main issue was the price; it was just so damned expensive. So, as time progresses, technology costs will go down, prices will go down, and consumers will respond by downloading more.
And how big will the unit sales increases be? Implicitly, I was trying to identify a good proxy for how quickly consumers would download cell phone technology as prices fell. But how? One way is to practice old interview questions. For instance, you can become faster by searching for the types of questions asked by firms like McKinsey or the Boston Consulting Group. Case Interview Secrets Key Idea 2: Complicated problems can be solved quickly by breaking them down and using rounding.
So what exactly is a computational question? Answering such problems successfully requires precise arithmetic using large numbers — no easy task.
But as a matter of fact, performing complex mathematical equations in your head can be done precisely and quickly if you break them up. What is your total revenue? This is helpful because rough estimations will let you perform equations much more quickly.
So, take a variation of the above question in which the market is 42 million customers, the market share is Then, round In fact, arriving at the correct answer is more or less irrelevant.
With that in mind, your next move is to find proxies, that is, other factors that can help you arrive at your answer. In this case, your proxies will be things that help you calculate hamburger sales. For instance, your initial proxies might be the number of cars that visit the establishment daily and the average number of burgers each car orders.
During peak times, sales are limited by the number of hamburgers the staff can churn out; to determine this, you need further proxies like the number of counters and the average time an order takes. But for off-peak times, your calculations will only depend on the number of cars and the average size of their purchase.
For example, say you make the following assumptions: every day has four peak hours and eight off-peak hours. A hundred cars pass through during every peak hour and 30 cars visit the establishment during every off-peak hour. The drive-in has two counters and each car takes three minutes to make the average purchase of two hamburgers.
Case Interview Secrets Key Idea 4: At an interview, act like a professional consultant and treat your interviewer like a client. If you find yourself at a case interview, you might be confused as to why interviewers ask you to make so many obscure estimations.