This is more of a story than a tip: A student of mine studied hard for his case question interview; however, when the time came, he froze. He just couldn’t think how to begin. So he looked at the interviewer and said, “To be honest with you, I’ve already heard this question and feel that it wouldn’t be fair for me to answer it.” The interviewer thanked him for his honesty, then gave him another question which he easily nailed.
Take graph paper into the interview. It helps you organize your thoughts, keeps the numbers lined up when you multiply and add, and reminds you to try to graph part of your answer.
Practice your math, particularly multiplication and percentages. Almost all recruiters will not let you take a calculator into the interview. Most students make math mistakes. They are usually off by a zero or two.
Ask for numbers. If the numbers aren’t an important part of the case they will more than likely tell you not to focus on them.
There may be several issues to be addressed in order to reach a conclusion. Prioritize and then address the issues one at a time, your interviewer may not expect you to get through all of them in the allotted time.
Turn the interview into a conversation. A five minute monologue will do more to hurt your your chances than any other mistake. Remember, you ask questions not only to get additional information, but to draw the interviewer into the case with you.
Listen to the question, write it down; then repeat it to the interviewer. Candidates are always answering the wrong questions because they don’t take the time to identify what the interviewer is really asking.
Think be fore you answer. I see it all the time, people can’t give me the answer fast enough. Slow down. Don’t jump off the mark and give the first answer that pops into your head. Take your time and analyze the information.
If you get lost during your answer the first thing to do is to stop and summarize what you done so far. This will lift you out of the mud of details and hopefully show you a new path to take. If this doesn’t work then ask the interviewer for some guidance.
While most cases are given verbally, some firms give a written case. The candidate is given 15 to 20 minutes to read the case and make notes. He/she is then questioned about the case. Sometimes this is done one on one, other times the candidate is brought in as part of a group to solve the case. This is done to see how well a candidate can work as part of a team with strangers. Is the candidate trying to dominate the interview or are they building on what another candidate said? Are they communicating laterally as well as vertically?