Going from Zero to Hero – The Case Practice Edition

Hannah Davis ’20, MA’21, former Senior Career Captain and former Co-President of the Brandeis Consulting Association, shares her insights into mastering the Case Interview through Case Practices.

The CSE  has many helpful resources; however, my favorite resource is Case Practices with Geri Brehm. 

Initially, I was terrified of attending case practices. In fact, I spent my first semester as Brandeis Consulting Association President avoiding them like the plague because I had never attended one before. I had heard classic case interview style questions like “How many golf balls would fit in a Boeing 757?” and immediately thought, “Well, I could never answer that question, so I don’t want to go and make a fool of myself.” Looking back now, I wish the first thing I had done when I arrived at the Business School was attend a case practice session with Geri, because I assure you, Geri can help everyone become a master at answering those difficult case interview questions. 

The first case practice session I attended was in the beginning of my second year. This first session was dedicated to explaining the structure and format of case interviews. I have included the structure of a traditional case interview at the end of this blog post for those who might be scared of case practices/interviews just as I was. Once Geri broke down the interview into manageable sections, I quickly realized that my formal business studies had prepared me for case interviews throughout my career. From then on, I consistently attended every case practice session. 

I found that case practices helped me strengthen the most important muscle in my body, my brain. Okay, okay, no the brain isn’t a muscle, but that’s not the point. The point is that group case practices did not just prepare me for interviews, they also helped me excel in the classroom. Case practices helped me think about different ways to approach and solve problems, while also exposing me to the unique perspectives of the other students in attendance at  sessions. 

Flash forward to the middle of the fall semester, and many of my classmates, myself included, had become lucky enough to obtain interviews for full time positions after graduation. Some classmates were interviewing for consulting positions, while others were interviewing for finance and marketing positions. Across all of these interviews in all different industries, there was one thing we all had in common: we all had case interviews. I believe attending case practices with Geri gave me the necessary tools to stand out and succeed during my case interview.

In the end, companies use case practices to test your ability to think critically and analyze a problem. Regardless of whether you have an upcoming interview, or you just want to improve your ability to think and problem solve, case practices with Geri will help to improve your performance both during the job search and in the classroom. 

Make sure you read your newsletter to stay updated on the current schedule for Geri’s Case Practices. Contact globalcareers@brandeis.edu for questions about this resource. For more consulting resources check out Case Questions Interactive (CQI) in your Handshake Resource Library and reach out to Brandeis Consulting Association (bca@brandeis.edu).

Traditional Case Interview Structure:

Part 1: The Opening/Introduction

Interviewer: *Reads you a short case*

You: *repeat back the case facts & the problem the interviewer wants you to solve (i.e. increasing profits, or decreasing costs, or increasing market share)*

You: Ask “Are there any other objectives?”

Interviewer: Answers “Yes or no”

You: Ask “May I have a moment to collect my thoughts?”

Interviewer: “Yes.”

You: *Begin thinking critically about the problem and what questions you need to ask in order to answer the question(s) – the structures outlined in Case In Point by Marc Cosentino are helpful here*

Part 2: Q&A Portion

You: *After collecting your thoughts, you begin asking relevant questions to the interviewer to uncover more information about the problem/company to help you answer the key question(s). Ask one question at a time and wait for the interviewer to either give you information or tell you that they do not have that information available.* Note: It is important to walk the interviewer through your analysis as you obtain answers to your questions.

Part 3: Summary, Recommendations & Risk

You: *Once you have all the information you need and have walked the interviewer through your analysis it will be time for you to wrap up your case interview. First, you should summarize the case and the information you obtained from your questions. Next, transition to your recommendations for the future explaining how the conversation and your analysis helped you arrive at your recommendations. Finally, address the risk associated with each recommendation you provide.  Assessing risk is important to show your ability to critique your own ideas and accurately analyze how risky your ideas are. Bonus points if you address both short term and long term recommendations.

By Hannah Davis
Hannah Davis Former Senior Career Captain, News Crew