When it comes to succeeding in a case interview, nothing beats live practice with a partner. In fact, most candidates who go on to receive an offer from a top consulting firm like McKinsey, BCG or Bain complete at least 25 live practice sessions before their interview.
In this article, we explain how to master the art of case interview practice. We outline how to get started, how to make the most of your practice sessions, and which aspects of case interview theory should underpin your practice.
- To get started with case interview practice, you need access to professionally-developed case material and to practice partners. With our Case Library and Practice Room, we can help with both.
- Capturing and tracking your feedback using an objective framework, choosing a good partner, and being a top-notch interviewer will all help you get the most out of your case interview practice.
- Your practice should be underpinned by a strong understanding of the dimensions that top consulting firms assess in case interviews. The video lectures in our Interview Prep Course cover all of these dimensions, and provide a detailed description of the concepts and frameworks that are important to know.
- Some candidates choose to supplement their preparations by practicing cases with a consulting interview coach. We can connect you with our coaches, who have all been interviewers at top firms like McKinsey, BCG and Bain.
How to get started with live case practice
To practice live cases with a partner, you’ll need access to both case material and practice partners.
Download high-quality practice cases
For a case interview practice session to be effective, you and your partner need to have access to professionally-developed case material.
While there are a great deal of cases available online, the vast majority of them have been created by fellow candidates from notes they took during their interviews. These cases don’t usually include a best-in-class solution. As a result, they are not always reliable or good practice material.
To make it easy for candidates to access high-quality cases, we’ve created a Case Library, which includes over 100 cases – with solutions – developed by former management consultants. You can download eight of these cases right away by creating a free CaseCoach account.
The full library includes cases that are focused on a wide range of sectors, functions, and question types, including written cases and questions on market sizing, profit improvement, and revenue growth. You can access all of the material in the Case Library by signing up for our Interview Prep Course.
Find practice partners
If you don’t know anyone else who is preparing to interview at a top consulting firm, you might be wondering where to find practice partners. You’ll find a diverse community of fellow candidates who are all available for case interview practice in our Practice Room, where we facilitate over 3,000 practice sessions a week.
To help you find a great match, we’ve invited candidates to share some information about their background and what they want to get out of their practice sessions in their profiles. Once you’ve found the right partner, you can book a 90-minute practice session with them easily through our platform.
In each session, you and your partner will take it in turns to play the role of interviewer and interviewee, each giving the other a 30-minute case and then providing feedback for around 15 minutes.
You can book up to 10 sessions in the Practice Room by creating a free CaseCoach account. Signing up for our Interview Prep Course will allow you to book an unlimited number of practice sessions.
How to make the most of your case interview practice
Here are our top tips for making the most of your case interview practice with other candidates:
Use an objective framework to capture and track your feedback
When you practice live cases with a partner, you need an objective framework that will allow you to identify your strengths and weaknesses, and pinpoint where you need to improve.
The assessment scorecard in our Interview Prep Course is the ideal tool for capturing this feedback. Based on the dimensions that top consulting firms use to assess candidate performance, it’s designed to help candidates progress in the areas that top-tier firms like McKinsey, BCG and Bain really care about.
After each session, keep a record of the feedback you received from your practice partners. This will help you to progress your preparation, and judge which areas to focus on in your solo practice between live sessions. If you need to work on structuring, numeracy, case math, or interpreting charts or exhibits, for example, you might choose to spend some time working through the drills in our Interview Prep Course.
If you practice with partners in our Practice Room, the feedback you receive after each session will be recorded and made available for you to review privately in your CaseCoach account at any time.
Choose good practice partners
You’ll learn much more quickly if you practice with someone who knows the case they’re giving you inside out, and can provide insightful feedback.
A good practice partner is also someone who can be trusted to be prepared, to turn up on time, and to have as much enthusiasm for giving cases as receiving them.
To make it easier for you to find good practice partners, we’ve developed a star rating system for the candidates in our Practice Room. It’s based on the scores that candidates receive from their partners on both their reliability and their skills as an interviewer.
We’ve included a few other indicators to help you choose a good partner in the Practice Room. You’ll see the number of practice sessions that each candidate has completed on their profile. The more sessions a candidate has completed, the more developed their interviewing skills are likely to be.
You’ll also see a ‘Top Interviewer’ badge displayed on the profiles of candidates who have achieved a high star rating after completing at least five sessions in our Practice Room.
Be a top-notch interviewer
The best practice partners are in high demand. You need to be a top-notch interviewer for these candidates to want to practice with you.
Here’s what being a good interviewer means:
1. Choosing interesting cases
First, choose a case that you will enjoy giving. A good case should present a fun problem, with some challenging questions. It should include an exhibit and a numerical question, with a clear script to follow and a comprehensive solution. There’s plenty of material like this to choose from in our Case Library.
Once you’ve found an enjoyable and interesting case, we recommend using it several times with different candidates. Once you’ve given a case four or five times, you’ll be able to really focus on the conversation and the candidate’s performance, rather than on your own delivery.
2. Being conversational and open-minded
Great interviewers aren’t script-reading robots! They engage in a conversation with candidates and endeavor to make them feel comfortable.
They’re also open to answers that aren’t an exact match to the case’s answer key. If the candidate provides a structure that’s different from the one given in the case solution, ask yourself if their structure could answer the question. If the answer is yes, roll with it. If the answer is no, push them to come up with an alternative approach.
3. Being honest and specific with your feedback
When it comes to providing your partner with feedback, be sure to both celebrate what they did well and highlight the areas that they need to work on. Use an objective framework – like our assessment scorecard – to do this in a structured way. Draw on what you observed during the practice case, providing specific examples to support your feedback.
Supplement your practice by learning about each assessment dimension
To develop a truly comprehensive understanding of these dimensions, we recommend subscribing to our Interview Prep Course, which includes video lectures that cover all of these dimensions. These lectures provide a detailed description of the standard of performance that top firms expect to see, concepts and frameworks that are important to know, and our tips for standing out.
Consider practicing with a coach and getting some expert feedback
Some candidates choose to support their preparations further by practicing cases with a coach who has previously been an interviewer at a top firm.
Consulting interview coaches can help accelerate your preparation by gauging your level of performance and helping you identify your areas of strength and weakness. They can also provide you with accurate and helpful feedback, and share their advice for managing the stress of the interview process.
If you’re preparing for a consulting interview, you might want to consider booking a session with one of our coaches. They have all been handpicked from among the alumni of top firms such as McKinsey, BCG, and Bain.