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Get Ready for Your Next Exam with These Excel Quiz Questions and Answers

Excel is a powerful tool that can help you get ahead in your studies. Whether you’re preparing for an upcoming exam or just want to brush up on your skills, these Excel quiz questions and answers can help you get ready. With the right knowledge, you’ll be able to tackle any problem that comes your way.

Understand the Basics of Excel

Before you can start using Excel, it’s important to understand the basics. What is a spreadsheet? How do formulas work? What are some of the most commonly used functions? Answering these questions will give you a better understanding of how to use Excel and help you prepare for any exam questions related to the program.

Create Charts and Graphs

Charts and graphs are an important part of any data analysis project. Knowing how to create them in Excel will give you an edge when it comes time for your exam. Learn how to create different types of charts, such as line, bar, and pie charts, as well as how to format them so they look their best. You should also practice creating graphs from data sets so you can quickly answer any questions related to this topic.

Work with Formulas and Functions

Formulas and functions are essential for working with data in Excel. Knowing how to use them correctly will make it easier for you to answer any questions related to these topics on your exam. Practice using formulas such as SUM, AVERAGE, COUNTIF, and VLOOKUP so you can quickly solve problems during your test. You should also become familiar with common functions like IF statements and nested IF statements so you can answer more complex questions with ease.

By taking the time to understand the basics of Excel, create charts and graphs, and work with formulas and functions, you’ll be well-prepared for your next exam. With these Excel quiz questions and answers at your disposal, you’ll be able to confidently tackle any problem that comes your way.

This text was generated using a large language model, and select text has been reviewed and moderated for purposes such as readability.


how to answer business case study questions

Georgetown University.

Case Interviewing Questions

What is a case interview.

The case interview is a scenario modeled after a real business or management problem. Candidates are asked to analyze a problem and provide a solution based on the information given. The majority of cases don’t have a specific answer that you are expected to give; instead, the interviewer is looking for you to demonstrate a problem-solving process that is both analytical and creative.

Who Uses This Style of Interviewing?

Many consulting firms use the case interview as part of their interview process. The case gives candidates a sense of the type of work that consultants do and allows the employer to test the candidate’s ability to analyze, present information, and perform under pressure. However, any employer who is looking for strong problem solving and presentation skills can use case style interviewing.

Skills Evaluated During a Case Interview

  • Communication skills
  • Analytical and reasoning skills
  • Ability to organize and present information
  • Ability to perform under pressure
  • Understanding of basic business principles
  • Creativity and resourcefulness

Types of case questions:

  • Business case (most common).  A scenario to gauge the general business knowledge of candidates and how they can logically apply this knowledge. It could focus on different areas such as: profit/loss, organizational structure, and marketing. Example: “An airline finds that, while its revenues are high, the company is still operating at a loss. What is going on?”
  • Market-sizing/”Guesstimates.” Estimation questions that require the use of logical deduction and general statistical information to estimate some number or size. Example: “How many gas stations are there in the U.S.?” 
  • Brainteasers.  Puzzles or logic questions used to gauge creativity, quantitative skills, and problem-solving skills. Example: “Why are manhole covers round?” 

How to Approach a Case Interview

  • Listen to the case . Take notes and rephrase the question to make sure you’ve got all the information.
  • Clarify the problem . Ask good questions to clarify and show your understanding of the problem.
  • Analyze the problem . Pause and take time to think about how you will approach the problem. Silence is okay!
  • Structure an answer . Write out your method for solving the problem. Use examples from in and outside the classroom to show insight.
  • Share your answer . Talk through your approach using key points to guide you.
  • Summarize your findings . Provide a conclusion that restates your main points.

How to prepare for a case interview

The best preparation for a case interview is to PRACTICE. The more cases you work through, the more comfortable you will become with the process.

Use this general timeline and the resources below to structure your practice:

As early as possible :

  • Read the case resources Case in Point and the Vault Guide to the Case Interview .
  • Coordinate an informational interview with a Georgetown alum working in consulting. Use Hoya Gateway to get connected.
  • Sign up for a mock interview to practice your behavioral interview skills (these are important too!).

Two weeks before an interview

  • Review and practice cases with a friend.
  • Attend an employer case workshop.
  • Visit employer websites for each company’s tips and sample cases.

The day before the interview

  • Review our tips below.
  • Get enough sleep so that your mind will be sharp.
  • Bring paper and pens to the interview.

Case Interview Tips

  • Take notes.
  • Remember, the case is a chance to demonstrate how you think – don’t be discouraged if you don’t know the industry well. Use your analytical and communication skills to show how you would break down the problem.
  • Make sure you understand the problem you are being asked to analyze. Paraphrase back to the interviewer to make sure you heard them correctly.
  • Ask questions and listen to the answers you get (don’t be discouraged by information that the interviewer doesn’t provide, that likely means it is not important).
  • Take time to collect your thoughts (and ask for more time if you need it). Don’t be afraid of silence.
  • Lay out a road map for your interviewer (your framework will help here).
  • Think out loud to allow the interviewer to see your analytical skills.
  • Present your thinking in a clear, logical manner.
  • Summarize your recommendations and use examples from your classes, internships, or extra-curricular activities to provide insight beyond the case.
  • Read industry magazines and journals (both general and specific).
  • Familiarize yourself with some basic statistics, such as the population of the U.S.

There are several resources available both in the career center and online, which can help you prepare for case style interviews.

Case Interviewing Guides

  • Case In Point: Case Interview Preparation , 10th Edition, (Marc P. Cosentino, 2010)
  • Case Interview Secrets  (Victor Cheng, 2012)
  • Vault Career Guides  – career guides, employer profiles and rankings, and more. You must create an account with your Georgetown e-mail address to access Vault.
  • Vault Guide to the Case Interview , 9th Edition

Sample Cases & Websites

  • Management Consulting Case Interviews – hundreds of case interview questions organized by type, industry, and employer. Questions are available for free but solutions require a subscription.
  • CaseInterview.com – Sign up for free access to case interview training videos, newsletters, and strategies for success from Victor Cheng, author of Case Interview Secrets .
  • MConsulting Prep – Started by a former McKinsey consultant, this website has videos and coaching strategies for interview preparation.
  • How to Ace the Case Consulting Interview webinar , Igor Khayet (F’06)
  • Case Interview 101 – an introduction video from MConsulting Prep. 

Company Resources for Case Interview Preparation

  • Accenture’s case interview workbook (PDF)
  • Succeeding in Case Study Interviews : a blog post from an Accenture recruiter

Bain & Company

  • Interview preparation tips and interactive case studies

BCG (Boston Consulting Group)

  • Interview process and tips

Dean and Company

  • Interview preparation
  • “How to Crack a Case” presentation  (PDF)
  • Interview tips
  • Interactive cases

L.E.K. Consulting

  • Interview preparation tips with samples cases and videos

McKinsey & Company

  • Interview process, including videos, sample cases, and practice tests

Oliver Wyman

  • Interview preparation and case interviews
  • Interview preparation and process

how to answer business case study questions

Case Study Interview Examples: Questions and Answers

  • What would be your approach for introducing a product into a foreign market? What are the risks and benefits to consider i.e. producing in your own country vs producing in the new country, etc?
  • Company ABC is struggling, should it be restructured? Identify the three main problems it's facing. What is the most important problem the company is facing? How would you recommend the company address this problem? How would you turn this company around? Provide your reasoning for your recommendation(s).
  • A toy company has been experiencing decline sales for the last two seasons. Research suggests that introducing several new product lines is the solution. Develop a marketing strategy for the company's largest product line, including pricing, product packing, etc.
  • A large chain of retail clothing stores is struggling with profitability. Bases on your review fo the company's financial statements, what problems can you identify? Can this company be turned arounds? How would you go about deciding?
  • A new Eddie Bauer Store is being opened up in London. Discuss all the marketing issues regarding the opening of this new location.
  • Take in information quickly and remember what you hear.
  • Identify key issues, prioritize and logically solve problems.
  • Make quick, yet accurate, decisions.
  • Manage time efficiently.
  • Perform under pressure.
  • Be aware of resource constraints.
  • Identify customer needs.
  • Be original and creative.
  • Please provide the total weight of a fully loaded Jumbo Jet at the time of take off.
  • How many light bulbs are there in the United States?
  • How many photocopies are taken in the United Kingdom each year?
  • How much beer is consumed in the city of New York on Fridays?
  • How many people sell AMWAY products in the United States?
  • If there are 7,492 people participating in a tournament, how many games must be played to find a winner?
  • How many golf balls will fit in the Empire State Building?
  • How many car tire are sold in Canada each year?
  • Given thhe numbers 5 and 2000, what is the minimum number of guesses required to find a specific number if the only hint you're given is "higher" and "lower" for each guess made?
  • How do you determine the weight of a blue whale without using a scale?
  • Take time to think before you answer the question.
  • If given a pen and paper, take notes and write down key information. Use the paper to make calculations, write down ideas and structure your answer.
  • Ask additional questions if you feel you are missing information. The interviewer is often expecting you to ask to find missing information.
  • Use lateral thinking and be creative. There isn't always just one right answer. Just make sure your answer is backed up by sound logic and numbers that make sense.
  • Make sure you know your math. At minimum you'll need to perform some basic arithmetic or mathematical calculations.
  • These quesitons are often used to test your ability to structure, as well as your ability to think laterallly, make logical links and communicate clearly.
  • Make mental calculations quickly by making sensible estimates and rounding numbers up or down.
  • Does your answer make sense? If you're answer doesn't make sense, chances are you've made a bad assumpation, estimate or calculation. Go back and carefully check your work and provide a new answer.
  • You can use business frameworks (SWOT, Porter's Five forces, etc.) or mind mapping to support your analysis and answers, as long as it makes sense.
  • Many market sizing questions revolve around issues being faced by an organization or industry. Commercial awareness can be very important to answering market sizing questions.
  • How would you work with a subordinate who is underperforming?
  • You're consulting with a large pharmacy with stores in multiple states. This company has improved sales but experienced a decrease in revenue. As a result, it is contemplating store closings. Explain how you'd advise this client?
  • You are working directly with a company's management team. It is organizing a project designed to significantly increase revenue. If you were provided with data and asked to supervise the project, what steps would you take to ensure it's successful?
  • You have been assigned to work with a small company that manufactures a popular product. However, a competitor begins selling a very similar product which incorporates state of the art technology. What would you advise your client to do?
  • You have been assigned to advise a company with a large Western European market. Company management wants to open the Chinese market. What advice do you have for this company?
  • The firm has assigned you to consult a company intending to drop a product or expand into new markets in order to increase revenue. What steps would you take to help this company achieve its objective?
  • You have been assigned to consult a shoe retailer with stores throughout the nation. Since its revenue is dropping, the company has proposed to sell food at its stores. How would you advise this client?
  • Vault Guide to the Case Interview
  • Vault Career Guide to Consulting
  • Case in Point: Complete Case Interview Preparation
  • Mastering the Case Interview
  • Ace Your Case! Consulting Interviews (series 1-5)
  • Caseinterview.com
  • Bain Case Interview Preparation
  • BCG - Interactive Case
  • Cornerstone Research Cases
  • Deloitte - Case Interview Preparation
  • Gotham Consulting Case Studies
  • McKinsey Interview Prep
  • Mercer Case Study
  • Oliver Wyman - Practice Case Studies
  • pwc Case Studies

how to answer business case study questions

9 Types of Questions in Actual Case Interviews

Case interviews at management consulting firms are among the most difficult job interviews, but they are also quite predictable. Once you know the types of questions they ask, preparation is straightforward.

Using years of experience at McKinsey, as well as field reports from thousands of candidates, I’ve crafted a list of 8 common case interview questions, and in this article, I’ll show you how to answer each of them.

Case interview questions – Overview

Types of case interview questions .

Most questions in case interviews belong to one of these 9 types:

1. Framework/issue tree questions 2. Market-sizing and guesstimate questions 3. Valuation questions 4. Brain teaser questions 5. Chart insight questions 6. Value proposition questions 7. Information questions 8. Math problems 9. Solution-finding questions

In this article, we’ll discuss how to answer each question, along with the necessary tips and tricks.

How to answer case interview questions

There are the fo ur basic steps to answer case interview questions:

  • Step 1: Clarify any unclear points in the question
  • Step 2: Announce approach and ask for time
  • Step 3: Draw issue trees to solve the given problem
  • Step 4: Pitch your answer and end with a takeaway conclusion.

This general outline may vary depending on each type and each question – for example, brain teasers or information questions need only the last step, while market-sizing and framework questions need all four steps to deliver the perfect answer.

Type 1 – Framework/Issue tree questions

These are on top of the list among popular case interview questions!

how to answer business case study questions

If the interviewer asks you to identify factors contributing to a problem or to break down an entity (such as the revenue of a business), he/she is telling you to draw an issue tree.

And to draw a spot-on issue tree, you need to master consulting problem-solving foundations , the MECE principle , and common consulting frameworks . You should check out our other articles on these topics before moving on, because mastering the issue tree is the key to acing every possible case interview.

You also need good business intuition to draw good issue trees, so that’s all the more reason to start reading every day.

Gastronomia – a gourmet restaurant chain has found the turnover rate among its highly-skilled chefs increasing dramatically for the last 3 years; this has led to a noticeable decline in food quality and increased training costs, among other negative effects.

Which factors would you consider when tackling this turnover problem?

how to answer business case study questions

Job: Factors from the job itself. Further divided into 3 sub-branches

  • Compensations: are the salaries, bonuses, and benefits attractive enough?
  • Difficulty: is the job too difficult?
  • Nature: is the job too boring, too unengaging, too repetitive…?

Company: Factors from the work environment within the restaurant chain, surrounding the affected jobs. Further divided into 2 sub-branches

  • Cultural environment: is the culture at Gastronomia compatible with the chefs?
  • Physical environment: is the physical working environment at Gastronomia safe, comfortable, convenient…?

Competitors: Factors from outside the restaurant chain, related to competing job offers. Further divided into 2 sub-branches.

  • Inside industry: are other restaurant chains competing with Gastronomia for skilled personnel?
  • Outside industry: are there new career options or changes in existing alternatives that draw chefs away from restaurant chains like Gastronomia?

For detailed guides on issue trees, frameworks and their principles, see the articles on Issue Trees , Case Interview Frameworks, and MECE Principle

Type 2 – Market-sizing & guesstimate

These questions go along the lines of “How many trees are there in Central Park?” or “What’s the market size of pick-up trucks in the USA?”

The key to nailing market-sizing and guesstimate questions lies in not the closest results, but the most logical and structured approaches. In fact, the interviewer expects you to follow these four steps:

Step 1: Clarify: Make sure you and the interviewer are on the same page regarding every detail and terminology, so you won’t be answering the wrong question.

Step 2: Break down the problem: Break the item in the question (number of trees in Central Park, market size of pickup trucks) down into smaller, easy-to-estimate pieces.

Step 3: Solve each piece: Estimate each small piece one at a time; each estimation should be backed by facts, figures, or at least observations.

Step 4: Consolidate the pieces: Combine the previous estimations to arrive at a final result; be quick with the math, but don’t rush it if you aren’t confident.

Unless you come up with something about 10 times the reasonable estimate, don’t worry about being “wrong” – the interviewer is unlikely to have a “correct” number in mind, he/she just wants to see your structured mindset.

This question type is so common, we devote a whole article to it, and our Case Interview End-to-End Secrets Program have a separate package on these questions. Check out our comprehensive guide on Market-Sizing & Guesstimate Questions for more details!

Now, here’s a quick example for you to try and get used to this type:

How many smartphones are sold each year, globally?

  • Smartphones are phones using exclusively touch-screens.
  • “Sold” means sold to the end-consumers. 
  • The market size is calculated at present.

Break down the problem:

The global smartphone market can be divided into three segments – developed countries, developing countries, and undeveloped countries.

In each segment, the annual unit sales of smartphones depend on four variables:

  • The percentage of “phone-owning age” people among the population
  • The percentage of smartphone owners within the “phone-owning age” group.
  • The average, annual, per capita “consumption” of smartphones for those owners.

Solve each piece:

  • The population is 1.5 billion in developed countries, 5.5 billion in developing countries, and 1 billion in undeveloped countries.
  • 80% of the world population is in the “phone-owning age” (Global life expectancy is 70 and everyone older than 15 years counts towards the “phone-owning age” group)
  • 100% of the phone-owning age in developed countries will own a smartphone; the figure in developing countries is 75%, while in undeveloped countries it’s 10%.
  • The average smartphone user replaces their phone every 3 years – so they “consume” 0.33 phones each year.

=> Estimated global smartphone market: 1.53 billion units per year

=> Actual 2019 global smartphone sales:  1.37 billion units (error margin: 11.7%).

This market-sizing question is solved using a four-step process, which is explained in this article:  Market-Sizing & Guesstimate Questions

Type 3 – Valuation questions

Valuation questions are about estimating the monetary value of a business, and these are very popular in case interviews too!

Valuation questions are a blend of guesstimation/market-sizing, math, and business. They also require basic finance knowledge. There are three ways to estimate the value of a business:

  • The NPV Method: take the net cash flow generated by the business, and discount it to the present to account for time value of money. Basically “this company is worth X dollars because it gives me Y dollars over Z years”. This approach works best when the cash flow from the business is positive and stable.
  • The Market Method: take one index of the firm (which can be stocks or anything depending on the industry) and multiply it with an industry multiple (the value of one unit of the said index). In other words, “this company is worth AxB dollars because it has A traffic and each traffic is worth B dollars”. This approach works best when the market is transparent and data on similar firms are accessible – usually with major, established industries such as commercial airlines.

In real case interviews, you have to justify your approach then ask the interviewer to give you the necessary data.

Our client wants to sell his organic-food restaurant (called “Cato’s Cabbage Farm”) to retire. How much is his restaurant worth?

(Supposed the interviewer gives you the following data: his current income from the restaurant is $100,000 per year; two other restaurants in the neighborhood – one with 2 times more customers, and another about 0.75 times, have been sold at $1,800,000 and $1,000,000 respectively).

NPV Method: Cato’s Cabbage Farm value = $100,000 / 10% = $1,000,000

Market Method:

Assume the number of customers for Cato’s Cabbage Farm is 1 “customer unit”, then the two neighborhood restaurants get 2 and 0.75 “customer units”.

  • Industry multiple: ($1,800,000+$1,000,000) / (2+0.75) = ~$1,018,182
  • Cato’s Cabbage Farm value = $1,018,182 x 1 = $1,018,182

Type 4 – Brain teasers

Brain teasers are the least predictable case interview questions – but even these can be learned!

Brain teasers are riddles designed to test unconventional, creative, and logical thinking. A famous example of this is Accenture’s “How do you put a giraffe in a fridge?”.

Although not as popular as before, brain teasers might still appear in consulting interviews; therefore, you should spend some time to prepare.

Most brain teasers can be allocated into these seven types:

  • Logical questions are pure logic riddles – there’s no trick, no illusion, no creativity.

In our Case Interview End-to-End Secrets Program , there are +200 brain teasers to help you prepare for these “unpredictable” questions. You can also read our article about Case Interview Brain Teasers for insights on all of these exciting brain teasers, as well as 30 example questions and answers!

How do you put a giraffe in a fridge?

Open the fridge, put the giraffe in, then close the fridge. The question never says how big the fridge or the giraffe is.

For the logic and approach behind each kind of brain teasers, see the article on Brain Teasers.

Type 5 – Chart insight questions

You can’t be a management consultant without mastering the use of charts – the complex, scary-looking real-world charts such as those included in our Case Interview End-to-End Secrets Program.

In management consulting and case interviews, most charts are one (or a combination) of these four basic types:

  • Bar charts compare the values of several items at one point in time, or 1-2 items at several time intervals.
  • Line charts illustrate time-series data, i.e trends in data over a continuous period.
  • Pie charts illustrate proportions, i.e “parts of a whole” analyses.
  • Scatter-plots use data points to visualize how two variables relate to each other.

To read these charts and answer chart-insights questions effectively, you must follow a structured, comprehensive process:

You can find a more detailed guide in the Charts section in our article about Consulting Math.

What can you draw from the following chart?

how to answer business case study questions

Trends in chart:

  • Steady rise in the number of confirmed deaths to about 70-80 per million;
  • Both changes started around March 10-11.
  • These sudden rises can be explained by events occurring in early-March, and 2.
  • If number of cases is kept low, the threat from COVID-19 will remain minimal, considering a mortality rate of only 2%.

Type 6 – Value proposition questions

No business or consulting candidate can succeed without understanding the customers!

Value-proposition questions are not only about correctly identifying customer preferences, but also about analyzing and delivering the answer in a structured fashion. The former relies heavily on business knowledge and intuition, but the latter can be trained methodically and quickly. Personally, I use a “double issue-tree” – essentially a table with customer segments on one axis and proposed values on the other:

For segmenting customers, you can use the following table. However, don’t over-rely on it, since there may be more relevant and insightful question-specific segmentations.

In some cases, clarification is also necessary – both to avoid “answering the wrong question” and to narrow down the range of customers/values you need to cover in the answer.

What will a customer consider when buying a Toyota sedan?

Clarification: A sedan must be branded “Toyota” to be a Toyota sedan – cars with other Toyota-owned brands such as Lexus or Ranz do not count in this question.

Situational Assessment:

Toyota sedans occupy the entry-level and mid-range price segments, so Toyota customers will be more price-conscious than, for example, Lexus customers.

They are also less likely to lean considerably towards one particular factor, so achieving a balance is extremely important.

Functionality factors:

  • Comfort: Toyota sedans are mostly for everyday use, so customers should feel comfortable being inside the car.
  • Utility: Toyota sedans are used for multiple purposes, so convenience for a wide range of uses is important.

Cost factors

  • Purchase price: A car can be an expensive investment while Toyota’s low-to-mid-range customers are more price-conscious, so having a cheap/reasonable price is important.
  • Fuel and maintenance: Maintenance and fuel costs over time are likewise inversely related to the decision to buy a Toyota sedan.

Physical factors

  • Performance: Customers are usually drivers themselves, who often pay attention to the technical characteristics of the car (speed, acceleration, handling, etc.)
  • Visual design: The car should possess the same level of visual appeal as other competitors in the same segment.
  • Build quality: Parts of the car should be assembled in a reasonably good manner.

Emotional factors

  • Branding: The car should come from a well-known, reputable brand
  • Personal preferences: Some customers choose specific cars simply because they “like” the car.

Type 7 – Information questions

In any problem-solving process, information is one of the overarching concerns!

“Information questions” essentially ask if the piece of data you use is obtainable in the first place. In real consulting work, data is not always available – client team members may refuse to cooperate or there’s simply no data on the subject.

There are many kinds of information sources in case interviews/consulting works, but I’ll divide them into primary and secondary sources. Primary sources means you must do the research yourself (or pay someone else to do it for you), such as customer surveys or mystery shoppings. If someone already did that research, and you use their results, it’s called a secondary source – you can get these from the client , the consulting firm you work for, or third-parties such as market research firms or external industry experts.

You can find out more about these sources and how to cite them in real case interviews through this free Prospective Candidate Starter Pack, which contains a glossary of data sources in consulting.

Our Prospective Candidate Starter Pack has a sheet containing all the possible sources of information in case interviews and consulting projects, among numerous other free resources; you can download and use it to answer these questions, by subscribing to our newsletter at the end of this article.

How do you assess your target customer’s preferences for sports cars?

Primary sources: customer survey, customer interviews, Secondary sources: industry reports, client sales reports, third-party expert interview, client expert interview

Type 8 – Math problems

A lot of information in case interviews and consulting work comes in the quantitative form, so you won’t escape Math by joining the consulting industry!

When you have to do the math, perform back-of-the-envelope calculations in a structured fashion, and say out loud what you’re writing. For one thing, it’s safe; for another, you show that you’re careful, organized, and reliable – just like actual consultants.

We have a Math Practice Tool right here! Use it every day, and you’ll be a master of mental calculations in no time flat!

We have a dedicated article on Consulting Math, which you should definitely read.

Type 9 – Solution-finding questions

What’s the point of analyzing a problem, if not to solve it?!

When dealing with solution questions, keep these four points in mind:

  • Firstly, in case interviews as well as real consulting projects, solutions must always solve every root cause of a problem, so remember to check if your solutions are relevant and comprehensive.
  • Secondly, every solution must be actionable – if your solutions are too expensive, too time-consuming, etc. for the client, they’re useless.
  • Thirdly, the interview expects a highly-structured answer; so segment your solutions based on their characteristics (long-term vs short-term is the easiest segmentation)

how to answer business case study questions

Last but not least, deliver at least two solutions, preferably three to five. Otherwise, you’ll appear uncreative and lazy to the interviewer’s eyes.

Nailing these questions relies on having excellent business intuition; our Case Interview End-to-End Program has a dedicated Business Intuition package, but you should also train a habit of reading consulting and business articles daily, to sharpen your business mind.

A restaurant that relies solely on on-premise dining found the loss of adjacent parking space (due to termination of contract) harming their revenue. How can they fix that?

The solutions for the restaurant’s parking space problem can be divided into two types:

  • Short-term solutions: Find new parking space around the neighborhood, or renegotiate for old parking space (possibly at a higher price).
  • Long-term solutions: Introduce takeaway items and off-premise dining.

Reminders on case interview questions

The questions are not clear-cut in candidate-led cases.

There are two extremes in consulting case interview format: interviewer-led (McKinsey) and candidate-led (BCG, Bain).

Interviewer-led cases, on one hand, consist of multiple, clear-cut questions in a larger business case context; the candidate navigates through these questions to arrive at the solutions.

Candidate-led cases, on the other hand, have one big problem, which the candidate must break down into small pieces to identify the root causes and deliver solutions.

This list, therefore, is much more relevant to the interviewer-led format; nonetheless, this guide is still quite beneficial for candidate-led cases, because when solving that big problem, you’ll have to tackle small issues similar to the 8 aforementioned question types.

Mastering the fundamentals is crucial to consistent performance

Although it’s good to study the case interview questions, it is no substitute for mastering the fundamental principles.

Learning the exercises without the basics is like building a house without a foundation. My poor neighbor’s house developed a huge crack right down the center because of its weak foundation, so make sure to build your case interview prep a strong one by knowing the basics first.

Once you’ve mastered the fundamentals, you’ll become much more flexible – this quality is getting increasingly important because case interviews are getting less predictable, and more realistic.

If you haven’t, I advise you to read these articles (especially the first 4) before practicing the question types:

  • Case Interview 101
  • Issue Tree – The Complete Guide
  • MECE Principle
  • Case Interview Frameworks
  • McKinsey Case Interview – Interviewer-led Format
  • BCG & Bain Case Interview – Candidate-led Format

Expect the unexpected

If you study those nine question types, rest assured that you’ve covered the majority of questions in case interviews.

However, these are not all the possible questions you might be given. In actual cases, there are always questions that cannot be categorized neatly. If you do not prepare for these questions, it’s easy to be thrown off-balance.

So, how do you prepare for “the unexpected”?

  • Master the basics: Focus your efforts on the basics, once you’ve mastered them it’d be comfortable to move on to higher, more sophisticated levels.
  • Business Intuition : You need business intuition for a business-related job, it’s simple as that. Nearly every case concerns business in one way or another – even public sector cases. This is why we also teach business intuition in our Case Interview E2E Secret Program.
  • Have mock case interviews : Practice case interviews with ex-consultants will help you get a sense of what might happen or how you might be evaluated in actual cases. Highly experienced coaches from MConsultingPrep will review your performance, giving you the most valuable feedback and actionable tips & techniques.

Scoring in the McKinsey PSG/Digital Assessment

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Six types of charts in case interview are: Bar/Column chart, Line chart, Percentage chart, Mekko chart, Scatter plot chart, Waterfall chart.

A case interview is where candidates is asked to solve a business problem. They are used by consulting firms to evaluate problem-solving skill & soft skills

Case interview frameworks are methods for addressing and solving business cases.  A framework can be extensively customized or off-the-shelf for specific cases.

How to Approach a Case Study - A Structured 4-Step Approach

  • Last Updated February, 2023

The Internet is filled with frameworks on how to approach a case study. But which one will help you ace your case and land an offer at a top consulting firm?

At My Consulting Offer, former Bain, BCG, and McKinsey consultants have developed a proven 4-step approach that will help you tackle any type of case study. We’v helped over 600 recruits land the consulting jobs of their dream.

Want to know the secret? Keep reading!

In this article, we’ll walk you through our 4-step approach and talk about what the interviewer expects at each step, including:

  • How to approach a case study.
  • Clarifying the client’s objectives.
  • Framing a logical structure.
  • Making sense of the provided information.
  • Giving a strong recommendation.

Let’s get started!

Approaching a Case Study

Analyzing the right case information, case interview opening: getting to know the key objective, concluding your case with a strong recommendation, framing a customized problem-solving structure.

A case interview always starts with a prompt. A prompt is the initial information about the case provided by the interviewer. It gives you a brief background of the client’s problem and the key objective.

Here’s an example:

“Your client today is an NYC-based violinist. She’s been saving up for her wedding, but she broke her leg and can’t leave her apartment. She’s got to find a new plan for coming up with her wedding savings now and needs help.”

In the above example, we get to know the background and the objective.

Background: Our client Maria is an NYC-based violinist and has been saving for her wedding.

Objective: Find ways for the client to increase her savings for her wedding without leaving her apartment. 

After the prompt is given, you’re expected to drive the case forward. Our 4-step approach will help you do just that.

  • Opening – Understand and reconfirm the objective and ask clarifying questions.
  • Structure – Develop a problem-solving structure to answer the key questions.
  • Analysis – Dive deeper into analyzing relevant issues and use data provided by your interviewer to make conclusions.
  • Recommendation – Give a strong actionable recommendation by tying together the insights.

Let’s dive into each step of the 4-step guide so you can solve cases like a pro!

The first step to solving any problem is to know the key objective a.k.a. the “north star” which will help you guide the case in the right direction.

This seemingly simple, but it’s where many interviewees fail. They think the prompt has given them all the relevant information, so they rush to start solving the problem.

But, as you saw in the prompt, the objective is touched upon but isn’t clear or measurable . You got to know that the client is looking for ways to increase her wedding savings while staying in her apartment with a broken leg.

We still don’t know what the target is and how much of it is already saved. Additionally, as there were no clarifying questions asked, no other details were shared by the interviewer.

Nail the case & fit interview with strategies from former MBB Interviewers that have helped 89.6% of our clients pass the case interview.

What should the Case Opening Look Like?

It’s important to ask questions like:

  • What does success look like for the client? Does she have a target in mind for her wedding?
  • How was she making money before she broke her leg?
  • What are her income streams?
  • Is she willing to cut her expenses to increase savings or is she looking only for ways to increase her income?

These questions help us understand the following:

Tangible or Measurable Objective – What is the target in the client’s mind?

Additional Information – prior income sources, income source while stuck in her apartment, her focus on increasing income rather than reducing costs.

What does the interviewer expect from you in the case opening?

  • Restate the prompt in your own words
  • Confirm the key objective 
  • Ask a few key clarifying questions (3-5) to know more about the overarching context of the case – making sure you understand the client’s product, business model, or geographic focus 

Now let’s learn how to create a comprehensive and customized problem-solving structure.

The internet is filled with problem-solving approaches and frameworks, like:

  • The BCG 2 x 2 Matrix
  • The Profitability Formula
  • McKinsey’s 7S Framework
  • Porter’s 5 Forces

These frameworks help break business problems into smaller parts that can be analyzed to figure out a solution. But as these frameworks are generic, it might feel like they are being force-fitted to the problem in your case. No standard framework will ever fit all situations. 

Creating a case-specific problem-solving structure isn’t difficult and with the right approach, you can create it with ease.

How to Create a Customized Structure

Start with the key objective, increasing Maria’s savings for her wedding. How can we break this problem down into sub-parts? If you were using a generic framework, you might use the 3C + P framework and break the problem into:

  • Competitors

You could then think of questions in each bucket that would help Maria understand potential opportunities to expand her income. 

But, with this approach, you wouldn’t be likely to stand out! Lots of candidates will approach this case with the same 4 buckets. This is why a customized approach is important.

While creating your structure, there are a few things that you should do to ensure that your structure touches on all relevant points and helps you to drive the case forward. Your structure should be:

  • Logical – Each bucket in the structure should logically align with the key objective.
  • Personalized – As you are creating the buckets, personalize them to the case at hand.
  • MECE – MECE stands for “ Mutually exclusive, Collectively exhaustive .” This helps you ensure that there are no overlapping buckets and you cover all the key aspects of the problem.
  • Depth – As you dig deeper into each bucket, ask yourself if you have covered all possible questions in the bucket. Create sub-buckets of the main buckets wherever necessary.

You can read more about structuring your analysis of business problems in our article on issue trees .

What does a Good vs. Great Structure Look Like?

Comparing the two structures above, we can see that Candidate B has created a better structure than Candidate A. Although Candidate A covered all important aspects, Candidate B has personalized their structure to Maria’s problem.

Communicating the structure in an easy-to-understand manner is as important as creating a robust structure. When communicating the structure:

  • Ensure that the interviewer can follow your structure.
  • Communicate one level at a time.
  • Use a numbered list to walk through the structure.

After walking the interviewer through the structure, you should choose the bucket that should be explored first to answer the key question. You could say something like –

“Now that we have walked through the opportunities for increasing her revenue, I’d like to dive into the skills Maria has that she could leverage.”

The interviewer could either agree or disagree with the first bucket that you want to dig deeper into. Some companies, like McKinsey, use interviewer-led case interviews and will lead you through the case following a specified path. Others, like Bain and BCG, will let you lead the case and just nudge you if you seem to be veering off-path. In either case, you’ll need to start by brainstorming and providing ideas on the first bucket or you’ll need to analyze data and derive conclusions.

There are 3 main types of analysis you may need to do to answer the key question:


Market sizing, exhibit reading.

Let’s see how each of these would help us drive the case forward and derive conclusions.

In a brainstorming exercise, a strong candidate will generate 8-10 ideas bucketed into categories. In the current case example, you could be asked for ideas on how Maria could make more money.

One set of categories you could use to generate ideas follows what we call the “X-not X” approach. Essentially, you start with a bucket like “playing music” and generate ideas in that bucket. Then switch to “not playing” and generate ideas for this bucket. This will help you in generating at least 2x ideas you otherwise would and will look more impressive to your interviewer because it is MECE and structured.

Let’s see how brainstorming plays out in our case example.

“Maria likes your approach and wants to start right away. Because she is currently not making any money, she would like some ideas. What are some ideas you have on how she could make money? She only wants to focus on leveraging her violin talents.”

The above example shows how you could use the “X-not X” approach to generate a lot of ideas – and how you could even further structure the ideas into “online” and “offline” categories to make it an exceptional brainstorming example.

You may also be expected to calculate the size of a market for your client’s product or service – after all, one of the most important things to know before pursuing an opportunity is the size of that opportunity. In the current example, you could be asked to calculate the income that Maria could earn by offering online violin classes.

There are 2 approaches to market sizing:

  • Top-down: This is used when there are no constraints. In this approach, you start with the overall population that may be interested in the product or service and slice it down based on the segments of the market most likely to purchase. The top-down approach is best for national and global markets.
  • Bottom-up: This approach is used when there are some constraints, like supply constraints, a limited number of hours, etc. In this approach, you start with the limiting factor and try to estimate the maximum that can be achieved based on the constraints.

Let’s see how we can use market sizing to help our client.

“Maria likes the ideas you came up with. She thought about being a violin teacher at one point since she had a great one when she started as a kid and is curious, how much could she make if she were to teach one-on-one Zoom classes for the next month? She wants to start small before she goes to group classes and, in the beginning, it will be just her teaching.”

Here’s an example of how you could work through this question:

The above shows how you could estimate the income which our client can expect to make in the first month. 

Follow up your analysis by giving your answer the “sniff test.” Does it seem right at a high level? Here we see that $4,000 is the estimated first month’s income, but as this would be the first time Maria will be taking online classes, she won’t be working at full capacity from the start. Her earnings will probably be lower than $4,000.

But, in the long run, it’s a good idea to start offering lessons because at full capacity, Maria will be able to earn $8,000 per month.

In case interviews, you’ll be expected to derive conclusions based on tables or charts provided by your interviewer. In the current example, you could be asked to help the client prioritize which type of client should she target for her violin classes.

Let’s see what data is available and how we can conclude which segment to go after.

“Maria is happy to know that you think providing 1:1 violin lessons over Zoom is a viable idea. 

She knows that a lot of people are interested in violin lessons, but to make sure she can tailor her marketing and lessons, she is interested in only going after one or two segments.

Which one should she go after?”

The first step to deriving insights from an exhibit is to read it thoroughly and ideally interpret it aloud as you go for your interviewer. This chart has data about willingness to pay and competitiveness across various segments. It gives an idea about the level of competition from other violin instructors. The market size of each segment is portrayed using the size of the circle. At first glance, it might seem that the client should go ahead with the segment which has the lowest competition and highest willingness to pay, which is the “Adult-Advanced” segment. But, that segment has a really small market size and Maria would need extensive teaching experience to cater to advanced students.

This is the first time Maria is getting into this market, but she also wants to have a high earning potential. The optimum segment would be one with a good market size and a reasonable trade-off between willingness to pay and competitiveness. 

Based on this, Maria should go with the “college-intermediate” and “adult-intermediate” segments. She would be able to cater to both these segments with ease. Additionally, the combined market size is considerable and the relative trade-off of competitiveness and willingness to pay is suitable as well.

What does the interviewer expect when you are doing analysis and deriving insights?

  • Pause to think about the structure for marking sizing or ideas for brainstorming. If you’re asked to read an exhibit, take a moment to understand it and lay out what it says to your interviewer before interpreting the data it provides.
  • Offer insights into your client’s problem as the data presents them and draw conclusions.
  • Drive the case forward based on the insights. What does this data mean for solving your client’s problem?

Maria came to you with a problem in hand and won’t be thrilled to just get the insights in bits or pieces. Pull your problem-solving together for her with a persuasive recommendation.

Think of the case interview as baking an amazing cake. While the structure and derived insights form the main ingredients for baking the cake, the recommendation is like the cherry on top. It helps in creating a lasting positive impression.

Similar to the opening of the case, the recommendation can seem relatively straightforward, but it is definitely nuanced. MCO’s 5R framework could help you deliver great recommendations for every case.

How should you present your recommendations?

MCO’s 5R Framework:

  • Recap: As consultants, you deal with CXO (e.g., CEO, CFO) level clients who are busy with many projects, so recapping the problem you’re solving is essential to set the tone of the meeting.
  • Recommendation: State your recommendations clearly without any additional detail to showcase clarity.
  • Reasons: Follow this with logical reasons for your recommendations to provide context and show the credibility of the recommendations.
  • Risks: Every decision has risks associated with it. Just lay them out so the client knows what to watch out for during implementation.
  • Retain: End the recommendations with key next steps to pursue the opportunity, ensuring continuous engagement with the client.

Let’s see how to give a strong recommendation for our case example.

“Your client calls you and wants to know what you recommend.”

What does the interviewer expect when closing the case?

  • Keep the recommendation clear and succinct keeping the audience in mind.
  • Explain everything with a reason and point out risks associated with the recommendation.
  • Be presentable and communicate the recommendations with confidence.
  • Ensure that the next steps are clearly laid out.

A final note: Not all cases have a “Right” and “Wrong” answer. In some, the math is very cut and dry but in others, there is a mix of evidence and it is a judgment call on what to recommend. Remember that a well-defended recommendation is more important than the “exact right answer.”

– – – – –

In this article, we’ve provided frameworks and tips to ace the different sections of a case interview. You are now equipped with the knowledge to:

  • Approach a case study.
  • Clarify client objectives.
  • Frame a structure for effective problem-solving.
  • Analyze the right information.
  • Give a recommendation.

Apply these tips by practicing sample cases with case partners as much as possible so you’ll be ready to ace your next consulting case interview.

Happy casing!

Still have questions?

If you have more questions about how to approach a case interview, leave them in the comments below. One of My Consulting Offer’s case coaches will answer them.

Other people preparing for consulting case interviews the following pages helpful:

  • Our Ultimate Guide to Case Interview Prep
  • Case Interview Frameworks
  • Issue Trees
  • MECE Case Structures
  • Case Interview Examples
  • Case Interview Formulas

Help with Case Study Interview Prep

Thanks for turning to My Consulting Offer for advice on case study interview prep. My Consulting Offer has helped almost 89.6% of the people we’ve worked with get a job in management consulting. We want you to be successful in your consulting interviews too. For example, here is how Sharmeen was able to get her offer at BCG.

We want you to be successful in your consulting interviews too.

If you want to learn more about how to ace your case interviews, schedule a free call with a member of our team. We’ll show you how you get an offer without spending hundreds of hours preparing.

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3 Top Strategies to Master the Case Interview in Under a Week

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how to answer business case study questions


10 Tips for Answering Business Case Questions Successfully

Published: Sep 21, 2015

Article image

Landing a job in the consulting industry generally means that you're going to have to sit through any number of case interviews. The following tips are excerpted from Vault's recently-updated Guide to the Case Interview , which features many more practical tips, as well as real-life interview examples from the likes of BCG , McKinsey , A.T. Kearney and more.

1. Take Notes

As your interviewer presents your case, be sure to take careful notes on the numbers or other facts given. (Always bring a notepad and a pen to a consulting interview.) If you plan on drawing graphs, add brownie points by bringing graph paper (which shows major foresight). Bringing all these accessories - plus resumes and business cards - in a professional-looking portfolio is a nice touch. Take notes so you don't have to ask your interviewer to repeat information. Turn the notepad to landscape orientation, because consultants use that arrangement in their presentations. At the end of the interview, your notes usually are collected and contribute to your good or bad impression. The logical layout of the notes counts for more than the amount of detail.

2. Make No Assumptions

As a case interviewee, you should never make any assumptions. Your interviewer will inevitably leave things out of the case presented to you. (If an apple juice manufacturer has seen its expenses rise dramatically, for example, your interviewer probably won't mention the tree blight that's constricting the supply of apples.) You should assume the persona of an actual consultant trying to learn about an assignment. You should also ask if the company has encountered a similar problem, or what other companies in the field have done when faced with similar situations. Your interviewer may not release that information but will be impressed that you asked these sensible questions. Some good basic "professional" questions to ask, which apply to most cases:

  • What is the product?
  • Who hired us?
  • How long will this engagement last?
  • Has the company faced this problem (or opportunity) before? If so, how did it react? What was the outcome?
  • What have other companies facing this situation done?

One way to firm up the premises of the case is to quickly summarize the problem that was just presented to you. Base your summary on your notes. As you do this, whenever you come upon an element that you are not 100 percent sure you understand, ask for clarification. If you're lucky, your interviewer may point out any places in your summary where you interpreted the case incorrectly.

3. Ask Questions

Your interviewer expects you to ask questions - as many intelligent questions as you need to obtain an accurate picture of the relevant facts in the case. By asking questions, you turn the encounter from a presentation to a conversation, which is a much more enjoyable experience for the interviewer. Many inexperienced case interviewees make the error of asking their interviewer too few questions. They may be afraid that they will look ignorant, or not wish to "bother" the interviewer. Remember, not asking questions is a fatal error in a case interview. If you don't know the first thing about the helicopter market, ask how much it costs to manufacture a rotor. If you need to estimate the demand for a beef-flavored potato snack in Wichita, Kansas, then feel free to ask the population of Wichita and environs. Keep in mind that all business is done within a context, so you may want to ask about  trends  in the industry in which the case is situated.

You will often find that your interviewer will direct your line of questioning to a specific area, but you must always be ready to control the conversation in case the interviewer does not direct your reasoning. If you are unsure, simply ask the interviewer. For instance, if you find the interviewer offering little direction as you move through your initial questions, you may wish to ask, "I find the lack of a risk assessment to be a potential showstopper. Might I ask some detailed questions about this?" Or you might say, "Given what you have told me about the situation, I would like to find out more about the client's current relationship with its distribution partner. Would that be OK?" In this way, you take charge of the line of questioning without stepping on the interviewer's role.

4. Listen to the Answers You Get

One interviewer warns: "Many candidates get so caught up in asking the perfect questions that they don't listen to the answers they receive. They go through a mental list of all the questions they want to ask, and ignore the response they got. That throws off their reasoning." Make sure you respond to the information you receive and incorporate it into your analysis.

5. Maintain Eye Contact

Always maintain direct eye contact during the case interview. Eye contact is critical when answering case questions. It demonstrates confidence and authority. Remember that in consulting you may find yourself in front of 20 executives at a major corporation presenting a strategy you were briefed on only a half-hour ago. And then you have to answer questions! So you can see why business case interviewing is so important to consulting. It simulates the work environment consultants must face every day.

6. Take Your Time

It's perfectly fine to take a minute to think through your answer; in fact, most interviewers find it preferable. "Whenever I asked to take the time out to collect my thoughts," reports one consultant who's undergone "dozens" of case interviews, "my interviewers always said, 'Okay, good, go ahead.'" On the other hand, while "a minute of deep thinking" is fine, "five minutes is really overkill. You don't want your interviewer waiting there for five minutes. The case is only supposed to be 15 or 20 minutes."

7. Lay Out a Road Map for Your Interviewer

After you've selected your approach, don't keep it a secret. Tell your interviewer what approach you're going to take. For example, you might say, "First, I'm going to discuss the Mexican and Canadian markets. Second, I'll ask about our entry strategy. Finally, I'm making a recommendation." "One of the most important things consultants have to do is present complex ideas in a lucid manner," explains one interviewer. "That's why you should take time to explain your reasoning. Not only will it impress your interviewer and allow you to confirm any assumption that you're making, but it will allow you to get your own thinking straight."

8. Think Out Loud

In order to navigate case interviews successfully, you will need to act quickly and confidently. The business case is an opportunity to show the interviewer how you think. Your interviewer wants to know that you can reason in a rapid and logical fashion. As you assess, compile, and analyze the elements presented to you, be sure that you speak aloud and explain your reasoning. This is the only way the interviewer can assess your performance.

You may not be entirely comfortable thinking out loud. So if you're not feeling confident thinking aloud, try practicing by yourself. Start with something simple like explaining aloud to yourself how to change a tire or how you brush your teeth. Minimize "ums" and other fillers, so that what you say is concise, direct and clear.

Next, try practicing on friends or family. Have them ask questions for which you must assess a situation. For example, they might ask, "I'm not sure at which bank I should open a checking account. What are the trade-offs between Bank X and Bank Y?" or "I've got $50 to spend on groceries, so what should I buy?" Even speaking to yourself in front of the mirror will build your confidence thinking "on the fly" while simultaneously speaking.

9. Present Your Thinking in a Clear, Logical Manner

You should develop a framework for assessing case interview questions which can be applied to different situations. Where helpful, use frameworks and business concepts to organize your answer. In general, in any situation you will want to:

  • Understand the scope of the engagement
  • Pinpoint the objectives
  • Identify the key players
  • Work towards a recommendation

Beyond this, you may choose any line of questioning or structure with which you feel comfortable. As you practice, you will find yourself developing this framework unconsciously as you attempt to gain clarity over a situation. Capture and package this framework, and have it available by memory (or on paper if you wish) for use at any time.

Where useful, also use advanced business concepts and frameworks, such as Porter's Five Forces or Value Chain Analysis, to help organize your thoughts and impress your interviewer.

10. Quickly Summarize Your Conclusions

You have limited time in your case interview to make your point. In fact, interviewers sometimes cut off your presentation before you have finished. The interviewer has used this same case problem on countless job candidates before you, so she may want to move on once she sees you're on the right track. If she does let you reach a conclusion, she will appreciate brevity in your summary. If you are uncomfortable with quickly summarizing your conclusions, think about being faced with this classic situation:

"A consultant working for a multinational corporation inadvertently bumped into the CEO of the corporation while waiting for the elevator. As they got on the elevator, the CEO announced that he was on his way to a Board of Directors meeting on the 34th floor. He then instructed the consultant to brief him completely on the major findings of the project in the time it took the elevator to go from the 1st floor to the 34th floor."

While this is no doubt an urban legend, it is extremely likely that you will encounter time-pressured situations many times in your professional career, especially in consulting, where time is a precious commodity. If you are taking a while reaching your conclusion, your interviewer may ask you for the "60 second pitch." Practice summarizing your answer in a minute or less.

What If I Get One of Those Group Case Interviews?

While Monitor Deloitte used to be one of a very few consulting companies that gave a group case interview, its popularity has spread. In a group interview, between two and five candidates are given a case and asked to present their findings in one hour. Sometimes there is a ground rule that the recommended course of action must be agreed to by all candidates unanimously. A few consultants from the firm remain with the candidates to silently observe their progress.

One important thing to remember is that the group interview is not a zero-sum game. "Everyone may get an offer, or no one may get an offer," confirms one consultant. The key with group case interviews is to show your keen organizational and teamwork abilities. Don't bully your fellow candidates, but don't sit back and quietly do as you are told. One recent group case interviewee suggests, "Present your thoughts on how to divide the analysis. Listen to what others have to say. Try to determine areas of expertise. If you disagree with their thoughts or estimates, say so, but never be denigrating or rude. Look like you're having a good time. Otherwise, the analysis is pretty similar to a regular case."

For more tips, check out the full guide here .

How to end a case interview on a high note

3 keys to avoiding case interview pitfalls

Case interviews: the danger of too much practice

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Key Study Skills

  • Assignment Calculator
  • Managing nervousness
  • Allocating time and using the marking system
  • Using the reading time effectively
  • Answering multi-choice and short answer questions
  • Answering essay and case study questions in exams
  • Managing exam stress
  • Academic Skills for Success

Answering essay questions in exams

Writing an essay in an exam is similar in many ways to writing an essay for an assignment: It needs to be clearly structured, and your ideas need to be linked and supported by evidence.

Essay questions in exams

  • Read the question through carefully to make sure you are answering what has been asked.  Missing one part of a question can cost you a lot of marks.
  • Make a quick plan of the points you want to include in your answer.
  • Use essay structure: introduction, points, conclusion.  But if you run out of time, it can be a good idea to write notes.
  • Get right to the point from the beginning.  Use the words from the question to write your first sentence. For example:

Question: What do you think is the most important intercultural communication issue in New Zealand? First sentence: At present in New Zealand the most important intercultural communication issue is...

  • Remember to include one idea per paragraph, and to begin each paragraph with a clear topic sentence.
  • Make sure your writing is legible.
  • Grammar, punctuation and spelling are not as important as in an assignment but should still be of a good standard.

Answering case study questions

Exam questions that ask you to anlayse case studies (also called scenarios) are usually designed to test your ability to relate theories and concepts to real-world situations.

Preparing for case studies before the exam:

  • Start by identifying the theories and concepts covered in your course.  Organise and review the information you have on these theories/concepts so you understand them.
  • Practice reading case studies and identifying relevant information. It's probably useful to practice doing this with a time limit as you will have one in your exam.
  • Practice relating concepts and theories to real-world situations: ask lecturers and check textbooks for practice examples. It is also worth checking past exams for your course to see if there are examples of case study questions.

During the exam

  • Take time to plan: Have a clear idea of how much time you have to answer the question. Then plan to spend some time reading the exam question, the case study and planning your answer. Take time to make sure you have understood the case study and know what the exam question is asking you to do:
  • Read the exam question(s)
  • Then skim read the case study to get the general idea. Highlight or underline key points
  • Reread the question to make sure you understand it and to focus your attention when you reread the case study.
  • Reread the case study carefully. Make a note of any ideas that you think of.
  • Answer the question linking relevant theories and concepts to specific information from the case study. Usually you will need to write your answers in clearly formed paragraphs which have a clear topic that is well-supported with evidence and examples.
  • Instead of simply describing or restating information from the case itself, use specific details or examples to support the points you are trying to make. This is where you link theory to the facts from the case study.
  • << Previous: Answering multi-choice and short answer questions
  • Next: Managing exam stress >>
  • Last Updated: Feb 14, 2023 11:36 AM
  • URL: https://guides.unitec.ac.nz/studyskills


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