Job Search Tip of the Week #18 (2019)
Caressa Moy | April 29, 2019 | 9:00 am
How to Ace the Case Interview
If you’re a technology pro (and especially one in a consulting capacity), potential employers want to know more than the simple fact that you can solve their problems. They want to know how you’ll do it. Your attitude, style, problem-solving capabilities, and approach are all deciding factors in how well you’ll fit into a particular position and organization. To find this out, employers often conduct interviews that ask you to solve a business case question or problem.
Solve the case
In a traditional interview, candidates spend the majority of their time answering questions about their education and work experience. In a behavioral interview, employers try to get an idea of how applicants’ personalities and experiences will affect their approach in a particular position. But in a case interview, time is spent talking about a specific sample scenario. The candidate is expected to offer detailed responses that reveal how he or she would deal with the hypothetical situation. These responses help interviewers determine the applicant’s creativity, attitude, and ability.
No right answers
There are no “right answers” in a case interview. Rather, the goal for you as an applicant is to give potential employers a clear idea of how you think and work.
To prepare for a case interview, review case studies that detail specific strategies and situations of real companies. In fact, some companies will present problems that have arisen during the course of their company history. Research potential employers to get an idea of the types of problem scenarios they might encounter. Consider how you would handle similar situations. Take a rounded view that reflects your thinking process, your work style, individual steps you would take, whether and how you would work with a team, and so on.
In the interview, listen carefully to the case question. Take notes so that you can focus on your answer instead of trying to remember details about the question or scenario.
Summarize and restate the problem to confirm that you understand it correctly. Verify the objectives of the case question, and ask questions to clarify if necessary. Be willing to brainstorm your response out loud to show that you can work well with a team and think on your feet. Listen to and participate in feedback, but weigh your responses carefully; don’t ramble.
Organization and time management are important in this type of interview. So is enthusiasm. The way you handle yourself in this condensed situation also reveals how you’ll act under pressure on the job.
There are extensive resources online that can help you prepare for a case interview. A good recruiting firm can also offer suggestions or training to help you become adept at preparing for all types of interviews.
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