Master Case Interviews in 1 Week: 7 Proven Tips (2024)

Case interviews are a challenging screening round that requires a lot of time to prepare for. Unfortunately, many candidates don't have the luxury of time to adequately practice, with some only having a month or even a week. How can you get the most out of your limited preparation time if your case interview is one week ahead?

This article is designed to help those who have a short time to prepare for a case interview, even if you have no business background. We will go through the best tips and tricks to ace the case interview and help you get the job. Let's get started!

Table of Contents

One week to prepare for case interview: Must-have things

Those with no business background: What else to do?

One week to prepare for case interview: Must-have things

Preparing for case interviews can be a daunting task, especially when you only have a little time. However, there are a few essential things you should equip yourself with before going into the interview. Keep scrolling to explore our practical guidelines for your one-week preparation.

Grasp the fundamentals of case interview

The first thing to do when preparing for case interviews is to understand the fundamentals of a case interview:

  • Format: There are 2 main types of case interviews: candidate-led, used by BCG and Bain, and interviewer-led, used by McKinsey. The main difference between the two formats is whether the candidate is expected to lead the case or follow given questions from the interviewer.
  • Concept: Knowing the problem-solving concepts like hypotheses, issue tree, or MECE principles can help you nail every case interview, as they are the backbone of the problem-solving process.
  • Framework: case interview frameworks are pre-set templates that candidates can use to break down business problems. Some notable frameworks are Profitability, McKinsey M&A, Porter’s Five Forces, 4C, 4P, etc.

To acquire the basics of case interview theory, you can read our comprehensiveCase Interview 101 Guidebook, which covers all the fundamentals of case interviews and how to approach them, or watch this Case interview 101 video:

Get familiar with question types

Case interviews are among the most challenging assessments, but luckily, they are quite predictable as most case interviews will fall into one of 9 common question types. Once you get familiar with all the different questions they may ask, you'll be better prepared to tackle the case interview. Our article on case interview questions is pretty thorough; however, if you want to get an overview of the 9 types, we have listed them as follows:

  • Framework/issue tree questions
  • Market-sizing and guesstimate questions
  • Valuation questions
  • Brain teaser questions
  • Chart insight questions
  • Value proposition questions
  • Math problems
  • Information questions
  • Solution-finding questions

Speak like a consultant

During a case interview, speaking like a consultant would help you make a great impression on interviewers. And this can be done by practicing common terms that consultants use. For example, “levers” is a term used to refer to the ways to improve things, and “root cause” is the bottleneck that causes the problem.

Explore more terms that consultants often use with our little “dictionary”.

However, in a case interview, simply talking like a consultant is not enough. Along with practicing how to perform, it is important to learn the fundamentals - from case types to frameworks. But how can you do all these tasks effectively in just one week? A coaching experience is the answer! A coach can help to identify the key topics and areas of focus, assign appropriate practice materials, and ensure you reach your most potential.

Learn effective tips & tricks

Since you only have one week to prepare for case interviews, following these instant-result tips can help you maximize your chances of success:

Tip #1: Open the case perfectly

It is very important to make a good impression on the interviewer with a perfect opening. Polish your opening using these 7 steps:

Show appreciation ⇒ Announce case introduction ⇒ Recap ⇒ Clarify ⇒ Announce case approach ⇒ Align ⇒ Ask for timeout.

Tip #2: Use the map habit

Pause occasionally to summarize where you are, and where you’re going next. This creates a great impression of an organized candidate.

Tip #3: Practice with your personal script

Practice all the formulaic lines, such as the opening or data requests, using an interview script.

Tip #4: Structure your speech

Summarize the key takeaways. Divide your message into clear-cut parts and avoid switching between items. Number your ideas for easy tracking.

Tip #5: Take careful, organized notes

Some smart candidates struggled that much with simple cases just because of not knowhow to take notes. Make your notes easy to read and quick to interpret by dividing them into 3 types: Data, Presentation, and Scratch paper.

Tip #6: Avoid awkward silence

sk for timeout if necessary, and always try to think as fast as possible while still being “correct”. Proper “think-out-loud” sessions also help you brainstorm.

Tip #7: Make a concise final pitch

When you did not perform extremely well,the closing pitch might be the deciding factor. To close your pitch perfectly and concisely, you need to keep the pitch short, but take note to include every important

Those with no business background: What else to do?

If you don't have a business background and are limited on time to prepare for case interviews, there are a few essentials that you should focus on beyond the tips above.

Learn basic business concepts

In order to ace case interviews, you should have a good grasp of business fundamentals. This includes everything from common stakeholders to different business models. Having a solid understanding of these fundamentals can help you comprehend the case context and make it easier to approach the problem.

Below are some basic business concepts you may encounter in a case interview:

  • Stakeholders: customers/clients, employees, investors, etc.
  • Business models: retailer, affiliate, franchise, etc.
  • Structure: sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation, limited liability

Master Case Interviews in 1 Week: 7 Proven Tips (1)

Understand accounting terms

Understanding accounting terms is crucial if you want to ace case interviews, as they often involve analyzing financial data and making calculations. Therefore, candidates need to understand basic accounting concepts and terms, such as revenue, profit, cost of goods sold, gross margin, etc.

For example, you should get familiar with 3 basic financial statements: Balance Sheet, Income Statement, and Cash Flow Statement:

  • Balance Sheet: used to measure a company's financial position at a single point in time. The balance sheet shows the company's assets, liabilities, and shareholders' equity and can be used to determine the company's net worth.
  • Income Statement: summarizes a company's revenues and expenses over a specific period by examining its revenues, costs, and profits.
  • Cash Flow: describes the movement of money into and out of a business, thus indicating their ability to pay their bills and other expenses. Cash flow includes cash inflows (money received) and outflows (money spent).

To have a deeper insight into each financial statement and its components, let's delve into thisCase Interview 101 Guidebook. We have a detailed explanation of each term and its usage in management consulting.

Practice mental math

One proven way to deal with any case interview is by practicing mental math. In a case interview, candidates are often presented with complex business problems that require a lot of brainpower. Being able to perform mental math efficiently can save time during the interview, allowing candidates to spend more time focusing on the overall strategy and solution for the case.

To practice mental math, you can follow some tried-and-true tips below:

  • Use Your Head: Do all your daily calculations mentally unless an EXACT answer is required.
  • Flatten the Learning Curve: At the beginning, a piece of scratch paper and a 5% margin of error may help; once you feel confident, throw the paper away and reduce the margin.
  • Establish a Routine: Allocate some time for daily practice. This may seem hard at first, but once you’ve overcome the inertia, you can literally feel the improvement.

If you want to take a closer look into mental math, here is a video providing a complete guide to one-week intensive practice:

NOTE: No matter how much preparation you have done, it is important that you feel confident and prepared to conquer case interviews. If you don’t feel ready enough, you may try contacting HR personnel and ask if it is possible to reschedule. This will give you more time to practice and ensure you do your best.

As someone deeply entrenched in the world of case interviews, I understand the challenges candidates face and the urgency that often accompanies the preparation process. My expertise in this field stems from a combination of academic knowledge and practical experience, including mentoring aspiring consultants and actively participating in case interview workshops. Having successfully navigated case interviews myself and coached numerous individuals, I bring a wealth of insights to help candidates excel, even with limited preparation time.

Now, let's delve into the key concepts outlined in the article and provide additional insights:

Must-Have Things for One Week Preparation:

  1. Grasping the Fundamentals:

    • Format: Understand the two main types of case interviews - candidate-led and interviewer-led.
    • Concepts: Familiarize yourself with problem-solving concepts like hypotheses, issue trees, and MECE principles.
    • Frameworks: Explore popular case interview frameworks such as Profitability, McKinsey M&A, Porter’s Five Forces, and more.

    Additional Resource: The Case Interview 101 Guidebook is recommended for a comprehensive understanding of case interview fundamentals.

  2. Familiarizing with Question Types:

    • Identify the nine common question types, including framework/issue tree questions, market-sizing, valuation, brain teaser, chart insight, value proposition, math problems, information, and solution-finding questions.

    Additional Resource: The provided article on case interview questions offers a thorough exploration of these question types.

  3. Speaking Like a Consultant:

    • Practice using consultant terms such as "levers" and "root cause" during the case interview to create a favorable impression.

    Additional Resource: Explore a consultant terminology "dictionary" for more terms commonly used in case interviews.

  4. Learning Effective Tips & Tricks:

    • Seven tips for immediate improvement, including opening the case perfectly, using the map habit, practicing with a personal script, structuring your speech, taking organized notes, avoiding awkward silences, and making a concise final pitch.

For Candidates with No Business Background:

  1. Learn Basic Business Concepts:

    • Understand common business fundamentals, including stakeholders (customers, employees, investors), business models (retailer, affiliate, franchise), and business structures (sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation, limited liability).
  2. Understand Accounting Terms:

    • Familiarize yourself with basic accounting concepts and terms, including revenue, profit, cost of goods sold, gross margin, and the three financial statements (Balance Sheet, Income Statement, Cash Flow).

    Additional Resource: The Case Interview 101 Guidebook provides a detailed explanation of each financial statement term and its usage in management consulting.

  3. Practice Mental Math:

    • Develop efficient mental math skills to save time during the interview and focus more on overall strategy and case solution.

    Additional Resource: A suggested video guide for one-week intensive practice on mental math.

General Advice:

  • Confidence is key. If you feel unprepared, consider reaching out to HR to discuss the possibility of rescheduling to allow for more preparation time.

In summary, this comprehensive approach combines theoretical understanding, practical tips, and the development of essential skills to empower candidates in acing case interviews, even within a condensed timeframe.

Master Case Interviews in 1 Week: 7 Proven Tips (2024)


Master Case Interviews in 1 Week: 7 Proven Tips? ›

Candidates typically spend 60 to 80 hours preparing for case interviews, equivalent to 6 to 8 weeks of preparation. However, exceptional candidates with strong business and communication skills might need as little as 4 weeks. Those lacking a business background could require as long as 12 weeks.

Is one week enough to prepare for a case interview? ›

Candidates typically spend 60 to 80 hours preparing for case interviews, equivalent to 6 to 8 weeks of preparation. However, exceptional candidates with strong business and communication skills might need as little as 4 weeks. Those lacking a business background could require as long as 12 weeks.

Can I prepare for a case interview in 2 weeks? ›

If you only have two weeks to prepare, you should therefore practice two cases a day, which will take you up to a total of 28 sessions.

How long does it take to get good at case interviews? ›

It typically takes candidates 60 to 80 hours to prepare for case interviews, which is about 6 to 8 weeks of preparation. However, many candidates find themselves in situations where they only have one month, one week, or even one day to prepare.

How do you know if you did well on a case interview? ›

6 signs that your interview went well
  • You had an engaging conversation. ...
  • The body language of your interviewer was positive. ...
  • The interview runs over the scheduled time. ...
  • Your interviewer introduces you to the team. ...
  • The interviewer sold you on the position and the company.

Is 4 days enough to prepare for an interview? ›

The bad news is, there's no magic number of hours you need to spend preparing to guarantee interview success. Some people only need a few hours, while others need days or even weeks to hone their interview technique.

How many interviews is too many in a week? ›

Experts share the tipping point at which it's no longer worth it, and when it's actually a bad sign. How many job interviews is too many? More than four or five, experts say. For Tejal Wagadia, some of the job interviews she had after getting laid off a few years ago are her “villain origin story.”

What not to do in a case interview? ›

The Five Most Common Mistakes In a Case Interview
  • Failing to Understand the Client's Problem. ...
  • Not Having a Structured Approach. ...
  • Not Asking Enough Questions. ...
  • Lacking Data Analysis Skills. ...
  • Not Being Prepared for the Recommendation. ...
  • Avoid Mistakes In the First Place. ...
  • Sanity Check Your Results and Outcomes. ...
  • Keep Your Composure.
Feb 7, 2023

Is it normal to not hear back after an interview for 2 weeks? ›

If you don't hear back after an additional week, you can reach out again. However, if you don't hear anything after a second week, it's better to stay radio silent. Some companies have a long hiring process. A long silence may just mean the company is taking its time, not that you didn't get the job.

How many interviews are enough for a case study? ›

Marshall et al. [74] present a list of established qualitative researchers with their recommended minimum number of interviews. These range from 6 to 50, and as few as 3 per case for comparative case studies.

What to do if you get stuck in a case interview? ›

Take your time; don't rush it.

Talk through the problem. If you can't make sense of it, take a moment and allow yourself some time to process what you've been missing. If you get stuck, get creative. Don't let yourself get bogged down; rely on your ingenuity.

How long do I need to prepare for McKinsey interview? ›

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. To practice live cases with a partner, you'll need access to both case material and practice partners.

Can you bring a calculator to a case interview? ›

Probably most important is what you cannot bring. You cannot bring a calculator. Most case interviews are going to involve math, and without a calculator, how are you going to do it well? You're going to need the other things that will be handy.

What interviewers say that lets you know you won t get an offer? ›

Phrases such as “I'm not sure if your skills match our needs” or “We were looking for someone with more experience” are clear verbal indications that the interviewer might be leaning towards not making an offer.

What do interviewers say at the end of an interview? ›

At the end of most job interviews, the interviewer will say, “Feel free to email me if you have any more questions.” It's easy to brush off this statement as a mere formality, but in reality, it provides an opportunity to make a lasting impression on your potential employer.

How much should I prepare for case interview? ›

In a perfect world, your case interview prep timeline should start 6 months before your interview – time for 1-2 out loud interviews a week and plenty of math and structure drills in between. Look ahead to the time you'll start the interview process and build your prep schedule backward from there.

What to do when you only have a week to prepare for an interview? ›

11 things to do before an interview
  1. Research the company. ...
  2. Research the interviewers. ...
  3. Decide what to wear. ...
  4. Plan your route to the interview. ...
  5. Review the job description and your application. ...
  6. Prepare questions. ...
  7. Think about the questions you might have to answer. ...
  8. Prepare for different types of interview.
Jan 12, 2023

How hard is it to do a case interview? ›

Consulting case interviews are considered more difficult than standard job interviews because they require a broad range of skills, including qualitative analysis, quantitative reasoning, and strong communication skills. They also simulate a high-pressure environment where candidates need to perform at their best.

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