Cracking the Case

Cases studies can be Business Simulations, Guesstimates and Brain teasers and spanning sectors like marketing, finance or tech.

So, you’ve just finished your undergrad, got your MBA or are applying for a job and have decided to polish your case solving skills. Well, you’re in the right place! Welcome to MondayMorning’s introduction to all things case study, from analysis to articulation and thought to action. However, what is a case study? Traditionally, this refers to a problem-solving approach that involves an in-depth and detailed examination of a subject and its related fields. But, this isn’t what we are here to talk about today. Given our context, a case study refers to an interview methodology that involves assessing a candidate’s ability by giving him or her an ambiguous problem to solve within a short timeframe.

Business Cases: Here, the candidate is asked to solve a real-world business situation with a predefined solution. The case is about the journey from an ambiguous problem statement with limited information to a meaningful recommendation for the client.

Guesstimates: These questions tend to be a little vague, with no defined solution and a lack of data. The goal here is to understand the applicant’s aptitude in making logical assumptions and comfort with numbers to arrive at a somewhat accurate answer.

Brain Teasers: The objective of this type of case study is to understand whether a candidate can think logically and efficiently. These are however going out of fashion as skilled candidates may sometimes be unable to grasp the ‘trick’ to the question, while on the other hand a less skilled candidate who knows the ‘trick’ will be able to easily solve the problem.

What does a case study test? Traditionally, case interviews have been the cornerstone of management consulting hiring practices, however, many tech and financial industry firms have followed the consulting industry’s footsteps and created their own case study-based tests that fit their needs. Now, the real question is why would a firm invest so much time and effort in developing a unique assessment technique? I mean, they already have your resume with your work experience, grades and accomplishments.

The answer, is very simple consulting case studies mirror the day to day work of a consultant. The ability to think on your feet, have a structured problem-solving thought process, breaking down complex problems, articulate thoughts, synthesize information and respond well under pressure are the foundations for success in the consulting world.