This is the study note for case interview preparation presented by Victor Cheng.

You can download the resources from this link.

Also, strongly recommend you to watch & subscribe Victor’s Youtube videos to digest more from him.

Section 1: Case Interview Basics

Two Categories of Cases

  1. Business Situation
  2. Estimation Question

Section 2: Case Interview Mindset

Typical Day

A typical day in the life as a consultant:

  • Independence
  • 80/20 vs Boil the Ocean
  • Precise vs Good Enough
  • Role of Estimation Questions

Three Rules of Consulting

  • Often right, never without data-driven justification
  • It’s not about being right, is about being right in a client friendly way
    • Avoid making conclusion without showing your work
    • Avoid scatter brained
    • Avoid not being able to explained visually
    • Avoid not being justified with facts and data
    • Avoid logically correct, but not practical
  • Don’t be an asshole

Interviewer’s Mindset

  • Process excellence vs Specific answer
    • Repeatable vs Got lucky
  • Logical with data-driven analysis
  • Synthesis (The Big Picture) & Presentation of conclusions

Section 3: How to Open, Analyze & Close a Case

How to Open a Case

  1. Stall - Gain prepare time for yourself
    • Hmm…that’s an interesting question
  2. Verify your understanding
    • Terminology and facts
    • The problem to be solved (don’t solve the wrong problem)
  3. Structure the case for analysis
    • Identify problem type
    • Match to appropriate framework
    • Describe key components of framework (don’t mention name of framework explicitly)
    • Draw the framework on a piece of paper (this is client friendly)

How to Analyze a Case

To break things down into its components parts (When in doubt, break problem into pieces).

Analysis: The separating of any material or abstract entity into its constituent elements (opposite of synthesis)

Analyzing a Case Step-by-Step

  1. Ask for any information on where to start
  2. State a hypothesis
  3. Pick a branch of framework to start
  4. Identify key issues within branch
  5. Ask standard questions to gather initial data
  6. Go deeper down the branch if data suggests to do so, or go up a level and work a different branch
  7. Refine hypothesis as you discover more insights

Tips for Analyzing Cases

  1. Think Out Loud
  2. Use hypotheses a lot
    • Educated guess
    • Gather data to test validity
    • Modify hypotheses and say you are doing so
    • Ask more data to test revised hypotheses
  3. Critical comparison of numbers
    • Company vs Competitors
      • Check if it’s company-specific problem or industry-wide problem
    • Current Year vs Previous Year
      • Find the trend
  4. Segment your numbers
  5. Ask for data

How to Close a Case

  1. Figure out what’s important about what you’ve discovered - insights
  2. Provide a big picture point of view or conclusion
  3. Support your point of view with data
  4. Main idea → declare an action → why do you feel that way → restate the conclusion

Great Close: Conclusion with action recommendation, 3 pieces of clearly relevant and logically related data

Section 4: Demonstrations of Case & Frameworks

Most Common Case Types

  1. Profit Problem
    • Decline in price
    • Decline in volume
    • Increase in costs
  2. Business Situations
    • Enter a new market or Start a new business
    • Introduce new product
    • Respond to competitor behavior
    • Respond to changes in demand
    • How to grow
  3. Mergers and Acquisitions
    • Is this merger a good idea?
  4. Supply / Demand (Industry Capacity)
    • Capacity change through acquisition or merger
    • Build / Shut down factory
    • Capacity shift in response to change in demand

The Four Core Frameworks

  1. Profitability framework
  2. Business situation
  3. Merger & Acquisition (Specific Business Situation)
  4. Supply / Demand Framework (Capacity Framework)

Profitability Framework

Profit = Revenue - Cost

Compare to industrial (competitors) & historical change

Revenue Driven

  • Unit sold
    • Segment - what drives unit sold (don’t guess, ask.)
      • by product
      • by product line
      • by distribution channel
      • by regions
      • by customer
  • Revenue per unit

Cost Driven

  • Unit sold
  • Cost per unit (value chain)
    • Fixed cost
    • Variable cost

Business Situation Framework

  • Customers
  • Product
  • Company
  • Competition

Case Interview Reminders

  • Find the trend
  • Company-specific or Industry-wide
  • Total and Averages are very misleading, always segment your metrics
  • Think out loud
  • Ignore your previous knowledge and only use data from the case

Section 5: How to Practice for Case Interview

  1. Split up the practice on business situation cases
    • Practice Opening & Close on your own
    • Practice Analyzing with a partner
  2. Practice drawing
    • Media - Graph paper pad, white board, flip chart
    • What - Framework diagrams, math computations
  3. Practice math of large numbers
    • 5,000 x 15,000
    • 2 million x 2,500

Section 6: Final Tips

  • Strategic planning for your career
    • What’s your competitive advantage?
    • Do you leverage it by going into consulting?
  • Consulting is NOT the end all, be all
  • If you don’t enjoy case interviews, you probably won’t enjoy the job
  • Who doesn’t get hired by consulting firms
    • Creative, non-linear thinkers that make good business decisions… but NOT in a way that’s easy to follow
    • Steve Jobs – Genuine visionaries
  • You’re going to succeed at whatever you do, so pick something that 1) you enjoy, 2) you do unusually well
  • You get hired for analytical skills, you get promoted for “Client” skills (aka. SALES Skills)


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