AT Kearney Case Interview Prep: Everything You Need to Know
As one of the top consulting firms, AT Kearney has a very demanding candidate selection process. AT Kearney interviews consist of case interviews, behavioral or fit interviews, and a written case interview.
All of these types of interviews present their own unique challenges to candidates. Fortunately, AT Kearney makes it very clear what to expect in each of these types of interviews. They can all be mastered with the right preparation.
In this article, we’ll cover:
- The interview process at AT Kearney
- The 6 steps to solving any AT Kearney case interview
- The 5 types of cases you should expect
- How to ace your AT Kearney written case interview
- The 10 most common behavioral or fit interview questions
AT Kearney Interview Process
AT Kearney has two rounds of interviews.
First round interviews are conducted in-person or through phone or video call. You will have two 45-minute interviews. One interview will be focused on a case interview while the other will be focused on a behavioral or fit interview. Your interviewers will likely be associates or managers.
Second round interviews are conducted in-person in the AT Kearney office that you are applying for. You’ll have three 45-minute interviews. Two of these interviews will be focused on a case interview and one will be focused on a behavioral or fit interview. Your interviewers in this round will likely be more senior people, principals and partners.
Some AT Kearney offices conduct written case interviews, so make sure to check with your recruiter to know whether to expect one.
In the following sections, we’ll cover exactly how to prepare for and handle all of these different types of interviews.
AT Kearney Case Interview
AT Kearney uses case interviews to assess a variety of different qualities in candidates. The major qualities that interviewers look for are:
- Passion for learning
- Commitment to results
- Ability to gain from adversity
- Good business acumen
- Confidence, but not arrogance
- Poise under pressure
AT Kearney cases are typically more quantitative and numerical than other consulting firms. So, expect to be working with many numbers and performing math calculations.
Additionally, AT Kearney is best known for their work in sourcing, procurement, and operations. Therefore, you are likely to see at least one case interview covering one of these areas.
The 6 Steps to Solve any AT Kearney Case Interview
Follow these six steps to solve any AT Kearney case interview:
1. Understand the case
The case will begin with the interviewer giving you the case information. While the interviewer is speaking, make sure that you are taking meticulous notes on the most important pieces of information. Focus on understanding the context of the situation, the company, and the objective of the case.
2. Verify the objective
Understanding the business problem and objective of the case is the most important part of the case interview. Not addressing the right business question is the quickest way to fail a case interview.
Make sure that you ask clarifying questions to better understand the business situation and problem. Then, confirm that you understand the case objective with the interviewer. This ensures that you start the case on the right track.
3. Create a framework
Develop a framework to help you tackle the business problem. A framework is a tool that helps you structure and break down complex problems into smaller, more manageable components. With a framework, you’ll be brainstorming different ideas and organizing them into different categories.
Afterwards, walk the interviewer through your framework. They may ask a few questions or provide some feedback to you.
4. Develop a hypothesis
After creating a framework, you should develop a hypothesis. A hypothesis is an educated guess on the answer based on the data and information that you have so far.
Your hypothesis does not need to be correct. You’ll be continuously testing and refining your hypothesis throughout the case. The purpose of having a hypothesis is to guide your analysis and ensure that you are spending your time answering the right questions.
5. Test your hypothesis
The majority of the case will be spent testing your hypothesis.
After stating your hypothesis, it is up to you to lead the direction of the case. Depending on the context of the case, you may want to ask for data to do some analysis. You may also want to explore qualitative questions that you have. As you uncover more information, your hypothesis will likely have to change.
Sometimes, your hypothesis will be completely wrong and you’ll need to develop a completely new hypothesis to test. Other times, your hypothesis may be on the right track, but you’ll need to refine or narrow it down further.
Throughout the rest of the case, you’ll be answering a mix of quantitative and qualitative questions. Make sure that after each question, you explain how your answer impacts your hypothesis or answer to the case.
6. Deliver a recommendation
In the last step of the case interview, you’ll present your recommendation and provide the major reasons that support it. You do not need to recap everything that you have done in the case, so focus on summarizing only the facts that are most important.
It is also good practice to include potential next steps that you would take if you had more time or data. These can be areas of your framework that you did not have time to explore yet or lingering questions that you do not have great answers for.
Examples of AT Kearney Case Interviews
AT Kearney identifies five types of cases that you may expect to see in your interviews. You should prepare for each of these types of cases.
1. Industry Analysis
This type of case involves analyzing the opportunities, trends, and conditions of a specific industry to help make a business decision
- A group of investors is considering building a 40,000 seat concert pavilion in the suburb of a major city. What factors should they consider?
- A manufacturer of automotive batteries is losing market share and profitability is declining. What should the company do?
- A national provider of in-home health services is considering purchasing a regional managed care facility with 250 physicians. What factors should the client consider in making this decision?
A leading manufacturer of automobiles is considering the acquisition of a national rental car company. What factors are important in this decision?
2. Market Expansion
This type of case focuses on developing strategies to increase market share or to enter a new market.
- A U.S. domestic express package company is approached by a European company to form an alliance to provide service between the U.S. and Europe. Should the client enter the international market?
- A European manufacturer of confectionary products wants to enter the U.S. market with a premium product line. Should they enter?
A national retailer has approached our client, a manufacturer of fast-moving consumer products, and asked them to consider producing a private label product line for them. What factors should management consider in making this decision?
3. Profitability Improvement
This type of case involves the analysis of the company, its suppliers, its customers, and the environment to determine how to improve profitability.
- A U.S. subsidiary of a French spring water bottler is experiencing a decline in profits. Why?
- A Japanese automotive components manufacturer is experiencing declining profits. Currently, 20% of its products are shipped to the U.S. from Japan and 80% are manufactured in U.S. facilities. What might be causing the decline and what actions should be taken?
- A company makes stairmasters and treadmills to sell to health clubs. How can its profits be increased?
Your client is a consumer products company. The board wants to know if its advertising campaign for their new brand of chips has been successful. How would you evaluate the campaign’s performance?
This type of case focuses on developing alternate pricing models and evaluating their potential impact on the business.
- Your client is a concert pavilion. Revenues at performances are declining. Given that the concert pavilion’s goal is to maximize exposure while covering costs, what should be done?
- An inventor of a new athletic shoe wants to know what the market is for his goods and how to produce them. What steps should be taken?
How should a major retailer determine prices in its electronic and appliance service business?
This type of case involves projecting the short-term and long-term consequences of a major acquisition or a large-scale capital expansion.
- A German manufacturer of consumer products would like to develop a manufacturing facility in Poland to meet Eastern Europe’s growing demand for its products. What factors should they consider?
- A pharmaceutical company is considering opening distribution warehouses on the West Coast to handle the growing Western territory. What factors should they consider?
- An automotive manufacturer is considering consolidating three of its East Coast assembly plants into one location. What factors should it consider?
A company that makes chocolate and confectionary products is considering acquiring a regional soft drink manufacturer. Are the distribution synergies sufficient to justify the acquisition?
AT Kearney Practice Cases
We have compiled six different AT Kearney practice cases that you can go through to improve your case interview skills:
- Promotional planning case: This is a profitability improvement case focused on helping a national grocery and drug store chain increase sales of promotional items
There are five more practice cases that can be found in this AT Kearney Casebook.
- Growth strategy case: This case focuses on helping a worldwide provider of transportation, logistics, and supply chain management solutions put together a 2-year growth strategy
- Software growth case: This case focuses on helping a software company restore its top-line growth for the U.S.
- Medical supply chain case: This case focuses on evaluating two supply chain distribution plans for a medical device manufacturer
- Competitive threat case: This case focuses on assessing the threat posed by private labels for a U.S. manufacturer of branded cookies
Outsourced engineering services case: This case focuses on analyzing the benefits and costs of outsourcing for a large producer of construction equipment
AT Kearney Written Case Interview
For some roles and offices, AT Kearney uses a written case interview in their final round of interviews. This is a special variant of the case interview that assesses how well you can analyze information and communicate your findings. They are quite different from traditional case interviews.
Here’s what to expect:
- You’ll be given a packet of materials that contains the case objective and all of the information needed to solve the case
- You’ll have 60 minutes to review the materials and prepare a PowerPoint presentation
- You’ll have 20 to 30 minutes to give a presentation and answer your interviewer’s follow up questions
To solve AT Kearney’s written case interview, follow these eight steps.
1. Understand the business problem and objective
The first step in completing a written case interview is to understand what the objective is. What is the primary business question you are trying to answer with the data and information provided?
2. Read the list of major questions
Some written case interviews will provide you with a list of 3 – 4 key questions that you will be expected to address or answer. Read through these questions first since these will be the questions that you will want to prioritize.
If the written case interview is more open-ended and does not provide you with a list of key questions, skip this step and move onto the next step.
3. Skim the materials
Next, flip through the information packet that is provided to see what information is available. Identify what data you have and what data you do not have.
The goal in this step is not to read and analyze every slide. That would take too much time. Instead, by seeing what information exists, you will be able to better prioritize what you spend your time reading and analyzing.
4. Create a framework
Before you begin reading and analyzing the information in the slides in more detail, you should create a basic framework to help guide your analysis. If you are provided with a list of key questions or pre-filled slide templates, then this will likely be the foundation of your framework.
Otherwise, based on what information exists in the information packet, identify the three to four key questions you need to answer or investigate.
5. Read and analyze the material
Afterwards, read and analyze the information that is relevant to each area of your framework. As you begin answering questions and drawing insights, make sure to write a one or two sentence summary. This will make it easier to decide on a recommendation later.
6. Decide on a recommendation
Review the list of key takeaways that you have summarized from answering all of the major questions in your framework. Decide on what recommendation these findings collectively support.
Remember that there is typically no right or wrong recommendation. As long as your recommendation is supported by data and evidence, you will be in great shape.
7. Create your slides
Once you have a recommendation, it is time to start filling in your slides. You should use the following structure when creating your slides:
- Slide 1: Present your recommendation and the three reasons that support it
- Slide 2: Present your first reason and the data that supports it
- Slide 3: Present your second reason and the data that supports it
- Slide 4: Present your third reason and the data that supports it
- Slide 5: Summarize everything that you’ve covered so far
- Slide 6: Propose potential next steps
8. Prepare for potential questions
If you have any time remaining, brainstorm potential questions the interviewer may ask you during your presentation. They may want to know how you performed your analysis or how you reached your conclusions.
Preparing for these potential questions will help your presentation go much more smoothly. You will also feel much more confident while presenting.
AT Kearney Written Case Interview Example
AT Kearney provides an example of a written case interview in their AT Kearney Casebook.
We recommend that you take a look at “Case 6: Shared Services and IT” to get a better idea of what to expect in their written case interview.
AT Kearney Behavioral or Fit Interview
In addition to case interviews, you will likely be asked a few behavioral or fit interview questions. To answer these questions well, you should first become familiar with AT Kearney’s work culture.
AT Kearney is known to have a collegial and collaborative work culture. Their consultants are down to earth and willing to help each other out. Kearney consultants work very hard, often sacrificing their personal life for client needs.
Keep these qualities in mind when you are answering behavioral or fit interview questions. There are ten behavioral or fit interview questions that are most commonly asked.
1. Why AT Kearney?
How to answer: Have at least three reasons why you’re interested in working at AT Kearney. You could mention that you loved the people that you have met from the company so far. You can talk about AT Kearney’s massive global presence and expertise in sourcing, procurement, and operations. You can speak to AT Kearney’s focus on professional development through structured mentorship.
2. Why consulting?
How to answer: Again, have three reasons why you’re interested in consulting. You could mention the fast career growth opportunity, the opportunity to develop soft and hard skills, or the level of impact that you can make by working with large companies on their most challenging issues.
3. Walk me through your resume
How to answer: Provide a concise summary of your work experience, starting with the most recent. Focus on emphasizing your most impressive and unique accomplishments. At the end, tie your experiences to why you are interested in consulting and why you would be a great fit for AT Kearney.
4. What accomplishment are you most proud of?
How to answer: Choose your most impressive, unique, or memorable accomplishment. Structure your answer by providing information on the situation, the task, the actions you took, and the results of your work. Explain why the accomplishment is so meaningful to you and what qualities that reveals about you as a person.
5. Tell me about something that is not on your resume
How to answer: This is a great opportunity to highlight an accomplishment that is not related to your professional work experience. Perhaps there is a non-profit that you volunteer at, a side project or business that you work on, or a hobby that you have won awards or recognition for. Select an accomplishment that is impressive and interesting.
6. Tell me about a time when you had to lead a team.
How to answer: If possible, choose a time when you directly managed a person or a team. For this question and the following similar questions, make sure that you structure your answer. Provide information on the situation, the task, the actions you took, and the results of your work. This is known as the STAR method and is the most common way of answering behavioral or fit interview questions.
7. Describe a time when you faced conflict or disagreement.
How to answer: When answering this question, focus on emphasizing the steps you took to resolve the conflict or disagreement. Speak about the interpersonal skills you had to use in order to mediate the situation. Interviewers want to know that you can handle conflict in a constructive way.
8. Give an example of a time when you successfully persuaded someone.
How to answer: Choose a time when you were able to change someone’s mind who originally disagreed with you. Focus on emphasizing the steps that you took to persuade that person and what impact this had on the organization. Interviewers want to know that you are a great communicator and have strong people skills.
9. Tell me about a time when you failed.
How to answer: Choose a time when you failed to meet a deadline or did not meet expectations. You do not want to pick a failure that is too big or embarrassing. Focus on emphasizing what you learned from the experience and how you used that experience to deliver even better results in the next opportunity that you got. Interviewers want to see that you strive to learn from your past failures and are always working to get better.
10. Are there any questions that you have for me?
How to answer: This is a fantastic opportunity to get to know the interviewer on a more personal level. Ask them questions about their experience in consulting. Ask what their favorite case was or what they are looking to do next in their career. The more you can get the interviewer talking about themself, the more likely they will be to have a positive impression of you.
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