BCG Case Interview Prep: Everything You Need to Know
Out of the top three consulting firms, some believe that BCG has the toughest interviews. BCG interviews include a variety of different components such as case interviews, behavioral or fit interviews, and written case interviews for some offices.
In this article, we’ll cover exactly what to expect in your upcoming BCG interview and how to give yourself the best chance of landing a job offer at BCG.
We’ll cover in detail:
- The BCG interview process
- The 6 steps to ace your BCG case interviews
- 12 tips to make you stand out in your case interviews
- 4 examples of BCG cases
- 8 steps to ace your BCG written case interviews
- The 10 most common BCG behavioral and fit interview questions
BCG Interview Process
The exact BCG interview process may vary slightly depending on the office that you are interviewing for. However, the vast majority of candidates will have two rounds of interviews before they receive an offer.
Your first round of interviews typically consists of two 45-minute interviews. The first 10 to 15 minutes will be spent briefly exploring your background and experiences while the remaining 25 to 30 minutes will be spent on the case interview. Interviewers generally try to save time at the end of the interview for you to ask questions.
Second round interviews typically consist of two to three 45-minute interviews. Your interviewers in this round will typically be more senior in tenure than your first round interviewers. However, the types of questions will roughly be the same mix of behavioral and fit interview questions and case interviews.
For some offices, second round interviews may have a written case interview. In this type of interview format, you’ll be given a packet of information on a business case. You’ll then have 2 hours to answer a set of questions and make slides to present to the interviewer.
In the following sections, we’ll cover in detail how to handle each of these types of interview questions and formats:
- BCG case interview
- BCG written case interview
- Behavioral or fit interview questions
BCG Case Interview
For BCG case interviews, you’ll analyze a case study and develop solutions for a hypothetical client. Often times, the cases that you see will be based on real BCG consulting projects. These case interviews are meant to give you insight into what it would be like to work at BCG
On their website, BCG states that there are no right or wrong answers. Instead, BCG assesses you on your thinking process, strategic skills, and ability to make a strong case for your recommendations.
BCG case interviews are candidate-led. While your interviewer will provide you with some facts of the case, it is up to you to frame an approach and work through the case. You will need to engage the interviewer and ask for the information that you need to solve the case. Most of the time, the interviewer will have a passive role unless you engage them.
Compared to other candidate-led styles of case interviews at firms such as Bain, Deloitte, or Accenture, BCG cases tend to give you less direction, but more control. You will be left on your own to fully own the process of solving the case. This means that you will be thinking on your feet a lot.
The 6 Steps to Solve any BCG Case Interview
There are six major steps to solving any BCG 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.
Afterwards, the interviewer may tell you what actually happened in the case if the case was a real BCG project. Don’t worry if your recommendations do not align with what actually happened. You are assessed on your overall process, not on your answer.
BCG Practice Cases
BCG provides four practice cases that you can work through to improve your case interview skills:
- Airline practice case: A profitability case focused on helping a low-cost carrier airline improve profitability. This is an interactive case that lets you practice leading the direction of a case interview. It takes quite a bit of time to get through, but is highly recommended to go through.
- Drug company practice case: A pricing case focused on helping a pharmaceutical company determine the optimal price for a new drug. This is also an interactive case and is highly recommended to go through.
- Medical Device Company practice case: A revenue growth case focused on helping a medical devices company who recently purchased an administrative systems software company increase revenues. This case example is in a written dialogue format.
Cereal Company practice case: A distribution strategy case focused on helping a cereal manufacturer decide how to respond to a discount chain growing to become its largest distributor. This case example is in a written dialogue format.
We have full-length videos that cover the first two cases below. The videos walk you through step-by-step how we would solve these cases.
BCG Case Interview Tips
BCG provides twelve tips to help you improve your BCG case interview performance:
Tip #1: Ask questions
Make sure that you ask clarifying questions if there is something you do not fully understand. Your interviewer may provide additional data or hints throughout the case, so it is your benefit to ask relevant questions to get more information.
Tip #2: Understand the problem
Don’t rush into doing analysis without having a solid understanding of the problem. You will not be penalized for asking questions to confirm your understanding of the business problem or objective.
Tip #3: Structure the problem and develop a framework
Developing an outstanding framework helps set you up for success in the case interview. Having a mediocre framework can make solving the case more difficult for you. Therefore, dedicate the time to structure a framework before diving into the analysis.
Tip #4: Focus on high-impact issues
You will not have enough time to answer every question that you have. Time is a limited resource in case interviews, so make sure you spend it wisely. Focus your efforts on tackling the issues that have the greatest potential impact on your ultimate recommendation.
Tip #5: Think before speaking
Don’t jump to conclusions too quickly. Whenever you come across new data or information, take the time to organize your thoughts and consider all possibilities. Taking just a few seconds to think before speaking can make your answer much more coherent and intelligent.
Tip #6: Generate a hypothesis
BCG consultants use a hypothesis-driven approach to find solutions to their clients’ problems. You should do the same thing in your BCG case interviews. Your hypothesis will help you lead the direction of the case and focus on what is relevant and important.
Tip #7: Don’t use memorized frameworks
Interviewers can tell when you are using memorized frameworks from popular case interview prep books. BCG values creativity and intellect. Therefore, make every effort to create a custom, tailored framework for each case that you get.
Read our comprehensive case interview framework guide to learn how to create outstanding frameworks.
Tip #8: Demonstrate business judgment
Use your business judgment to make hypotheses, conclusions, or recommendations that are reasonable and pragmatic. Consider the client’s situation to determine what is possible and what is too ambitious.
Tip #9: Make quick and accurate calculations
You’ll likely be doing math calculations at some point during the case interview. Since BCG does not allow the use of calculators during interviews, you’ll need to make sure that your math skills are sharp. You won’t need to know advanced math topics, but you do need to be able to perform basic calculations quickly and accurately.
Tip #10: Don’t defend your solution at all costs
You need to be open-minded and flexible during the case interview. If your interviewer makes strong points that point out flaws in your solution, you need to be able to take feedback and adapt your solution. Don’t be stubborn and stick with your solution if it is not the best one.
Tip #11: Be transparent about your thought process
The interviewer cannot read your mind and know what you are thinking. Therefore, it is good practice to always be transparent on your thought process. Explicitly communicate what approach you are taking, what you are thinking about, and what questions you have. This makes it easier for the interviewer to give tips or feedback if you get stuck.
Tip #12: Engage your interviewer
Remember that a case interview is meant to be a conversation. You should not be talking to yourself the entire time. Make sure that you engage the interviewer by asking questions or asking for their feedback or input. You’ll find the case interview much more stimulating this way.
BCG Written Case Interview
The BCG written case interview is a completely different variant of the traditional case interview.
In a written case interview, you’ll be solving the case by working independently rather than by collaborating with the interviewer. Here’s how BCG’s written case interview is structured:
- BCG will provide you with 40 PowerPoint slides that contain data, graphs, charts, and press articles
- BCG will provide 3 to 4 key questions for you to answer
- You will have 2 hours to review the material and make 3 to 5 presentation slides
- You will have 40 minutes to present and discuss your recommendations with the interviewer, who may challenge your analysis and findings
8 Steps to Ace Your BCG Written Case Interview
1. Understand the business problem
To efficiently complete a written case interview, the first step is to understand what the overall business problem is. What is the overall question you are trying to answer with the data and information provided?
2. Read the list of key questions
BCG will provide you with a list of 3 – 4 key questions that you will be expected to address or answer. Read through these questions carefully. Knowing what these questions are will help you prioritize your time.
3. Flip through the materials
Afterwards, skim through all of the different slides of information that is provided. If you notice that some information matches the type of information you need to answer a key question, write down the slide number next to the key question.
The goal in this step is not to read and analyze every slide in detail. This would take too much time. The goal is to identify what data you have and what data you do not have.
4. Read and analyze the material
Afterwards, you’ll start answering the key questions of the case. Start with the question that you think will be the easiest or most straightforward. Save the harder questions for the end.
You’ll likely need to do math at some point during the written case interview, so make sure that you crunch the numbers if it helps you answer a key question.
After answering a key question, write a couple of sentences to summarize your key takeaways or findings. This will help you decide on a recommendation and put together your slides much quicker later on.
5. Decide on a recommendation
Review the list of key takeaways that you have summarized from answering all of the key questions. If the written case asks for a single recommendation, decide on what recommendation your 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.
6. Outline your slides
Once you have a recommendation, it is time to start making your slides. Before you make any individual slide, it is helpful to create a structure for your presentation to make it clear and concise.
We recommend using the following structure for your presentation 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
Each of your answers to the key questions should be summarized on one slide. These answers will likely support the overall recommendation that you are making.
For each slide, write the title of the slide first. The titles of your slides should be action-oriented and summarize the entire slide. If your interviewer were to just read the titles of your slides, they should be able to understand your entire presentation.
7. Fill in your slides
Once you have your slide outline and slide titles, it is time to fill in the body of the slides. Decide what format of content is most helpful for each slide.
For example, summaries are best illustrated using concise bullet points. Data-driven slides are best illustrated with tables, graphs, or charts. Complex analyses or processes are best illustrated with diagrams or frameworks.
Make sure that the content of the slide supports the title of each slide. However, do not overdue how much content you put on each slide. In general, each slide should have one key message.
8. Prepare for potential questions
If you still have time remaining after you finish your slides, brainstorm potential questions your interviewer could ask you. For example, 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. In addition, you’ll also feel much more confident while presenting.
BCG Behavioral and Fit Interview Questions
These are the 10 most common BCG behavioral and fit interview questions you’ll likely be asked.
1. Why BCG?
How to answer: Provide your three biggest reasons why you’re interested in working at BCG. You could mention that you loved the people that you have met from BCG so far. You can talk about BCG’s thought leadership and innovation, professional development opportunities, or expertise in nearly any industry or function.
2. Why consulting?
How to answer: Again, provide three reasons for why you’re interested in consulting. You could mention the rapid career progression, the opportunity to make a large impact on an organization, or the learning opportunities to develop soft and hard skills that are transferrable to nearly any business role.
3. Walk me through your resume
How to answer: Summarize your work experience, starting with the most recent. Do not cover every single thing that you have done. Instead, focus on highlighting your most impressive and unique accomplishments. At the end, connect your work experiences to why you are interested in consulting.
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.
5. Tell me about something that is not on your resume
How to answer: This is an opportunity to highlight an accomplishment that is not related to your professional work experience. You could mention a non-profit that you volunteer at, a side project or business that you work on, or a hobby that you have pursued for many years. Select an accomplishment that is impressive and interesting. Avoid mentioning experiences that don’t have quantifiable results or impact.
6. Tell me about a time when you had to lead a team.
How to answer: For these behavioral interview questions, make sure you prepare at least 3 to 5 stories beforehand. This way, no matter what type of experience questioned is asked, you’ll always have an experience that you can share.
For this question, choose a time when you directly managed a person or a team. Structure your answer by providing 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 a common way of answering behavioral or fit interview questions efficiently.
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 a conflict or disagreement. Speak about the interpersonal skills you had to use in order to mediate the situation.
Did you have to be patient, persuasive, or decisive? 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. 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 good 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. However, don’t pick a failure that is too big or embarrassing. This may raise a red flag to the interviewer.
Focus on emphasizing what you learned from the experience and how you used that experience to improve yourself. Interviewers want to see that you can learn from your past failures and are the type of person that constantly works on improving themself.
10. Are there any questions that you have for me?
How to answer: Make sure that you prepare questions to ask beforehand. BCG looks at this question as a way to assess your interest in consulting and the firm. Therefore, ask follow-up questions about the case that you just solved to demonstrate your interest in consulting cases. Ask the interviewer what their favorite project has been so far or what they enjoy most about the job to demonstrate interest in their career.
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