Mercer Case Interview: Everything You Need to Know
Mercer consulting interviews consist of case interviews and behavioral or fit interview questions. There are typically two rounds of interviews that you will need to go through in order to receive a consulting job offer from Mercer.
- First round interview: If you are applying as a student, first round interviews typically happen on-campus. Expect to be given a case interview along with a few behavioral or fit interview questions. For non-students, first round interviews will happen over the phone. You may be asked questions about your resume and work experiences, interest in Mercer, and may be given a case.
- Second round interview: The second and final round of interviews are conducted in-office and can range from a half day to a full day. You’ll be interviewed by 3-4 separate Mercer consultants. Interviews will consist of case interviews and behavioral or fit interview questions.
If you have an upcoming consulting interview with Mercer, we have you covered. In this article, we’ll cover exactly what you need to do to crush your interviews and land the job offer. In this article, we’ll cover in detail:
- The 5 steps to solve any Mercer case interview
- Mercer case interview examples
- The 10 most common Mercer behavioral interview questions
- Recommended case interview prep resources
The 5 Steps to Solve Any Mercer Case Interview
A case interview is a special type of interview that nearly every consulting firm uses. Mercer places a heavy emphasis on case interviews during their interview process.
Mercer case interviews simulate the consulting job by placing you in a hypothetical business situation in which you are asked to solve a business problem. You’ll spend 30 to 40 minutes collaborating with the interviewer to reach an ultimate answer or recommendation.
Mercer case interviews are generally candidate-led. This means that you will be expected to lead the direction of the case. You’ll be responsible for asking the right questions, analyzing data, driving discussion, and proposing each next step.
Case interviews can cover any industry or any type of business problem. Although you cannot predict the exact case interview question that you’ll get, each case interview follows a similar flow and structure:
- Understand the case
- Structure the problem
- Kick off the case
- Solve quantitative problems and answer qualitative questions
- Deliver a recommendation
1. Understand the case
Your case interview will begin with the interviewer giving you the case background 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 and the objective of the case.
Don’t be afraid to ask clarifying questions if you do not understand something. You may want to summarize the case background information back to the interviewer to confirm your understanding of the case.
The most important part of this step is to verify the objective of the case. Not answering the right business question is the quickest way to fail a case interview.
2. Structure the problem
The next step is to develop a framework to help you solve the case. A framework is a tool that helps you structure and break down complex problems into smaller, more manageable components. Another way to think about frameworks is brainstorming different ideas and organizing them into different categories.
Before you start developing your framework, it is completely acceptable to ask the interviewer for a few minutes so that you can collect your thoughts and think about the problem.
Ideally, you want your framework to be as MECE as possible. MECE stands for mutually exclusive and collectively exhaustive. You want each element of your framework to have zero overlap with the other elements. Additionally, you want the sum of the elements of your framework to cover all of the important issues or areas of the case.
Once you have identified the major issues or areas that you need to explore, walk the interviewer through your framework. They may ask a few questions or provide some feedback.
3. Kick off the case
Once you have finished presenting your framework, you’ll start diving into different areas of your framework to begin solving the case. How this process will start depends on whether the case interview is candidate-led or interviewer-led.
If the case interview is a candidate-led case, you’ll be expected to propose what area of your framework to start investigating. So, propose an area and provide a reason for why you want to start with that area. There is generally no right or wrong area of your framework to pick first.
If the case interview is interviewer-led, the interviewer will tell you what area of the framework to start in or directly give you a question to answer.
4. Solve quantitative problems and answer qualitative questions
Your case interviews will most likely have some quantitative aspect to them. For example, you may be asked to calculate a certain profitability or financial metric. You could also be asked to estimate the size of a particular market or to estimate a particular figure.
The key to solving quantitative problems is to lay out a structure or approach upfront with the interviewer before doing any math calculations. If you lay out and present your structure to solve the quantitative problem and the interviewer approves of it, the rest of the problem is just simple execution of math.
When doing the math, make sure to talk through your thinking and calculations out loud. The interviewer should be able to easily follow what you are doing in each step of your calculations. Once you have calculated the answer, explain how your answer impacts the recommendation that you are beginning to form.
Your case interviews will likely also have qualitative aspects to them. You may be asked to brainstorm a list of potential ideas. You could also be asked to provide your opinion on a business issue or situation.
The key to answering qualitative questions is to structure your answer. When brainstorming a list of ideas, develop a structure to help you neatly categorize all of your ideas. When giving your opinion on a business issue or situation, provide a summary of your stance or position and then enumerate the reasons that support it.
When you finish answering a qualitative question, connect your answer back to the case objective. How does your answer impact the recommendation that you are beginning to form?
5. 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 only summarizing 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 or lingering questions that you do not have great answers for.
Mercer Case Interview Examples
Below, we’ve compiled a list of case interview questions that Mercer has given to previous candidates. These case interview examples should give you a good sense of the types of industries and business situations that you could see in your upcoming interview.
Case Example #1: Our client, Burger Co., is an American chain of hamburger fast food restaurants. Their menu consists primarily of hamburgers, French fries, and soft drinks. They have 5,000 stores across the United States and have annual revenue of $10B. Revenues have been flat over the past few years, so Burger Co. is looking to find ways to increase revenues. What would you suggest them to do?
Case Example #2: Your client, Mining Co., is a raw materials mining and production company. To increase revenues and achieve greater scale, they are considering making an acquisition of a smaller competitor. Should they proceed with this and if so, what is the maximum that they should pay?
Case Example #3: Edwards Lifesciences is a medical devices company that specializes in artificial heart valves and heart monitoring. Recently, they are seeing high attrition rates among the junior sales staff in their organization. What is causing this high attrition and what should they do to address it?
Case Example #4: The Royal Bank of Canada is one of the largest Canadian banks. They serve over twenty million customers through its network of over 2,000 branches. The Royal Bank of Canada is deciding whether to install ATM’s in all of its branches. What would you analyze in order to determine whether this strategic move makes sense.
Case Example #5: General Electric is a multinational conglomerate that operates in many different divisions such as energy, technology, capital finance, consumer, and industrial. GE’s energy division has produced a new windmill that can generate clean energy from harnessing the power of the wind. Each windmill costs about $200,000 to manufacture. What is the optimal price that they should set for their windmills?
Case Example #6: Your client, AIG, is a large multinational insurance company. Currently, they pay their insurance people a base salary of monthly wages and a commission of 20% for new policy sales and 2% for insurance renewals. The CEO feels that something is not quite right with the current compensation structure and wants to assess what might be a better way to pay their insurance agents. How would you go about solving this case?
The 10 Most Common Mercer Behavioral Interview Questions
In addition to case interviews, you will also be asked behavioral or fit interview questions. These types of questions are much more predictable than case interviews, making them easier to prepare for.
Below are the ten behavioral or fit questions that Mercer most commonly asks candidates.
1. Why are you interested in working at Mercer?
How to answer: Have at least three reasons why you’re interested in working at Mercer. By now, you should know that Mercer is one of the largest human resources consulting firms in the world. They have deep expertise in talent, health, retirement, and investments. The culture at Mercer is also much more relaxed compared to a consulting firm such as McKinsey. The culture is very collaborative and supportive. Finally, know that Mercer consultants typically travel much less compared to traditional management consultants. This helps drive a more sustainable work experience with a good balance between work and life.
You can learn more about what it’s like working at Mercer on Mercer’s website.
2. Why do you want to work in consulting?
How to answer: Again, have three reasons why you’re interested in consulting. You could mention the fast career growth opportunities, the opportunity to develop versatile soft and hard skills, the opportunities to make large impacts on large organizations, or the highly collaborative nature of work.
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, unique, and memorable accomplishments. At the end of your answer, briefly tie your experiences to why you are interested in consulting and why you would be a great fit.
4. What is your proudest achievement?
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. Highlight what aspects or qualities of your achievement made you feel proud.
5. What is something that you are proud of 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. Perhaps there is a non-profit that you volunteer at, a side project or business that you work on, or an interesting hobby that you have won awards or recognition for. Choose something that showcases your qualities outside of a traditional work setting.
6. Tell me about a time when you led a team.
How to answer: Ideally, choose a time or experience when you directly managed a person or a team. Explain the challenge that the team faced, how you handled leading the team, and then quantify the impact and results of your leadership. Highlight the leadership skills that you exhibited and how you worked effectively with others.
7. Give an example of a time when you faced conflict or a disagreement.
How to answer: When answering this question, focus on emphasizing the steps you took to resolve the conflict or disagreement. Speak to the interpersonal skills you had to use in order to mediate the situation. Then, explain the impact that these interpersonal skills made on the situation. Interviewers want to know that you are a great mediator and that you can handle conflict in a constructive way.
8. Tell me about a time when you had to persuade someone.
How to answer: Choose a time when you convincingly changed someone’s mind. Focus on emphasizing the steps that you took to persuade that person and what impact and results this had. Interviewers want to see that you are a great communicator and have great people skills.
9. Describe a time when you failed.
How to answer: Choose a time when you failed to meet a deadline or did not meet expectations. Make sure to choose an actual failure instead of an experience that was a success in disguise. Focus on emphasizing what you learned from the experience and how you used that experience to deliver better results in the next opportunity that you got. Interviewers want to see that you don’t get discouraged from failure and that you treat failures as learning opportunities.
10. What questions do you have for me?
How to answer: This is a great opportunity to get to know the interviewer on a more personal level. Ask them questions about their experience in consulting or their career. Express genuine interest and curiosity in what they have to share and ask follow-up questions. The more you can get the interviewer talking about themself, the more likely they will have a positive impression of you.
Recommended Case Interview Prep Resources
We hope that you found this article on Mercer consulting case interviews helpful. If you are considering which resources to use in your case interview prep, we recommend the following:
- One Week Case Interview Course: A comprehensive case interview course that condenses all of the case interview strategies, techniques, and practice you need into a 15 – 25 hour course. Learn through 50+ concise video lessons and 20 full-length practice cases with detailed solutions.
- Hacking the Case Interview: In this book, learn exactly what to do and what to say in every step of the case interview. This is the perfect book for beginners that are looking to learn the basics of case interviews quickly.
- The Ultimate Case Interview Workbook: In this book, hone your case interview skills through 65+ problems tailored towards each type of question asked in case interviews and 15 full-length cases based on real case interviews. This book is great for intermediates looking to get quality practice.