Mock consulting case interviews are a great way to get high-quality and realistic case interview practice without the high stakes of an actual consulting interview. Have an upcoming mock consulting case interview and don’t know how to prepare? We have you covered.
As a former Bain Manager and interviewer, I’ll share with you step-by-step how to prepare for a mock consulting case interview. We’ll also cover how to lead a mock consulting case interview, a critical skill you’ll need when doing mock case interviews with a case partner.
In this comprehensive article on consulting mock case interviews, we’ll cover:
- What is a mock consulting case interview?
- Are mock consulting case interviews evaluative?
- What do mock consulting case interviews evaluate?
- How long does it take to prepare for a mock case interview?
- How to prepare for a mock consulting case interview
- How to lead a mock consulting case interview
If you’re looking for a step-by-step shortcut to learn case interviews quickly, enroll in our case interview course. These insider strategies from a former Bain interviewer helped 30,000+ land consulting offers while saving hundreds of hours of prep time.
What is a Mock Consulting Case Interview?
A mock consulting case interview is a practice session designed to simulate a real consulting case interview. It's typically conducted to help candidates prepare for actual consulting job interviews.
In a mock case interview, a candidate is presented with a business problem or scenario and is expected to analyze, structure, and provide recommendations for addressing the issue.
Here's a typical format for a mock consulting case interview:
Introduction: The interviewer sets the stage by providing a brief overview of the case. This might include background information about the client, the industry, and the specific problem at hand.
Candidate Questions: The candidate is given an opportunity to ask clarifying questions. This is important for understanding the problem and gathering necessary information.
Structuring: The candidate outlines a structured approach to solving the case. This may involve breaking down the problem into its key components, defining the framework for analysis, and identifying the main issues.
Data and Information Gathering: The candidate may be provided with additional information, data, or exhibits related to the case. They are expected to use this information to further analyze the problem.
Quantitative Analysis: Depending on the nature of the case, the candidate may need to perform calculations, data analysis, or financial modeling to support their recommendations.
Recommendation: The candidate summarizes their key points and provides a brief recommendation for how the client should address the problem. These recommendations should be well-reasoned and backed by the analysis conducted.
Feedback and Discussion: The interviewer provides feedback on the candidate's performance, highlighting strengths and areas for improvement. They may also engage in a discussion about the case.
Mock consulting case interviews are valuable because they allow candidates to practice their problem-solving, analytical, and communication skills in a simulated environment.
They also help candidates become familiar with the format and expectations of real consulting interviews, which can help reduce anxiety and increase confidence.
Additionally, receiving feedback from experienced interviewers can be extremely beneficial for improving performance in actual interviews.
If you’re looking for personalized, one-on-one case interview coaching with experienced interviewers from top consulting firms, such as McKinsey, Bain, and BCG, check out our case interview coaching services.
Are Mock Consulting Case Interviews Evaluative?
Although many consulting firms say that their mock case interviews are non-evaluative, all of the interactions you have with a consulting firm are evaluative by nature. Your mock interviewer may pass on information on your strengths, weaknesses, and overall case interview abilities to the consulting firm.
While a poor performance will not necessarily lead you to getting a rejection in future interview rounds, a strong performance can be another data point to support the consulting firm giving you a job offer later on.
Therefore, think of mock case interviews as an additional data point that the consulting firm has when making their hiring decision. Because of this, you should take mock consulting case interviews seriously and do your best to leave a positive impression on the interviewer.
If there is a particular area that you struggled with during your mock case interview, make sure you nail that portion during your actual case interview. Your interviewers may be paying more attention on your weaknesses that showed up during your mock case interview.
If there are particular strengths that you showed during the mock case interview, make sure that you also show them during your actual case interview. This will paint a consistent story that you excel in those specific areas.
What Do Mock Consulting Case Interviews Evaluate?
During a mock consulting case interview, the interviewer assesses various aspects of the candidate's performance, including:
- Problem-Solving Skills: The ability to identify key issues, formulate hypotheses, and develop a structured approach to solving the case
- Analytical Skills: The ability to analyze data, make calculations (if applicable), and use quantitative information to support recommendations
- Communication Skills: How effectively the candidate communicates their thought process, asks clarifying questions, and articulates their recommendations
- Business Acumen: The candidate's understanding of business concepts, industry dynamics, and the ability to apply relevant business knowledge to the case
- Decision-Making: The candidate's ability to make sound and well-reasoned recommendations based on the analysis conducted
- Adaptability: How well the candidate responds to new information or changes in the case scenario
- Structuring: The candidate's ability to structure their analysis and recommendations in a clear and organized manner
- Time Management: How efficiently the candidate manages their time during the interview to ensure they address all relevant aspects of the case
- Receptiveness to Feedback: Whether the candidate is open to receiving feedback and adapting their approach based on the input provided by the interviewer
After the mock interview, the interviewer typically provides feedback and an evaluation of the candidate's performance.
This feedback can be invaluable for candidates as they prepare for actual consulting case interviews, as it helps them identify areas where they excel and areas that may require improvement.
How Long Does it Take to Prepare for a Mock Case Interview?
Candidates preparing for a mock case interview invest varying amounts of time, ranging from 10 to 80 hours, equivalent to 1 to 8 weeks. Highly skilled candidates with strong business acumen and communication abilities might require as little as a few weeks. Conversely, individuals without a business background might need 12 weeks or longer.
Four key factors influence the time needed for case interview preparation:
Natural abilities: A solid foundation in business intuition and effective communication is crucial for case interviews. Those with prior business education or relevant work experience may possess a head start. While these skills can be acquired, individuals with innate strengths in these areas may require less preparation time.
Learning speed: Individuals vary in their learning speed. Proficiency in case interviews involves acquiring skills like structuring frameworks, forming hypotheses, solving mathematical problems, and presenting recommendations. While anyone can learn these skills, some may grasp them more swiftly than others.
Practice quality: Effective practice is pivotal for swift learning and mastery. Partnering with individuals who can conduct proper case interviews and provide constructive feedback accelerates progress. Similarly, using practice cases that closely resemble real scenarios and include exemplary model answers is crucial.
Consulting firm standards: The consulting firm you're applying to also impacts preparation time. Top-tier firms like McKinsey, BCG, and Bain typically have rigorous standards for evaluating case interview performance. As a result, candidates targeting these firms may need to allocate more time for preparation compared to those applying to less prestigious consulting firms such as Deloitte or Accenture.
How to Prepare for a Mock Consulting Case Interview
Preparing for a mock consulting case interview is a crucial step in your journey toward acing real consulting interviews. Here's a step-by-step guide to help you prepare effectively:
1. Understand the basics
Familiarize yourself with the format and structure of consulting case interviews. Understand that these interviews typically involve solving a business problem in a structured and organized way.
2. Learn common frameworks
Study common problem-solving frameworks used in consulting, such as the SWOT analysis, Porter's Five Forces, and the 4Ps (Product, Price, Place, Promotion). Understand when and how to apply these frameworks.
However, don’t rely on using memorized frameworks too much. Use these frameworks as a starting point for creating your own unique and tailored frameworks for each case situation.
For a complete guide on how to create tailored and unique frameworks for each case, check out our article on case interview frameworks.
3. Practice math skills
Brush up on your mental math skills, as these are often tested during case interviews. Practice quick calculations and estimations to improve your quantitative abilities.
4. Practice structuring answers
Work on structuring your responses. Start with a clear framework, articulate your thought process, and provide a structured answer. Practice concise and effective communication.
5. Seek a case partner
Find a partner or coach to conduct mock interviews with you. This can be a fellow student, a mentor, or a friend who can play the role of the interviewer. Consider joining case interview clubs or forums to connect with others.
Practicing case interviews live with a partner more closely simulates an actual case interview. Therefore, you’ll get higher quality practice and learn much faster.
6. Simulate real interview conditions
Conduct mock interviews under realistic conditions. Put away all notes, don’t use a calculator, and don’t take breaks during a mock case interview to simulate the interview environment as closely as possible.
7. Diversify your practice
Practice a variety of case types and industries to enhance your adaptability and problem-solving skills. The more diverse your practice, the better prepared you'll be for different interview scenarios.
To practice a wide variety of cases across various industries and functions, check out our article on 23 MBA consulting casebooks with 700+ free practice cases and 50 case interview examples.
8. Consistently practice and improve
After each mock interview, assess your performance and reflect on what you've learned. Adjust your preparation strategy based on these insights.
Continue practicing and refining your skills until you consistently perform well in mock interviews. Remember that improvement takes time and persistence.
Preparing for mock consulting case interviews is a gradual process that requires dedication and practice. The more you practice and seek feedback, the better equipped you'll be to excel in the actual consulting interview.
If you decide that getting a case interview coach is right for you, check out our personalized, one-on-one case interview coaching services.
How to Lead a Consulting Mock Case Interview
There may be times when you will have to lead a consulting mock case interview to help a friend or colleague prepare for their own consulting mock case interview.
Leading a consulting mock case interview can actually help you improve your own case interview performance by giving you a perspective of what it is like to be an interviewer. Through this, you’ll get a better sense for what interviewers look for and what strategies work well in a case interview.
Leading a mock consulting case interview requires you to simulate a real interview scenario while providing constructive feedback to help the candidate improve. Here are some tips for leading a mock case interview.
1. Understand the case thoroughly: Familiarize yourself with the case in advance. Understand the problem, context, and potential solutions
2. Explain the case: Present the case scenario to the candidate. Clearly state the problem, provide any relevant background information, and set expectations for the interview
3. Encourage questions: Give the candidate an opportunity to ask clarifying questions about the case. Provide any necessary information to help them get started
4. Observe problem-solving approach: Pay attention to how the candidate approaches the problem. Look for structured thinking, logical frameworks, and strategic insights
5. Monitor time: Keep track of time to ensure the candidate manages it effectively throughout the interview
6. Assess communication skills: Evaluate the candidate's ability to communicate their thought process clearly and concisely. Take note of how well they present their findings
7. Assess quantitative skills: Evaluate the candidate’s quantitative capabilities. Check that they are performing math calculations correctly and taking an efficient and structured approach
8. Be adaptable: Be ready to adjust the difficulty or direction of the case based on the candidate's performance. Provide additional information or challenges if they are progressing well, or offer more guidance if they are struggling
9. Offer constructive feedback: After the case is concluded, provide specific and actionable feedback. Highlight areas of strength and areas that need improvement
10. Highlight positive aspects: Point out what the candidate did well. Acknowledge their strengths in problem-solving, communication, or any other notable areas
To help keep track of your partner’s performance, we’ve pulled together a comprehensive checklist of what to look for while leading a mock case interview.
Recommended Mock Case Interview Resources
Here are the resources we recommend to learn the most robust, effective case interview strategies in the least time-consuming way:
- Comprehensive Case Interview Course (our #1 recommendation): The only resource you need. Whether you have no business background, rusty math skills, or are short on time, this step-by-step course will transform you into a top 1% caser that lands multiple consulting offers.
- Hacking the Case Interview Book (available on Amazon): Perfect for beginners that are short on time. Transform yourself from a stressed-out case interview newbie to a confident intermediate in under a week. Some readers finish this book in a day and can already tackle tough cases.
- The Ultimate Case Interview Workbook (available on Amazon): Perfect for intermediates struggling with frameworks, case math, or generating business insights. No need to find a case partner – these drills, practice problems, and full-length cases can all be done by yourself.
- Case Interview Coaching: Personalized, one-on-one coaching with former consulting interviewers
- Behavioral & Fit Interview Course: Be prepared for 98% of behavioral and fit questions in just a few hours. We'll teach you exactly how to draft answers that will impress your interviewer
- Resume Review & Editing: Transform your resume into one that will get you multiple interviews