Technology Consulting Case Interview: What You Need to Know
If you’re interviewing with technology consulting firms, you will almost definitely be given a few technology case interviews during the interview process. To successfully land a technology consulting job offer, you’ll have to nail each and every case interview.
While technology case interviews may seem intimidating and challenging, they can be consistently solved with the right strategies and practice. In this article, we’ll cover:
- What is a technology case interview?
- The 6 steps to solve any technology case
- Technology case interview frameworks
- 7 technology case interview examples to practice
What is a Technology Consulting Case Interview?
Technology consulting is a specialized type of consulting that focuses on helping companies use technology better to be more productive and profitable. Just as with any consulting firm, technology consulting firms use case interviews to identify candidates that have the potential to become great consultants.
As you would expect, technology consulting case interviews focus on business problems that center around a company’s use of technology. Technology cases place you in a hypothetical business situation in which you will work with the interviewer to develop a recommendation or solution to a technology problem.
Types of business situations that you could expect to see in technology consulting cases include:
- Deciding whether a company should buy or build a particular technology solution
- Deciding which vendor a company should partner with for their technology solution
- Deciding whether a company should develop technology in-house or outsource development elsewhere
- Determining whether outsourcing of technology should be done onshore or offshore
Technology consulting firms use case interviews because they assess a variety of different qualities and traits in just a 20- to 30-minute exercise. There are five major qualities that technology case interviews assess:
Logical, structured thinking: Can you structure complex problems in a clear, simple way? Can you use logic and reason to make appropriate conclusions?
Analytical problem solving: Can you read and interpret data well? Can you conduct the right analyses to draw the right conclusions?
Business acumen: Do you have a basic understanding of fundamental business and technology concepts? Do your recommendations make sense from a feasibility perspective?
Communication skills: Can you communicate in a clear, concise way? Are you articulate in what you are saying?
Personality and cultural fit: Are you coachable and easy to work with? Are you pleasant to be around?
The 6 Steps to Solve Any Technology Case Interview
The approach to solving technology consulting cases is generally the same as traditional case interviews. Generally, you’ll want to follow these six steps.
1. Understand the case
Your technology 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.
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
Technology cases typically have some quantitative aspect to them. For example, you may be asked to calculate a certain profitability or financial metric.
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 simple execution of math.
5. Answer qualitative questions
Technology case interviews will also typically 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 particular 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.
6. Deliver a recommendation
In the last step of the tech 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.
Technology Case Interview Frameworks
While the approach to solving technology case interviews is typically the same as traditional case interviews, there are some frameworks you should be familiar with that are specific to technology issues.
Some of these frameworks are more technical than others.
Generally, if you have a strong IT or technology background and are interviewing for a more senior role, you should expect your technology case interviews to be more technical. However, if you are interviewing for an entry level technology consulting role, you’ll likely not need to know many of these frameworks.
The PPT framework stands for people, process, and technology. These are the three components that are necessary for organizational transformation and management. To achieve organizational efficiency, a company needs to have all three of these components streamlined.
People: Do employees have the right skills, experience, and attitude for the job? Do they have clear roles and responsibilities? Does the project have buy-in from the right people?
Process: Are the right processes in place? Are these processes run smoothly and efficiently? Are there potential bottlenecks or roadblocks?
Technology: Are the right technologies being used? Are these technologies being used to their maximum potential?
Factors to Evaluate Technology Framework
Often, you’ll need to use a framework to evaluate different pieces of technology or different potential technology vendors to work with. One of the most common ways of doing this is by assessing each option on the basis of the following three factors.
Ability to meet requirements: Does the technology or vendor satisfy all of the requirements?
Cost of project: What is the fully-loaded cost of the project? Do the costs meet the designated budget?
Time to launch: How long will it take to launch and implement the solution? Does this timeline satisfy goals and expectations?
ITIL stands for Information Technology Infrastructure Library. It is the first of our more technical frameworks for technology case interviews.
The ITIL framework is one of the most widely used approaches for managing IT services. IT services use the ITIL framework to ensure that their services are delivered in a customer-focused, high-quality, and economical way.
There are five stages in the lifecycle of information technology.
Service Strategy: Decide on a strategy to serve customers by starting with an assessment of customer needs and the market place. Determine which services the IT organization should offer and what capabilities need to be developed.
Service Design: Design new IT services, which includes making changes and improvements to existing services.
Service Transition: Build and deploy IT services. Ensure that changes to services are carried out in a coordinated way.
Service Operation: Ensure that IT services are delivered effectively and efficiently. This includes fulfilling user requests, resolving service failures, fixing problems, and carrying out routine operational tasks.
Continual Service Improvement: Learn from past successes and failures to continually improve the effectiveness and efficiency of IT processes and services.
TOGAF stands for The Open Group Architecture Framework. It provides an approach for designing, planning, implementing, and governing an enterprise information technology architecture.
TOGAF is based on four areas of specialization called architecture domains:
Business architecture: The business strategy, governance, organization, and key business processes of the organization
Data architecture: The structure of an organization’s logical and physical data assets and the associated data management resources
Applications architecture: The blueprint for the individual systems to be deployed, the interactions between application systems, and their relationships to the core business processes of the organization
Technical architecture: The hardware, software, and network infrastructure needed to support the deployment of core and mission-critical applications
CMMI stands for Capability Maturity Model Integration and is used to guide process improvement across a project, division, or entire organization. CMMI defines five maturity levels for processes.
Level 1: Initial: Processes are unpredictable, poorly controlled, and reactive.
Level 2: Managed: Processes are characterized for projects and are often reactive.
Level 3: Defined: Processes are characterized for the organization and are proactive.
Level 4: Quantitatively Managed: Processes are measured and controlled.
Level 5: Optimizing: Processes are not only measured and controlled, but also focused on process improvement.
Technology Case Interview Examples
There are much fewer technology practice cases available online compared to traditional case interview cases. However, Deloitte’s case interview prep website offers 7 technology consulting cases that you can work through on your own.
For undergraduate students:
- Finance Agency: The finance agency’s office uses a number of different software application systems to track and manage cases, applications, transactions, and other financial documents. They are looking to consolidate their systems to increase collaboration, streamline operations, and improve efficiency.
- Top Engine: Your client is looking to develop a solution that is a portal for receiving and sharing external data in order to successfully complete a project to build the first electric engine airplane with zero emission.
- Green Apron: The client, a leading chain of grocery stores, has requested your assistance to redesign and implement a brand new ecommerce platform to meet changing customer expectations.
- Big Bucks Bank: The bank has hired you to assess and potentially implement a customer relationship management system (CRM) for managing their interactions with current and future customers. This includes helping to track and prioritize customer issues.
For advanced degree students and experienced professionals:
- Waste Management: The CEO of a large waste management company is looking to streamline its back office IT functions to improve operational performance and to transform the business to be more competitive.
- Bank of Zurich: The CIO of the Bank of Zurich has identified gaps in the organization’s enterprise data management strategy. Information governance and ownership is siloed within individual business units, which creates issues of fidelity, duplication, and latency. Changes to both the technical and business solutions are necessary.
- Galaxy Fitness: A North American retail company that provides athletic and performance apparel is looking to expand their strategic position by launching a brand new ecommerce platform. The three most important aspects of the platform are: being a multi-lingual and multi-currency platform, having 24/7 operations, and centralizing how orders are placed, managed, and serviced.
You’ll likely find it helpful to go through these practice cases before your technology consulting case interview.
Resources to Prepare for Technology Case Interviews
If you found this article helpful, you’ll love our comprehensive case interview course. The material in the course has helped 6,000+ students across 13+ countries land offers at top-tier consulting firms such as McKinsey, BCG, and Bain.
While the course is focused on preparing candidates for management or strategy consulting roles, many of the strategies and frameworks can be applied to technology consulting roles.
Try the course for free today.
If you are considering alternative resources to use, below are the two books we recommend. They are available in digital or paperback format on Amazon.
- Hacking the Case Interview: 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: 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 McKinsey, BCG, and Bain interviews. This book is great for intermediates.