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Takeaway from Case Interviews for Beginners by Stephen Pidgeon:

Never forget the case is an opportunity to use your natural abilities and thought processes.
Success in the case comes from the WAY you approach the problem, NOT THE ANSWER
Spectrum of nature of case interviews: short/snappy types (e.g. brainteaser or market-sizing
case) to others that are broad-ranging and seek to uncover ALL of the issues in a situation.
Paper-free case vs Written case
Structured thinking
One of those skills that you have to learn in slow-motion before you ramp it up to full speed.
Techniques for developing a structure:
1. Get your thoughts down on a paper
2. Groupingfor example, Customers, Competitors and Logistics, or Financial and
Strategic; keep it 4 at max
3. Add hierarchy to your groups
Design principles to bear in mind:
1. Order of Prioritygo in descending order of importance; it doesnt matter if it turns
out youre wrong or not, what matters is you use your judgment.
2. Equivalencelevel of hierarchy should be roughly equivalent in terms of type and
3. Mutually Exclusive and Collectively Exhaustive (MECE)ME: you should come up
with groups that are not subgroups of each other. For ex, Revenues and Costs,
Internal and External, Short Term and Long Term, Domestic and International,
process flow (an item cannot be in two places at once). CE: when you add all your
groups together, you havent missed out anything. Include a group called Other or
Miscellaneous. But dont be a slave to the acronymuse it as a guide and not rule, if
necessary, tell the interviewer that you believe there may be other factors but that
youd like to focus on the important ones.
Take ten seconds to look back at your structure. Some questions to ask:
If I follow this plan will it probably get me to the answer?
Is there anything Ive missed that couldnt be inserted into my structure and that might turn
out to be a major driver of the answer?
Are the component parts of my structure reasonably comprehensive? Mutually exclusive?
Are levels of hierarchy reasonably equivalent?
Describe your structure to the interviewer
Aim to put it back into business-style language, and wherever possible insert small examples
of you using your judgment or knowledge.
When faces with what to do, think in terms of either X or Y
The thinking process that you got through as you come up with your own structure is exactly
the point of a case interview. If a company wanted to test your memorization skills the
interview would be designed very differently.
Dont be afraid to take the time to think, and dont be afraid to make changes to your
structure as you start to lay it out or as you walk through the case.
The key is developing the skill of working out what kind of issues youd want to investigate
for a given problem. You can practice by opening up the newspaper, picking a business
story, and then thinking through what kind of issues youd want to understand to get to the
bottom of it.
Reminder of the overall competencies they are looking for:
Ability to structure a problem
Business sense
Creative Thinking
Calm and Pleasant demeanor in a stressful situation
Dont make any kind of calculation unless you are very clear on the objective. What are you
about to do and why are you doing it? What will you do with the end result?
Show that above all you are truly at ease doing this kind of analysis, and that indeed you are
glad of the opportunity to showcase you skills.
Useful steps to get through math issues:
Define the problem
Check units
Insight***(What is the answer telling you? It will probably prove or disprove one of the
elements in your initial structure.)
Dont feel that a question is too basic to do on paper. Its far better to take the 10 seconds
and demonstrate that you value accuracy than to risk making a mistake in what is a
high0stress and high-stakes situation.
When you are done with the calculation, you look up from the paper and say something
along the lines of In order to reach the management target, the company will need to make
an additional twenty one point six million dollars in revenue, which strikes me as and then
you deliver your insight about it being easy/difficult/impossible because of x/y/z reasons that
we have already discovered in the case.
If you get an answer and you have no point of reference, there are two option, and the safest
best it to go with both.
1. Use your judgment. Does the number seem achievable? Is there anything you can
bring in from the outside world to justify your opinion? Is this industry that is booming,
or is it in decline? Are we going through a recession or are customers wallet full?
How does our brand compared to competitors?
2. Ask yourself what else youd need to know in order to make a sensible judgment.