How to Ace your Interview

Interview Workshop

April, 2002

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This is a guide to recruitment interviews of Inductis for consultants across levels in all Inductis offices and business areas

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Agenda
    Introduction

Fit Interview

Case Interview

Summary

Appendix

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Introduction

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the ability to express oneself persuasively.What Makes A Good Consultant  Factors for Success: "The key factors for success in the management consulting field are qualities of character. S/he's not the kind of person who could sit for 20 years behind the same desk. [and] self-discipline. and must be able to lead people over whom s/he exercises no authority. "  Team Leader: "The professional consultant must plan and organize much of his/her own work. intelligence."  Problem Solver: "The consultant is a professional problem solver who likes solving problems for the thrill of it. self-confidence. for his/her own satisfaction. S/he likes to face a variety of problems frequently. judgment." Source: 1968 Interviews with management consultants 5 . must readily grasp and assume effective control of situations which are inherently unclear.

What We Look For Analytic and Quantitative Skills Communication Skills Leadership Ability Characteristics Organization Teamwork Ethics and Integrity Computer Skills 6 .

Total duration of the test is ½ hour. Each section contains 10 questions. Career etc.Our Selection Process Aptitude Test The test contains 3 sections. Interview. Verbal. Shortlist Shortlist is on basis of the score in aptitude test and past academic record Informal Session You get a chance to interact with our team to address all your queries related to Inductis. Mathematics and Analytics. each interview having a mix of fit interview and case interview 7 . Interview (3 Rounds) 3 rounds of interviews are conducted.

Our Interviews Typically each interview is a mix of a fit interview and a case interview. To receive an offer you must succeed in both Fit Offer Case 8 .

The Fit Interview 9 .

Overview The main purpose of the fit interview is to discover whether you will "fit" with the firm's culture and people  To explore your personal integrity and ambitions  To learn about your interests and to see if they match those of the firm Objectives  To see whether you can "present" yourself in a coherent manner  To ascertain your level of knowledge and interest in consulting  To provide an opportunity for you to learn more about our firm 10 .

Typical Questions To Expect    Tell me something about yourself Give me an instance when you performed under stress Give me an instance where you have delivered a creative solution. How did you resolve? 11 . What was the impact of your solution?  Tell me an incident where your views were in conflict with team.

there are some basic dos and don'ts DO:  Relax and be comfortable  Express your own interests and expectations  Convey a coherent picture of yourself and your skills  Ask good questions  Demonstrate your knowledge of the firm (i. its culture and history) DON'T:  Get defensive or let nerves overcome you  Feign interest in subjects to impress the interviewer  Tell stories that confuse the interviewer or provide confusing images of who you are  Ask questions for the sake of asking questions  Appear ignorant about the position for which you are interviewing or about the firm with which you are interviewing 12 .e.Dos and Don'ts of a Fit Interview Since the fit interview is designed to see simply if you match well with the firm. it is difficult to put forth a set of rules. However.

The Case Interview 13 .

but they don't need to be. case interviews can be quite manageable  To ascertain how you think through problems  To determine your ability to structure a logical argument Objectives  To test your analytic and quantitative skills  To give you a flavor for the types of problems consultants work on 14 . If you understand what the interviewer is looking for.Overview Case interviews seem to be one of the biggest sources of stress surrounding the interviewing process.

General Hints for Approaching Cases No matter what kind of case you face. 1.g. then speak  Be as clear and concise as possible (e. 2. many times interviewers will pull their cases from the day's news 15 . there are a few guidelines you should always keep in mind General Tips  Think first. 3)  Ask questions. don't just give answers  Make sure you are answering the problem being asked  Establish the scope of the problem before digging deep in one area  Always state your assumptions  Don't be afraid to take notes if there are a lot of facts  Be sure you explain your thought process/logic path  Select a solution and justify it  Don't forget possible alternatives  Read the newspaper the day of your interview.

Gen-Xers vs.S.5 Minimum wage: approx.United States Basic Statistics While you certainly shouldn't go and memorize the census report. $5 per hour 16 .: 290 million Number of households in the U.S.e. there are certain statistics that you should be familiar with in order to help you solve cases. Baby-Boomers and income distribution) Population of the world: 6.: 210 million (18+ yrs.: 105 million Number of adults in the U. You should also be familiar with general demographic trends (i.) 200 million (25+ yrs.) Number of cars per household: 2.S.2 billion Population of the U.

there are certain statistics that you should be familiar with in order to help you solve cases Population of the world: 6. 15 rupees per hour 17 .India Basic Statistics While you certainly shouldn't go and memorize the census report.) Number of cars per Household: 0.) 440 million (21+ yrs.2 billion Population of India: 1000 million Number of households in India: 180 million Number of adults in India: 530 million (18+ yrs.02 Minimum wage: approx.

Interviewing Styles Every interviewer will have a different interview style. if asked  Conversational feel throughout case interview Conceptual Problem  Brief introduction Two Extremes  Very broad description of problem (e. if any facts available  “What do you think” responses to many questions 18 . poor performance)  Few.g. When explaining a case you must feel comfortable with each of the different approaches and be able to adapt your approach Case Descriptions Detailed Problem  Detailed introduction of case  Specific problem to be solved  A few starter facts  Many additional facts available.

Types of Cases The types of cases you are likely to encounter will generally fit into one of three distinct groups Strategy Types of Cases Special Cases • • • • • Brain-Teasers Engineering Economics Data Analytics Puzzles Miscellaneous 19 .

Strategy Cases Strategy cases generally involve one or more of the following three issues. but these certainly do not represent the universe of possible scenarios Types of Strategy Cases Costs Marketing Revenues 20 .

One popular framework is the Four P's:  What product do you want to sell?  What product are you able to produce?  What advantages does your product offer?  What price must you charge to make a profit?  What price are consumers willing to pay?  What price are your competitors charging? Product Price The Four P's Place  Where is there a demand for your product?  Where are your suppliers located?  What distribution channels are being used?  Who is your target audience?  How do you reach them?  How much do you want to spend on promotions and advertising? 21 Promotion . employing the underlying logic should help you structure your argument and solidify your analysis.Frameworks for Approaching Strategy Cases – The Four P's While you probably do not want to make it obvious that you are using an economic framework to solve a case.

fixed costs .organizational .financial .variable costs  How have your costs changed over time? Customers Competitors The Four C's Capacity Costs 22 .Frameworks for Approaching Strategy Cases – The Four C's Another helpful framework in approaching a strategy case is the Four C's  What do the customers want and need?  How will you satisfy those needs?  What is most important to the customers?  How much will they pay for it?  What are your competitors doing?  What are their strengths and weaknesses?  How are they meeting the customer's demand?  What is their cost structure?  What are your company's capacities: .production .marketing?  What are your strengths and weaknesses?  What is your cost structure? .

Framework for Approaching Strategy Cases – Marketing Strategy Model While it is slightly more complex than the previous frameworks. the marketing strategy model provides an excellent frame of reference for marketing cases Marketing Strategy Model  What are the costs?  What is the break even?  How long is the payback on my investment? Start Economics Consumer Analysis  What is the relevant market?  Who is buying and who is using the product?  What is the buying process?  How can I segment the market?  How does my product fit with my other products?  How will I differentiate my product?  How does the product life cycle affect my plans? Marketing Mix Distribution Competition  What are your company's strengths and weaknesses?  What are your competitor's strengths and weaknesses?  What is your relative size and position in the market?  How do your resources differ from those of your competitors?  How can my product reach the consumer?  How much do the players in each distribution channel profit?  Who holds the power in each distribution channel available? 23 .

 Ability to breakdown a complex problem into simple steps  Conceptual reasoning skills  Logical reasoning  Quantitative skills  Basic Economics Knowledge  Basic Engineering Knowledge  Creativity 24 .Brain teasers and Special Cases Brain Teasers and Special Cases are meant to test the following ..

the next step often becomes more clear  Don't give up.If You Get in a Jam…  Pause to collect your thoughts. Interviewers are judging your poise and maturity in addition to your problem-solving skills 25 . By reviewing what you know about the case. Remaining silent is better than blurting out an incoherent thought  Recount what you already know to the interviewer.

Summary 26 .

Summary There is no single “right” answer… .. but there are inappropriate approaches  Ignoring or forgetting important facts  Force-fitting a framework that just doesn't work  Defending impractical solutions 27 ..

Appendix 28 .

Appendix     Sample General Cases Sample Special Cases Sample Data Analytics Cases Additional Resources 29 .

Sample General Cases 30 .

General Cases The following sample cases have been compiled from Kellogg’s. The suggested approaches are by no means the only approach you could take. They are intended to assist you in preparing for your case interview.” framework. how many balls per month an average person buys (you may want to temper this “average purchase” assumption by at least mentioning that retired people play more than students).S. Thus you eliminate 30 to 80 years or 3/8 of the 300 million population. you sit on the plane wondering what is the annual market size for golf balls in the U. A good guess might be 15. simply listing the alternative reasons for Determine whether this is a revenue each component of the issue. approach: • The reason there is no light beer could be because (1) consumers do not demand it. population (say 300 million to make my math easier). and Tuck’s Consulting Club Guides to management consulting cases. will not permit light beer in the country. Your plane lands in 15 minutes. now you are down to a potential buyer pool of about 110 million. but it can be dissected by start with basic profitability analysis. but rather are the ones authors of these guides thought were most appropriate Case #1 You are visiting a new client who sells golf balls in the United States. Now you have to estimate purchase frequency. maybe 5 in regions with cold winters – so on average 8 is a decent estimate: 8 x 660 = 5. how would you go about answering these questions? Hypothetical Approach • Golf balls sales are driven by end-users. So demand per month is now 15 x 44 million or 660 million.280 million golf balls per year Case #2 Why is there no light beer in the UK? Case #3 You have been called in by a Big 4 accounting firm that is experiencing declining profitability in its auditing operation.S. Finally. and what factors drive demand. despite consumer demand. light beer producers are blocked out of the UK 31 . What levers would you push to help improve profitability? Hypothetical Approach Hypothetical Approach • This problem does not fit in common • Whenever you hear “declining profitability. (2) producers are not producing it. or (3) some outside influence. Now you might estimate how many people out of 10 play golf – say 4 – so now 4/10 of 110 gets you down to 44 million people who play golf. So. Having had no time to do background research. one can subdivide the problem as nobody wants to sell light beer in the UK or somehow. cost problem or both. Following the producer option. you need to estimate the number of months per year that people play golf – 12 months in good climate regions. Then assume that only people in the ages 20-70 will be potential buyers. You have to determine the number of end-users. Here is one problem. First assume a uniform age distribution and an average life expectancy of 80 years. such as the government. Stern’s. this will be some fraction of the total U.

discount carriers like People Express sprang up. In a price-competitive industry. who will pay to reside there. but is not sure how many stories to make it. The building will house tenants. Years later the discounters have gone out of business. why is it that the higher-cost carriers were able to survive and the low-cost ones weren't? Hypothetical Approach These are some of the basic issues to be fleshed out: • Characteristics of discounters: – Low fares – Limited service • Characteristics of major carriers: – Higher fares. Clearly you don't want to lose money on the deal. In the early years after deregulation. but better coverage and service – Hub systems channeling traffic • Competitive moves by majors: Innovative use of information technology for yield management and differential pricing 1) Basically they priced every seat individually based on continuously monitoring supply/demand 2) They wooed leisure customers with fares lower than discounters and charged more from business travelers (indifferent to price but sensitive to service frequency) 3) They stole the discounters' market and forced them out Hypothetical Approach • This is an economic supply/demand mind tease.General Cases (Cont’d) Case #4 Your client is going to build a skyscraper. Included here for illustrative purposes only 32 . When marginal revenue equals marginal cost you stop adding stories * This case is too complex for BA candidates. How should he decide? Case #5* The airline industry is characterized by low returns and stiff competition. The costs of building and maintaining the structure (both fixed and incremental by story) need to be compared to revenue-generating capability of the project.

000 quarters. Of the workers each either carry approximately 40 quarters or have 40 in their cash registers to provide change to customers for a total of 6.S. Yankee Stadium holds approximately 50. etc.000 women half have 12 quarters for them and their husbands/boyfriends to ride the subway home. poverty stricken areas. Of the 25 million boys only about 1/50 have parents who will let them wear earrings for a total of .000 quarters. but we have a slower birth rate than many countries). there are several cases that are brainteasers. For a grand total of 95. but obviously subjective) for a total of 5 million.000 quarters. There are approximately 150 additional people working at the stadium. Of the 100 million adult men about 1/20 wear earrings (based on my personal experience. and half have 1 quarter to call someone in an emergency for a total of 65. each carries on average of 3 cards (Visa. 33 . are unemployed.000 fans. don't believe in credit cards.S. Of the remaining 20. There are approximately 250 million people in the U. Of that 40. Of the 10. Of the 4 billion remaining lets assume three quarters are adults (in the U.000 quarters in Yankee Stadium. wear earrings? There are approximately 6 billion people in the world. Resulting in 6 billion credit cards in the world.General Cases Guesstimates While most cases fall into the strategy category.). Of the 3 billion adults a third don't carry credit cards (they have bad credit. Of the 125 million men. Of the 125 million women 4/5 are adults. Of those about half are women. For a grand total of 331.000 half have no quarters.). and half have 6 quarters to ride the subway home for a total of 60. These cases are meant to test your quantitative ability and general logical reasoning skills Examples $ How many credit cards are there in the world? How many quarters are there in Yankee stadium during a sold out game? How many people in the U.5 million boys.000 quarters. American Express). Of the 100 million adult women about 3/4 wear either pierced or clip-on earrings for a total of 75 million people.S. Of the fans approximately 4/5 are male.000 half are like my dad and have about 10 quarters in their pockets at any given time for a total of 200. Of the 25 million girls about 1/5 get their ears pierced or start wearing earrings each year and about 2/5 already have until the full 3/4 wear earrings by the time they are adults for a total of approximately 15 million girls at any given time. Lets assume that a third live in areas where they cannot get credit cards (rural areas. etc. 4/5 are adults. Mastercard. Of the 2 billion adults who carry credit cards.5 million people wearing earrings. it’s 4/5.

Sample Special Cases 34 .

(8 x 8 x 8)= 488 cubes).000 Fixed + Variable Costs 50.Special Cases There are a variety of other types of cases which you may be asked. Since each corner piece has 3 sides showing. Since each non-corner outside piece has two sides showing a total of 96 cubes (32 x 6 ÷ 2) are need to create the non-corner outside pieces. since there are 4 directions per side a total of 32 (8 x 4) cubes are needed per side. However. Since.e.  Alternative Solution: Subtract the inside cubes from the volume (i.4 [corners] . total cost and total cost per unit.000 10. 488 1" x 1" x 1" cubes (8 + 96 + 384) are needed to create a 10" x 10" x 10" cube.000 40. 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Volume (# Computers) $16.e. – Corner Pieces: A cube has 4 corner pieces per each of its 6 sides. $60.000 per computer. graph the variable cost. there are 6 sides a total of 384 cubes will be needed for the inside. while each outside non-corner piece will have 2 sides showing and each inside piece will have only 1 side showing. then since each side must be 10 inches in dimensions ten 1" x 1" x 1" cubes are needed for each side. Thus. – Non-corner outside pieces: For the non-corner outside pieces a total of 8 (10 . – Inside pieces: A total of 64 inside corner cubes are needed per side to create the inside pieces. They will focus on your ability to think conceptually.32 [noncorner outside]).000 4. we must break down the problem into the three distinct types of pieces.000 ($/Unit) 12. To provide the greatest opening width for the least total opening area and therefore save on material costs. 100 . each corner piece will have 3 sides showing.000 8.000 0 Variable Cost Fixed Cost Miscellaneous Why are manhole covers round?  First assume that the cube is hollow. business acumen. (i. and creativity Examples Engineering Case What is the minimum number of 1 " x 1" x 1" cubes needed to make a 10" x 10" x 10" cube? Economics Case Assume that the overhead cost to produce a computer is $10. Thus.000 $0 1 2 Total Cost Variable Cost 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Volume (# Computers) 35 . 10 x 10 x 10 . only 8 cubes (4 x 6 ÷ 3) are needed to create the corners.000 30. – Total: Thus.2 corners) are needed per direction.000 20.000 and the variable cost is $5. fixed cost. So that they can't fall in.

the chest labelled GOLD OR SILVER COINS cannot contain either gold nor silver. The two men looked at each other. Puzzle #2 One day Arthur came to Merlin and asked him. The Treasury Minister and his secretary were examining samples just delivered from the eight companies. Sir.Special Cases . "If you can pass a series of mental tests. "Let's check. Merlin then showed Arthur three chests. But. which showed that the coin weighed only nine grams. Sir. were frantically searched by the Minister and his secretary." Merlin replied." grinned the secretary." "At least one of these coins ." sighed the Minister. one was labelled GOLD COINS. "Ten grams each.is lighter than the others. The two men placed eight packs of coins on the table. "Show me how to be a wise and good king. + 8) × 10). * Fresh BA’s are not expected to have SAS knowledge. one of the manufacturing companies was producing coins with the wrong weight. and one bronze. then the weight displayed on the scale should have been 360 grams ((1 + 2 + . and SILVER COINS must contain gold. the difference between 360 grams and the weight displayed on the scale should point us to the faulty batch. untidily placed on a tray. "How much should these coins weigh?" the Minister asked. Within the bunch. Sample case included for illustration only 36 ." said the secretary. A bunch of coins. and the last. one silver.. He stated that all the three labels were all on the wrong chests." said the Minister. Thus the chest labelled GOLD COINS must contain silver coins. How many chests must Arthur open to deduce which label goes on which chest? Arthur does not need to open any chests." He put the coin on the scale."? How is it possible? The secretary placed on the scale 1 coin from the first batch.this one . one pack from each company. I will teach you". obviously. "How tedious.Puzzles Puzzle cases are intended to test your conceptual reasoning and ability to think logically Puzzle #1 A Little nation has its gold coins manufactured by eight different European companies. Since all labels are on the wrong chests. the second was labelled SILVER COINS. and so on until he put 8 from the eighth batch. It should be easy to tell which company is producing the faulty batch. so must contain bronze. GOLD OR SILVER COINS.. If all coins weighed 10 grams each. since one batch of coins weighs less. "We can find the lighter coins by using the scale only once. just to find the faulty batch of coins?" "That won't be necessary. 2 from the second. they found a handful of coins that also weighed one gram less than they should. "Do we really have to use this scale eight more times. "Most of the coins are still packed in the plastic wrappers. Given that one chest contained gold.

Sample Data Analytics Cases 37 .

B.  Now the core group makes 4 calls: A-B.25 million cubic meters. integral from 0 to T of f = 0 2. 38 .000 m  If the area of the cover is increased by 1 square meter. – v(0) = 0. – d(a)/dt <= 0  Solution – a(t) = constant = A = V^2/2X which implies T = 2X/V. One square meter is added to the area of this membrane to form a larger sphere. this takes n-4 calls. How much is added to the radius and volume of this membrane? Combinatorics n people each know a different piece of gossip. – x(T) = X 2. then the volume it contains is increased by about 3. each person outside the core group calls anybody who knows everything. C. – v(T) = V 3. However. They are intended to assist you in preparing for your interview Math A thin membrane covers the surface of the (spherical) earth. each member of the core group knows everything.  Now.about 6 nanometers (calculate dr/dA). f(t) = 0. and B-D. What is the smallest number of calls needed so that everyone knows everything?     1 for n=2 3 for n=3 2n-4 for n>=4 This can be achieved as follows: choose four people (A. Analysis What is the longest time that a particle can take in traveling between two points if it never increases its acceleration along the way and reaches the second point with speed V?  V = (4/3)*pi*r^3 and A = 4*pi*r^2  Need to find out how much V increases if A increases by 1 m^2  dV / dr = 4 * pi * r^2 dA / dr = 8 * pi * r dV / dA = (dV / dr) / (dA / dr) = (4 * pi * r^2) / (8 * pi * r) = r/2 = 3.  Each person outside the core group phones a member of the core group (it doesn't matter which). At this point. the new cover would not be very high above the surface of the planet -. and D) as the "core group". f(0) = f(T) = 0 3.v(t): 1. CD.Sample Data Analytics Cases The following sample cases have been compiled with input from Inductis associates and managers.  Assumptions: – x(0) = 0. for a total of 2n-4. A-C. They can telephone each other and exchange all the information they know (so that after the call they both know anything that either of them knew before the call). this again requires n-4 calls.250.  Proof: – Consider assumptions as they apply to f(t) = A * t . d^2(f)/dt^2 <= 0 From the mean value theorem.  We seem to be getting a lot of mileage out of such a small square of cotton.

.XN be a random sample from geometric distribution with p. e^(pi) or (pi)^e?  Of the 36 events: .f. . 0 < p <1 Ln L(p) = nlnp + ( ni=1 xi-n) ln(1-p) 0 < p < 1 Since we restrict p to (0.1 in the inequality e^x > 1+x (x>0) 0 39 . 1) . The 36 outcomes have equal likelihood. take derivative: d ln L(p) = n . which is greater.p) xi-n .E(p) = p = n = ni=1 xi X ^ =  e^(pi)  Put x = pi/e .and 1 is favorable to C ∩ D.ni=1 xi-n Solve for p: P= n = 1 1  x X n i=1 i => M. Are events C and D independent? Likelihood Estimation Let X1. x=1.2. dependent events Likelihood function is L(p) = (1 – p)x1-1 p(1 – p) x2-1p…….I. mathematics and logical knowledge Examples Probability and Statistics A red and a white die are rolled. Let event C = {5 on red die} and event D = {sum of dice 11}.2 are favorable to D. f(x. ….m.6 are favorable to C.(1-p)xn-1 p = pN (1 .) Data Analytics cases will address specialized statistics.Special Data Analytics Cases (Contd.3… What is the maximum likelihood estimator of p (derive)? Mathematical Without finding their numerical values. Therefore:  P(C) * P(D) = (6/36)*(2/36) = (1/108) ≠ (1/36) = P(C ∩ D)  Hence. X2.p) = (1-p)x-1.

Sample Data Analytics Cases Sample SAS* Case SAS cases are designed for data analytics candidates to test basic SAS knowledge as well as approach towards datasets SAS Dataset SAS dataset with yearly revenues by state for three telecommunication companies Sample Problem Create a new variable. etc. but what is critical is whether candidates start running loops over the data or use some of SAS’s in-built basic functionalities.  This type of a question reveals how candidates think about datasets. or those that admit to having moderate experience. but this is always one of the first steps. SORT. which contains the means over time for each company Problem Rationale Company Verizon Verizon Verizon Verizon Verizon Verizon AT&T AT&T AT&T SNET SNET SNET State New York New York New York New Jersey New Jersey New Jersey New York New York New York Connecticut Connecticut Connecticut Year 1990 1991 1992 1990 1991 1992 1990 1991 1992 1990 1991 1992 Revenue $100MM $120MM $130MM $90MM $100MM $95MM $100MM $110MM $90MM $70MM $100MM $80MM  A simple problem that would be given to anyone that claims they have experience with SAS. DATA step. Sample case included for illustration only 40 . There are many ways of getting to the answer. this type of a problem can be easily extended to become more involved.  Usually. * Fresh BA’s are not expected to have SAS knowledge. such as PROC MEANS. SUMMARY.

Additional Resources 41 .

asp http://www.bcg.asp 42 .mckinsey.Additional Resources to Consult Before Your Interview  Ace Your Case! The Essential Management Consulting Case Workbook – Wet Feet Press 1-800-926-4JOB  Competitive Advantage – Michael Porter  Competitive Strategy – Michael Porter  The Consulting Resource Packet – Wharton Career Development & Placement (Packet #13)  Harvard Business School Career Guide: Management Consulting – Harvard Business School Press 1-800-545-7685  The Ten Day MBA – Steven Sillbiger  Case Interviews at Consulting Firms Websites – Wet Feet Press 1-800-926-4JOB – – – http://www.com/careers/apply/interviewingtips/casestudy/index.com/careers/interview_prep/practice_cases.jsp http://www.com/bainweb/Join_Bain/case_interviews.bain.

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