Case interviews: what to expect

Business man in suit ready for meeting

If you’re applying for a role in management consultancy be prepared to perform well in both fit and case interviews. Start by demonstrating the three Cs:

Capacity to learn, Commitment to clients, and Competencies.

These will be assessed and tested during the interview process and through fit and case questions.

The fit interview

The first and second round of interviews will assess ability, motivation, business focus, personal and educational background and your overall interest in management consultancy.

You will need to convince recruiters about three things:

  • You can you do this job – you have the skills, and potential to learn
  • You want this job – you’re motivated and driven to excel
  • Will you fit in to the company, and more specifically
    • you will fit in to the team
    • we will enjoy working with you, and
    • our clients will see you as one of us

Consultants are people who take on tough challenges that matter to leading organisations, they are the ‘solver of problems’.

The next step in the recruitment process, the case interview, is an opportunity for you to show how you tackle typical business problems, and interviewers love this as they can discuss cases based on their own client work.

The case interview

There are several types of case interviews and preparation will make a real difference, as will knowing and using the frameworks: SWOT, Porters 5 Forces, BCG’s Product Portfolio matrix, Kaplan and Norton’s Balanced Scorecard etc. But these are generic and not specific to the problem you’ll be trying to solve. Use them only as a starting point.

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Try this four-step approach to solving a case question

1 Listen and clarify

Make it a business discussion and engage in a thoughtful and insightful conversation with your interviewer. Demonstrate your business judgement.

Ensure complete understanding of business issue. Listen carefully and ask clarifying questions. The consultant will offer more information, but only if asked!

2 Identify

Take notes but avoid trying to write down everything. Notes should help focus on processing what you’re being told before you form your own hypotheses. 

Identify key issues and prioritize these issues. Formulate an initial hypothesis, and then articulate how you will approach the problem.

3 Test

Frameworks are good, but they are generic, don’t force fit them. Aim to show the interviewer you can apply concepts to the specifics of the business issue.

Request information to test your hypothesis, ask further questions and collect more information and verbalise what you’re thinking. This way it will be evident that you have a plan. Interviewers are just as interested in the thought process as they are in the final answer.

4 Conclude

Summarise your findings, and draw out key facts to make clear recommendations and anticipate any concerns your recommendation/s may raise. Any risks? How can they be overcome? 

The case interview is an opportunity to demonstrate how you interact with future clients and colleagues. Demonstrate your communication and people skills. Project your confidence, energy and interest. 


Practise makes perfect, but how much? At the very least practice until you are confident with your approach to all the cases you’ll face, and then practise a little more.

The purpose of fit and case interviews is to assess you and both are equally important to the recruiter. The challenge you face is to convey your strengths and competencies on both these dimensions.

Iain, Careers Consultant (available for 1-2-1 SBM appointments weekly – call 020 7882 8533 to book)


Websites of all the firms’ you’re applying to (see here for tips on researching: Get to know future employers: find clues on their website!)
Industry Insider

Crack the Case System, David Ohrvall
Case in Point, Marc Constantino


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