Case interviews are becoming a huge part of interviews in today’s work dynamics. They are not only used in consulting interviews but in product management, finance and analytics among others.
Many case questions range from being asked to design a solution for problem X, which means that memorizing a standard set of frameworks will not be enough and thus will not help in making you stand out from the rest.
It is therefore important to build a muscle in problem-solving so that you can develop cognitive skills to tackle each component in a structured, analytical and cohesive manner.
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Here are a few strategies that can help you prepare for a case interview:
1. Listen & Clarify: Structure your thoughts
It is more effective to present a thoughtful and structured response than to demonstrate speed at the expense of a quality answer. Understand the problem before structuring or asking for data. Rephrase the question in such a way that it will avoid misunderstanding.
Taking time to structure your thoughts will show just how best you will understand the need of the customers first.
2. Plan & Hypothesize: Outline your structure before you go into the details
Before you answer any question asked, look at the usefulness of the feature. Outline all the areas you will analyze. It goes to show the interviewer your thinking, and they can be able to guide you in the areas they want you to go. Ultimately, this makes for a meaningful dialogue.
You can use the following outline as you analyze the question:
- Instrumentation: Ensure the data is indeed accurate and that the tools and process to measure the data has not changed.
- User segments: Disaggregate the decline by user segments to see if this impacts different cohorts by geography, device type, demographics, etc.
- Competition: Identify any changes (e.g., new product releases) in the ecosystem of adjacent and similar products.
- Other Features: Analyze other changes within the suite of products that could be impacting this feature. Maybe another product or features has increased usage that is shifting user engagement patterns.
3. Think & Gather: Identify high leverage variables
After structuring the areas to analyze, start by highlighting the areas that you think might matter the most. This way, you will be able to demonstrate that you have a point of view and are not just tackling the problem at hand from an academic point of view.
Also, try as much as possible to articulate what you want to analyze. The more the interviewer will understand what you are thinking, the better for you. They will be able to guide you if they clearly understand your thought process.
4. Structure & Close: Synthesize your findings and insights
Case questions do not have specific answers. They can take many directions, and with the guidance of the interviewer, you can gather information too. Bringing in what you know will thus help to converge towards a framework in solving the problem.
When faced with a case interview question, it is more important to demonstrate your approach to problem-solving and elucidate your thought process than it is to quickly or mechanically try and solve the case.