Practice makes perfect… ?
Almost every aspiring management consultant I’ve interacted with is a hard-worker. They are really committed to their studies and are not afraid to put lots of hours into case interview practice. And the fact that you are reading this article shows that it’s very likely you are one as well, but the truth is: case interview success is not always directly proportional to the amount of time spent studying . Another big factor in the equation is the quality of practice.
Perfect practice does!
If you haven’t already done so, please read the big and comprehensive “Case Interview Prep” plan. In that plan, I recommend getting the basics down first before hitting the practice floor. Just like when you do weight lifting, during the first couple of weeks, you want to lift light weights and focus on the techniques. Only when you have the right techniques do you increase the weight and practice harder.
So let’s assume that you have read the Case Interview Prep article and have gone through all of those basic techniques and concepts. Now let’s talk about the best way to practice!
Guide on Case Interview Practice
Usually, the best option to practice for the case interview is to find a partner. The more experienced that partner is, the better. If you can find someone in the management consulting industry, that’d be killer.
Sometimes, that can be difficult, so we have developed a wonderful program wherein you can mostly practice on your own … to minimize the dependency on partners and expensive coaches. Check that Case Interview End-to-end Program out here!
Now for those practice sessions with partners or coaches, what are some tips to maximize their effectiveness?
1/ Well before the mock case happens, make sure you communicate with your partner/ coach about your strengths, weaknesses, preference on case types, and feedback plan.
If you are new to case interviews, tell them. If you would like to focus on the math part, tell them. If you don’t want to waste time on market-sizing questions which you are already really good at, tell them. If you are going to interview with McKinsey soon and need to practice the interviewer-led format, tell them… Basically, try to make sure as much of the valuable time as possible is spent on the most targeted area(s).
2/ Dress the part, mentally treat the mock case as if it were real.
Many say the most difficult aspect of cases is the mental part, not necessarily the content. In high-pressure and high-stake environments, it’s really easy to mess up regardless of how good your content is. So the best way to mentally prepare for cases? …Treat practice cases as if they were real!
3/ Ask for feedback during the mock cases, regardless of the partners/ coaches preferences.
I know different coaches have different styles. Some tend to give lots of feedback at the end. For just this very issue, you may want to ask them to go against their preference a little bit … because giving feedback during the case is far more effective! At the end, nobody remembers clearly what’s happened 10 or 20 minutes ago. The feedback ends up being very generic and vague. So, to be short: ask for feedback often and during the practice session.
4/ Ask for a comprehensive evaluation at the end.
Ok you have all the specific and detailed feedback throughout the case, does that mean the comprehensive feedback at the end is not important? Nope! In fact it’s equally as important. It’s possible that both the interviewee and the coach went too deep into a few aspects and overlooked others. The comprehensive feedback at the end allows both to look into those overlooked aspects. To make that end-case feedback as productive as possible, as an interviewee, I always prepare for the coach and myself an evaluation sheet which both can go through at the end of practice sessions. Some coaches and partners have it, some don’t. Have one and don’t expect them to be 100% well prepared!
5/ Lastly, don’t forget to say thank you.
No matter what, someone willing to devote one hour to do an intense brain-picking session deserves special recognition from you, so say thank you and sincerely mean it.
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