In the previous article you have got an over of case interview, types of case interviews and aspects that you need to master to crack these types of interviews. Also if you are looking for thorough preparation of any type of interview do check out Professional Interview Preparation In this article we will understand in-depth the approach and the thought process needed to crack the Case Interviews.
So the MOST important aspect of Cracking the Case Interview is Precisely identifying the problem of the Situation. As post candidates look forward to finding the root cause of a not clearly and extensively defined problem, lose out the job opportunity just because of this reason.
So lets discuss a 4 step process to PROBLEM IDENTIFICATION. Following is the list of steps to consider:-
- Understanding the Case and Notes Taking.
- Asking questions and stating Assumptions.
- Stating Hypothesis
- State the Problem.
1. Understanding the Case and Taking Notes
The key here is understand the Case. Actually in the case interview situation you will be thrown with very vague sounding question of which you will have little or no idea.
For Example:-What could be the reason for loss in business while exporting to England.
Now the main thing here is not to panic, as being in an interview your psychological pressure will be high. Also the interviewer is not expecting for you to know the current trends of tax and tariffs of England. So here you should LISTEN the complete question, Understand the question. Ask for clarification of a specific work or phrase if you don’t Understand and TAKE NOTES.
Taking Clean and exacts notes of the keywords of the question might seem obvious but is not usually practiced. Writing and then reading the notes again and again may help you strike the potential problem. This is the first step.
2. Asking Question and Stating Assumptions:-
So, asking questions is an art. The amount of the questions have to be just right to understand and pin point the problem. First thing here is you should know where to start.
As previously discussed firstly, you could ask for clarification of certain aspects of the question. Secondly questions could be asked to get more knowledge of the environment, situation or the stake holder in a particular case.
For Example :- You might ask about the how the revenue of the company have changed over the time and how much taxes and tariffs have affected them.
Which ever question are asked to the interview, The main thing is you should have a motive, a structured thought-process and clear understanding of what aspect to receive from each question. Also in the same way you will have to state a few assumptions and the interviewer will review if the assumptions are valid or out of the scope. Stating assumptions will also help you to exactly pin-point the problem of the Case.
3. Stating Hypothesis:
The main aim of stating Hypothesis is to verify and clarify if the case and all the aspects are understood clearly and problem has been identified and all the assumptions made are relevant.
So while stating the hypothesis most important thing to focus is the one criteria that if changed or if improved could successfully solve the problem in the given case.
There are 2 hypothesis viz Null and Alternative hypothesis. Your hypothesis should meet these following conditions.
If certain criteria improved or changed could make the project successful
If certain criteria not improved or changed could make the project Unsuccessful
Once you state the Hypothesis you can Proceed your interview to validate them.
4. State the Problem
In this step you have to validate your hypothesis and verify that the problem has been correctly identified. For this you will have to validate your hypothesis by directly asking the interviewer if the statements are clarifying the problem. Getting feedback and smartly using it is important.
Now while asking always reframe your statements as repeating the same statements could be monotonous and could also give a negative impact. If the interviewer has given a Green Signal to your statement then you can start analysing further or if not you could change the statements accordingly and create a feedback loop.
Now that you are sure that the problem analysed is Correct. You can go Forward and analyse to find the root cause.
Common Mistakes in Interviews
1.You might approach a completely different problem in regards if the case which might be irrelevant to the actual case situation
For Example:- Addressing profitability issue by promoting sales where as the actual problem is in operations of the company.
2. The hypothesis stated for problem identification might be too broad or too narrow in context of the issue
For Example:- In competitive interaction cases focusing on solely one advertisement (narrow) or whole marketing and sales team (Broad) could be inefficient as specific areas need to be identified where there is scope for improvement.
3. Not asking for time to think. This could be a bit bold in an interview setup. But asking time to think 360o can bring a positive impression. Also directly starting without have a thoughtful structure of question could land you in a wrong hypothesis or worst case you may get stuck.
Thus if you have a Calm Mind, Think reasonably in a structured manner, Follow the above steps Problem identification would be cakewalk for you. Yet again its all about PRACTICE. The more you train your mind the think in a organised manner the easier it will be to react during an case interview and also in an real life issue. So we have come a long way, we have already discussed about what is a case study, the soft skills you need to practice, the First step- Problem identification and common mistakes done by candidates. In the next article we will see various MODELS and how we can use them constructively to LAND INTO YOUR DREAM JOB