Monday, March 8, 2010

Training to be a Case Interviewer

Since I am on spring break, I will write about some of the interesting experiences over the past seven weeks that I have not covered in my previous entries in the MBA Program Blog. My post today is about the Case Interview Workshop that Prof. John Wisneski, our Academy Co-Director started for the first time this year. He selected a group of eight students from the Consulting Academy to attend a workshop to learn case interviewing techniques. Case interviews are a popularly used by consulting firms to gauge the analytical abilities of candidates from the best MBA colleges.

We met every Thursday during the last seven weeks. Each week one of us volunteered to become the interviewee, and John interviewed the student. I was the guinea pig for the first round. While it was not my strongest performance by any means, it taught me important lessons that I applied the next day during an actual interview for an internship. I was able to sail through successfully.

Those of us who attended all the sessions were “case certified” by John. We will be interviewing students this fall. Here are some tips for any of you who might face case interviews in the future: Listen carefully to the problem presented. Take notes as necessary. Take your time to build a structured framework to approach the problem solving process. Work collaboratively with the interviewer to solve the problem. Remember that the process you follow to reach the solution is more important than the actual solution itself. Finally, summarize in a concise manner including the objective, key insights and solutions. State some logical next steps. And of course, never forget to thank the interviewer!

The Consulting Club had hosted the author of the book “Case In Point”, Marc Cosentino earlier this year. The book is used by students in several Masters of Business Administration Programs. While the book is a great starting point, you must be comfortable enough to build your own frameworks depending on the case. The Graduate Career Services hosts mock behavioral interviews for MBA students and the Kelley Kick-off event is definitely the best. The interviewers fill out a feedback sheet at the end that allows you to see how they evaluated you. I designed a feedback sheet along the same lines for case interviews. We will be using it when we play the role of case interviewers next fall.

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