2005 – 2006
The Reference Guide to
Practicing Consulting Case Interviews
？1995 – 2005 by the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business Management Consulting Group, Chicago, IL. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any means, without permission in writing from the publisher.
From the University of Chicago Casebook Editor:
The cases in this Case Book seek to address the multiple skills needed to succeed in the case interview.
I do not believe that there are any easy or difficult cases, i.e. I do not believe that success in a case interview depends on “the level of difficulty” of the case. Rather each individual case should be viewed as equally important and as its own individual lesson.
The basic elements that will be evaluated in a case interview are:
； Ability to structure a problem
； Analytical, quantitative and problem solving skills
； Ability to effectively communicate the analysis
； Ability to synthesize and summarize the analysis to arrive at recommendations
However, these are necessary but not sufficient to “crack” the case interview. In addition to getting the case right, an important goal of the case practice sessions is for both the interviewer and candidate to develop and refine relationship building skills within the time constraints of the case interview. In an ideal interview, the interviewer should enjoy the case discussion. This is only possible if you are relaxed and have fun during the
case. Make sure you do that!
The first step towards case preparation is to get comfortable with different frameworks (3Cs, 4Ps, Profitability analysis, Porter‟s 5 Forces, Value Chain, etc). Rather than looking for a quick-fix approach of getting all these frameworks at one place, I would encourage you to explore and build
your own tool-kit of frameworks. Apart from frameworks, it is also useful to develop a business sense in terms of identifying key success factors
and value drivers for companies in different industries and with different market positions. Reading Standard & Poor industry reports (available on
the school website) is helpful for this.
At the second stage, it is then important to get comfortable with the case interview process and the different types of cases. Discussing the mini-
cases in the case book with other students will facilitate this.
At the final stage, it is important to role-play and practice cases with one student playing the role of the interviewer and the other student solving
the case as an interviewee. You should form a core study group of 4-5 students with complementary backgrounds and strengths. It is not easy to
give cases – the person playing the role of the interviewer needs to be very comfortable with the case prior to the case practice. The cases in this
Case Book are not supposed to demonstrate the only right way of doing the particular case and the sequence of discussion during the actual case
practice sessions may vary – the case giver needs to have this flexibility while knowing when to guide a candidate who is going down the wrong
path. Finally the case giver also needs to be very aware of the dimensions on which to evaluate the candidate, and be able to give actionable and
precise feedback. The “Case Giver Feedback Sheet” in the Case Book helps do this in a structured manner. Study groups may find it relatively
effective to divide the cases and have interviewers specialize in giving three or four of the cases.
Lastly, please take a moment to appreciate all the significant time and energy that students from the class of 2006 put into writing the cases for a
new University of Chicago Casebook.
Remember, have fun with the process. If you do not enjoy solving cases, you may not enjoy being a consultant!
TABLE OF CONTENTS
1. COMMON “FIT” QUESTIONS (Erin) 15. JESS CAPITAL PARTNERS (Dror) 2. MINI CASES (Dror) 16. ANDREW‟S METROPOLIS ART INSTITUTE (Erin) 3. RICHARD‟S SCANDINAVIAN HEADBANGERS (Rajesh) 17. EDDY‟S OIL COMPANY (Eddy) 4. OLEG‟S HEALTHCARE (Erin) 18. ROBERT‟S TAXI CAB (Dror) 5. STEVEN‟S MIRRORING DIVISION (Dror) 19. SAUMIL BIOTECH INC. (Rajesh) 6. JAIRAJ & KUMAR‟S MEDICAL DEVICES CO. (MT) 20. BERRY SCANTECH LASER (Sukeert) 7. OHAD‟S TOMATO SALES (Erin) 21. MR.CHOPRA‟S GOLF APPAREL (Sukeert) 8. PAL‟S TECHNOWIZ SEMI (Rajesh) 22. ELECTRIC SHVETA (Sukeert) 9. THE VAN FOSSEN MOUNTAINTOP SKI RESORT (Eddy) 23. AJ VONG‟S CHINESE RESTAURANT (Sukeert) 10. KAPIL‟S UPSCALE DEPOT (MT) 24. VIVIAN‟S VIDEO RENTAL
11. HOLZMAN‟S ONLINE TRAVEL (Dror) 25. KUNAL‟S AUTO PARTS
12. PATRICE‟S NATIONAL LOTTERY (Erin) 26. HAUFMANN‟S PAPER
13. SUKEERT‟S HOURGLASS CO. (MT) 27. S&S CLOTHES MANUFACTURING 14. COULEMBIER CAR REPAIR (Rajesh) 28. SUBRAMANYAN-SANOFI PHARMACEUTICALS
CASE GIVER EVALUATION SHEET
? : Needs significant ?? : Good base to improve on ?? ? : Excellent ??? ? : OUTSTANDING!
Structure & Framework Problem Solving
- Mutually Exclusive, Collectively Exhaustive - Good analytics: interpreted & used data well (drew strategic - Customized (and not entirely generic) insights & conclusions)
- Easy to understand and implement - Comfortable with numbers and graphs
- Used throughout by candidate - Creative in drawing conclusions, analyzing reasons
Communication & Body Language Summarizing & Recommending
- Confident & relaxed - Concise and to-the-point
- Crisp & concise - Structured (went back to the framework & question) - Drove the case / discussion (active rather than passive) - Comprehensive (did not miss any relevant point discussed) - Overall built good rapport - Compelling
- Organized: used paper well
- Verbalized & communicated his / her thinking at every stage
BEHAVIORAL / FIT QUESTIONS
The “Fit” part of the interview is often underestimated in importance. While its proportionate importance varies significantly among firms, in every firm there would be a “Fit” element in the interview. In some firms like McKinsey, it is a formal evaluative component and can have a
weightage up to 50%. However, in every firm the “Fit” component to the interview is at the least an opportunity to convey to the interviewer that you are a well-rounded, likeable and accomplished candidate (in a modest, unassuming and believable way, of course) and essentially “set-up” the rest of your interview.
We would advise you to mull over and take your time for the “Fit” preparations, and not leave it till last. In fact you should start working on it as
soon as you can. The best way to prepare is to actually write it down, and then practice it verbally with your group mates and, finally when it is
ndmore polished, with 2 Year students.
When possible, try to apply the STAR method to behavioral/fit questions: Situation – in a sentence or two, describe the situation/context/environment Task – briefly describe what the task was that needed to be accomplished Action – describe what action you, specifically, took
Result – discuss the outcome as a result of that action
Applying the STAR method will help to ensure that your answer is well structured, concise and to the point. Remember, even when asked fit or behavioral questions, you are being tested on your ability to think and communicate in a logical/structured manner.
Common fit questions include…..
； Tell me more about X (usually from your additional information ； Tell me about yourself (a.k.a. Walk me through your
； Tell me about at time that you had to compromise. ； Why do you want to work at Company X?
； Why are you a good fit for Company X? ； Tell me about a leadership experience that you have had. ； Tell me about a time when you worked in an ineffective team. ； Where do you see yourself in 5 years? 10 years?
； What is your greatest accomplishment? ； Tell me about a time that you lead a team.
； What is the greatest challenge you have ever faced? ； Tell me about a time that you failed.
； Tell me about a time that you took initiative. ； What are Company X‟s strengths & weaknesses?
； Tell me about the best team you have ever worked in. ； What do you think makes a strong leader? ； Tell me about the worst team you have ever worked in. ； What do you think makes a weak leader?
； What made you decide to go back to school? ； Tell me about a time that you overcame a major obstacle.
； Why did you choose the GSB? ； Tell me about a time you influenced people.
； Tell me more about what you did in X position. ； What are you passionate about? ； Tell me about a time when you had the most impact.
PROFITABILITY / PROFIT IMPROVEMENT
Profitability cases often require you to analyze a situation and determine potential reasons for the client‟s drop in profits. This will test your
understanding of product portfolio mix and several other factors.
29. How can a mid-size domestic airline regain profitability?
30. How would you evaluate the profitability of a Big Five accounting firm? What are the best measures? 31. You are contracted by a CEO of a supermarket chain, whose profit margin is declining. Why? Assess the situation. 32. Your client is the National Beef Board. The board wants to know if its advertising campaign has been successful. How would you evaluate the
33. Over the past few years, the client, a retail bank has gone from one bank in one state to eight banks in eight states. All of the banks are
operated autonomously and the company as a whole is losing money. Specifically, four individual banks are losing money. The parent bank
has tried to mandate cost reductions and has formed committees with representatives from each bank to address these problems. How can the
client solve the problem?
34. You are working for a firm whose bottom line is declining and senior management thinks it is because of transportation problems. What would
35. Your client is a manufacturer of large jet engines in the U.S. with 40 percent of the market. There is one major U.S. competitor and one
potential Japanese competitor, who will not be able to enter the industry for 10 years. The U.S. competitor's prices are below those of your
client, and the major purchasers of jet engines are the commercial airlines. What strategy would you advise for your client?
36. Profits are declining in a firm in the trucking industry. Why? How would you fix the problem?
37. A national retailer has low profits. Its competitors are small, regional, specialty stores. What would you review to improve the situation? 38. A manufacturer makes "flooring" for sports courts; i.e., basketball courts, gyms, etc. The floors are made of maple wood. The company has
four national competitors and has a 15 percent market share, but it remains profitable with 16-18 percent ROE after taxes. How can the
company increase profits?
39. A company is in the railroad freight business and they own the railroads. Profits are declining. What are the key areas you would examine to
40. A company makes rubber grips for golf clubs and has stagnant sales. The company is profitable, but wants to know how profits can be
41. A manufacturer of communications equipment is losing share and its profitability is declining. The cost side of the business has been analyzed
and there are no cost savings. What about the revenue side?
INDUSTRY ANALYSIS / MARKET SIZING
These types of cases often require you to analyze your client and recommend how they should respond to changes made by their competitors or in the marketplace. Industry analysis / market sizing tests your analytical ability to understand internal and external market factors and microeconomic concepts of supply and demand.
1. An insurance company, which used to be profitable, has been losing money for the last couple of years. Assess the situation. What could be
2. What are the potential problems you should consider if a Japanese millionaire asks you about the viability of franchising an NFL football team
3. A company with 1200 sales representatives throughout the U.S. and superior merchandise offerings is experiencing a decline in sales. What
can you do to recover sales?
4. Your client is a motor boat engine manufacturer. A competing engine manufacturer has just purchased a pleasure boat maker to begin selling a
complete product. What should the client do?
5. Your client is a cash register maker, a U.S. subsidiary of a Japanese firm. The registers are made in Japan. U.S. profits are plummeting. Why? 6. Your client is a cellular phone network company. The industry is a regulated duopoly. There is high churn in the market, 2-3 percent per
month. The market is projected to have a net growth of 40 percent. The client wants to better understand the dynamics of its customers and the
market. What would you examine to address these questions? 7. I am a manufacturer of railroad cars in a declining market. I am losing market share and money, but I think that the industry may rebound in
the near future. What should I do?
8. A regional Bell operating company is considering entering the phone book publishing business. Growth had been 15 percent for five years
following the divestiture and deregulation, but it has now stalled. The client wants to know how you would evaluate the situation.