Case interview

Case interviews of one form or another have become a common tool used by consultancies and graduate programmes in their recruiting.


The purpose of a case interview is to give an employer a better idea of your problem-solving ability and your ability to present your solution to a client.

When doing a case interview, keep in mind that the employer is looking to evaluate:

  • the way you use your competencies
  • your analytical skills
  • your communicative and problem-solving skills
  • your presentation technique

What will I be assessed on?

  • problem assessment: how well can you break a problem down into individual elements that are more easily solved?
  • hypothesis making: how well do you use observation and reasoning to come up with a hypothesis that can explain what the client’s problem is and suggest how it can be solved?
  • logical thinking: how well do you apply clear, consistent logic to assess and solve problems?
  • problem solving: how well do you assess a problem and identify an effective solution?
  • communicative skills: how well do you communicate your solution to your audience in a manner that is convincing and structured?


When the interviewer asks you a question, don’t feel like you need to answer straight away. Take your time; ask follow-up questions. You want to show that you can step back and look at the problem from all angles before you start to consider how to solve it.

The way you present your solution is almost as important as the solution itself. Some employers even find it more important. Do your best to make a good presentation: speak clearly and confidently, maintain eye contact with the interviewer and don’t be afraid to use your X factor. Take time to explain how you arrived at your solution.

Five types of case interviews

In the most common type of case interview, the candidate is responsible for determining what happens. The interviewer asks a question and then turns the show over to the candidate. A question might be something like: “Our company is considering going into the eastern European market. What is your recommendation?”

At this point, it will be up to you to take over the interview by asking in-depth questions, presenting relevant hypotheses and logical arguments. Analyse the situation to determine what information you need in order to be able to make a decision. Guide the interviewer through your thought processes as you arrive at an answer.

The candidate is given an open-ended question and is expected to ask follow-up questions. The interviewer leads the interview and determines what topics the candidate should address. Interviews of this sort involve multiple interruptions and changes of subject.

For example, you might find yourself at a point where you have determined that X, Y and Z are the most important elements of a problem, and that X should be addressed first, only to have the interviewer cut you off and ask you to give an in-depth analysis of Z.

This type of interview tests the candidate’s ability to remain focused in the face of multiple interruptions, to be able to think on their feet and present a different solution than the one they had prepared.

If you are given a written case interview, you will normally have an hour or two to assess the material provided and then be asked to answer questions or present a solution. The amount of information you receive can range from a single sheet of paper to a 100-page document.

Another type of case interview is the group assessment. During this type of exercise, candidates work together in small groups to solve problems, just as they would if they were working in the job they are applying for. Candidates are evaluated according to the same parameters as in an individual interview, as well as on their ability to work with others. Assessors focus on how team members interact with each other and on the team’s ability to accomplish a task.

The candidate is asked to make a presentation based on material presented to them. The amount of material can range from a single sheet of information to over a hundred pages.