By Eyra Dzakuma, Social Impact Consulting Manager
There are lots of different paths you can take after college, each with their own merits and caveats. College is the perfect time to wet your appetite for what’s out there! You can dip your toe into a wide range of topics and majors. You might be studying sciences and fine art, or coding while learning about renewable energy.
Choice: it’s that wonderful word that everyone wants to hear. To have choice is to feel lucky, in control, and empowered, but choices can become agonizing. What industry do I want to work in? What do I really want to do? What do I enjoy?
This is where the benefits of starting off your career in consulting stands out. Project based work gives you variety. You’re exposed to different industries, different types of businesses, different working environments and more. It’s like a try-before-you-commit scenario as you get exposure to diverse organizations.
Unfortunately, before you get to this point, there are inevitable obstacles that need to be overcome. To get into a consulting firm, you first have to undertake the often dreaded case study interviews.
As a social impact consulting firm we are the first to understand the benefits of case study interviews. Spoiler: it’s not to instill fear in students! They really are just a simple way of assessing your problem solving skills, to get you outside of your college books and into real world scenarios.
Over the years, we’ve found that there are three key things critical to getting you through (and excelling) in your interview.
1. Ask Questions & Communicate Assumptions
You’ve heard the expression, “there’s no such thing as a stupid question.” This applies fully in the case study world. It’s simple, but critical; ask questions! Before you dive into addressing the problem, you must clarify what it is. Asking questions can help you step back and gauge the larger context, as well as help you build rapport with your interviewer. An attitude of continuous learning is fundamental for your personal development, regardless of what your case is on. Also, don’t forget that your interviewer is not a mind reader. These interviews are trying to get at how you think, so you’ve got to think out loud!
2. Use Frameworks as Guides
There’s a lot of hype when it comes to consulting frameworks. You could spend hours researching SWOT analysis, Porter’s Five Forces, The 3 C’s (Company, Competitors, Customers/Clients), The 4 P’s (Product, Price, Promotion, Placement), the BCG Growth-Share Matrix, and the list goes on! It’s easy to get bogged down in frameworks and often students focus so much on them, they get sidetracked from the actual problem at hand: thoughtfully addressing the case study.
When push comes to shove, all the frameworks want you to address the following areas:
- Product -> What is the nature of the product and/or service? What customer need is it addressing? What are the complementary goods or services?
- Customer -> Who is it? Are they price sensitive?
- Company -> How’s the company’s bandwidth? What are the operational costs? What are the distribution channels?
- Competition -> What are the barriers to entry? What is their market share? How about the competition's behaviors?
3. Write Things Down...ON PAPER
An oldie, but a goodie! Dust off your notebook and pencils and write your thoughts down. The benefits are well known! Your brain has a chance to process what’s going on, slow down and solidify your thoughts. It’ll keep you more alert too, as your body is active.
Comment below with how you prepare for case studies. We wish you the best of luck in your upcoming interviews!
Inspiring Capital is a social impact consulting and training firm. Over the past four and half years we’ve worked with hundreds of MBAs and Undergrads from top schools across the country, matching them with consulting projects for social impact organizations, that is non-profits, social enterprises, and B Corps. To learn more, visit our website here.