I’m flying out to the BCG Dallas office tomorrow morning for my first MBA-related interview. My hair is cut, suit is pressed, shoes will be shined tonight, and new padfolio, which is an overpriced leather folder, is prepped.

I’ve spent the past 9 days preparing for the interview whenever possible, though honestly, I’ve had a lot of other things going on during that period. In order to prepare, I picked up a couple of books, Vault.com Guide to Case Interviews 3rd Edition and Case In Point: 5th Edition, that I have been reading through. Of the two, I’ve spent the most time with Case In Point, which does a good job of identifying the different types of case questions that are typically given. Although I’ve read through the sample cases, I’ve found it more useful to think of how I would approach each case type in general if I were in that position. I think this will lead to more natural responses and give me more room to adapt versus relying on scripted responses.

For anyone interested in consulting, there is a basic structure for answering case problems that is recommended in the books and by BCG.

  • As the interviewer reads the case, take notes (notes are your friend!). At the end, repeat back the case and objective(s) to verify that you understand everything correctly.
  • Ask any clarifying questions that you may have. For example, if the case involves a product that you’ve never heard of, don’t be afraid to ask what it is. They want to see that you are willing to ask questions and learn instead of make unnecessary/incorrect assumptions.
  • Ask the interviewer “for a moment to collect your thoughts.” Use this time to develop and write down a framework for analyzing the case. By framework, I don’t mean something like 3Cs, 5Ps, or whatever they are called. This is something that you come up with to address the specific case.
  • Show the framework to your interviewer and explain why you are using it.
  • Follow your framework and begin asking the interviewer questions. This should be a 2-way discussion. Take notes of any key findings along the way and make sure that you are actively listening to their responses and reacting appropriately.
  • At the end, be prepared to summarize your key findings and recommendations into an elevator pitch (60 seconds or so).

I am much more confident about my ability to handle case interviews now. This is due in large part to the help that I have received from current Kellogg students and from BCG. The company and its representatives have been very supportive and helpful throughout the entire process. I’m hoping that the BCG consultants I’ve talked to so far are the norm and not the exception, because if so, I am certain that I’d enjoy working with anyone in that company and in this field.

I’ll have an update with how the interview went by the end of the weekend.