I’m almost at the end of the first stage of the AT Kearney Case competition, which lasts 10 days, and I’ve really enjoyed it so far. The timing couldn’t have been worse though, since it fell right in the middle of Midterm Madness at Kellogg. Given how busy things have been as a direct result, I’ve probably dedicated between 6-8 hours the last 9 days to the case competition. Tomorrow, my team will submit our Powerpoint deck detailing our findings and recommendations to the ATK folks.

Last Friday, before handling my business in Drag TG (I may or may not go into details on this in a future post), my team went through the mock interview portion of the case competition. We had to interview 3 Kearney consultants who were role-playing as specific characters from the case. I was surprised at how much the interviews paralleled my experience with the the BCG case interviews. Although it was a bit different, given that we had already received the details and preliminary data for the case before hand versus getting it in the interview, the process of trying to analyze the problem was identical.

We started by asking the consultant questions based on our initial hypothesis and then had a discussion that eventually led him or her to give us some relevant piece of data. If we hadn’t stated why we wanted that particular data, then the consultant would press us on this. Once we had the new piece of data, we spent a few minutes looking over it, stated our observations from the data, and then used that new insight to direct our next set of questions. This process repeated until we either collected all of their additional data or ran out of time. Fortunately, I was very comfortable with the set up, so I was able to do fairly well on the interview that I led.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but this was a really ingenious way for AT Kearney to perform informal case interviews on us. At the time, I thought it was a little weird that they asked us for our names before each mock interview, given that they had our team name in their schedules. I later confirmed that they were evaluating us the whole time via my teammate, who says that she saw the consultant put a star next to my name at the end of the interview that I led.

So basically, if you are interested in going into consulting, then case competitions may be a really good low-pressure way to gain some case interview experience before the real deal.