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Case-study interviews are as common in the professional world as the traditional question-and-answer interview, but if you've ever found yourself wondering to yourself: "What are they, really?" Then look no further than the name. 

Case-study interviews are, in themselves, built on business cases that are presented to interview candidates in scenarios where they have to work out solutions to complex business problems.

While these interviews or sessions are usually common in consulting companies or management departments that are involved in some form of strategy or development, one can expect them to pop up in other different business areas.

Is this real or make-believe?

A key factor of case-study interviews is a sense of reality, or getting as close to it as possible. It will be anything that puts the candidates in the thick of things to get a real sense about them before a decision is made.

In the case (excuse the pun) of a real-life scenario, candidates may be tasked with an area of the business that is already operational, while the alternative is a fictitious situation that forms a completely blank canvas for a range of possibilities. In both these scenarios, you will be tested and evaluated on your problem-solving skills and your ability to navigate a range of challenges. And as we have stressed in our blog - do as much research on the hiring company as possible.

During case study interviews, the focus is less on being right as it is on displaying a detailed and sound thought process. In that vein, structuring your case along what you deem would be the best possible outcome will set you on the right track.

Here’s a guide how to approach your case-study interview:

Ask questions

The benefit of asking questions is that you’ll show the interviewer not only that you want to get the scenario right, but also that you’re invested and engaged. You also stand to get a lot of information that might be helpful to building your case solutions if you ask a few more questions. As you are presented the case, whether orally or in writing, marking the certain touch points that warrant clarity will help keep you on track.

Again, get close to the real thing

It is important to make the effort to apply real-life calculations even in a case that is made up for the interview. Apply this principle to the modern-day business landscape, and you will show the interviewer that you are taking the task as seriously as they are. Factoring in the economic landscape and tying that into your analysis can earn you big points, along with being up to date with current business affairs.

Analysis

Get to the bottom of every possibility in your challenge, in other words, do the math and show how you arrived at your conclusions. It goes without saying that during this type of interview, answers need to have more depth and analysis than the regular interview, so it might be helpful to put down a diagram that outlines the sequence of events from the problem to the solution. Show how one solution interacts with the next so there is a chronological structure in place.

Expect the unexpected

Case study interviews revolve around challenges. There may be a critical component that is missing for which you have to make a solution, so look out for those subtle details. A big benefit of being engaged is knowing how to look out for these missing pieces.  

With these tips, we hope you get to your case study interview with a lot of confidence and preparation, as it pays to be prepared!