I grew up in strategy consulting, where case interviews are a part of every candidate interview. And I always use them when interviewing strategy or measurement candidates, for the following reasons:
- Structure: Proper case interviews test a candidate’s ability to create structure. Strategists are constantly called to solve complex problems in domains that they may not know well. The only way to succeed is to create efficient and rigorous structures for problem-solving. Case interviews are effective at determining whether a candidate possesses the skills required to create and use such structures.
- Logic: A good case interview tests a candidate’s logic skills. With a good structure in place, can the candidate derive reasonable conclusions from the facts of the case, and determine appropriate directions to take their approach during the case? The best case interviews will also test a candidates knowledge of basic statistics, economics and strategy fundamentals.
- Mettle: Case interviews do not always have a single correct answer. In fact, the answer is not the point. This can be frustrating to a candidate, and it is critical to see how a candidate reacts to ambiguity, uncertainty, or being asked to solve a problem in a domain where they have limited experience; because those are the natural habitat of the strategist.
Giving case interviews is a skill in itself, and must be developed over time. People who are new to case interviews tend not to be very good at giving them. If you want to use case interviews to help ensure the best fit of the candidates you interview, make time to practice. And get some coaching from folks who have been doing it for a while.
You will be glad you did.