Friday, December 08, 2006

Case Interview workshop by McKinsey and Company

The mercury has really started rising when it comes to the placement fever. With the D-day fast closing in, preparations have begun in full swing. Amidst this high pressure environment, the Consulting Club organized the Mck case workshop, which caught the pulse of the atmosphere on campus. The event was eagerly awaited which was quite evident from the number of people that swarmed AC 7 Max theatre on 1st December 2006. The workshop was conducted by Nigel Andrade, Venkatesh Srinivasan, Raj Kamal, Gaurav Bhalara and Rohit Kapoor and focused on the dos and don’ts for case interviews.

Nigel kick started the session by giving a general overview of what was going to be covered in the workshop and what would be the key learnings at the end of it. He defined the framework within which he was going to conduct the session and asked the student body for their expectations from the workshop. The key concern that Nigel sought to address was the evaluation criterion used to ascertain the success of a candidate in a case interview.

After the expectations had been laid down, Nigel switched gears and jumped straight into the methodology of preparing for and tackling case interviews. He stated the 4 key things that Mck looks for when evaluating the performance of a candidate on a case interview

  • Intellectual horsepower / Problem solving ability
  • Business judgment
  • Drive and aspiration
  • Leadership qualities

He then elaborated on the various stages that a candidate must pass through in order to crack the case. The emphasis is on the thought process rather than getting the correct answer.

First and foremost is the understanding of the problem and correctly defining it. The candidate must delve into each and every aspect of the problem posed to him and ask questions in order to completely understand the problem at hand and define it appropriately.

Once the problem has been identified and delineated, the candidate must work towards structuring the problem. This stage is very important as it can help the interviewer judge the thought process of the candidate and assess whether he is on the right track or not.

The third and the most important stage is the “test of creativity” which highlights the candidate’s ability to think out of the box and bring out new ideas and solutions to the problems. At this stage, the candidate must aim towards being as creative and innovative as possible as it will help the interviewer get an insight of the personality of the candidate and assess whether he would be a good fit with the organization or not.

The last stage is the problem solution or conclusion. In this stage the candidate needs to tie all the lose ends together and synthesize the ideas and link it back to the problem definition. A successful case interview is one which ends with all the loopholes plugged and all the ideas and solutions tied back to the original problem, and not necessarily getting the “correct” answer.

The above mentioned process of tackling case interviews was illustrated through a mock case simulation where volunteers were called upon and given a case to solve. Volunteers were made to handle a single stage of the case interview and after each round; the team gave feedback on what the volunteers should or should not have done. This approach made the whole learning experience extremely enjoyable as students could understand and grasp all the techniques required to crack a case by observing the volunteers solve cases on the spot. The session was immensely useful especially at a crucial time like this, as it gave a clear understanding of the line of attack to be adopted to successfully crack case interviews.

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