the (new) keys to prepare for it

Case in Point on all floors. Twenty years after its first edition in 1999, the business case preparation book published by the former director of career counseling at Harvard is still, for many students, the necessary preparation for recruitment interviews in strategy consulting. At HEC, it is the most borrowed book in the library of wannabe strategists.

Ditto at Polytechnique, where a student explains to us that the graduates do not receive any specific training and therefore throw themselves at the manual, which has sold 150,000 copies worldwide.

There is a kind of status quo. Books like An example of that are known as the references within the student community, and are the first cited by our seniors when a student starts preparing for interviews. The HEC website lists them in the consulting resources commented Adrien Bellamy, President of the HEC Consulting Club.

In Pléiade du business cases at HEC there is of course Case in Point. Who is not alpha and omega: The proof of its typical resolution patterns is far from known by all students who prepare with the book.

In Jouy-en-Josas, teachers also recommend Case interview secretsthe work of Victor Cheng, former consultant at McKinsey become a reference for these business cases, and Crack the caseanother anthology of cases written by David Ohrvall, also a former consultant forandersen thereafter Bath & Company.

At ESCP-Europe, Thierry Boudes, Professor of Strategy, sends his students back to Succeed in interviews in consulting firms by Victor Mamou.

In the cave remains an unchanging reality: the entrance to the consulting companies in strategy goes past a check of business cases, business cases that the candidates are confronted with at each new interview and which account for well over half of the evaluation overall.

It is clear, no mastery of the solution of business cases, no hiring. The main case types have not changed dramatically over time (see table below). Precisely, Astrid Rupp, Marketing Director of PrepLounge – the online social network created in 2012 where it is possible to practice in pairs – notes that ” the brainteaser trend is slowly coming to an end. We are seeing fewer and fewer consultancies seeking to destabilize candidates with a troubling logic problem “.

A typology of cases – almost – unchanged

Sources: Case in Point, Vocaprep and

Lots of exceptions

So hardly anything new under the sun. Except that the companies concretely add their own signature to these standard business cases. In the house of AT Kearney, this could for example be a case study of around ten minutes on a major macroeconomic news story. Candidates are given a tablet and asked to prepare a short, structured answer in no more than ten minutes.

MCQ logic on computer at Oliver Wymanremote question to PLAY… every practice uses some form of case matching.

Bain Paris reviews the case format for its junior and senior candidates

As Bath, whose Paris office reviewed some of the cases proposed to candidates three years ago. ” For juniors, faced with the volume of applications sent to the office – 5,000 on a yearly basis according to the latest figures – the company has decided to develop its recruitment process with an online test that candidates take on the iPad in the premises.explains Catherine Pain Morgado, the recruitment director for Bath. And for seniors, we’ve added a business mindset. The idea is to have the candidate talk about a sector he knows or a mission he has done and to test his visual acuity. »

Objective: get out of an overly academic exercise or display of behavioral “tricks” that candidates might think of a priori that they are welcome.

One of the MBBs sends some of the candidates to a preparation site

When candidates spend several minutes reformulating the title of a case, while the paralegal has just spent ten minutes doing it themselves, there can be some irritation », blurts out anonymously a partner in a Parisian firm who is regularly confronted with applicants.

To avoid poorly prepared or formatted profilesone out of three MBB (McKinseyBoston Consulting GroupBath & Company), for example, has entrusted a firm of headhunters to prepare some of its candidates through a dedicated website,

Several European offices of this company, including Paris, use it and send candidates to prepare for it. On this page they can find dozens of videos about the most frequent response models (frameworks) with which they can solve business cases (profit, topline, costs, new markets, new products).

Five hundred students from the London School of Economics also have access. And discussions are underway with several French business schools, such as ESCP, EM Lyon or Edhec. A total of 1,500 people are registered on the site.

Here, Casecoach is the latest in a wave of websites – mainly Anglo-Saxon – whose purpose is to help prepare recruitment interviews and especially business cases.

Abundance of websites

And other new features are still in preparation, as evidenced by a former MBB manager who announced anonymously on Reddit and based on his experience in recruiting in a company, his intention to create a new site.

Contacted by Consultor, he indicates that the launch of this new site will take place in May. His observation is clear: the existing websites are either not very interactive or are fed outdated matters. The site being prepared, he says, will be a truly more interactive interface and closer to what is really done in each company.

Before him there was Vocaprep, a MOOC specifically dedicated to interview preparation for strategy consulting, created in Montreal in 2016. Caseinterviews, Firmsconsulting, MyConsultingCoach, Rocketblocks, Vault… are so many other references now known.

At Edhec, Maâmar Gomeri, the founder of the school’s consulting club in 2016 and current master’s student in international strategy consulting, uses Vocaprep, for example, in a progressive course of preparation for business cases, which he estimates at six months.

Here again An example of, or similar works, is a starting point, together with one of the existing online video platforms. Then most of the preparation must then focus on collective practice.

1001 ways to practice together

Contacting alumni from one’s school who are recruited to the target company is the most common way to prepare for cases ” says Catherine Pain Morgado. ACE, the ESCP consulting club, creates Facebook groups to coordinate and connect students. And the club also maintains a database of recently interviewed cases. A base that feeds most of the students recently received .PrepLounge, with its 15,000 registered in France since its inception in 2012, its 157 cases available online and its capabilities for simulation via Skype, is another way to test yourself.

Bootcamps, aperitifs, case exercises organized by the companies… Here too, the possibilities are legion. ” For the preparation for the cases as well as for the interviews, I advise the students above all not to familiarize themselves with an individual logic. This makes it possible to multiply the funds for training and monitoring of existing resources that are more or less well indexed “, says Thierry Boudes.

A collective aspect that HEC recently insisted more on. The school has opened collective sessions at the weekend, where a student presents a case in front of the rest of his classmates and the career center brings in a former consultant from Roland Berger for intensive sessions in small groups.

An obstacle course that could suggest that working as much as possible individually and collectively is enough to win the sesame of successful business cases in the interview. The recipe is attractive, but not so automatic. Beware of standardization.

For which defends Sylvie Jaulin, director responsible for recruitment and training at Kea : ” We also seek to test the candidate’s agility, his ability to utilize stretched bars, the flexibility of his reasoning and many other things that are not in any book. »

To summarize: current resources for preparing business cases in strategy consulting (non-exhaustive list)

  • On the company’s website
    • McKinsey : four cases in English, with a handful of questions successively about general approach and solving specific problems, as well as three examples of MCQ (the Problem Solving Test or PST, which the company may ask you to take online before the interviews)
    • BCG : a library of two interactive cases in the form of MCQs
    • Bath : video examples of interview candidate responses
    • Oliver Wyman : an interactive case available
    • AT Kearney : a solved case in English with few details
  • Books
  • Schools
    • school case books
    • Case databases prepared by schools or consulting clubs
    • Advisory clubs
  • Site (p
  • Videos (French or international platforms, some of which are free)
  • Trainers (in Paris)

By Benjamin Polle for

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