Interviewer or Interviewee led case interviews?

by Jaineel Aga

This chapter is a free excerpt from The Best Book on Getting Consulting Jobs In India.

Recently, one of my clients secured an interview with BCG and wanted to know how to tackle the case differently? Somebody told him that the BCG cases are more difficult because they are interviewee led than interviewer led? Wait WHAT!!?? I asked myself - Why do these guys overcomplicate matters with all these fancy terms?

Interviewee led cases simply mean you do most of the talking, you ask the relevant questions, come up with a set of hypothesis and if asked, provide the set of recommendations as well. The interviewer has minimal involvement in terms of providing data. This is typical of most market estimation cases. Many business cases can also be hopelessly "interviewee led", usually very open ended and used to test the breadth of the candidate's thinking capabilities.

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Recently, one of my clients secured an interview with BCG and wanted to know how to tackle the case differently? Somebody told him that the BCG cases are more difficult because they are interviewee led than interviewer led? Wait WHAT!!?? I asked myself - Why do these guys overcomplicate matters with all these fancy terms?

Interviewee led cases simply mean you do most of the talking, you ask the relevant questions, come up with a set of hypothesis and if asked, provide the set of recommendations as well. The interviewer has minimal involvement in terms of providing data. This is typical of most market estimation cases. Many business cases can also be hopelessly "interviewee led", usually very open ended and used to test the breadth of the candidate's thinking capabilities.

Interviewer led cases are those which require significant inputs from the interviewer. This is typical of any business case which needs data to be provided to the interviewee.

While I don't bracket different consulting firms as "interviewer-led" or "interviewee-led" some companies like BCG and Opera have been perceived to be the latter. My recommendation is to treat this as any other case interview as the fundamentals of the business case don't change - When a question is warranted, you ask it; otherwise come up with a plausible assumption and move on.

However, one thing that I want to emphasize is the need to be able to wear the CREATIVITY HAT while answering consulting case interviews. Some consulting firms may value creativity and ability to think of innovative solutions more than others that may value structure and quantitative ability. I have always recommended that a good balance of both is essential to be able to be a good management consultant.

To summarize, please do not  get stressed on unimportant facts but rather focus on the problem statement at hand - focus on performing an error free analysis and exhibit maximum creativity in the qualitative  part of the problem solution.
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