It’s pretty easy to lie. Gigli was one of the best movies of all time. The greatest invention in history was the 8-track. The best way to meet women is to burp unapologetically in their ear.
It’s also pretty easy to misrepresent your abilities. You “know” French (you learned how to order snail in a restaurant). You “have experience with” management (you were once promoted to temporary night shift supervisor for a week at a local grocery store). You “can type 100 words per minute” (as long as all you have to do is type “Ha” 100 times).
It’s too easy to misrepresent yourself. How does an employer know that when you start work you are actually going be able to do the job?
What Employers Have Done in the Past
In a way, the challenge of the traditional job interview is designed to see how well you will meet the needs of the employer. You are asked questions about your work history, and your competency and intelligence is inherent in your answers.
Still, it is easy to misrepresent yourself in traditional interviews, so some employers do behavioral interviews. Behavioral interviews ask you to describe how you handled a situation in the past. It is believed that people will be more honest about their capabilities in these types of answers. Once again, however, this is no guarantee.
There is always the option of testing the employee on what they know, but this represents several problems:
- The employer doesn’t really have a right to make you do work for free, even to prove your abilities.
- You may not have used a program recently, so it is unfair to make you do it on the spot. Maybe it only takes one day of practice before you are amazing at the task, and then the employer is going to miss out on a great employee.
Some employers are instead looking to a new type of job interview – the “Case Interview.”
What is a Case Interview?
Behavioral interviews focus on what occurred in the past. Case interviews look at what you would do in the future. During the case interview, the hiring manager presents you with a case, and asks what you would do given the situation.
Case interviews can come in a variety of different formats. In some cases you will be asked to simply answer the question. In other cases you may be asked to designed something for the interviewer. Regardless, the main idea is that you will do your best to try to prepare an answer that will satisfy the interviewer. The answer should be logical and interesting, and though you may occasionally make a mistake, if you can present a satisfactory answer you are sure to impress the employer.
How to Succeed in the Case Interview
It is difficult to prepare for a case interview. Case interviews don’t ask you about your knowledge or experiences, nor do they want to see what you have “done.” You are being put on the spot to come up with a completely unique answer, and unless you somehow know the cases ahead of time, you cannot prepare an answer to the question.
What you can do, however, is prepare how you will present yourself. Here is the key to answering case interview questions correctly:
- Remain calm and collected. You do not want to appear frustrated, as though the question is causing you a great deal of stress.
- Don’t rush through it. Take your time to come up with a logical, interesting response to the case interview question. Think. The interviewer wants you to put thought and logic into your response, and you should.
- Don’t simply try to say what you think the interviewer wants to hear. Focus on logical responses that you can explain when prompted. The most important part of answering a case interview is that your answer is thoughtful.
- Remember to listen to all of the available information. Your interviewer is going to present you information, and everything they tell you is important. If it wasn’t, they probably wouldn’t mention it.
- Practice answering a few case interviews. Though the information in the case interviews will differ, it’s a good idea to simply get used to how to answer them so that you feel more relaxed when you present your answers during the actual interview. If you have never had to go through that thought process before, it can be difficult.
Case interviews are common for consulting jobs and jobs that require a lot of problem solving. Most of the time the cases you will be asked will test your abilities and knowledge, such as being asked to devise a marketing strategy for a cola company. It’s difficult to fake knowledge and experience. It is also difficult to practice without knowing the case beforehand. Since you can’t practice, prepare yourself for how you should answer case interview questions to increase your ability to answer them correctly.
Take Away Interview tips
- Case interviews present you with a “case” for you to solve.
- Learn how case interview questions should be answered.
- Some case interview questions are short, others are very long.
- Some case interview questions require you to actually devise a plan, others simply test your thought process.