Three Types of Case Interview Explained

Market Sizing

This is by far the easiest Case Study interview to set up and most experienced interviewers will have their favourites.

Some examples might be …

What is the size of the shoe market in the UK?

How many petrol stations are there in the UK?

How much salt is used on the roads in the home counties during an average winter?

Candidates facing one of these interviews for the first time will find them difficult to handle because they are so open ended, often slightly ludicrous and in today’s technology age relatively easily googled.

Suggesting any of the above is a big mistake.  The first thing to accept for any interviewee is that this immediately demonstrates that you do not understand the process and perhaps results in a mark on the assessment sheet against naivety.

The correct approach is to accept the challenge and through a series of estimates and guesses come up with an approximation.  We return in some detail, with examples, to the handling of this kind of Case Study later.

Business Case

This kind of Case is usually taken from real life, it may be something that the interviewer has been working on or be built around some aspects of a subject the interviewer knows about, for example Supply Chain problems.  Sometimes the case is presented on a printed page with a description of the issue and a limited amount of data.  More usually the interviewer will “set up” the case by describing to the interviewee the relevant information and the question and encouraging debate and dialogue from there.

Some examples might be .…

In the chocolate and confectionery industry we have been asked to do a strategic product review.   What are the key issues we should look at.

We are working for an overseas competitor of Specsavers wishing to enter the UK market, what are the key factors to investigate and analyse in advising them on a market entry strategy?

Our client – a specialist in supply chain and distribution has hired us because they want to expand from their European base to be global.  Help me map out what we should be doing.

In each of the above examples, this is just the top line, the interviewer is actually inviting the interviewee to ask the relevant questions to get the information to work through the case.  Again we look at this in more detail later.

A test of creativity

This is not as common as the first two Case Study Interviews but for some firms and or interviewers it provides very valuable candidate ability data. The technique searches for lateral thinking ability and observational skills. Typically the creative test is something trivial and occasionally absurd.

Some examples might be .….

Why are manhole covers round?

If you had a third eye were would you put it and why?

Here is an aerial photograph of a region in the world – where is it and why?

We believe it is very difficult to train for this kind of interview – either a candidate has a flash of inspiration or is inherently creative and will shine, or they will not. In many ways, the characteristic that this type of interview looks for is the antithesis of the logical and analytic skills more usually sort in Case Study type interviews.

Having learnt more about the different types of cases, read our tips on how to handle them here.

Return to Case Study Overview.