Capital One Financial Corporation is one of the few non-consulting firms famous for using case interviews in the recruitment process.

Lately, I’ve getting a lot of questions on Capital One case interviews from people with various backgrounds and goals, so today I’ll invite you all to tackle this topic with me, and learn how Capital One cases differ from their consulting counterparts.

1. Who Apply for Capital One Case Interviews?

People coming from different backgrounds and purposes will have somewhat different approaches to preparing for job application; as such, before going into the details, it is necessary to know what kinds of candidates go into Capital One case interviews. 

As Capital One adopts an uniquely consulting selection process for a non-consulting industry, it turns out there are two distinct types of candidates:

  • Type 1 are those studying for case interviews intensively to apply to consulting firms, for whom Capital One is an add-on option.
  • Type 2 are those who know nothing about case interviews and have little interest in management consulting firms; these candidates just happen to run into case interviews on their path to Capital One.

With this in mind, I’ll lay out and answer the most relevant concerns for each candidate type in the next two sections.

2. Case-Savvy People with Capital One as Add-On Option

If you belong to this group, I am quite sure your biggest question would be how Capital One case interview questions differ from regular cases offered by consulting firms (such as McKinsey)

Well, I have never had an interview with Capital One before but I have done quite a lot of research on this. As it turns out, there are 2 major differences:

(a) Capital One case interview questions are very math-intensive.

You are often required to do some mental math about profitability, break-even points and show how you understand the content. So you would want to double your preparation in the math aspect of case interviews (out of the three aspects described here).

(b) Capital One cases are surprisingly non-MECE.

Perhaps because they are not a consulting firm, structure and MECE are not as important. When I watched their tutorial video, I couldn’t help but see a lot of obvious non-MECE holes in their illustrative cases.

So, does that mean we can take a break and not worry about structure and MECE? Well, it probably doesn’t hurt to be a little non-MECE in Capital One cases but it certainly doesn’t help. My advice for you is to ignore this difference and still pretend like you are interviewing with a highly structural-minded firm. Structure will become your habit and you will do fine in every case regardless of which firm you apply to.

However, the approach used in consulting cases – which is explained in detail in the article below – can also be applied in Capital One’s case interviews.


Case Interview 101
The Online Guidebook

An A-to-Z Crash Course on Case Interviews

I want to know more!

3. Case Newbies with Capital One as Primary Option

Chances are, you don’t have a lot of time and the topic of case interview is too big. So, my advice here is to apply the 80-20 principle, learn the most time-effective principles of case interviews, just enough to do well. Spend the time that you saved on math.

We have a really easy-to-follow Youtube channel for you to learn about case interviews from scratch in the best ways possible. Check out this playlist and the whole channel:

As it turns out, case interviews are not rocket science. I hope you’ve enjoyed this article.

If you would like more great content like this, please subscribe to our email list and Youtube channel. I look forward to seeing you again!

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