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Case Interview Preparation Asking yourselves to practice case study interview questions on the move
Hi there, in the Practice Case Interviews everywhere post, I asked you to think of every little possible opportunity in everyday life to get better at case interviews. You can definitely do a ton of learning, case interview coaching and improvements seamlessly out of no spare time. Now in this post, let me share with you a very specific example of that.
How do I practice case interview on the move?
I was driving on an interstate freeway and was caught in a traffic jam. I could have easily wasted all of that time listening to music or letting my mind flow to helpless thoughts. But I recognized my “learning everywhere” spirit and began to ask myself practice case study interview questions. The first one obviously was this simple big case study practice question:
What can the city government do to reduce this traffic jam?
I seriously treated this question just like a real case and asked the imaginary interviewer for a minute to brainstorm some thoughts. I began to analyze the case and implicitly formed an issue tree in my head:
- A traffic jam is like an over-demand or under-supply in any other market, except that here, “supply” is the road capacity and demand is the number of cars.
- The supply is fixed in the short-term. And in many cases, it is not very flexible even in the long-term.
- So solutions have to be on the demand side. We may use fees or taxes to artificially reduce demand … but this hurts people’s utility and possibly the city economy.
- How can we reduce demand while not hurting the economy and people’s utility? This led me to define “demand” in more detail. “Demand” here is the number of cars on this freeway at this moment (and broadly rush hours).
- And to reduce that “demand”, we look for substitutes which would still fulfill the needs of commuting:
- People may use other roads (other than this freeway)
- People may travel in other times (i.e: in non-rush hours)
- People may travel by other vehicles as opposed to using their own cars. This may include buses, train, or others’ cars (shared car).
The bullet points above are literally the thoughts in my head, but in a real case I’d need to deliver a much more structured pitch. So I practiced that! After the “1 minute to gather a few thoughts”, I imagined myself sitting in front of the interviewer and literally saying it out loud as if it were real:
“Mr. Interviewer, thank you for your patience. This is such an interesting case study and I am happy to solve it. I looked at the problem through the lenses of the supply-demand framework. We can think of this traffic jam like an over-demand or under-supply of road. So there are two buckets in my analysis: Supply and Demand … “
Then I keep drilling down, throwing different twists and scenarios at myself, what if this, what if that … E.g: what if the city has tried the car sharing program in the past but did not succeed due to fraud committed by people taking advantage of the program’s incentive? What if there’s a report saying that 30% of the traffic in this freeway is non-civil (e.g: commercial trucks)? Etc.
Now what if I completed the imaginary case and I was still stuck in traffic?
I would ask myself a new case question and begin the whole case interview coaching process again. An example of another case question on the move I could do?
Would I be better off taking this freeway or the longer (and smaller) city road?
Considering my hourly salary at the time, the cost of gas, and even the depreciation of the car, we have ourselves a hell of an estimation question! You may disagree with me on the framework I used above or you may have better insights. But what I would like you to get out of this article is the spirit to do case interview coaching yourself! If you are like me, trying to do this every day, then before you know it, you will be a master case interviewee yourself!
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