Case Interview - Question types Case Interview Information Questions

  A quick glance

  1. What is Case Interview Information Questions?
  2. The Case Interview Information Questions flow
  3. Self-practice

1. What is Case Interview Information Questions?

There is not much to argue about the saying: “consulting is a data-driven industry.”  As consultants, we spent most of our time gathering and presenting data to client ( see our What the heck does a consultant do anyway). Therefore, in case interviews and especially interviewer-driven case interviews, information questions are usually asked.

In this type of question, interviewees are generally expected to answer the two most important questions: What kind of data do you need? and How can you get that? 

Preparing the answers to these two questions (and stating out even before being asked) will ensure your high score in the Information Questions.

2. The Case Question Flow

A. Getting the data types:

The interviewee will begin by asking you for a data type you need:

Ok, that is an interesting hypothesis (guess). What information do you need to test it?”

A typical answer would be: I would like to have information on X for Y.

“I would like to have information on the market share of the client for Product A.”

These Case Interview Information Questions require you to have a strong understanding of the case as well as a well-drawn issue trees. (see our Case Interview Framework article)

B. Clarifying the sources:

In this part of the question, you are asked to provide detailed resources of information:

“So you want to find out the market share of the client? How would you do that?”

You will have to say:

“Several ways to get this information are reviewing annual reports, buying market reports,

interviewing industry experts, etc.”

Data Sources

Customer surveys

  • Investigate the opinions or behavior of a large group of people by asking them a series of questions

Focus group

  • Hold a discussion session with a group of selected people who represent different groups/segments/entities and should have different views/experiences on a specific topic. A focus group usually includes 5-10 people.

Mystery shopping

  • Hold a discussion session with a group of selected people who represent different groups/segments/entities and should have different views/experiences on a specific topic. A focus group usually includes 5-10 people.

Interview with clients

  • Interview clients, including CEO, middle managers, front-line employees, etc.in various formats to quickly access their subjective opinions, ideas and perspectives toward different areas such as the company and competition; but usually focusing on internal factors.

Reviewing client documents

  • Ask client representatives for the access to client’s information database, reports, announcements, and other internal documents.

Press search

  • Search for needed data in digital or print press.

Interview with industry experts

  • Interview non-consulting experts such as those from government associations for their insights with a set of specific questions tied to the case; usually focusing on external factors.

Analyst / company / industry reports

  • Industry reports published either by private or public institutions; the reports include data about the industry, market trends, competitors, etc. 
  • Annual reports published by publicly-traded competitors; annual reports include CEO statements, company visions, financial data, etc. 

Client internal data

  • Ask client representatives for the access to client’s information database, reports, announcements, and other internal documents.

McKinsey Support Center

  • Interview consulting experts with a set of specific questions for consulting perspectives on the problem. All MBB consulting firms hire experts classified into 3 categories, including local, function and industry.
  • Access to consulting firm’s internal library which records key insights of all previous projects. PD is concise and consulting-way written, providing best-practices for references.

Each of these sources have their own strengths and weaknesses and you should utilize them accordingly. For example, customer survey is an effective tool to test a hypothesis but its accuracy largely comes down to the sampling process.

One of the ways to be prepared for this is to have yourself an Information Resource Library.

3. Self-practice

Now is your turn. Be sure to leave your answer below!

Situation 1: 

Hypothesis: The reason for declining sales is that the client exercises too many cost saving strategies that lead to low-quality products

What information do you need to test that hypothesis?

Situation 2: 

The client wants to find out if the supplier is able to manufacture and deliver supplies on time. How are they going to that?

Situation 3: 

Hypothesis: The reason for the declining profit is that the client’s labor system is too complicated. What information do you need to test that hypothesis?

Still confused? Try going back to the master article for more practice!

If you’re ready to go deeper, check out more of related content below and you can also subscribe to our YouTube channel or our mailing list for free prep materials!

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