Two of the most frequent activities of the candidate in case interviews is to ask for data from the interviewer, or backing up their problem-solving approach and conclusions with data.
In such situations, the interviewer would often response with a follow-up question: “How do you get that information?” – this kind of question, called the “Information Question” has stopped many a candidate dead in their tracks.
The secret to answering these questions, is to know for real which data sources consultants actually use in their projects – and today I’m going to tell you just that!
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“Information questions” in case interviews essentially ask if the piece of data you use is obtainable in the first place. In real consulting work, data is not always available – client team members may refuse to cooperate or there’s simply no data on the subject.
There are many kinds of information sources in case interviews/consulting works, but I’ll divide them into primary and secondary sources. Primary sources means you must do the research yourself (or pay someone else to do it for you), such as customer surveys or mystery shoppings. If someone already did that research, and you use their results, it’s called a secondary source – you can get these from the client, the consulting firm you work for, or third-parties such as market research firms or external industry experts.
Here are the secret answers to all of these information questions: a data source library compiling the sources we MBB consultants actually use in the projects.
In our Prospective Candidate Starter Pack, there is a sheet listing all the possible sources of information in consulting projects, which you can download for your own use, along with many other free case interview materials. You can check it out.