Deloitte is one among the “Big Four” – the four largest accounting and consulting firms in the world. Competitive recruitment processes aside, successful candidates must pass through challenging consulting interviews called “Case Interviews”.
In this article, you will be guided through the building blocks of Deloitte’s Case Interviews, with special tips, techniques, examples, and more!
1. Deloitte Interview Process and Requirements
First, let’s go through Deloitte’s recruitment process and main recruitment criteria.
A candidate applying for Deloitte will often go through three stages: online application, online tests, and case interviews. Throughout all these rounds, the candidate must demonstrate five key traits: problem-solving, leadership, achieving mentality, business intuition, and creativity.
1.1. What does the Deloitte Recruitment Process look like?
Deloitte recruitment process consists of three main stages: (1) online application and resume screening, (2) online cognitive tests, and (3) fit interviews and case interviews. The whole process can take up to 2-3 months, for a job starting 6-12 months after application. Newer offices can speed up the process to meet their higher HR demands.
- Online Application: The most important thing in this first stage is to prepare an outstanding resume, consulting style. If you want free consulting resume templates and access to the exceptional guide that got me into McKinsey, link is to the right.
- Online Tests: As part of the online application, you will have to sit through a total of five tests. These include: Cognitive Test, Verbal Reasoning Ability Test, Numerical Reasoning Ability Test, Logical Reasoning Ability Test, Psychometric Questionnaire
- Deloitte Case Interviews: the total number of interviews you take will partly depend on two things: 1. whether you are applying as an experienced professional or as a fresh graduate/ student, and 2. the country/office that you are applying for.
Regardless, the typical process includes three parts:
- First round: One 30 to 45-minute behavioral interview, and one or two 30 to 45-minute case interviews.
- Second round: one 30 to 45-minute behavioral interview; one 30 to 45-minute case interview; one 1-hour group case interview
The group case interview is the notable difference between Deloitte Case Interviews relative to other consulting firms. In all rounds, however, consistent performance is key.
1.2. What does Deloitte look for in candidates?
Skills and traits that Deloitte prioritizes in candidates are: problem-solving, leadership, achieving mentality, business Intuition, and creativity. Similar to other major consulting firms, the first three criteria are “must-have”, while the last two can be advantageous but not absolutely required
Since the skills and traits mentioned are quite generic, I’ll explain them here:
- Problem- solving skills: The point of hiring any consultants is because they can break down business problems better than anyone else. The entire consulting industry arguably rests on the unique analytical problem-solving ability of consultants.
- Leadership ability: Most often, consultants don’t work alone. They work in teams of experts and the brightest. Not surprisingly, it takes a special kind of leadership ability to use the right talents for the right tasks. Hence, in all rounds, you will need to show how you can bring people together to produce exceptional results.
- Achieving mentality: Consulting problems are big in scale and difficulty. Consultants are expected to solve these under tight deadlines and deliver outstanding results. Without demonstrating an achieving mentality, the willingness to work hard, and the ability to produce top work, you will almost certainly not get in.
- Business Intuition: Most often, analytical problem-solving ability alone will not get the job done. A consultant who performs well will have developed sharp business acumen, practical business judgment, and a strategic way of thinking.
- Creativity: Although business cases often fall into several categories, every problem is unique and entails a unique solving approach. Generating interesting ideas and out-of-the-box solutions is, therefore, an ability well-sought after in the consulting world.
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2. Deloitte Case Interview Format – Candidate-Led
Now that you have an idea of the recruitment process, let’s dive into the interesting part – case interviews.
Case Interview is the last stage in Deloitte’s recruitment process, which typically involves two rounds (details above). The majority of Deloitte’s case interviews are candidate-led.
2.1. What is a Case Interview?
A Case Interview is an interview put in a business context.
In a Case Interview, you will be given a business problem to solve. That problem, together with the surrounding business context given by the interviewer, is called a case.
Example: “The Cool Company – selling air conditioners, has been experiencing declining profits for the past 5 months. They want you to find the root cause and help them bring back stable profits.”
In this case, the problem is decreasing profits. You, as a candidate, are expected to pinpoint exactly what’s causing it and offer a solution.
2.2. What are Deloitte Case Interviews like?
Deloitte Case Interviews are often candidate-led. This means that, at the most extreme of this format, the interviewer will only present the problem. You, the candidate, will be leading, or taking control of, every step ahead to solve the case from that point. This includes structuring the problem, drawing frameworks, asking for data, synthesizing findings, and proposing solutions.
There are two extremes in terms of the autonomy you’d have in a case interview. On one end of the spectrum, in a candidate-led case, you lead the problem-solving process. On the other end, in an interviewer-led case, the interviewer tells you what to do.
I covered how to approach each format step-by-step in this detailed guide: “Case Interview 101”.
If the Cool case above were interviewer-led, you would be answering a series of questions coming from the interviewer. But since you’re at a Deloitte Case Interview, you are expected to take control, breaking down the profit problem and digging into the root cause.
For now, let’s look at three characteristics of Deloitte’s Case Interview – Candidate-Led style:
Candidate-led cases focus on one big problem
In candidate-led cases, you solve the problem in its entirety, not through small questions as in interviewer-led cases.
The primary approach you should use for any type of case is top-down. Don’t instantly jump to a solution, but break the problem down into small pieces and deal with it one at a time. That’s how real consultants solve problems, not showing it in an interview will ruin your chances.
“To solve the Cool company’s profit problem, you would first break the profits down into revenues and costs, then dive into each subdivision.
This method ensures full coverage of all possible sources leading to the original problem, representing the most in-depth and comprehensive answer.”
Candidate-led cases are more flexible
In candidate-led cases, you hold the reins of solving the problem as you see fit.
The interviewer often has a “case universe” in mind – basically a fictional realm formed by data on the supposed client and their problem. You’re allowed to freely explore this world.
Even if you venture out of the scenarios imagined by the interviewer through unexpected issue trees and solutions, he/she will most likely come up with new information on the fly to help you solve the case in your own way.
Candidate-led cases place less emphasis on being right
You are allowed a larger margin of error in candidate-led cases than in interviewer-led ones.
In candidate-led cases, you have to break down the problem all by yourself, with very little assistance from the interviewer. As such, you can be “forgiven” for larger errors than in interviewer-led cases, where you are effectively guided through that process.
Interested in learning about the interviewer-led side of the spectrum? Wanting to know about the mechanisms of case interviews at McKinsey – the most prestigious management consulting firm? See this extensive guide on interviewer-led case interviews at McKinsey.
2.3. Deloitte Case Interviews | Question Categories
Now that you are aware of Deloitte Case Interview formats, let’s take a look at common question types. Deloitte Consulting can be narrowed down to three practice groups:
- Strategy and Operations (S&O) focus topics are corporate strategy, supply-chain improvement, business model transformation, process improvements.
- Technology consulting focus topics are digital strategy, delivery of IT programs, cyber risks management, designing and building tech-based solutions for clients.
- Human capital focus topics are organization transformation, change management, corporate learning and development, diversity, and inclusion.
The type of case that you get depends on what group you are interviewing with.
If you are interviewing with the human capital group, you might get an organizational transformation case. If you are interviewing with the technology group, you might get a digital strategy case.
3. Deloitte Case Interview Problem-Solving Fundamentals
With common case questions in mind, how do you go about solving them, and deliver an outstanding performance at the same time?
Whatever the question, the fundamental approach to case interview remains the same – a seven-component process based on real consulting problem-solving.
- Problem: Every problem-solving process must start with a well-defined problem. A problem becomes “well-defined” when it’s attached with an objective.
- Solution: After the analyzing process, it’s time to deliver actionable solutions. The solutions must attack all the root causes to ensure long-lasting impact – if even one root cause remains untouched, the problem will persist.
- Root Cause: To ensure any solution to the problem is long-lasting, consultants always look for the root cause – the very first part in a long chain of causes and consequences leading to the case’s problem.
- Issue Tree: This “tree” breaks the problem down to contributing factors, called “branches”; each branch is in turn broken down into contributing sub-factors or sub-branches. This process is repeated through many levels until the root causes are isolated and identified.
- MECE: This principle for issue trees is like the Eighth Commandment to consultants – it means “mutual exclusive” (there’s no overlap between the branches) and “collectively exhaustive” (all branches together cover every possibility, i.e there’s no gap)
- Hypothesis: A hypothesis is an educated guess on which branch is the most likely to contain a root cause. Put another way, it is a proposal that one factor leads to the problem. The whole consulting problem-solving is about hypothesizing and testing those hypotheses.
- Data: A hypothesis must always be tested with data. Data usually yield more insights with benchmarks – reference points for comparison. The two most common kinds of benchmarks in consulting are historical and competitor
To learn more about the issue tree and MECE – essential concepts for mastering the case interview – read these articles below:
4. Deloitte Case Interview Frameworks
Frameworks are off-the-shelf templates to break down problems.
On one hand, these frameworks, to a large degree, follow the fundamental concepts we’ve just discussed, hence their convenience in case interviews. Most of them are also fairly intuitive.
On the other hand, their generic nature necessitates a lot of customizations for consulting work and case interviews, where cases don’t usually fit neatly into the frameworks.
My Case Interview Frameworks article covers every tip and technique in case interviews, along with some myth-busting on common misconceptions about frameworks.
Anyhow, here are five frameworks you can use to solve your cases:
- Profitability Framework: Splits Profits into Revenues and Costs; mostly used to mathematically break down problems before switching to qualitative frameworks for solutions.
- Business Situation Framework: Analyzes a company situation in four areas: Company, Competitors, Customers, Products; flexible for many purposes but generic, needs customizations.
- McKinsey M&A Framework: Assesses a proposed M&A on three aspects: stand-alone values of each involving company, their synergy, and “other factors”. MECE and promoting customizations, this is one of the best M&A frameworks.
- 4P/7P Marketing Mix: The 4P analyzes the Product, Price, Place, Promotion for marketing tangible goods; the 7P adds People, Process and Physical Evidence to the mix, meant for service marketing. This framework focuses solely on the marketing aspect, so not suitable for multi-function strategies.
- Porter’s Five Forces Model: Analyzes the industry surrounding a business, on five aspects or “forces” – Suppliers, Customers, Competitors, New Entrants, and Substitutes. Good for getting the “big picture” about the industry and understanding the client’s context.
Along with the frameworks, there are these powerful, universal problem-solving tools which I term “mini frameworks”. Here’s five of them:
- External vs Internal: This is a quick and easy method to segment information about a particular entity. The internal branch concerns what’s inside or intrinsic of the said entity, the external branch the outside.
- Qualitative vs Quantitative: This mini-framework is mostly meant for evaluations. Dividing items into two MECE groups reduces confusion and minimizes the risk of missing an important item.
- Costs vs Benefits: This decision-making tool is pretty straightforward – if the benefits outweigh the costs, you go with that option.
- 2×2 Matrix: The 2×2 Matrix is a decision-making tool where options are examined using two criteria, each of which forms an axis of the matrix.
- SWOT Analysis: This mini-framework is seldom used in case interviews. Being too generic, however, it can be used for a quick and easy evaluation of a company’s positioning within the industry context.
5. Deloitte Case Interviews Tips
In a candidate-led case, you are expected to take control of the case in its entirety, focus on the big problem, and are allowed much narrower error margins than interviewer-led cases. How can you meet all of these challenging criteria?
Here are 10 techniques you should use to confidently score home in Deloitte Case Interviews:
Tip #1: Open the case perfectly
Remember, this is a candidate-led case, which means you are always expected to take control, from opening the case to analyzing it to drawing solutions.
Expectations aside, this is a great opportunity to demonstrate leadership ability and proactiveness – two highly sought after characteristics among consultant wannabes.
Hence, it is very important to create a great first impression, especially when the verdict is often made 3 minutes into the 30-minute long case. In all cases, this means polishing your case opening to perfection.
I made a detailed video about this, but here’s a seven-step summary:
Everyone loves a compliment, so give a sincere one to your interviewer.
“Thank you for this very interesting case, I’m happy to get the chance to solve it”.
Your interviewer is not HR personnel; he’s spending time and effort on you as a form of goodwill for the company. Those simple, thankful words go a long way.
This works best at the start, but you should show appreciation throughout the case (e.g.: when the interviewer gives you useful data or feedback).
Explicitly and concisely announce that you’re going to do the following steps 3, 4, and 5.
“I’m going to recap the case and ask for some clarifications, just to make sure that we’re on the same page. Then I’m going to inform you of my approach to this case.”
This is related to what I term “map habit” which I’ll explain soon enough, because it’s a habit you must have during the whole case interview.
Playback the case to make sure you concretely understand it.
There’s nothing worse than realizing you’ve been spending all resources trying to solve the wrong problem; thus, consultants always try to be absolutely clear what the client wants and what they’re facing.
Do the same in the case interview and you’ll get a lot of plus points; make sure you know (1) who the client is, (2) the situation the client is in, and (3) the case questions and objectives.
“So here’s how I understand the case: our client is The Pirate Company, stationed in the Caribbeans, and provides assets removal services; the Company is having negative profits; our objective is to deliver a solution to that problem. Am I correct?”
Ask questions to clarify any confusing and unclear parts you have about the case.
Most often, there are three kinds of information to clarify at this stage: definitions, time frame and measurement.
“Great, now I’d like to ask three clarification questions:
1. What kind of assets does our client remove for their customer ships?
2. How long has the negative profit problem been going on?
3. How long can our client continue the business with negative profits, i.e what’s the deadline for our solutions?”
Announce the overall logical flow of the upcoming case.
This logical flow depends on the type of case. The most common type is “problem-solution”, where the flow is (1) break down the problem into small parts, (2) set up the hypotheses, (3) ask for data to test hypotheses, (4) identify the root causes, and (5) deliver solutions.
“For the overall approach, to ensure long-lasting impact for our solutions, I’m going to try and break down the problems into small pieces with issue trees, then drill down to isolate and identify the root causes, while also gathering data to draw actionable solutions.”
Remember to check if the interviewer agrees with your approach, at the start and at each key step in the case!
In real consulting projects, managers expect junior consultants to align early and often, because no one wants their team going in the wrong direction for a whole week!
In case interviews, simply ask “Does this sound like a reasonable approach to you?”. Often you’ll get the green lights, however there is a chance the interviewer will suggest an even better approach!
If you need time to think, ask for it! This applies not only at the start of the case, but throughout!
“I need some time to collect my thoughts and develop my issue tree, so may I take a timeout?”
Don’t just rush into the case then later try to fix all the errors you could have avoided if you spent some more time to think. It’s a really bad habit and no manager wants their junior consultants act like that in real projects.
Beware though, once you’ve asked for timeout, you need to come back with something worthy; don’t spend 90 seconds just to divide profits into revenues and costs.
Additionally, this early in the case, don’t drill down; save that for later, because you have yet to get a clue where the problem is. What if you drill down two levels on the Revenue side, just to have the first piece of data informing that the problem is on the Cost side?
Tip #2: Use the map habit
Pause occasionally to summarize where you are, and where you’re going next!
I call it the “map habit” because it’s so similar to using the map when travelling.
This is a habit that I stress repeatedly in the Case Interview End-to-End Secrets Program, because of its importance both in case interviews and in my consulting experience. It gives you a sense of direction as well as authority; additionally, you get plus points in the interview for an organized approach.
Tip #3: Keep organized notes
This might sound simple, but very few get it right.
To make your notes easy to read and quick to interpret, divide them into three types: data, presentation, and scratch paper. When the interview starts, pull three sheets of paper and label them accordingly.
You’ll use the datasheet to jot down and process any data the interviewer gives you, as well as your calculations; the presentation sheets to draft things you’ll say to the interviewer; and the datasheet for anything else you need to write out, such as your ideas when brainstorming.
Neat notes really help with your thought process, because it eases the storing and arranging of information you receive. Plus, you’re showing the interviewer that you’re an organized and careful person.
Tip #4: Stick to the hypotheses
Always speak with the current hypothesis in mind, and that hypothesis must be in the issue tree.
The whole point of this hypothesis-driven approach to problem-solving is to have your efforts guided by hypotheses and not wasted aimlessly. Drawing out the issue tree and forgetting it, is like preparing five stories for the fit interview and then opting for improvisation.
That said, even the best and brightest people forget their hypotheses in the midst of overwhelming data. To avoid such a situation, do yourself a sanity check every once in a while, look back at your issue tree; if what you’re doing doesn’t match your current position on it, go back immediately!
Tip #5: Avoid long silences
Long, awkward moments of silence in your interviews are not recommended. Remember, you’re in an interview with a person, not sitting in an exam room. If you really need silence to think, ask for timeout or announce think-out-loud mode.
A timeout is a great excuse to think in silence. However,, too long and it will backfire, especially if you can’t come up with something worthy of the long wait. Use it prudently, and always try to think as fast as possible while still being “correct”.
Thinking out loud is especially good if you need a lot of time to brainstorm, and if you want some feedback from the interviewer during the process. Again, however, limit your use of this out-of-jail card; too many “think-out-loud” sessions will create the impression that you’re unorganized.
Tip #6: Find more insights
Try your best to be in-depth and comprehensive with your analyses.
Speeches should be as insightful as possible, NOT be generic and lackluster. Always ask yourself “Am I overlooking something?” and “Can I drill down further?”.
However, try to manage your time well. If you take too long, the interviewer might force you to the next question and you will lose one chance to prove yourself.
Tip #7: Present one structured pitch
Present your analyses in one perfect, insightful, top-down, concise, captivating final pitch.
Content-wise, keep the pitch short, but take note to include every important point. I cannot stress enough how prospective consultants must be structured in everything they do. Every word they speak must reflect that structured mindset.
Here are three tips to structure your speech:
- Commence with a summary line, stating the most important takeaway/intention.
- Divide what you intend to say into clear-cut parts. Avoid jumping back and forth between items as much as possible.
- Number your items so it’s easier to keep track, both for you and your interviewer. Even better if you announce in advance how many items you’re going to discuss.
Tip #8: Keep a personal script
Organize what you are going to say into a script, and practice a hundred times.
The key to sounding professional in a case interview is to ensure the words you speak be structured and formal. I recommend practicing all the formulaic lines, such as the opening or data requests, using an interview script. With enough training, those lines will feel natural to you.
Additionally, using scripts also saves brainpower, which you’ll definitely need a lot in case interviews.
6. Deloitte Group Case Interviews Tips
As mentioned above, the group case interview is one notable difference between Deloitte Case Interviews relative to other consulting firms. Below is a summary of Deloitte’s Group Interview format:
- #1: You will be grouped together with 3 to 6 other candidates
- #2: The group will be given information about a case to solve (i.e. a business with declining profits)
- #3: You will be given 10 minutes to review the case and prepare by yourself or with another team member
- #4: Your interviewers will observe and take notes while the group discuss case questions for 20 minutes
- #5: Your interviewers will ask a few questions to the group for another 20 minutes
In group case interviews, you are being assessed along with many others. So how to make sure that you stand out? Below are six useful tips to ace the group interview.
Tip #1: Manage your ideas
In group interviews, try not to aggressively interject when others are speaking. If a great idea pops into your head, jot it down. That way the flash of brilliance won’t slip off your mind moments later.
Also, really take time to process the question and develop an organized and structured way to answer it. Your answer will come out stronger if you give yourself time to think.
When you need to, ask the interviewer for some minutes to collect your thoughts and avoid long silences.
Tip #2: Lead the discussion
Emphasize your role as a facilitator.
It’s a good idea to be proactive in proposing what topics to discuss, the order they should be discussed, and how much time should be allocated towards each topic. If the group gets off track, you can bring the group’s focus back together.
Tip #3: Speak to add value
In the second part of the group case interview, candidates will take turns to present answers to the interviewer.
Before it’s your turn, listen carefully to other people’s answers, as well as the interviewer’s feedback. This way, you can add truly valuable and useful insights to the discussion.
Remember, good points go to the quality of what you say, not the number of times you speak up.
Tip #4: Ask good questions
Again, really pay attention so you can come up with not only good insights, but also brilliant questions.
Great questions typically address the following: the definition of an unfamiliar term, clarification of the objective of the issue, or strengthen the team’s understanding of the context or company.
Brilliant questions will make you stand out. It shows you’re listening well and you are eager to learn more.
Tip #5: View others as teammates
Viewing others as teammates put you in a collaborative mindset to work well with others.
Do make it a point to be the first one to answer your interviewer’s question every once in a while so you don’t give the impression of being timid. However, try to support co-interviewee’s statements every now and then, by highlighting good ideas and adding what you think is missing, and giving thorough explanations of your rationale.
In this way, you appear to be a supportive leader and a team player at the same time.
Tip #6: Sum up ideas
By the end of the group discussion, make a point to compile the different points people have made.
This puts you in a position to bring everyone together and make sure all candidates are on the same page.
7. How to Prepare for Deloitte Case Interviews
Step 1: Familiarize with interviewer-led case examples
Examine examples of candidate-led case interviews to familiarize yourself with the flow of the case, and how to interact with the interviewer.
Deloitte has several sample case on their website:
Step 2: Practice consulting math
Consultants work with quantitative data dozens of times a day. It simply takes too long to pull out a calculator every time they need to calculate something, and doing so in negotiations looks really bad. This is why interviewers place such high emphasis on the mental math skills of prospective consultants.
In the beginning, consulting math can be difficult for some; nonetheless, I have a few tips for you to ease the process and still practice effectively:
- Use Your Head: Do all your daily calculations mentally unless an EXACT answer is required.
- Flatten the Learning Curve: At the start, a piece of scratch paper and a 5% margin of error really help; once you are confident, discard the paper and narrow down the margin.
- Establish a Routine: Allocate some time for daily practice this may seem hard at first, but once you’ve overcome the inertia, you can literally feel the improvement.
Step 3: Develop Business Intuition
Having business intuition significantly sharpens your performance in case interviews.
Working on any kind of intuition is a gradual process that takes practice every day. You can improve your business intuition in two ways:
- Written Sources: I suggest reading business papers daily; you can also visit McKinsey, Bain, and BCG websites for their excellent articles. Beware though – it’s not the pages you read that count, but the insights you draw from them.
- First-hand Experience and Observations: Don’t just come to your workplace to work; try to examine what senior managers are doing – what’s the rationale for their decision, and how has it impacted the organization?
Step 4: Learn the fundamentals and frameworks
It might be tempting at first to go straight for the frameworks – if you make this common mistake, get ready for some very unpleasant surprises in the interview. Frameworks need a lot of customizations to fit with real cases, and to customize effectively you need that fundamental knowledge.
Of course, don’t draw an issue tree for all your daily problems – that’s just overkill; but do take a structured approach, and picture an issue tree in your head while searching for your keys.
Step 5: Perform mock interviews
The best way to get good at something is to do it.
Find yourself a former consultant to help you practice; they’ve been through countless case interviews, both real and mock, they know what’s required of a candidate, so they’re the best people to run your simulations with.
Study your cases down to the smallest details. Replay them over and over and over again, take notes of the interviewer’s feedback, and look for other areas you can improve.
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