Kearney is one of the world's leading management consulting firms, with a presence in over 40 countries and almost 100 years of founding. The firm is renowned for its excellence in strategy, operations, and organization and works with three-quarters of the Fortune Global 500.
To land a job at Kearney, you must pass the Kearney case interview, a practical screening tool to measure potential candidates' abilities to be a consultant. This article will look closely into this assessment and discuss what to expect and how to ace the Kearney case interview.
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Kearney case interview is the last test to become a Kearney consultant
The Kearney case interview is the screening interview of Kearney, where candidates must solve business problems (or cases). The interview evaluates whether candidates possess the capabilities and qualities to become an Kearney consultant.
Kearney case interviews are candidate-led, requiring you to lead and manage every step of the case-solving process, including structuring the issue, developing frameworks, requesting data, synthesizing findings, and providing solutions. The interviewer just presents the topic, instead of asking questions concerning the case.
Before getting to the case interview, you must pass the initial screening rounds, which include resume screening and an online test.
In the resume round, you’ll of course need a consulting resume, just like what you’d need for McKinsey, and a cover letter, then submit it on Kearney’s website.
The online test concerns numerical, verbal, and logical reasoning questions. It’s quite similar to McKinsey’s problem solving test before it was retired and replaced by the problem solving game.
There are two rounds in the case interview process
Kearney interviews are actually quite straightforward with two rounds:
Round one with one 45-minute case interview and a behavioral interview
Round two with two 45-minute case interviews and a behavioral interview
Experienced and MBA candidates will face a written case
The written case is used by Kearney to simulate the actual work of a consultant, in which they need to visually plot out data and insights. It’s quite similar to the oral case, only you’re writing out your thought process instead of speaking it out.
After receiving the case, you’ll have one hour to review materials and prepare a PowerPoint presentation, then 10 minutes to pitch it to interviewers. After that there will be a Q&A. We’ll touch on this later.
Kearney looks for those with achieving & analytical mindset
Just like all management consulting firms, Kearney looks for those who want to make an impact. The main value Kearney will look for are:
Outstanding academic achievement: Your GPA and school prestige. Your best bet? 4.0 at Harvard! But jokes aside, a 3.6 GPA should be good. Below that? Try to make focus points in other parts of your resume. This article might help!
Analytical ability: The ability to create a thorough, data-driven, insightful analysis and define the root cause and solutions to difficult problems. You show this in the case interview via constructing issue trees, answer guesstimate questions, etc.
Demonstrated leadership: The ability to inspire and motivate others. Consultants won’t simply look for “leaders” who just tell their subordinates what to do, but a guiding beacon, even for their superiors (very much like telling your boss what to do, but, think of it as inspiring ideas to them).
Collaborative approach: The ability to exchange facts and insights and effectively interact with people from various backgrounds and cultures. You’ll meet people hailing from mathematics, engineering, accounting, psychology, so play your collab cards right
Intellectual curiosity: The ability to actively and continuously seek and expand knowledge
Careful preparation is a must to ace Kearney’s case. You can tackle each aspect of the interview step by step.
Start from getting used to candidate-led cases and written cases, then further out with business intuition, consulting math, fundamentals & frameworks of case interview, then finally conduct mock interviews.
Step 1: Get used to the candidate-led case interview, and written case interview
Examine examples of candidate-led case interviews to familiarize yourself with the case flow and how to interact with the interviewer.
You can also get familiar with more case interview samples and all instantly-effective tricks for case interviews with our Case Interview E2E Secret Program. Also, here’s our free video of a case interview example with an explanation and expert comments.
Step 2: Develop business intuition
Having business intuition significantly improves your performance in case interviews. Working on intuition is a gradual process that takes practice every day. You can improve your business intuition in two ways:
Written sources: Read business papers daily (Bloomberg is recommended). You can also find articles on McKinsey, Bain, and BCG’s websites. But be careful! The important thing is not your page count, but what you absorbed from them
First-hand experience and observations: Don't just do things like a machine; find out what the seniors are doing, why they did what they did, and how it has affected the organization. Everything is a learning process, and it’s up to you to squeeze out every bit of knowledge and experience
Step 3: Practice consulting math
Consultants work with quantitative data in just about every minute. It simply takes too long to whip out a calculator every time they need to calculate something, and you’re definitely not impressing clients with that. That’s why interviewers place such high emphasis on mental math skills. To improve your math, you can:
Train your head: Apply mental calculations on any daily occasion unless an EXACT answer is required
Start small: Use a piece of scratch paper, give yourself some margins of error (5% is a good start); once you get used to it, remove the paper and narrow down the margin of error.
Establish a routine: Spare time for daily practice and get better each day, just like exercise. You’ll never notice the little changes, but they stack up HARD, and when you realize it, you’re probably doing math thrice as fast
Step 4: Learn the fundamentals and frameworks of case interview
Kearney case interviews (or any other case interview) are based on the fundamentals - using hypotheses and issue trees, the MECE principle, and the frameworks. So, knowing them is extremely important and you should practice the fundamentals until you are comfortable.
A common mistake candidates make during their case interviews is to go straight for the frameworks. Frameworks require extensive adaptation to match actual cases. To customize appropriately, you must understand the fundamental knowledge first.
To know more about case interviews, here’s a dedicated article.
Step 5: Conduct mock case interview
Mock interviews are a great way to simulate the actual case interview session. You should examine your cases in great depth during the mock case interview. Record your session, replay, note the comments, and look for ways to improve.
Find a former consultant to help you with your practice - they are the ideal people; they've been there, they’ll know what a candidate must be.
Through their feedback, you can improve on what needs to be improved and boost your chance of getting an offer.
We can also help you connect with consulting coaches (all former consultants!) for a more personalized feedback. Book your mock case interview session with us now!
And don’t forget the fit questions
Fit interviews are intertwined with case interviews in the Kearney interview process. They set the tone for the interview, and the interviewer’s impression of you, so make sure to try your best, even if they don’t really weigh as much as the case. Nobody likes a bad impression, eh?
If you’re an experienced or MBA candidate, you also need to prepare specifically for Kearney’s written case interview. Here are some tips:
Enhance fast reading skills
Improving your reading speed will help you process data faster, allowing you to single out the important pieces. You can learn the tips to improve your reading speed in this speed reading techniques article.
Craft your data-analysis skills
The ability to analyze data is the core of the hypothesis-driven approach in consulting. You analyze the information to determine the root cause, formulate a hypothesis, and support your suggestion. To enhance your data analyzing skills for your written case interview, practice data interpretation skills (reading charts, tables, graphs…).
You can also find out more on this with our Numerical Reasoning Package.
Learn to make consulting slides
In the written case interview, your job is to organize the layout of graphs, tables, findings, and recommendations in a “consulting” style (on paper or in PowerPoint).
In real consulting work, the PowerPoint engineers (yes I call them that because they’re so good) will add the bells and whistles to create the final slides for your pitch.
We have a whole article on how to craft and present MBB/consulting slides. Check it out to learn the step-by-step guide.
Deliver a timed and solution-driven pitch
The first thing you should do is to allow a specific time limit for each step of the pitch. When that time limit reaches, stop what you're doing (like skimming data) and move on to the next (like structuring the problem). Also, spare some time for contingency for any errors occurring.
Second, your presentations and pitches should begin with the conclusions and chart titles with the most important insights.
Clients won’t care about the procedures; they want results. So, present the solution, back up with the evidence from your analysis, and recap the pitch.