Interactive Case Study Examples

Case Study Interview Examples: Questions and Answers

You will need to prepare for an interview where case study questions will be asked. While preparation is required for every job interview, extra time is required to adequately prepare for case study interviews.

Providing an answer to a case study question involves much more than simply recounting the issues and problems set forth, it includes identifying the most important issues, employing sound and logical analysis, developing an action plan for addressing the problem(s) and making recommendations. Depending on the firms you're interviewing with, and the industry you work in, case study questions can be presented in verbal or written format, and address a number of topics.

In case interviews, it's not uncommon for interviewers to exclude important details when asking candidates to resolve hypothetical business problems presented. It's okay to ask interviewers for more information, and it's expected. They want to see if you can identify what information is important, and what is not.

Occasionally, interviewers provide no detail at all to test your analytical skills when adequate resources are unavailable. In these situations, it's okay to make assumptions, but they must be based on sound logic and analysis of information that is provided.

Interviewers asking case study questions are primarily concerned with how effectively you can analyze a problem, determine key factors, brainstorm ideas, and propose workable, pragmatic solutions that are supported by your analysis.

Answering Case Interview Questions

In the case interview, coming up with the "correct" answer isn't nearly as important as the process you use for getting there. When answering a case interview question, you want to showcase your ability to analyze a situation or business dilemma, identify the important issues, and develop sound conclusions that flow from your analysis. For this reason, it's important to use a logical framework for breaking down and analyzing the case. Some of the more common business analysis frameworks that can be employed include Porter's Five Forces, Value Chain Analysis, Four P's of Marketing, and SWOT Analysis. The framework you decide to use should be a function of the type of case you're presented.

Where a specific framework for analysis isn't readily available or applicable, a general framework or analytical approach can be applied. The most important thing is that your approach to answering the case interiew question is structured and logical.



Regardless of the type of case you're presented, there will likely be a few main parameters and several factors that influence those parameters. The first thing you want to do is identify the parameters and factors, the then determine which are key to the case output.

For example, assume the case involves a company's declining profitability. From your initial review of the case information you determine the main parameters to consider are total revenues and total costs.

After defining the two main parameters, you'd then drill down further to the factors influencing each of the parameters you've identified. You determine the factors influencing total revenues are average price of goods sold and volume of goods sold. And for total costs, fixed costs and variable costs.

With both the case parameters and factors clearly identified you give yourself the ability to steer the conversation and begin to identify possible solutions. To identify areas of concern, you'll want to explore the history of the four influencing factors. At the end of your discussion with the interviewer you may determine that it's rising variable costs that are having the biggest impact on profitability. You'll then drill down even further to determine what is causing variable costs to rise and come up with more specific recommendations.

Building a graphic representation (tree, decision diagram, etc.) of parameters, factors and other influencing elements will help you structure your thought process, keep from missing key aspects of the case, and make a strong argument for the recommendations you'll make.

Using a framework or structured approach to developing a recommendation for a case study interview question provides the added benefit of giving the interviewer something to take back and present to his or her superiors to make the case that you're the right person for the job.

Whatever you do, don't force-fit frameworks. If a particular framework doesn't apply to the case, don't use it. Most frameworks incorporate universal concepts that can be applied to various business issues. Use the concepts you've learned in school or through prior work experience to support your analysis of the case. Show your interviewer that you understand these business concepts well enough that you can apply them to the specifics fo the business issue being presented in the case.

Below we're going to present several case interview questions organized by question type. To perfect your ability to perform well in case interviews, we recommend reviewing each question and then developing a logical framework or approach for answering each one.

Standard Case Interview Questions

As is the case in real life, there is usually no single correct answer to standard case interview questions. As long as you're able to prove your case, using sound analysis and by demonstrating an understanding of the main case issues, you're likely to do well. Below are some common standard case interview questions that provide great practice for case interviews.

  • What would be your approach for introducing a product into a foreign market? What are the risks and benefits to consider i.e. producing in your own country vs producing in the new country, etc?

  • Company ABC is struggling, should it be restructured? Identify the three main problems it's facing. What is the most important problem the company is facing? How would you recommend the company address this problem? How would you turn this company around? Provide your reasoning for your recommendation(s).

  • A toy company has been experiencing decline sales for the last two seasons. Research suggests that introducing several new product lines is the solution. Develop a marketing strategy for the company's largest product line, including pricing, product packing, etc.

  • A large chain of retail clothing stores is struggling with profitability. Bases on your review fo the company's financial statements, what problems can you identify? Can this company be turned arounds? How would you go about deciding?

  • A new Eddie Bauer Store is being opened up in London. Discuss all the marketing issues regarding the opening of this new location.

To perform well on standard case inteview questions you should be able to:

  • Take in information quickly and remember what you hear.
  • Identify key issues, prioritize and logically solve problems.
  • Make quick, yet accurate, decisions.
  • Manage time efficiently.
  • Perform under pressure.
  • Be aware of resource constraints.
  • Identify customer needs.
  • Be original and creative.

Market Sizing Case Interview Questions

A market sizing case interview question is one where you're asked to determine the size of market for a particular product. These types of case interview questions are popular, and actually not difficult to answer if you practice. The following a few examples of market sizing case interview questions.

  • Please provide the total weight of a fully loaded Jumbo Jet at the time of take off.
  • How many light bulbs are there in the United States?
  • How many photocopies are taken in the United Kingdom each year?
  • How much beer is consumed in the city of New York on Fridays?
  • How many people sell AMWAY products in the United States?
  • If there are 7,492 people participating in a tournament, how many games must be played to find a winner?
  • How many golf balls will fit in the Empire State Building?
  • How many car tire are sold in Canada each year?
  • Given thhe numbers 5 and 2000, what is the minimum number of guesses required to find a specific number if the only hint you're given is "higher" and "lower" for each guess made?
  • How do you determine the weight of a blue whale without using a scale?

The following are tips for answering market sizing case interview questions:

  • Take time to think before you answer the question.
  • If given a pen and paper, take notes and write down key information. Use the paper to make calculations, write down ideas and structure your answer.
  • Ask additional questions if you feel you are missing information. The interviewer is often expecting you to ask to find missing information.
  • Use lateral thinking and be creative. There isn't always just one right answer. Just make sure your answer is backed up by sound logic and numbers that make sense.
  • Make sure you know your math. At minimum you'll need to perform some basic arithmetic or mathematical calculations.
  • These quesitons are often used to test your ability to structure, as well as your ability to think laterallly, make logical links and communicate clearly.
  • Make mental calculations quickly by making sensible estimates and rounding numbers up or down.
  • Does your answer make sense? If you're answer doesn't make sense, chances are you've made a bad assumpation, estimate or calculation. Go back and carefully check your work and provide a new answer.
  • You can use business frameworks (SWOT, Porter's Five forces, etc.) or mind mapping to support your analysis and answers, as long as it makes sense.
  • Many market sizing questions revolve around issues being faced by an organization or industry. Commercial awareness can be very important to answering market sizing questions.

Logic Problems

Questions involving logic problems are designed to test your ability to think quickly and logically. These questions also require you to be able to perform numeracy quickly, while under pressure. The following are a few logic problems followed by their answers. Review the questions, develop your own answers, and then check your answers to see how well you did.

1. At 3:15, how many degrees there between the two hands of a clock? (J.P. Morgan interview question).

2. A fire fighter has to get to a burning building as quickly as he can. There are three paths that he can take. He can take his fire engine over a large hill (5 miles) at 10 miles per hour. He can take his fire engine through a windy road (7 miles) at 9 miles per hour. Or he can drive his fire engine along a dirt road which is 8 miles at 12 miles per hour. Which way should he choose?

3. You spend 21 dollars on vegetables at the store. You buy carrots, onions and celery. The celery cost half the cost of the onions. The onions cost have the cost of the carrots. How much did the onions cost?

4. You spend a third of all the money you have on a piano. Half of your remaining money you use to buy a piano chair. A quarter of the rest of your money you use to buy piano books. What porportion of you original money is remaining?

5. Why are manhole cover always round, instead of square?

6. In the Chicago subway system there are two escalators for going up but only one for going down to the subway. Why is that?

7. You find three boxes at the store. One contains onions. Another contains potatoes. The third contains both onions and potatoes. However, all three of the boxes are labeled incorrectly so it's impossible to tell which box contains what. By opening just one box (but without looking in) and removing either a potatoe or onion, how can you immediate label the contents of all the boxes?

8. There are 8 bags of wheat, 7 of which weigh the same amount. However, there is one that weighs less than the others. You are given a balance scale used for weighing. In less than three steps, figure out which bag weighs less than the rest.

9. There are 23 rugby teams playing in a tournament. What is the least number of games that must be played to find a tournament winner?

The following are the answers to the 9 logic problems above:

Clock

If you thought the answer was zero degrees, you'd be incorrect. At 3:15, the clock's minute hand will be pointing at 15 minutes, exactly 90 degrees clockwise from vertical. At 3:15, the clock's hour hand will exactly one quarter of the distance between 3 O'clock and 4 O'clock. Each of the 12 hours on the clock represents 30 degrees (360 degrees divided by the 12 hours on the clock). Consequently, one quarter of an hour is exactly 7.5 degrees, so at 3:15 the minute hand will be at 97.5 degrees. So there is a difference of 7.5 degrees between the hour hand and minute hand at 3:15.

Fire Fighter

Driving his fire engine 5 miles at 8 miles per hour takes 37.5 minutes. Driving his fire engine 7 miles at 9 miles per hour takes about 47 minutes. Driving his fire engine 8 milles at 12 miles per hour takes 40 minutes. So he should choose to drive his fire engine over the hill.

Store

Answering this problem just requires some simple algebra. If we assume the cost of celery = x, then the cost of onions = 2x, and cost of the carrots is 4x, such that the total cost of all vegetables = x + 2x + 4x = 7x = 21 dollars. Consequently, x = 3 dollars. Hence, the onions cost 6 dollars.

Piano

You spend a third of all the money you have on a piano, so you're left with two thirds (2/3). You spend half (1/2) of the remaining two thirds on a piano chair, which leaves you with just one third of what you started with (1/2x2/3=1/3). You spend a quarter (1/4) of what you have remaining (1/3) on piano books, which leaves you with one twelth of the original (1/4x1/3=1/12).

Manhole Cover

A square manhole cover can be dropped down the hole if turned diagonally to the hole, where round covers can't be dropped down manholes.

Chicago Subway

People coming into the subway tend to arrive at different times, so the flow of people down the escalators is a more even stream. Conversely, when people get off the subway they typically all arrive at the escalators at about the same time. Consequently, two escalators are need to handle people leaving the subway, where only one is required for people arriving.

Three Boxes

Just open the box that is labeled "Onions and Potatoes". Since none of the boxes are labeled correctly, this box must contain only onions, or only poatatoes. If you remove a potatoe from this box, the box must be the "Potatoes Only" box.

One of the remaining two box has to be the "Onions Only" box. However, the only you currently have it labeled "Potatoes Only", and the other is label "Onions Only". So the box labled "Potatoes Only" must be the box that contains only onions, and the box labeld "Onlions Only" must be the box that has both potatoes and onions.

Bags of Wheat

Immediately, take any 2 of the bags and place them to the side. Weigh 3 of the remaining six bags against the other 3 bags. If these bags weigh the same, that means the bag that weighs less must be one of the two that you immediately placed to one side. If this is the case, weigh the 2 bags you placed to one side against each other to find out which one weighs less. You've now found in your bag.

However, upon weighing the sets of 3 bags against one another you find that one set weighs more than the other set, place one of the bags from the set of heavier bags aside and weigh the remaining two bags to find out which one is heavier. If they are of equal weight, the you know that the bag you place to one side is the bag you're looking for.

Rugby Tournament

In a tournament, every rugby team except the winner is eliminated from the tournament after being defeated just once. Hence, the number of games required to find a tournament winner is going to be one less than the number of teams, or 22 in this case.

Business Case Interview Questions

The following are examples of common business case interview questions:

  • How would you work with a subordinate who is underperforming?

  • You're consulting with a large pharmacy with stores in multiple states. This company has improved sales but experienced a decrease in revenue. As a result, it is contemplating store closings. Explain how you'd advise this client?

  • You are working directly with a company's management team. It is organizing a project designed to significantly increase revenue. If you were provided with data and asked to supervise the project, what steps would you take to ensure it's successful?

  • You have been assigned to work with a small company that manufactures a popular product. However, a competitor begins selling a very similar product which incorporates state of the art technology. What would you advise your client to do?
  • You have been assigned to advise a company with a large Western European market. Company management wants to open the Chinese market. What advice do you have for this company?

  • The firm has assigned you to consult a company intending to drop a product or expand into new markets in order to increase revenue. What steps would you take to help this company achieve its objective?

  • You have been assigned to consult a shoe retailer with stores throughout the nation. Since its revenue is dropping, the company has proposed to sell food at its stores. How would you advise this client?

Case Interview Resources

In addition to the guides and articles presented on our website, there are several other good resources, including workshops, mock interviews, books and interactive online resources, that will prepare you for case interviews. Some of the resources we recommend are listed below.

Books

  • Vault Guide to the Case Interview
  • Vault Career Guide to Consulting
  • Case in Point: Complete Case Interview Preparation
  • Mastering the Case Interview
  • Ace Your Case! Consulting Interviews (series 1-5)

Interactive Online Resources



How To Create Interactive Case Studies In eLearning

Case studies help online learners relate to the subject matter and see how it ties into real world situations. They feature facts, stats, and first person accounts that are supported by reliable sources. At the very least, they provide hypothetical situations that are based in reality. eLearning case studies drive the point home so that online learners connect with the eLearning content on a personal level. However, they aren't necessarily known for their interactivity. In fact, case studies usually appear as lengthy text blocks that cause cognitive overload. Fortunately, there are ways to add interactive elements to your eLearning case studies in order to boost active participation.

1. Create Branching Scenarios

Case studies involve real world decision-making, which makes them ideally suited for branching scenarios. Online learners must navigate situations that they might encounter in their real lives. Every choice leads them down a different path, which results in a specific outcome. Provide them with the necessary information before the branching scenario. Online learners have the opportunity to use their knowledgeand skills to achieve the desired outcome. They can also see how certain behaviors lead to real world consequences. For example, the case study reveals that a particular group failed to reach their goal. Online learners have the power to take a different approach in order to remedy the issue.

2. Emotionally Connect With Compelling Stories

One of the major drawbacks of case studies is that they lack emotionality. Online learners aren't able to connect with the eLearning content, which prevents them from fully engaging. You can change this by framing your case study with a compelling plot and eLearning characters. People can relate to stories that reach them on an emotional level. They are able to put themselves into the role of the protagonist and watch how events unfold. In other words, data research is no longer just cold, hard facts. It's an immersive tale that illustrates a trend or showcases real world events that resonate with online learners.

3. Develop Interactive Online Presentations

Some online learners may need to see the case study in action. As an example, a video demo that walks them through the eLearning events, or puts the main issues into perspective. A historical case study presentation may include an interactive timeline and contextual backstory. Incorporate clickable hot spots that explore different aspects of the situation. For instance, one hot spot reveals more information about the group, while another contains a list of issues that may have contributed to the group's failure. Think of these resources as clues that help online learners solve the mystery and avoid making the same mistakes.

4. Turn Case Studies Into Immersive eLearning Simulations

Most case studies conclude with a problem that online learners must solve or discuss with their peers. Instead of just presenting them with the challenge, you can give online learners the opportunity to explore it on their own. Develop an immersive eLearning simulationaround your case study and invite online learners to reenact the eLearning events. Then encourage them to come up with solutions that achieve the most favorable outcome. For best results, use realistic images and sound effects to mimic real world settings. This also helps online learners step into the role so that they can feel the emotions associated with the eLearning event.

5. Design A Story-Centered Serious Game

Serious gamesare engaging, interactive, and fun. In other words, they are a perfect eLearning vehicle for your case study. Online learners get the chance to progress through levels, find objects, and earn points. Each stage of the serious game highlights a different aspect of the trend or sequence of eLearning events. For example, the first level introduces the eLearning characters and sets the scene. The second poses the challenge that online learners must tackle in the subsequent levels. At the end, they can compare their solution to the one that actually occurred in the case study. Then they have the opportunity to compare both approaches to identify areas for improvement or personal strengths.

6. Produce A Character-Driven eLearning Video

Create a memorable eLearning character or use one who personifies your case study. Then produce an engaging eLearning video for them to star in. Character-driven videos improve knowledge retention and recall, as online learners are able to go at their own pace. For example, online learners have the opportunity to pause the eLearning video in order to absorb key stats. Once they have assimilated the information and reflected on its implications, they can move onto the next screen. The main eLearning character can even narrate their story and draw online learners' attention to the discussion points. Or they can pose thought provoking questions that get online learners thinking about the eLearning events and challenges.

7.  Create An Image-Rich Infographic

Infographicsare ideal complement for case studies, as they provide a visual representation of the key facts and ideas. Integrate images, graphs, and charts that illustrate the main takeaways of the case study. You can also include timelines to highlight trends or important eLearning events. There are a variety of stock photo sites that feature royalty-free images for your infographic. Just make sure that the visuals you choose are relatable and reflective of the subject matter. Lastly, focus on a few core issues to avoid cognitive overwhelm. You shouldn't illustrate every aspect of the case study, but the most pertinent pieces of data.

Case studies may not be the ideal solution for every eLearning course. However, you can make them more flexible and versatile by adding interactivity. This also gives you the power to appeal to different learning preferences. As such, you appeal to more online learners and enhance the benefits of your eLearning course.

Are you thinking about turning your case study into an interactive eLearning scenario? Read the article6 Tips To Create eLearning Scenarios That Offer Real World Benefits to discover a few tips to create eLearning scenarios that offer real world benefits to every member of your audience.

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