November 28, 2021
The CBS Post

THE VOICE OF CBS

Before You Begin: Preparation Material

Interviewers are looking for solutions to problems, which cannot be solved with merely understanding a few approaches. The amount of practice for case interviews and guesstimates is often the difference between a selected and an almost-selected candidate

Preparing for placements, especially for case studies, starts from the scratch. Being unfamiliar with the concept is not uncommon, however, that makes it extremely important for students to clear their fundamentals while leaving out sufficient time for practicing. We’ll try to walk through some essential practice books and material for students to make their best judgement to choose among them.

Starting with Case Interview Secrets by Victor Cheng, also known as the Bible of case preparation, it is the go-to for CBSites to strengthen their concepts. A chapter-by-chapter approach to practically master the art of case interviews, Cheng does not just present tips and tricks, he vividly describes the point of view of an interviewer and what he is looking for, which comes from his own experience as a former McKinsey Consultant. A great read to begin with, it is highly recommended. Alternatively, there are 6 hours of videos available on his YouTube Channel, which cover the same topics as his book. So, one can make a choice based on what suits them and how fast they can cover the theory. An additional bonus when registering on CaseInterviews.com, Victor Cheng’s website, is you get weekly newsletters with insightful coverage of all things consulting.

It is important to understand here, that unlike our regular course subjects, case interviews are not only to be covered for knowledge’s sake. Interviewers are looking for solutions to problems, which cannot be solved with merely understanding a few approaches. The amount of practice for case interviews and guesstimates is often the difference between a selected and an almost-selected candidate. Simulating the interview room as much as possible helps with confidence and preparedness. That is why it is highly recommended to opt for peer learnings in this process. While Victor Cheng’s book gives a colourful introduction, it does not contain nearly enough practice questions. Case Study Practice Books although are abundantly available in the market, the complexity, job roles and type of case interview needs to be important criterias when selecting books.

In CBS, companies usually come for Analyst roles and conduct a panel-led case interview. So, you wouldn’t want to practice from a book for consulting roles having panelist-led complicated cases. That is why, we would recommend Case Interviews Cracked. Written by Sandeep Kelshikar and Saransh Garg, IIT Bombay students in their final year, the book is as tailored as any for an undergraduate candidate sitting for interviews in India. The book contains 32 case examples to practice from, however, given the limited time, you do not need to practice all of them.

If interviewers are to come to campus in August, beginning of July is a good time to start practicing, after completing theory, obviously. Although Case Interview Cracked is ideal for our particular situation, you can also move past it to practice from more sophisticated books like the Case book released by the Consult Club at IIM Ahmedabad.

Guesstimates are a puzzle waiting to be solved. They test a candidate’s analytical thinking, where you have to reach quantitative conclusions by making rational assumptions and using basic, but quick maths. A typical CBS interview process will comprise a guesstimate round followed by one or multiple case and HR rounds. You wouldn’t want to be put in a situation where you are well prepared for case interviews but do not get the chance to get to them because of weak guesstimates. There’s no particular handbook for them, just because there can be as many guesstimates as you’d like to have through your imagination. Still, a few websites explain logic and step-by-step solutions through sample guesstimate questions, one of the better examples of which can be the Medium article written by IIM-L alumni Soumya Gupta. An interviewer usually limits the guesstimate topics to a candidates’ interests, as it is expected that he should have appropriate knowledge about his own hobbies. One of the many, many places you can find new guesstimates on, is Quora. The best part about it is, you get multiple answers and approaches to choose and learn from.

Certain interview processes, like that of KPMG, Deloitte and D.E. Shaw have a group discussion process before interviews begin. Many companies, in the interview process, like to assess candidates’ general awareness and opinions on issues around them. Absorbing everything happening in the world can be overwhelming, therefore, it is important to get information in precise notes to gauge a sense of the world. Newspaper apps are a quick fix for this, although, a physical newspaper helps make the best use of metro rides. Remember, general awareness is a continuous process of 1-2 months and does not have a quick fix.

Interview preparation is a time to polish what one has learned in the last two years and present the best version of oneself. Job interviews can be a stressful affair but adequate preparation and presentation can help ease the anxiety.

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