If I were to sum up what helped me win the 1st Year Case-Off, it would be enjoying the case and always trusting my instincts. As the preliminary round of the case-off loomed near, I felt that I was the among the most under-prepared people walking into the competition. I had attended all the Consulting Club training sessions on case interviewing, but had done only one complete case (in which I performed terribly) before the actual case-off. I tried opening the Victor Cheng book the night before and went to sleep 15 minutes later even more intimidated than before!
But here is what happened in the preliminary round – once I started the case I genuinely started enjoying it. It was a case about a water-park and I simply visualized myself in one. The pressure melted as it became a conversation with a friend about the park and I just breezed through the case. And this is something I tried to do through all other cases throughout the case-off and it worked out for me.
The Consulting Club had told us that every case interview was a behavioral interview too and that it was important to engage the interviewer through the case. I think the first step to do that is to be engaged yourself. If you are considering consulting as a career, it is more than likely that you are passionate about problem-solving and are interested in how businesses function and grow. Let that passion show through the casing process without worrying too much about the result and engage the interviewer.
Another aspect that hindered me through all the cases was self-doubt. There were so many times during the case when I had an idea or a hypothesis but I was too afraid to voice it, because I was not sure whether it would be right. At times, the case-math exhibit looked so complex that I thought there was no way I could get through that. Or as it happened in the finals, the interviewer was just trying to put me under stress by rejecting whatever I said. At all these times, I realized that it is important to still push through with your instinct – most of the time you will be right. And even if you are wrong, it’s not the end of the world. A wrong answer is better than awkward silence anyway!
You need to jump into water to start learning to swim. While no one manages to swim like a pro the first time, it is statistically unlikely that someone will drown either. The jump in the water is needed to remove the fear of drowning. The 1st Year Case-Off does just that – it pushes you into case-interview prep. It is a great way to kick-off case-interviewing and all one needs to achieve is to learn that casing is not as scary as it might seem to be!