What would a case interview involve?
When you apply for a role with CF regardless of the role, once you get to stage 2 of our application process we will ask you to complete a case interview. We believe the case interview allows us to learn more about you and your skills and experience and gives you the opportunity to learn more about us and what we do.
We help our clients to solve problems they face. That means that in hiring people we look for people who have the ability to understand the client’s context, assimilate information, structure problems, carry out analysis and communicate findings. We are also looking for people to join us who would get on with clients and the rest of our team. We are real people and are keen to understand your strengths.
We use case interviews drawn from real-life experience as a way to simulate what our client work involves in order to assess your ability to solve real-world problems. You will be given a question or problem or challenge and you will be asked how you would resolve it. You would be expected to understand the context and the problem faced, structure how you would approach it, carry out analysis and apply reason or common sense to test your conclusions. You will not be expected to bring any specialist knowledge or insight.
You will be expected to make estimates, analyse information and perform basic calculations with large numbers under pressure. You will be expected to synthesise what you have concluded and express it clearly. The objective of the case interview is not to get it ‘right’. Many times there is no ‘right’ answer. Instead it is designed to allow you to show how you grapple with complex problems and demonstrate to the interviewer how you think and how you act. You should expect the case interview to be interactive: you should talk through the case with the interviewer, ask clarifying questions and test the approach you are taking.
In the case interview you should feel free to use a pen and paper to help structure your thinking and carry out calculations. You will be expected to do this without use of a calculator or any electronic tools. Typically this involves some rounding up or down and using orders of magnitude (e.g. is that millions or billions?). You may also be provided with information on paper which you are expected to read and synthesise. At the end of the case interview you will be asked for all the paper back.
A case interview will usually begin with some general conversation before moving onto discussing the case. You will know the case interview is starting when the interviewer says something like ‘I am now going to give you a case’ and possibly ‘you may want to take some notes’—this is a clue that the case interview is beginning and you may need to take notes about key pieces of information. You will need to determine the important pieces of information required to answer the problem and confirm or clarify if necessary. You should make sure you are clear on the problem you are trying to solve before diving in so we recommend you clarify anything that is unclear with the interviewer. You should then lead the rest of the interactions whilst the interviewer steps back to watch how you work and understand the progress you are making. You should feel free to confirm the steps you have taken and ask for additional information.
In addition to thinking about solving a specific problem we will also be looking for some form of judgment and understanding from you. This may involve testing your conclusions e.g. how confident are you in that? What would the biggest potential sources of error be? It may also involve testing how practical any answer is e.g. what would it take to achieve that? How likely is that to be possible?
You can expect to have one or two case examples back to back, and each case example will take between 30 and 45 minutes to complete. Although you may feel tense or nervous or anxious during a case interview, try to relax and enjoy solving the problem.
We use case interviews because they allow us to understand how you think and would operate in a situation we expect to face through our client work. We know they are a somewhat artificial construction but they can be prepared for. Therefore, we would recommend that you read about case interviews and practice completing some.