If you have your sights set on a consulting job, then you already know which type of interview to expect: a case interview. But a 1-on-1 case interview is not the only type of case interview you can expect. Over the last several years, group case interviews have become more common at top firms like McKinsey, Deloitte ,etc.
Group case interviews test analytical and communication skills, same as the 1-on-1 case interviews, but they also test teamwork and leadership in a high-pressure, challenging and ambiguous environment.
What is a group case interview?
So what is a group case interview? As the name makes it obvious, it is an interview in a group setting. You usually can expect 3-6 candidates to attend a group case interview. The case you will be given as a group will be similar to what you can expect during 1-on-1 case interviews. And you will be expected to read the material provided, discuss the case and solve it as a team. Some firms will ask you to present the solution as a team as well, and be available to answer questions about the solution you provided.
Group case interviews help firms test how well candidates can work with others. Specifically, how well a candidate will work with his or her teammates and with the client employees. If a candidate has very strong problem solving and communication skills but in a group settings acts as a jerk, it’s a huge red flag and such a candidate will most likely be eliminated. In other words, coming across as a jerk during a case interview is usually a death blow. One of the most common reasons candidates are eliminated after group interviews is they came across as a jerk in team settings. They were too competitive, trying to get credit vs focusing on solving a problem and lifting the entire team.
One of the key things interviewers think about when they are interviewing candidates is how well candidate will come across in front of clients and will they want to work long hours with this person. So keep this in mind as you go through a group case interview. Have a mindset of being a team member vs. an individual contributor. Treat other candidates like teammates and see it as a situation of you within a team solving the case together and not as a situation of you as a job seeker vs other job seekers who also want the same spot. This is not necessarily a zero-sum game. All of you may get offers if all of you are good.
Be flexible, respectful of other people’s opinions, be ready to quickly acknowledge a mistake and move on if something you said or proposed was incorrect. Be quick to bring everyone’s attention to a good point made by another candidate and build on it. It is similar to an MBA environment where students are graded on a curve. There too you have to be a good team member but at the same time it is, in fact, a zero-sum game. But in a group case interview you need to be even more collegial than is what generally expected out of MBAs and, fortunately, an interview is usually less of a zero-sum game since if all of you are good, all of you may be hired.
If one of the other candidates says something you disagree with or believe is silly, be very respectful and approach the situation as if you already joined the firm and are actually working with a colleague on solving a real client problem. Be respectful, constructive and helpful. Look out for the best interest of the firm and the client, not for your best interest.
We hope this article will help you in your case interview preparation.