What Is a Case Study?
When you’re performing research as part of your job or for a school assignment, you’ll probably come across case studies that help you to learn more about the topic at hand. But what is a case study and why are they helpful? Read on to learn all about case studies.
At face value, a case study is a deep dive into a topic. Case studies can be found in many fields, particularly across the social sciences and medicine. When you conduct a case study, you create a body of research based on an inquiry and related data from analysis of a group, individual or controlled research environment.
As a researcher, you can benefit from the analysis of case studies similar to inquiries you’re currently studying. Researchers often rely on case studies to answer questions that basic information and standard diagnostics cannot address.
Study a Pattern
One of the main objectives of a case study is to find a pattern that answers whatever the initial inquiry seeks to find. This might be a question about why college students are prone to certain eating habits or what mental health problems afflict house fire survivors. The researcher then collects data, either through observation or data research, and starts connecting the dots to find underlying behaviors or impacts of the sample group’s behavior.
During the study period, the researcher gathers evidence to back the observed patterns and future claims that’ll be derived from the data. Since case studies are usually presented in the professional environment, it’s not enough to simply have a theory and observational notes to back up a claim. Instead, the researcher must provide evidence to support the body of study and the resulting conclusions.
As the study progresses, the researcher develops a solid case to present to peers or a governing body. Case study presentation is important because it legitimizes the body of research and opens the findings to a broader analysis that may end up drawing a conclusion that’s more true to the data than what one or two researchers might establish. The presentation might be formal or casual, depending on the case study itself.
Once the body of research is established, it’s time to draw conclusions from the case study. As with all social sciences studies, conclusions from one researcher shouldn’t necessarily be taken as gospel, but they’re helpful for advancing the body of knowledge in a given field. For that purpose, they’re an invaluable way of gathering new material and presenting ideas that others in the field can learn from and expand upon.
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Hacking the Case Interview
For those interviewing for KPMG advisory or consulting roles, KPMG interviews consist of case interviews, a written case interview, and behavioral or fit interview questions. There are typically three rounds of interviews that candidates go through before receiving a KPMG job offer, but the interview process slightly varies by office.
Typically, you should expect an interview process similar to the following:
- First round : Two 30-minute interviews. One interview will be focused on a case interview while the other is focused on behavioral or fit interview questions.
- Second round : A 30- to 40-minute behavioral or fit interview, a 30- to 40-minute case interview, and a 60-minute written case interview for a total of three interviews.
- Third round : Some candidates may be given a third round of interviews. Expect two to three 30- to 40-minute interviews. These interviews are typically focused on behavioral or fit interview questions, but you may also be given case interviews.
If you have an upcoming KPMG advisory or consulting interview or are expecting to interview with them, we have you covered.
While KPMG does provide eight KPMG interview tips , their advice is fairly generic and not that useful. In this article, we’ll go into more detail on exactly what to expect in your KPMG advisory or consulting interview. We’ll cover:
- The 4 steps to solve any KPMG case interview
- KPMG case interview examples
- How to ace the KPMG written case interview
- The 10 most common KPMG behavioral or fit interview questions
- Recommended KPMG case interview resources
If you’re looking for a step-by-step shortcut to learn case interviews quickly, enroll in our case interview course . These insider strategies from a former Bain interviewer helped 30,000+ land consulting offers while saving hundreds of hours of prep time.
The 4 Steps to Solve Any KPMG Case Interview
A case interview, also known as a case study interview, is a special type of interview that nearly every single consulting firm uses. KPMG case interviews simulate what the consulting job will be like by placing you in a hypothetical business situation in which you are asked to solve a business problem.
You will need to ace every single case interview in order to land a KPMG job offer.
KPMG case interviews are all candidate-led. You will be in the driver’s seat of the case interview and will be expected to ask the right questions, perform the right analyses, and decide the direction of the case.
Follow these four steps to solve any KPMG case interview or case study interview:
1. Understand the case
The case will begin with the interviewer giving you the case information. While the interviewer is speaking, make sure that you are taking meticulous notes on the most important pieces of information. Focus on understanding the context of the situation, the company, and the objective of the case.
Don’t be afraid to ask clarifying questions if you do not catch something. If you are not familiar with the industry, it is completely acceptable to ask how it works. Sometimes, repeating the information back to the interviewer is helpful to confirm your understanding of the case.
Finally, make sure to verify the objective of the case. Not addressing the right business question is the quickest way to fail a case interview.
2. Structure the problem
Develop a framework to help you tackle the business problem. A framework is a tool that helps you structure and break down complex problems into smaller, more manageable components. With a framework, you’ll be brainstorming different ideas and organizing them into different categories.
It is completely acceptable to ask the interviewer for a moment of silence so that you can collect your thoughts and think about the problem.
Once you have identified the major issues or areas that you need to explore, walk the interviewer through your framework. They may ask a few questions or provide some feedback.
For a complete guide on how to create tailored and unique frameworks for each case, check out our article on case interview frameworks .
3. Solve the problem
Once you have developed a framework, you can begin to solve the problem. To solve the case, you’ll likely need to answer a mix of quantitative and qualitative questions.
When solving quantitative problems, make sure to walk the interviewer through your approach before doing any math. Check if the interviewer has any further information for you before making your own assumptions. Finally, neatly label your calculations and write out all numbers so that the interviewer knows exactly what you are doing.
When answering qualitative questions, try to structure your answer in a logical way to make it easier to brainstorm or communicate your point of view.
For both quantitative and qualitative questions, make sure to go beyond just answering the question. Think about how your answer impacts the answer to the case. Always try to tie the implications of your answers to the case objective. This will help you develop a hypothesis for what a potential recommendation could be.
4. Make a recommendation
In the last step of the case interview, you’ll present your recommendation and provide the major reasons that support it. You do not need to recap everything that you have done in the case, so focus on summarizing only the facts that are most important.
It is also good practice to include potential next steps that you would take if you had more time or data. These can be areas of your framework that you did not have time to explore or lingering questions that you do not have great answers for.
KPMG Case Interview Examples
Below are some examples of KPMG case interviews or case study interviews that past candidates have received. These should give you an idea of the types of cases you may see on your interview day.
For more practice, check out our article on 23 MBA consulting casebooks with 700+ free practice cases .
Example #1: National Zoo
Your client is one of the oldest national zoos in the United States. The zoo hosts over 2,000 animals in its 150-acre park. Your client is looking to increase revenues and profits and is considering purchasing a giant panda from China to place in its newest exhibit. You have been hired to help them make this decision. What would you recommend?
Example #2: Brewing Company
Our client is the largest American beer brewing company. The American beer market is dominated by three large players. The rest of the market is comprised of small mom and pop breweries.
What would happen to our client if the second largest and third largest American brewing companies decided to merge?
Example #3: Chemical Company
Your client is a privately owned chemical manufacturing company that specializes in producing car wash chemicals. After a series of aggressive acquisitions, your client has become the market leader in car wash chemicals, but revenue growth has been flat over the past few years.
Your client is looking to increase revenues by 20% without reducing profit margins over the next two years. How would you go about achieving this?
Example #4: Yoga Studio
Your client is Ms. Johnson, the proud owner of an up-scale yoga studio in New York City. Her yoga studio is known for high quality instruction and a relaxing atmosphere. Ms. Johnson has been operating the studio for the past five years.
Over the past year, your client has made a few major investments, but has noticed that her profits have been declining. How would you determine what is causing the decline in profits and what should be done to address it?
Example #5: Pharmaceutical Company
Your client is Pfizer, an American pharmaceutical company that develops and produces medicines and vaccines in a wide range of therapeutic areas. The CEO is worried about the company’s financial performance five years from now, when three of their blockbuster drugs come off patent.
What can Pfizer do to ensure that it continues to grow and be profitable?
Example #6: Insurance Company
Our client is an American auto insurance company. They are the second largest auto insurer in the United States and provide coverage for more than 30 million motor vehicles and more than 20 million policy holders.
Until recently, most car insurance is sold to car owners by insurance brokers. Insurance companies pay brokers a commission for each policy sold. Recently, car owners have started buying insurance directly from insurance companies over the phone.
You have been hired to help our client determine whether they should invest more in selling policies direct to customers over the phone.
How to Ace the KPMG Written Case Interview
Here’s how the KPMG written case interview works:
- The interviewer will give you a packet of 20 – 40 pages of graphs, charts, tables, notes, and other text
- You’ll have anywhere between 45 - 60 minutes to analyze the information in the packet and make slides to present your analysis and recommendation
- Afterwards, you will present your slides to the interviewer who will ask follow-up questions on your analysis and findings
Follow the steps and tips below to ace your KPMG written case interview.
1. Understand the business problem and case objective
The first step in completing a written case interview is to understand what the objective is. What is the primary business question you are trying to answer with the data and information provided?
Answering or solving the wrong business problem is the quickest way to fail a written case interview. Therefore, the first thing you should do is to read the instructions and the case background information so that you clearly understand the primary question you are trying to answer.
2. Read the list of major questions
Some written case interviews will provide you with a list of 3 – 4 key questions that you will be expected to address or answer.
Once you understand the overall business problem and case objective, read through the list of key questions. This will tell you what the most important areas of the case are. These will be the questions that you want to investigate and answer first.
If the written case interview is more open-ended and does not provide you with a list of key questions, skip this step and move onto the next step.
3. Quickly flip through the material to identify what information exists
The next step is to flip through the information packet that is provided to see what information is available. Identify what data you have and what data you do not have.
If the written case interview has provided you with pre-filled slide templates, make sure to flip through those as well.
The goal in this step is not to read and analyze every slide. That would take too much time.
Instead, you want to get a sense of what data and information is out there. This will help you decide and prioritize which slides are most important to read and analyze in more detail later.
4. Create a framework
Before you begin reading and analyzing the information in the slides in more detail, you should create a basic framework to help guide your analysis.
Select 3 to 4 broad areas that you think are the most important to analyze. In other words, what are the 3 to 4 things you need to know to answer the primary question of the written case interview?
If the written case interview has provided you with a list of 3 – 4 key questions, make sure to include these important areas in your framework.
Sometimes, these 3 – 4 key questions are your entire framework and you will not need to add anything else. Other times, you may identify important areas from flipping through the slides that you want to add to your framework in addition to these 3 – 4 key questions.
If the written case interview has provided you with pre-filled slide templates, these slides often provide clues on what the most important areas are.
5. Match information that exists to areas in your framework
Now that you have a solid framework to guide your analysis, the next step is to identify what information you can use to answer each area of your framework.
Since you have already flipped through the material and catalogued what information exists, you can match different pieces of information that exist to areas in your framework.
6. Read and analyze the material
The framework you created tells you what questions you need to answer. From the previous step, you know which slides the information is in to answer each question. All that is left to do is to read and analyze the information that is relevant to each area of your framework.
As you answer the major questions in your framework, make sure to write a one or two sentence summary of the key takeaway or answer. This will help you remember the work that you have done and make it easier to decide on a recommendation.
7. Decide on a recommendation
Once you have finished reading and analyzing all of the important and relevant material, you should have a list of key takeaways or answers to the major areas of your framework.
In this step, you’ll read through the key takeaways and decide on what recommendation they collectively support.
You should not expect every key takeaway to support your recommendation. Often, you’ll have key takeaways that support your recommendation, but also key takeaways that go against your recommendation.
If this is the case, you’ll need to mediate conflicting insights and decide on which insights are the most important. Remember that there is typically no right or wrong recommendation. As long as your recommendation is supported by data and evidence, you will be in great shape.
8. Structure your presentation slides
When you have decided on a recommendation and have the supporting data and evidence for it, you’ll want to create a structure for your presentation slides.
A simple, but effective structure you can use is:
- Slide 1: Present your recommendation and the three reasons that support it
- Slide 2: Present your first reason and the data that supports it
- Slide 3: Present your second reason and the data that supports it
- Slide 4: Present your third reason and the data that supports it
- Slide 5: Summarize everything that you’ve covered so far
- Slide 6: Present potential next steps
If the written case interview has already provided you with pre-filled slide templates, the structure of your presentation slides may already be decided for you. If not, you can incorporate the pre-filled slide templates into your overall presentation structure.
9. Fill in your slides
Once you have the structure of your presentation slides, the next step is to fill in the slides with content.
When filling in slides, make sure you use descriptive slide titles that clearly communicate the main message of the slide.
Additionally, try to make your slides easy to digest. Each slide should have one key message.
10. Review your slides and prepare for potential questions
If you have time remaining, review your slides one more time to check for any mistakes or errors. You can also spend some time cleaning up the slides to make them look neat and polished.
Afterwards, you can brainstorm potential questions the interviewer may ask you during your presentation. They may want to know how you performed your analysis or reached your conclusions. They may also challenge your assumptions or interpretations of the data.
Preparing for potential questions that could be asked will help your presentation go much more smoothly and you’ll feel much more confident while presenting.
For a full guide on written case interviews, check out our consulting written case interview step-by-step guide .
The 10 Most Common KPMG Behavioral or Fit Interview Questions
In addition to case interviews, you will likely be asked a few behavioral or fit interview questions. There are ten questions that are most commonly asked.
1. Why are you interested in working at KPMG?
How to answer: Have at least three reasons why you’re interested in working at KPMG. You could mention that you loved the people that you have met from KPMG so far. You can talk about KPMG’s massive global presence and expertise in nearly every industry and function. You can speak to KPMG’s work culture and their emphasis on work life balance. Finally, you can mention their investment in their consultant’s professional development through their Continuing Professional Education (CPE) courses.
2. Why do you want to work in consulting?
How to answer: Again, have three reasons why you’re interested in consulting. You could mention the fast career growth opportunity, the opportunity to develop soft and hard skills, or the level of impact that you can make by working with large companies on their most challenging issues.
3. Walk me through your resume
How to answer: Provide a concise summary of your work experience, starting with the most recent. Focus on emphasizing your most impressive and unique accomplishments. At the end, tie your experiences to why you are interested in consulting.
4. What is your proudest achievement?
How to answer: Choose your most impressive, unique, or memorable accomplishment. Structure your answer by providing information on the situation, the task, the actions you took, and the results of your work.
5. What is something that you are proud of that is not on your resume?
How to answer: This is a great opportunity to highlight an accomplishment that is not related to your professional work experience. Perhaps there is a non-profit that you volunteer at, a side project or business that you work on, or a hobby that you have won awards or recognition for. Choose something that is impressive and interesting.
6. Tell me about a time when you led a team.
How to answer: If possible, choose a time when you directly managed a person or a team. For this question and the following questions, make sure that you structure your answer. Structure your answer by providing information on the situation, the task, the actions you took, and the results of your work. This is known as the STAR method and is commonly used to answer behavioral or fit interview questions.
7. Give an example of a time when you faced conflict or a disagreement.
How to answer: When answering this question, focus on emphasizing the steps you took to resolve the conflict or disagreement. Speak to the interpersonal skills you had to use in order to mediate the situation. Interviewers want to know that you are a great mediator and that you can handle conflict in a constructive way.
8. Tell me about a time when you had to persuade someone.
How to answer: Choose a time when you were able to change someone’s mind. Focus on emphasizing the steps that you took to persuade that person and what impact and results this had. Interviewers want to know that you are a great communicator and a good people person.
9. Describe a time when you failed.
How to answer: Choose a time when you failed to meet a deadline or did not meet expectations. Focus on emphasizing what you learned from the experience and how you used that experience to deliver even better results in the next opportunity that you got. Interviewers want to see that you don’t get discouraged from failure and that you treat those experiences as learning opportunities.
10. What questions do you have for me?
How to answer: This is a great opportunity to get to know the interviewer on a more personal level. Ask them questions about their experience in consulting or their career. Express genuine interest in what they have to show and ask follow-up questions. The more you can get the interviewer talking about themself, the more likely they will have a positive impression of you.
For more help on KPMG behavioral or fit interview questions, check out our complete guide on consulting behavioral interview questions .
Recommended KPMG Case Interview Resources
Here are three resources we recommend to learn the most robust, effective case interview strategies in the least time-consuming way:
- Comprehensive Case Interview Course (our #1 recommendation): The only resource you need. Whether you have no business background, rusty math skills, or are short on time, this step-by-step course will transform you into a top 1% caser that lands multiple consulting offers.
- Hacking the Case Interview Book (available on Amazon): Perfect for beginners that are short on time. Transform yourself from a stressed-out case interview newbie to a confident intermediate in under a week. Some readers finish this book in a day and can already tackle tough cases.
- The Ultimate Case Interview Workbook (available on Amazon): Perfect for intermediates struggling with frameworks, case math, or generating business insights. No need to find a case partner – these drills, practice problems, and full-length cases can all be done by yourself.
Land Multiple Consulting Offers
Complete, step-by-step case interview course. 30,000+ happy customers.
News & Topics
Kpmg: india's competitiveness rankings case study.
KPMG: India's Competitiveness Rankings Case Study
The Egyptian National Competitiveness Council (ENCC) in collaboration with the Egyptian Regulatory Reform and Development Agency (ERRADA) held the first in a Series of Seminars sponsored by the International Professional Services firm, KPMG, regarding key aspects of Egypt's Competitive Position and ways to improve it on Sunday the 28th of February 2021. The Seminar focused on the integrated program management approach undertaken successfully by the Government of India and applicable lessons for Egypt. The seminar was attended by a wide cross-section of participants from the business chambers, private sector investors, academia, government as well as multinational and international donors. Discussions revolved around the following: the applicability of the Indian success story to Egypt; the priority reform areas; whether the World Bank Doing Business ranking areas (10) were sufficient to cover all reform requirements; measuring the impact of reforms; building capacity, training and communication of an integrated ministry/governorate wide program; integrating/targetting the informal sector and reforms on support of micro, small and medium enterprises; finally the importance of senior leadership support was raised. The next seminar is late March, 2021.
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KPMG Case Interview Guide
KPMG is a highly desirable workplace for many people, making the competition to land a job quite fierce. One of the challenging assessments you must encounter to become an employee at KPMG is the KPMG case interview, a practical screening tool used to assess a candidate's analytical and problem-solving skills.
Overview of KPMG case interview
KPMG case interviews are often candidate-led. The candidate will be leading or taking control of every step ahead to solve the case. This includes structuring the problem, drawing frameworks, asking for data, synthesizing findings, and proposing solutions.
The KPMG case interview occurs in the last stages of KPMG’s recruitment process and typically lasts 30-45 minutes.
KPMG case interview occurs in the last stage of the recruitment process
There are three standard stages that occur during the KPMG recruitment process: Online application ⇒ Online assessments ⇒ Interviews.
Stage 1: Online application
The application stage for KPMG is relatively straightforward, which involves filling out an online form and submitting your resume and cover letter. These documents must showcase your relevant skills, educational background, and achievements in previous work. By that, KPMG can assess your potential and suitability for the job.
Stage 2: Online assessments
KPMG Online assessment is designed to assess potential candidates for their mental capability, problem-solving skills, and work personalities. There is no consistent test format across locations and positions; however, there are some common test formats, as follows:
Game-based behavioral assessment: psychometric games, such as “KPMG Ready” and “Cognify and Emotify”, assess the cognitive capability and decision-making style of candidates.
Aptitude test: a computer-based test type that comes in three parts: numerical, verbal, and inductive reasoning.
Scenario-based test: a situational judgment test including given scenarios and a series of questions, which tests your working behavior and personal fit.
Stage 3: Interviews
The KPMG interview stage typically consists of several rounds, depending on the location and specific role. These interviews are usually conducted in person or through video conferencing. However, regardless of interview formats, two types are always included in the KPMG interview stage: the case interview and the behavioral interview.
Case interview: often lasts 30-45 minutes, assessing a candidate’s ability to analyze and solve business problems.
Behavioral interview: often lasts 30-45 minutes, assessing a candidate’s experience, competencies, motivations, and personality fit.
What does KPMG look for in candidates?
During the KPMG case interviews, candidates should be able to demonstrate traits that align with KPMG's five values : Integrity, Excellence, Courage, Together, For Better.
Integrity : Make decisions based on goodwill
Excellence : Keep learning and improving
Courage : Think and act decisively
Together : Respect and be ready to help each other
For Better : Do meaningful acts
KPMG case interview format is candidate-led
KPMG case interviews are candidate-led, where you are expected to take the lead. Specifically, candidates need to develop their own approaches to break down issues, identify the root causes, and gather data from the interviewer to test their hypotheses.
Candidate-led cases focus less on being right
The primary goal of candidate-led cases is to examine HOW you solve problems rather than getting a specific solution. In candidate-led case interviews, you are asked to break down the problem independently, with little help from the interviewer. As a result, a higher margin of error is acceptable, unlike interviewer-led ones, where you are effectively guided through the process.
Candidate-led cases focus on one big problem
A candidate-led case interview involves solving a problem entirely rather than relying on breakdown questions like an interview-led case. To solve one big problem, you need to apply the top-down approach, which means breaking it down into smaller parts and tackling each. This is a regular consultant task, showcasing your organized and structured manner.
Candidate-led cases are flexible
In candidate-led case interviews, candidates can explore the case with their own strategy. The interviewer usually has a “universe” of information about the client and their problem, which the candidate can freely use to research. Additionally, the interviewer can “make up” new data to support your ideas if you develop new solutions and approaches.
To ace the candidate-led case interview, you need to understand the fundamentals of a candidate-led case. Our Case Interview End-to-End Secrets Program features countless instant-result tips and techniques for case interviews to help you maximize your performance!
After learning the tips and some sample cases, you will need exclusive feedback. Book a meeting with our coaches at MConsultingPrep now! Those ex-consultants will help you practice specific candidate-led case interviews, give you the most detailed and concrete feedback, and suggest the most suitable improvement methods.
Fundamental frameworks for KPMG case interview
To solve the KPMG case interview, you need to develop an issue tree to break down your case. To create a suitable issue tree, you can use five common frameworks for case interviews: Profitability framework, Business situation framework, McKinsey M&A framework, 4P/7P marketing mix, and Porter’s five forces model.
To further enhance your case interview performance, you can also apply five effective tools (or mini-frameworks): External vs Internal, Quantitative vs Qualitative, Costs vs Benefits, 2x2 Matrix, and SWOT analysis.
Five common frameworks for case interview
Profitability framework is mostly used to mathematically break down problems before switching to the qualitative framework for solutions. To use the profitability framework, candidates will split profits into revenues and costs.
Business situation framework is used to analyze a company situation in four area - Company, Competitor, Customer, Products (3C-1P). This 3C-1P framework is flexible for many purposes, however it may be too generic and need customization depending on the situations.
McKinsey M&A framework is used to assess a proposed merger and/or acquisition on three aspects: standalone values of each involved company, their synergy, and other factors. This framework is MECE and promotes customizations, and is one of the best M&A frameworks.
4P/7P marketing mix in marketing for tangible work analyzes the 4P - Product, Price, Place and Promotion; while in service marketing three other Ps will be added in - People, Process, and Physical evidence. This framework focuses on the marketing aspect, hence unsuitable for multi-function strategies.
Porter’s five forces model analyzes the industry surrounding a business in five aspects - Suppliers, Customers, Competitors, New entrants, and Substitutes. This framework is used to get an industry overview and understand the client’s context.
Five effective tools for case interview
External vs Internal method is quick and easy to segment information about a particular entity. The internal branch concern what is inside or intrinsic of the said entity, and the external branch concerns the outside factors.
Qualitative vs Quantitative mini-framework is used for evaluations. Dividing items into two MECE groups reduces confusion and minimizes the risk of missing an essential item.
Cost vs Benefit in the decision-making process is very straightforward - if the benefits of an option outweigh its costs, that option can be chosen.
2x2 Matrix is a decision-making tool where options are examined using two criteria, each of which forms an axis of the matrix.
SWOT analysis mini-framework is seldom used in case interviews for being too generic. However, it can be used for a quick and easy evaluation of a company’s positioning within the industry context.
To have a deeper understanding of the common framework used in the case interview, you can check our free article on Case Interview Framework .
How to prepare for the KPMG case interview?
You can follow our five-step preparation to prepare for the KPMG case interview.
Step 1: Familiarize with candidate-led case examples
To become familiar with KPMG candidate-led case interviews, you can look at some official examples on KPMG’s website.
Case study 1
Case study 2
Case study 3
You can also try out practice cases from other prestigious consulting firms like BCG or Bain .
However, consulting companies only provide a minimal number of sample cases for your reference. Check out our Case Interview End-to-End Secrets Program , where you can find standardized exercises and deep-dive guides to ace any case, not just ones from KPMG!
Step 2: Practice consulting math
Consultants require math skills to handle massive amounts of quantitative data. Some tried-and-true math practice tips are:
Use Your Head: Do all your daily calculations mentally unless an EXACT answer is required.
Flatten the Learning Curve: At the beginning, a piece of scratch paper and a 5% margin of error may help; once you feel confident, throw the paper away and reduce the margin.
Establish a Routine: Allocate some time for daily practice. This may seem hard at first, but you can feel the improvement once you’ve overcome the inertia.
Step 3: Develop business intuition
Case interviews are easier to pass if you have good business sense. Getting better at business intuition takes time, so start early, practice every day, and be patient. Step by step, these business insights will begin to feel natural to you. You can improve your business sense in two ways:
Written Sources: I suggest reading business papers daily; you can also visit McKinsey, Bain, and BCG websites for their excellent articles. Beware though – it’s not the pages you read that count, but the insights you draw from them.
First-hand Experience and Observations: Don’t just come to your workplace to work; examine what senior managers are doing – what’s the rationale for their decision, and how has it impacted the organization?
Step 4: Learn the fundamentals and frameworks
To excel at case interviews, you’ll need a solid understanding of the fundamentals and structured approaches. Case interview fundamentals such as hypotheses , MECE , issue tree , and other frameworks are the backbone of any case, so try to master their application in case interviews.
Read more on our comprehensive Case Interview Guidebook to familiarize yourself with crucial terminologies, concepts, and problem-solving fundamentals.
Step 5: Perform mock interviews
The best strategy to prepare for a case interview is to practice as many mock cases as possible. During your practice, take time to study and review your cases thoroughly so that you can identify your areas of improvement and develop specific approaches for each question type.
The video below provides examples of candidate-led case interviews, the format used in the KPMG hiring process. This video also includes step-by-step instructions to help you understand this case type deeply:
Nine tips for the perfect KPMG case interview
Tip #1: understand the procedure of a candidate-led case interview.
There is a five-step procedure to approach the KPMG candidate-led case interview.
Taking the case: You need to take notes on all information regarding the clients and the case situation. Keep your notes organized to refer back to them easier.
Clarifying: You will have time to gain more information and/or clarify the points you haven’t fully understood about the cases.
Structuring: You will need to break down the case business problem into smaller components to create the issue tree , allowing you to solve it in an effective and cohesive manner.
Hypothesizing: You must develop the hypothesis based on evidence and available data about the problems and find the root cause. If the initial hypothesis in a branch of the issue tree no longer makes sense, go to the next branch. If the hypothesis matches, stick to it to find the root causes and solutions.
Pitching: The pitch is your case interview's final product, where you summarize all findings and recommendations to solve the case. You need to deliver the pitch in a structured, top-down manner.
Tip #2: Have a perfect case opening
There are four reasons to make a good case opening while you deliver your case interview:
First, it shows you have complete control of the upcoming problem-solving process, which is critical in candidate-led cases.
Second, you can demonstrate your whole leadership and relationships with proactiveness - aligning yourself with KPMG’s qualities mentioned above.
Third, a good case opening creates a great first impression. Consultants are expected to perfect everything from the beginning to the end, so this could make a good head start for a 30-minute interview.
Finally, this is an opportunity to align during the interview. After the interviewer has outlined the case details, explain the case to the interviewer in your own words to ensure you grasp the issue and align with the interviewer.
Watch more: How to open a case perfectly?
Tip #3: Map your next moves
Pause occasionally to summarize where you are and where you’re going next. It gives you a sense of direction and authority; additionally, you get plus points in the interview for an organized approach.
This also gives your interviewer a chance to help you with your mistake. If your interviewer gives you advice, take it – assume it’s intended to be helpful.
Tip #4: Be consistent with your intended hypotheses
Always speak with the current hypothesis in mind, and that hypothesis must be in the issue tree. The sole purpose of the hypothesis-driven approach is to have your efforts and problem-solving steps guided and structured.
Therefore, to avoid being overwhelmed by piles of data in your case interview, do a sanity check by returning to your issue tree. If your action does not correspond to your present place on it, go back immediately!
Tip #5: Deliver your pitch in one structured manner
This is the most important tip because you need to show that you own the consultant qualities - being structured and straight to the point. Present your analyses in a perfect, insightful, top-down, concise, and captivating final pitch.
Find a way to structure the problem; this will guide your discussion with the interviewer. Briefly explain the framework you plan to use, allowing the interviewer to comment. In general, the simpler the framework, the better. Once the interviewer endorses your framework, stick to it.
To structure your speech:
Begin with a summary line that states the key takeaway/intention.
Separate what you want to say into distinct sections. As much as possible, avoid jumping back and forth between items.
Number your items so you and your interviewer can keep track of them. It's even better to specify how many things you'll be discussing beforehand.
Make your recommendation based on the conclusions you reached from your discussion, even if you are unsure with so little data and time to discuss all the issues.
Tip #6: Make a personalized script
Make a script of what you will say and rehearse it a hundred times. Practice all of the formulaic phrases, such as the opening or data request. With enough practice, those lines will become second nature to you.
The secret to seeming professional in a case interview is to talk in a systematic and formal manner. Using scripts also saves brainpower, which you will undoubtedly want in case interviews.
Tip #7: Keep your notes organized
Neat note-taking greatly assists with your train of thought, making storing and organizing information easier. You're also demonstrating to the interviewer that you're well-organized and meticulous.
Divide your notes into three categories to make them easier to read and interpret: data, presentation, and scratch paper. When the interview begins, take three pieces of paper and name them appropriately. Here is the content that should be on each type of note:
Datasheet: note down and process any data the interviewer gives you and your calculations.
Presentation sheets: draft things you’ll say to the interviewer.
Scratch paper: anything else you need to write, such as brainstorming ideas.
Tip #8: Avoid long pauses
Take a minute to think; don't be afraid of the silence. If you need silence to think, ask for a timeout or announce think-out-loud mode. However, taking it too long will backfire, especially if you can’t come up with something worthy of the long wait. Use the pause prudently, and always try to think as fast as possible while still being “correct”.
Tip #9: Find and ask for more insights
Try your best to be in-depth and comprehensive with your analysis. Always ask yourself, “Am I overlooking something?” and “Can I drill down further?”.
This is also helpful when you are stuck in your analysis. You can try asking for insights from the interviewer (remember to state your purpose clearly) like this:
If you have a piece of data and don’t know what to make of it, ask for benchmarks to put the data into perspective.
If you are unsure which framework to employ, consider "segmentation" - look at how the customer or the industry often segments that item. If you need to know how they do it, ask the interviewer.
When you cannot see the problems in the case (probably resulting from the “MECE” of your issue tree), ask the interviewer nicely for a way out.
However, remember to manage your time well. If you take too long, the interviewer might force you to move on, and you will lose the time to solve the case holistically.
Find a former consultant to support your practice; they've been through numerous case interviews, so they understand what's expected of a candidate. Our experts from prestigious consulting firms will give detailed feedback on your performance, a personalized study plan, and reliablxe training resources for case interviews. Book a coach right now to make practicing easier!
Want to explore more candidate-led case examples? Sign up now for our Case Interview End-to-End Secrets Program and discover reliable, standardized mock cases along with detailed instructions. In this program, you also have a chance to get instant-result tips as well as a complete study plan to ace KPMG case interviews.
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