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Consulting interviews: ask the right questions to solve your case study

Team GradAustralia

Keep it simple – take a structured approach to answering those tricky case study questions in your graduate consulting interview.

If you’re a graduate chasing a career in consulting, chances are you’ll come across a case interview. Check out ‘Case Interview 101’ to find out what a case interview is and check out ‘Consulting case interviews: 8 must-know scenarios’ for sample questions. Right now, grab a coffee, put your feet up and check out these questions that will your case study a breeze.

Things to ask

We want to stress this is not a laundry list of questions to throw at every case like a magic-case- cracking formula. The aim is to ask targeted and concise questions that demonstrate your understanding of business value drivers and a structured approach to problem-solving. Asking general questions like ‘tell me about the market’ does nothing to demonstrate this and is likely to result in an unhelpful response from the interviewer. Below are some examples of questions to get the ball rolling.  

1. Competition

Rivals

  • Who are they?
  • What is their relative market share?
  • How are they positioned relative to the client?

‘New entrants

  • Is there a credible threat of new entrants?
  • What is stopping new players from entering the market to compete?

Substitutes

  • Is the client worried about other products serving as substitutes?

Market share

  • What is the client’s market share and what are the trends?

2. Product

Market size

  • How big is the addressable market?

Segments

  • What new segments might the client be able to pursue?

Needs & customer service

  • What are the customer needs/wants of each segment?
  • How does the client address this?

3. Supply Chain

Suppliers

  • What is the supplier concentration?
  • Does the client have the leverage to negotiate?

Distributors

  • What distribution channels are used?

Inputs

  • What are the inputs to the product?
  • Are they a commodity/easily replaceable? Alternatives?

Economies of scale

  • How does scale impact the client’s unit costs?

4. Processes

Manufacturing

  • Where are the client’s products manufactured?
  • What input does the client have on the manufacturing process?

Marketing

  • What is the current cost of acquiring a new customer?
  • What is the current marketing strategy and which strategies have proven to be most effective?

Sales

  • Where does the client source new leads?
  • What is the current process for following up sales leads?

Distribution

  • Are there steps in the distribution process which cause significant delays?

5. Organisation

Core competencies

  • What are the client’s capabilities and expertise that set it apart from competitors?

Cost of capital

  • What is the client’s cost of capital, and how does that compare to competitors?

Brand

  • What is the brand identity?

Controls

  • What is the decision making process?
  • What reporting, checks and balances are in place?

Organisation/incentives

  • What are the common beliefs and ways of doing business in the company?
  • Any organisational behaviour issues?

6. Macro

Legislation

  • What is the regulatory environment?
  • Are there any anticipated changes?

Unions

  • Is unionisation a factor in the industry?

Technology

  • Is technology likely to create a shock in the sector?

Economy

  • What is the industry or economy growth?

International issues

  • Any regional/geographic concerns?
  • Does the client face high import taxes and delays at customs?