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If you're hoping to avoid case interviews, I'm going to have to break it to you: you' re . as you use Crack the Case System. .. Derek shifts into complete HDDM. Crack the Case System: Complete Case Interview Prep [BOOKS]. Review Purpose of Case Interviews. • Present Informa|on on How to Approach Case Provide Informa|on on Resources to Prepare for Case.
These interview styles are designed to simulate real-world pressure. They want to know you can produce results in a crunch. Discuss the issues that come to mind. Read systematically. Build up your logic, analysis and communication skills that are at the core of a successful case interview.
Get Ready: Cases are for Everyone 3 The skills you build in the process of training for cases will be invaluable throughout your career. You will use the concepts learned here again and again—whether on a high-pressure consulting project or sitting around a table with friends considering if they should start a business. By preparing for case interviews you are investing in your communica- tion, analytical and advisory skills.
These are the foundational skills that will not only land you the offer you want, but will make you a success in your dream career. This book, with its free com- panion cases and videos, is designed to rapidly improve your case skills. I developed CTCS to help candidates systematically train for interviews, focusing on foundational skills for moderate to advanced cases. You first want to understand how a typical business case flows and then use tar- geted practice techniques to strengthen your weak areas.
Most people practice plenty of full cases, but never drill on specific elements of the case. Advanced players know they need to work on the basics: consistent serves, accurate volleys, and hitting backhands down the line. Preparing for your cases is no different. Practice the core skills sepa- rately before trying to weave them together for an outstanding case performance.
CTCS also includes crucial reinforcement activities.
Do the homework assignments, take notes on your progress, and practice out loud by yourself. You should also train with others using our TRAIN methodology, an approach that reinforces the most important skills with every case. Memorize them if you want, but the system is designed to help you Get the Most Out of Crack the Case System 7 train quickly and embed this material deep in your mind.
Most men and women who prep for cases are bright and excel at pat- 8th-Pass Pages — Not Press Ready tern recognition. No offense to your friends, but this can be a disaster—you have no good patterns to model. Our videos will be your virtual coach. We created them to show you how great candidates structure their approach to the case question during the very critical start of the case.
Most people start serious prep with less than 8 weeks to go. Then, ramp up more aggressively as your interview nears. As you invest more time preparing, so will you. After you finish a case, go right back and do it again. Repeating a case brings new levels of understanding. You see how the case flows; you grasp how the interviewer leads at points and then steps back. And you learn how to transition smoothly from one section to another, using your notes and analysis to guide the discussion.
These practice plans are a great starting point. Use Homework 3 to fill in some details, and you'll have your own customized plan to succeed. After each case, re-watch the intro video.
Pull together and You have enough time to present your plan for the case, and remem- work on every weakness and ber to review the structure videos as well. Put dates next to new material 12 Chapter 3 your chapters and cases, and write down your thoughts as you go along. Commit to a regular time to practice. Write down your interview dates and goals, and plot your practice sessions.
Put it on the calendar and stick to it. When you are 6—8 weeks away, shoot for 3—5 hours of prep per week.
Build up to about 1 hour a day in the last 7 days. We have a wide variety of case types and industries. See Chapter 18 for tips on the variety of case materials on the market or available through schools. Most importantly, commit and execute! Your skills are improving by the minute! Ultimately, we want to bring all of these skills together to crack the case under pressure and get the job that you want.
Both look great on paper, with comparable backgrounds and experience. Both worked hard to prepare for this case. Our interviewer today is All-business Brian. Dark suits, nervous smiles and hopeful eyes. They all look the same at this point. Here we go. Sloppy thousand-watt smile. I notice some tie knot, but overall, very client-ready. Her hair is a little messy, He steps forward quickly after I call but overall she looks client-ready.
Good eye with my peppy pace. Nice smile and a few pleasant Some of the candidates have felt a little comments about the weather. He sluggish—or worse, giddy—but not seems excited, maybe a little high- Bindu.
So far, the two are on equal footing. I motion for him to take the seat and looks eager to begin. Your next inter- view is with Amy; it will be a case as well. The message that is communicated to the consumer, and in turn what the consumer believes about the product, will drive the success of the product. Promotion and branding can consist of a number of elements such as traditional advertising mass or niche , or no advertising to maintain certain perception of exclusivity, word of mouth, direct mail, etc.
What is the objective? Build loyalty? Defend the product's positioning? Focus on customer retention? This framework is very important when forecasting the overall success of the product. For example, estimating the population of the U.
This makes the calculation more fluid, as you are tested on your logic and not on you ability to add and subtract. Product Type e.
Share of Product Type groups willing to pay? Maintaining a well-tuned manufacturing plant can result in a less expensive and higher-quality product produced. This in turn drives up demand for the product as the company is able to compete on price Marketing Corporate and quality. Many firms will give you cases that require some operations thinking. Other cases may not necessarily require them, but you would greatly impress the interviewer if you displayed some relevant operational Manufacturing Supplier Strategy analysis in your diagnosis of the problem.
If you feel that you need additional information, consult other Design sources from more in-depth review. Competitive Advantage Through Performance Measurement: This is a very helpful framework in laying out your thoughts in an organized fashion and systematically tackling the issues.
The Profitability Framework starts off by stating that profit is simply a function of revenue and costs. When a company is facing declining profitability, either revenue has decreased, costs have increased, or both.
The idea here is to understand which side of the equation is pulling profitability down and how to go about rectifying the problem. On the revenue side, a number of factors have been listed that can have an impact on revenue. This list can be three times as large, depending on the case.
However, do not provide a laundry list of issues that you think might impact revenue. Whatever you write down must be of significance. Having said that, you should try to list a few more factors under revenue than you are willing to cover. The reason being is that interviewers would like to see you acknowledge that although these factors can have an impact, you have the ability to prioritize as to the most important!!
On the cost side, you need to see if costs have increased, causing profitability to go down. It is always a good idea to understand what type of cost has increased.
Your interviewer will expect you to provide specific ways on improving costs for the company. When you use the Profitability Framework, make sure that Profit you walk through it first with your interviewer before you begin the analysis. Explain why you are using this Revenue Costs framework and the structure of it.
Provide the road map Price Cost Accounting Consumer before you start driving. Keep in mind that the case interview is also an interview of interpersonal skills. The interviewer will be looking at your poise, confidence, communication skills, enthusiasm, energy, persuasiveness, etc.
When the case is presented, make sure you fully understand the question and write it down, capturing all of the relevant details. Ask questions to clarify any ambiguities and reiterate the situation back to the interviewer before you begin the analysis. Take a minute to capture your thoughts on paper. Politely ask if you can take a few moments to write your thoughts down. Almost always the interviewer will be expecting it, and will be glad to give you time to structure your framework.
Incorporate your own various concepts as necessary. Briefly walk your interviewer through your framework.
Explain the path you want to take, outlining your rationale for choosing it. Ask relevant questions to gain further insight. Remember, asking the right questions is key. You are only given information to the questions that you ask, and if you make assumptions, state them clearly. Do not rush to get to "a solution. The recommendation you give at the end is only as sound as the thought process you used.
So think out loud! Even though there might not be "a right answer," there certainly are approaches that are better than others. Stay focused on the problem at hand. Do not digress into detail that may not shed light on the issue just to sound impressive. You will not! Use nice and easy numbers whenever you are estimating market size, price, costs, etc.
You do not want to start factoring decimals. Develop clear and decisive recommendations. Provide options and a recommendation based on you analysis as to which solution is most suitable to achieve the objective at hand. Cracking the Case is mostly a developed skill. Understand the reasoning behind each case. The more cases you practice, the more you will be exposed to the different problems and the more you will be prepared.
Leave nothing to chance. Good Luck!!! The CEO has hired you to help her increase the company's annual growth rate and ultimately its profitability. Do they all have the same approach to selling? In one area and not the other? The case tells you that cost savings have been achieved. Focus on the revenue side.
What are the key differences between the two in terms of the consumer, competition, and growth? Yes they are. We see variations throughout. Yes there are. We see that the suburban stores are more profitable than the urban ones.
No, not really. It's proportionally the same. Yes they do. All stores have the same product mix. Yes, as a matter of fact, they do. The suburban customer tends to download more of the major appliances and electronic equipment than the urban consumer. The urban consumer downloads mostly items such as clothing, small furniture items, and small appliances. Major appliances and TVs and stereos are higher profit items than clothing and minor appliances.
I guess it is. The stores in the city are not catering to the demographics of its surroundings. The shop process is: Cows Meat Meat Enter Processed Delivered The manager of the butcher shop however could not decide whether to have the cows walk or run into the meat processing room.
Can you help him? Try to lay your plan of attack on paper in a logical sequence of steps to take. This gives us hamburgers per day.
Let us assume that labor cost increases proportionally to the increase in processed meats, and overhead increases, but not proportionally due to some sunk costs, for more equipment and other expenses. Here is the breakdown: Each outlet serves a vicinity of about 30, people. Out of these visits, about half order a burger over another item on the menu - for a total of 10, burgers a week.
This meets demand and ensures fresh hamburgers. Traditionally, the producer has packaged the juice in ounce carton containers. Recently, in response to demand from the market, the producer downloadd a machine that packages the juice in plastic gallons 36 ounces. Yet, as sales continued to increase, profits steadily decreased. The owner cannot understand why. He hires you to help out. The problem must be costs. Gather information on the revenue side, but focus mostly on the cost side.
Dig Deeper: Does it cost the same to package the juice in cartons as it does in gallons? Well, I guess not. Plastic is more expensive than the paper carton we have traditionally used. Also, we had to hire more experienced labor to operate the machine because it is a little more complicated than the carton machine. We figured that because the demand was higher for the gallons — we would cover our costs through increased volume.
All costs for the factory are added together and divided by the number of units produced. This is now clearly an issue of cost allocation. The price on the plastic gallons should be higher due to higher costs. Now you need to see to what extent this is affecting the bottom line.
What percentage of gallons versus cartons is sold? The more our customers notice the gallons, the more they like them. The owner has been very pleased about that. In fact, it's lower. Have you done any proper cost allocation to determine which type of product should carry which costs? This resulted in a misallocation of costs and inappropriate pricing. They should then use this data to price accordingly.
Despite an increase in market share, the manufacturer has experienced a decline in profits. The CEO of the company is worried about this trend and hires you to investigate. Remember, the term "market share" is a percentage, and not an absolute number. It could imply that the company has increased its share of the market by beating out the competition, or the competition exiting the market.
It could also mean that the market is actually shrinking, but the sales of the company are decreasing by less than those of its competitors. Lay out factors that you feel would help from the Value Chain analysis, 4Cs, and 4Ps. No, costs have been steady. Slightly, a little bit higher than the industry average.
Have there been any new entrants on the scene? Actually, competition has decreased. A number of players have exited the industry. They were losing money. They felt that the industry had gotten saturated, so they left. Yes, there has been a general negative trend in the last few years. There certainly has been less demand for the product.
Not really. Preservatives in general are being used less in foods. Fresh food is now the preferred choice for many consumers. Are they experiencing decreased volume? Yes, the entire industry has been slowing. They certainly are.
Additionally, to lower costs, they are using their leverage to renegotiate price structures of raw materials. They are gaining market share, but it's because of a number of competitor fallouts. To survive, the company in question has been competing on price. It has gained market share at the expense of it competition, forcing some to exit the industry. If price is the only way to compete, then costs must decrease.
Reduce the risk of market trends via a portfolio of products. They dominate the tire industry. VieTire is very concerned about this change, as it will radically alter the landscape of the industry in Vietnam. They hire you to assess the situation and advise them on what steps to take. Things are done more manually.
Most of technological advances in the industry have not yet been implemented in Vietnam. What about the cost structure of the competition? So currently, even though the cost to produce a tire in the U. In year six, the competition will surely enter as their prices become lower than domestically produced tires.
It is important to note that because of the rapid advances in technology, chances are that the costs of producing tires will decrease resulting in competitors entering the market even sooner.
World View saw this move as an opportunity to capture a large part of the US market 4MM consumers in a market with very little competition.
However, in the last couple of years, much to the surprise of management, World View has been unable to make a profit. You have been hired to figure out why and advise them on their next move. Did World View incur additional costs per customer on average in the new market? No, based on the potential number of subscribers, they have instituted the same system that was in place. Costs associated with cable wire, debt, maintenance costs, etc.
Out of the 4MM potential customers, how many are signed up? Only 2. No, competition is not an issue. Those that we have not acquired as customers simply do not have cable. How is the consumer in the northeast US different from the one in Canada?
Well, the Canadian consumer does not rely much on local stations for watching TV. Cable is a major source of entertainment and news coverage. They settle for watching local stations.
How many are they? Do they meet most of the needs of the consumer? There about 16 local stations that have coverage over the entire northeast. I guess they are doing pretty well by providing programming that the consumer wants. You tend to see the average consumer in the northeast watch regular TV more than Cable when compared with the Canadian consumer. They have a very good reception and they are part of basic TV, so they are free.
Some, but the consumers don't seem to be interested. You are hired to determine whether they should pursue this path and, if so, how they should go about execution. Identify which factors you need to address and list them in a logical sequence. The fast food industry has been experiencing sustainable growth for the last few years, and we believe that it will continue to grow.
The US is more attractive economically and Le Seine has been present in the country for a few years. Not very much. They're not sure where to enter. If we look at the traditional burger outfits, that segment is pretty much dominated by three players: McDonalds, Burger King, and Wendy's. I would think that the barriers to entry are pretty high for this segment. You also have pizza, Mexican, chicken, cold cut sandwiches, prepared meals Boston Market.
But what do you think, at a high level, which segment should they enter? If we look at the trends, the population is getting older and more families have two working parents. Also, there seems to be a move towards eating more healthy foods. If we consider the competition, the segment seems to be at the growing stages, with only one or two known players. The barriers to entry are certainly not as high as some of the other segments.
The company can also set up shop in major grocery stores, as more people are downloading prepared foods as part of the their grocery shopping. To offer competitive pricing, they must have economies of scale. Look at the franchising option. Examine in detail how the most successful fast food outlets operate. Know your customers in every region, and focus on convenience. Two years after entry, the company is still losing money.
Despite a high per capita consumption of beer in the UK market, sales have been very disappointing. What explains this phenomenon? Understand which factor under revenue or costs is driving the decline in profitability. What kind of beer has Beer Brew been trying to sell?
Currently, Beer Brew is selling two kinds of beer, a strong tasting and a light beer. The strong tasting beer is selling slightly below average and the light beer is not selling at all.
The company has spent more on marketing than the industry average for that region. It's about average. The industry is fairly fragmented. There are no dominant players. To be competitive, Beer Brew undercut its price significantly to try to capture customers. Their beer is sold just about everywhere other brands are sold.
Guinness, Toby, and a few others. They are all moderate in alcohol level, dark, and strong tasting. Beer Brew's strong tasting brand is higher in alcohol, and market tests show that it tastes better.
The light beer is low in alcohol and calories, and again tastes great. Very few. Mostly locally produced. Beer Brew saw this as an opportunity to cash in on the light beer industry that has taken the US market by storm.
Are Beer Brew's two products dark beer? No, they are fairly light in color. Perhaps, but the company figured that once the consumer tried it, the color wouldn't make any difference. After further inquiry, we find that the average British drinker values dark beer over any other factor.
It seems that the dark color has a psychological impact on the consumer, relating it to strength, masculinity, getting their money's worth, etc. Make it darker and advertise it as the better tasting darker beer, with more alcohol. The UK is not ready for it yet. However, management feels that the chain needs to expand, as the current geographical areas in which they are based have become saturated.
For the past couple of years, they have aggressively pursued a growth strategy, opening an additional 15 stores. However, it seems that this approach has had negative returns.
For the first time in over a decade, the chain's profits dropped into the negative zone. You were hired to figure out why. What does the auto service entail? Are they serving more than one customer? Any differences? Are the newly formed stores operating differently or serving different markets than before? Focus on how revenue has changed given the environment.
There are two main businesses under each roof: A few competitors have entered the market, but not too many. The expansion was planned to explore new markets and prevent the competition from growing. Have prices gone up to help defray some of the costs associated with growth? No, they have stayed the same. In fact, because the garage services cost the business a great deal more and the mechanics are very well trained, we charge a premium. Profit margin on servicing cars has twice the profit margin of off- the-shelf products.
The customer that uses the garage service tends to come from a mid-to-high income bracket. Those that use the off the-shelf auto parts tend to be of the lower-income bracket. They fix their cars on their own. Mostly in, or very close to the suburbs. Yes, They saw certain urban areas as very inexpensive. They located more in inner cities where there are a lot of used car sales.
As they expanded into the inner cities, they began to attract the wrong customer. Profit margin on the off- the-shelf products is not enough to cover costs and make a healthy return for Wheeler Dealer.
A price increase is unlikely given price sensitivity. Focus on geographical areas where you can attract the suburban customers who will use the service aspect of the business. Maintain a healthy return on the car product market from the inner city dwellers.
Why are they making less than the industry average? They are about the same. Does the agency handle any bookings other than travel tickets?
They just book tickets for their customers. The total number of transactions is around one million per year. On average, about K go to the business segment, and K to the leisure. If you run the numbers, you will find the following information. Either the cost per transaction is too high or the revenue per transaction made on the leisure is too low.
As a result, the CFO believes that they will be out of cash within five years. They have asked us to identify the source of this sudden downturn, and to come up with alternatives to restore them to a break-even position. They are one of the largest employers in the market, and will not consider layoffs as a possible solution.
Background This question addresses company profitability. Response Candidate: As I understand the hospital industry, revenues may be fixed for several years due to long-term contracts with insurers. Is this the case for this hospital? Your intuition is correct. All contracts are binding for three years, and cannot be renegotiated. Does the client have considerable fixed costs that will be difficult to reduce in the near term?
Since revenue is declining at a fixed rate and fixed costs are high in the short-term, the hospital will have to analyze its variable cost structure. I would surmise that staffing costs are the main source of variable costs. However, the hospital cannot address this due to its policy concerning layoffs. I would think that the other main driver of variable costs for the hospital lies in its utilization of resources.
Am I headed down the right track? Given that information, the hospital should focus on changing physician behavior since physicians ultimately control the utilization of resources. The hospital may want to align MD incentives with those of the hospital by sharing risk, giving physicians data and education on their use of resources versus the competition. Other ways to reduce expenses could be to sign exclusive contracts with a distributor in order to generate volume discounts and economies in downloading, or by reducing choice by limiting the pharmacy formulary to generics and decreasing the number of vendors utilized for high volume items such as prosthetics and heart catheters.
Now that you mention it, the situation is not hopeless in this regard. In addition, they can potentially leverage their distinctive competencies by developing Centers of Excellence that can be marketed to managed care contractors as an exclusive provider for those services within the region, and possibly outside the region.
Are there any other solutions that may be feasible? What does the local market look like? There are two other bed hospitals in the city. One is an academic medical center, the other a catholic hospital recently acquired by a for-profit chain. In that case the hospital may want to consider affiliating with a competitor in the market.
This may help to decrease capacity across the city by rationalizing the services offered at each institution. This may allow one hospital to close, thereby reducing fixed costs. Moreover, the candidate should be able to brainstorm possible solutions to the problem, both from a revenue maximization and cost minimization perspective. This regional chain is currently one of the leaders in the traditional grocery store market in northern New England.
One of the companies that has already entered this new marketplace is the client's primary competitor in the traditional market. The second player is a chain that does not have grocery stores in the target region, but has entered the Boston area with Internet shopping delivery services. Should the client enter the market? If so, how, and what concerns should they have? If not, how do they protect market share from the emerging market that is threatening to steal business?
Background This is a market strategy issue. The interviewer is looking for a discussion of the client's customers, competitors, costs, core competencies and the overall market dynamics. In addition, the candidate should be able to present a solution and identify the key success factors for this solution.
The client must first do some preliminary work examining the market for groceries delivered over the Internet. I would like to get a better sense for the company's current customers, as well as potential customers, to see if the Internet is a viable delivery mechanism for the company.
Can you tell me more about the client's customers in the area? The client serves primarily upper-middle class customers. That's important to know. I would guess that prospective users of an Internet-based delivery system are upper-middle class. Can you confirm this and elaborate on the growth prospects for this market?
Your guess is correct. Users of the Internet delivery system are typically upper-middle class. As far as the market is concerned, home grocery shopping among Internet users is growing rapidly and the percentage of homes with Internet access is also growing. We've established that the market is an attractive one, however I still need more evidence before presenting a recommendation. I'd like to now turn to the two competitors described in your opening.
Can you explain their current market share? And can you address recent growth trends among the competition? The competitor without stores in the target region is gaining market share more rapidly than the company with stores in the target region. We've established pretty convincingly that the market is attractive.
I'd like to now focus on our client. Clearly not all companies are prepared to put their operations on the Internet. There are two central issues I'd like to better understand.
First, the company's core competencies—does it have the requisite skills to address the Internet user? Secondly, I'd like to understand the company's cost structure. Is such a move feasible for the client? Do you have any information on the company's distribution capabilities?
Specifically, is it able to address the Internet market? The company's current distribution facilities are not adequate for the delivery system. How about the company's employees?
Are they sufficiently trained to handle delivery tasks associated with the Internet? Take your time and analyze the information. Stop and summarize. If you get lost somewhere during your answer, the first thing to do is to stop and summarize what you have done so far. This will lift you out of the puzzling web of details and hopefully show you a new path to take.
While most cases are given verbally, some firms actually give a written case. The candidate is given 15 to 20 minutes to read the case and make notes. Sometimes this is done one on one, but other times the candidate is brought in as part of a group to solve the case.
This is done to see how well a candidate can work as part of a team with strangers. Is the candidate trying to dominate the interview or are they building on what another candidate said? Are they communicating laterally as well as vertically? Practice, Practice, Practice It is important to understand that the single most important factor in achieving success with case interview questions is to practice, practice, practice.
So, if you have a case interview coming up, finish reading this guide and the other references; then get to work on live practice as soon as possible. The bottom line is, it is important to be familiar with business frameworks, but relying too heavily on one framework may cause you to ignore critical issues. Avoid forcing a framework onto a problem.
Instead, take a step back and make sure you identify the key issues, and then begin drawing upon frameworks to establish a structure for answering the question. Product refers to the characteristics of the item being sold. Price refers to the amount it is sold for. Promotion refers to the strategy of how it is sold PR, Marketing, etc.
Place refers to the channels through which it is sold and how it is positioned. Benefit - A simple framework that allows you to divide your analysis of a business case between the costs that will be incurred by a specific action physical costs, reputation and brand, etc. An example of a fixed cost is rent. An example of a variable cost is raw materials. External - A framework that analyzes a business case from internal perspective culture of organization, core competencies, products, etc.
The five forces are Power of Suppliers, Power and a system is that a framework of downloaders, Substitutes, Rivalry among firms , and is really a tool, while a system is a Barriers to Entry. To fully understand in. Segmenting refers to identifying the distinctions between customers. Targeting refers to identifying the target group. Positioning refers to the strategy of appealing to this target group.
Demand - Economic analysis which aims to forecast the price of a good or service based on the intersection of supply and demand curves. Supply analysis looks at production of goods and services to see how much is available for the market. Solving complex business problems is what we do every day. Insiders are unsure whether the increased incidence of group interviews reveals a renewed emphasis on teamwork and fit, or simply a faster way to sift through applicant pools.
In a group interview, between two and five candidates are given a case and asked to present their findings in one hour.
A few consultants from the firm remain with the candidates to silently observe their progress. One important thing to remember is that the group interview is not a zero sum game. The key with group case interviews is to show your keen organizational and teamwork abilities. Don't bully your fellow candidates, but don't sit back and quietly do as you're told. One recent group case interviewee suggests "Present your thoughts on how to divide the analysis.
Listen to what others have to say. If you disagree with their thoughts or estimates, say so, but never be denigrating or rude. Look like you're having a good time. Otherwise, the analysis is pretty similar to a regular case.