The case interview, a type of employment interview which assesses a job applicant’s ability to think logically while applying proven business principles in responding to a business scenario, is no longer reserved for management consulting interviews. It is increasingly prevalent in evaluating candidates for MBA-level positions across the board. It is an intense, challenging exercise that can be daunting for the unprepared. This month, GWSB’s F. David Fowler Career Center took action to make sure the School’s MBA candidates are prepared, by bringing to campus the number one authority on case-interview training, David Ohrvall.
Ohrvall is the founder of MBACASE, which offers study materials, training opportunities and coaching services for case-interview training. He is also the author of Crack the Case: How to Conquer Your Case Interviews. Ohrvall, who earned his undergraduate and MBA degrees from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business, worked for nine years in management and operational consulting, including four years with Bain & Company. He has trained over 10,000 students at top business schools worldwide, and has coached more than 600 clients privately.
Ohrvall shared his extensive knowledge and expertise with approximately 80 GWSB MBA candidates in two three-and-a-half-hour “Crack the Case” workshop sessions. During each session, Ohrvall described the case interview process (interviews typically run from 30 to 40 minutes) and discussed the basic tools applicants need to acquire and hone for a successful interview – problem-solving skills, logical communication and personal presentation.
Ohrvall walked the students through a simulated case interview that demonstrated just how demanding the process is. For the exercise, students were presented with a scenario based on the (fictitious) manufacturer of “Always Fresh” deodorant, a U.S. personal-care products firm seeking to expand its business overseas. Students received a few tidbits of relevant product, financial and market-share information, and were asked to make a clear, logical, analytical presentation – complete with reasonably accurate cost and profit estimates – on how to address every aspect of the overseas expansion.
Using a step-by-step approach, Ohrvall introduced general (communication, logic, analytical and social skills, and integration and creativity) and specific (market sizing and estimation, and presenting a mini or full business case) case-interview skills. During the interview, candidates must answer questions correctly, and ask the right questions. Ohrvall stressed the importance of practicing these techniques. He assigned “homework,” urging the students to tackle ten or 12 simulated case interviews to prepare for the real thing.
Students said that the workshop was both informative and worthwhile, demystifying the process and leaving them more confident and better prepared to run the case-interview gauntlet. “David Ohrvall is the best in the business,” said Toni Della-Ratta, the Fowler Career Center’s associate director, graduate career services. “We are very lucky to have been able to have him here for our MBA students.”