Contact Vince

See for information about Vince's services.

I provide the most intensive, effective MBA interview preparation service in the world. My interview coaching clients get results because I help them figure out what to say (logical content), and how to say it (impressive delivery).

I teach some of the world's top engineers and scientists at The University of Tokyo how to present their ideas on paper and in person.

I am a professional stage actor who has performed with The American Shakespeare Center.
At Stanford, I studied improv theatre with Patricia Ryan Madson, who has taught everyone from college students to Silicon Valley executives from companies like Google how to tell believable stories.

I provide one-hour mock interview sessions with feedback. I also provide extended multi-hour training. We begin with an initial diagnostic mock interview, which helps me determine your strengths and weaknesses. In subsequent sessions, we can work on strategy, answer modeling, and mock interviewing.

For Vince's latest tips, plus service details, please go here. Then, please contact Vince when you are ready to start your preparation.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Tuck Interview



Vince's reports

Many of my past admitted clients were asked these questions (on campus and with adcoms in Tokyo)
  • Walk me through your resume from your undergraduate degree to current job
  • Why MBA? What can you do with MBA? (Goals)
  • Why Tuck?
  • Why should Tuck admit you over many others who are equally qualified?
  • Are you better at leading teams or being a member of teams?
  • How did you solve conflict among your teammates?
  • Do you know any current students at Tuck?
  • What do you do outside work?
  • Tell me about your leadership outside work?
  • What extracurricular activities at Tuck are you interested in?
  • Convince me you want to live in the countryside.
  • Anything you would like me to know about you?
  • Q and A

"Tuck School of Business Admissions Blog"

So I have interviewing on the brain right now. One of my roles is to supervise our 37 student interviewers, and I have been busy getting ready for their training which I will conduct tomorrow. In preparation, I have been thinking a lot about interviewing dos and don’ts for applicants and thought I would share some of them here.

Similar to your essays, interviews are a great vehicle to share your story. Through the interview, we hope to hear more examples of the types of experiences you have had in both your personal and professional life, and to get a sense of your demonstrated record of achievement, your interpersonal and communication skills, and your focus.

It is important to prepare for the interview in advance. Think about the types of questions you are likely going to get, e.g. what your goals are, why you want to get an MBA, why you want to come to Tuck, leadership roles, your strengths and weaknesses, etc. Also, think about a few key points about yourself that you want to get across. Then think about specific anecdotes from your past experiences to support each response/point. In describing the anecdote explain the situation, what actions you took and the result. The caveat here is don’t over-prepare. You don’t want to sound like you are reading from a script.

Listen carefully and answer the question being asked. This may sound obvious, but many applicants are so excited to make particular points that they don’t offer them at the appropriate times. I once had an applicant launch into a long discussion of what his goals were and why he needed an MBA when my question to him was “so, are you originally from Chicago?”

Your answers should be specific and include details, but also be concise in your answers. The interview is short, make the most of it. Once you have made your point, stop. The most frustrating interviews I conduct are the ones where the applicant is long-winded and/or strays off topic.

Remember your audience – don’t get overly technical in the details and don’t use too much jargon.

For most questions, there is really no right or wrong answer. We are most interested in what you really think. Be yourself. Don’t try to guess what the interviewer wants to hear. If what you say isn’t true for you, it will come off sounding phony or lacking substance.

Research the school in advance – asking questions that could be easily answered by looking at the school’s marketing materials/website does not create a good impression.

Our student interviewers are really nice people, and we try to make our admissions interviews as stress-free as possible; however, as a result, some applicants get too casual. They assume since they are being interviewed by someone more their peer it is okay to slouch, slip into slang or reveal information they probably shouldn’t (see Karen’s 9/2 post on too much honesty). While we certainly want you to feel comfortable and act like yourself, remember, no matter who conducts your interview (student, staff or alum), you should approach it in a completely professional manner.

A couple of obvious points that bear repeating: don’t be late, and never ever answer your cell phone or check your Blackberry during an interview. You may laugh, but trust me, people have done it!


Anonymous said...
Hello, I just wanted to confirm that the page to schedule an on campus interview is still not active. I tried searching for an open spot and the query kept returning zero results (regardless of date range). Thanks, Applying in NYC
Nancy G.- Admissions said...
try this: - go to - click on 'visit us / interview' - click on 'request an interview' under the 'related links' heading in the right column of the page - For location of event select Hanover NH - For dates select today's date for the 'from' field; select 12/31/2009 for the 'To' field - for Type of event select 'on campus interview' - Select 'all events in the future with space available' NOTE: if you want to see events that have space available on a wait list, select 'all events in the future' Hope this helps!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Tips for Interview Season

Mishi asked a question on this post about what tips I had for applicants in the upcoming admissions interview season. Three points before I tackle the meat of this question:

A) I appreciate Mishi's question, and would encourage anyone reading this to ask questions. It's probably more useful if I write about what you want to hear: left to my own devices, there's a significant risk of me growing misty eyed about Tuck Rugby ad nauseum.

B) I am not involved in admissions at Tuck in any official capacity, so everything I say here is my personal opinion, and may deviate from the admissions office's view (though, hopefully not dramatically).

C) I have surprisingly little interview experience, given the stage of my career. (I worked all the way through my four years as an undergraduate and for six years afterwards and have had, cumulatively, fewer than a dozen interviews in my life).

With those caveats, here are my top (well, most mentally proximate) five tips for MBA admissions interviews:

1) Dress smartly. Most candidates come to campus dressed in business formal and, in that respect (even if in few others) I believe it's best not to stand out too much from the crowd of other applicants.

2) Read Dale Carnegie. If you don't have time, here's the lowdown: smile lots, don't criticize, be genuinely "hearty in your approbation and lavish in your praise" (but not sycophantic).

3) Know your story. If you are not totally passionate about where you want to go and why the program at the business school you are applying to will help you get there, as well as how your presence at the school will make it a better place for others to be, I don't think you should be looking at a top MBA program. Make sure your story is concise, plausible and, to the greatest extent possible, genuine.

4) Do research beforehand. Know about programs, courses, centers, etc. Not so you can show off, but so that you can have more meaningful discussions and ask more pertinent and informed questions. This links in to point 3). If you don't know why this school will help you get where you want to go, why are you considering spending six figures and investing two years of your life?

5) Make connections. Follow up with fellow visitors, admissions staff, students and faculty you meet. This may help you unlock the door to the school of your dreams but at the very least it expands your network, which is, after all, a big part of the business school process.

Most crucially, and underlying all of these points, is to be yourself. If your favorite book is Harry Potter and someone asks you in an interview what your favorite book is, don't say "Great Expectations" because you think you'll sound smart. Be passionate about what makes you who you are. Tell them "Harry Potter!" with an emphatic smile and explain why you love it.

Good luck!

Adam's post 

The Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth MBA interview is about fit, so make sure you can explain in great depth why you want to become a part of Tuck's small intensive community in Hanover. If you interview on-campus expect to be asked about how you liked it. If you have never been to Hanover, contact with alumni and intensive school research are all great ways to prepare. Keep in mind that the objective of this research is to determine what you really like about the school, about how Tuck is right for you, and how you imagine yourself contributing to it. Try to focus on what you need from the school, not merely stating obvious information about it.
Demonstrated enthusiasm to attend Tuck is very helpful. Based on my experience, that enthusiasm in combination with the ability to provide solid answers to routine MBA questions is most critical to succeeding at this interview. Most reported interviews found at and simply consist of standard questions. See my previous post on interview strategy. Expect questions about teams, friendship, and extracurricular activities.  My colleague, Steve Green, has provided me with a great organized list of common questions:
  • When did you get in?
  • Did you face any problems getting in?
  • Did you have a chance to see around Hanover yesterday?
  • Where did you end up staying?
  • We will talk for around half an hour and I will answer any questions you have towards the end of the interview
  • Walk me through your resume.
  • Tell me more about yourself that I can’t see from your resume: PROBE
  • Talk about your current job, your work in Tokyo
  • How do you spend your free time? / What do you do apart from work?
  • Do you have any/ What is your international experience?
  • What do you see yourself doing immediately after graduation and what are your longer term plans?
  • What motivates you to get an MBA at this point in your career? / Why do you feel you need an MBA?
  • Why do you want an MBA at Tuck?
  • What did you do to know more about Tuck?  
  • What classes and initiatives at Tuck specifically interest you?
  • What’s unique about you that you can add to the Tuck culture and environment?
  • What will you be involved with at Tuck? / How will you be involved at Tuck?
  • How will you contribute to Tuck?
  • When you'll join Tuck, you'll be put into groups.  What will be your approach if your team is not able to accomplish a task on time?
  • How will you handle differences in your study group, for ex: Language
  • What if MBA doesn't work out? 
  • What do you bring to a team? 
  • Tell me about your teamwork and how it has influenced you. 
  • Tell me about a time you had to deal with a difficult teammate.
  • How should members of a team deal with teammates who are not contributing? 
  • Tell me about a time you had to work in a team.
  • What are the qualities that make you successful on a team?
  • Tell me about a time you experienced conflict on a team, and how you handled it?
  • Tell me when you have worked on a diverse team/environment 
  • What type of leader are you?
  • Tell me about a time you disagreed with your boss and how it was resolved.
  • Tell me about a situation where you had a difficult boss.
  • What is your biggest accomplishment in your personal and/or professional life
  • Tell me about a failure.
  • Tell me about your analytical skills.
  • What are your 3 strengths?
  • What are your 3 weaknesses?
  • Imagine you are selling yourself to the admissions committee. What 3 things do you want them to know about you?
  • What do your colleagues most admire about you?
  • How would your colleagues describe you?
  • What are three things you’d like the admissions committee to know about you?
  • Is there anything else you’d like Tuck to know about you?
  • Is there anything you hoped I’d ask, but didn’t?
  • Questions for me?
Based on the many interview reports I have read, the above really does capture the questions you can expect to be asked. There tends to be a significant emphasis on teamwork related questions, so be especially prepared for the variety of those that you may encounter.

You need to know your resume completely as you will likely be asked about content in it. Review it carefully and consider what your interviewer might ask you to explain more thoroughly. If it is on your resume, it is fair game. Even an admissions officer interviewer will only have your resume, but you should assume they will know the contents of it fairly well. As Clear Admit states, "Tuck employs a ‘blind’ interview process, using only the resume as a basis for the interview.

Interviewers, according to the Tuck FAQ:
Interviews on campus are scheduled primarily with admissions associates (second-year students) and occasionally with members of the admissions committee. Off-campus interviews with an alumni interviewer, admissions committee member, or admissions associate are scheduled by invitation only.

Reported interview length: 30 to 45 minutes.


-Updated by Vince on 14 March 2012


  • I am a graduate admissions consultant who works with clients worldwide

  • If you want my help preparing for your interview, please email

  • Let me know when you plan to interview and when you want to practice with me

  • I will confirm if I have the capacity to help you

  • My interview service details and fees are here

  • Please note that initial consultations are not offered for interview training

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

HBS Interview Part 1 and 2


I asked one of my HBS admitted clients a slightly modified list of the questions he answered at his actual Harvard interview. Here are the answers that got him admitted. In this first of three sections, he discusses his motivations for MBA and HBS.

Please note - HBS adcoms do not usually start interviews by saying, "walk me through your resume." Why? They have already read your entire application. Still, in the case of this mock interview, we decided to start that way to give viewers a general introduction to the applicant and set the context for follow-up questions and answers.


In the second of three sections, he discusses his perspectives on Japanese trading companies, his goals, his personal weakness, and his potential contributions to the HBS community. Please watch.

HBS Videos

Please watch these videos to learn how two of Vince's clients gained admission to HBS.


-Updated by Vince on 14 March 2012


  • I am a graduate admissions consultant who works with clients worldwide

  • If you want my help preparing for your interview, please email

  • Let me know when you plan to interview and when you want to practice with me

  • I will confirm if I have the capacity to help you

  • My interview service details and fees are here

  • Please note that initial consultations are not offered for interview training

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Sample Interviews

Years ago, a client asked me to create a video showing a successful model of effective MBA interview responses to typical questions. Here it is, Hiro. Sorry it took so long!

Kellogg Interview: Part I
I asked my former client some typical interview questions including: Why MBA? Why now? Why Kellogg? Here are the answers that got him admitted.

Kellogg Interview: Part II
In the second part of our mock interview training session, Kaz answers some "behavioral questions" that dig into what he thought, felt, said, and did during his past professional projects. We also practiced typical closing questions like "tell me something else I should know" and final Q&A with the interviewer.




-Updated by Vince on 14 March 2012


  • I am a graduate admissions consultant who works with clients worldwide

  • If you want my help preparing for your interview, please email

  • Let me know when you plan to interview and when you want to practice with me

  • I will confirm if I have the capacity to help you

  • My interview service details and fees are here

  • Please note that initial consultations are not offered for interview training

Friday, March 11, 2011

Case-based interviews and general case method tips

Are you preparing for an IMD or IESE case-based interview? 

Please read these tips


Case discussion is interactive, student-centered exploration of realistic and specific narratives that provide grist for inductive learning.  The students engage in the intellectual, and emotional, exercise of facing complex problems and making critical decisions within the constraints imposed by reality, e.g. limited time and information, and pervasive uncertainty.  Considering them from the protagonist’s perspective, which calls on analysis to inform action, the students strive to resolve questions that have no single right answer.  Their differing views and approaches produce a creative tension that fuels the enterprise and a synergistic outcome that both recognizes and exceeds their individual contributions.  In their effort to find solutions and reach decisions through discussion, they sort out factual data, apply analytical tools, articulate issues, reflect on their relevant experience, and draw conclusions they can carry forward to new situations.  In the process, they acquire substantive knowledge, develop analytic and collaborative skills, and gain in self-confidence and attention to detail.

A case discussion differs in come important respects from what is conventional in many college and university classrooms.  The students engage in the text rather than examine it.  They are active and animated:  offering ideas, raising questions, building on each others’ statements, constructing a collective analysis, re-framing the discussion, challenging the teacher, learning with and from each other as much as, or more than, from him or her.  

The teacher is also active, and frequently mobile: initiating discussion and drawing the class into it, inviting engagement in the issues, amplifying some students’ remarks and pointing up opposing views, feeding the group’s thinking back to it, pulling the threads of conversation together and tying them in to the course’s themes; in short, structuring and facilitating the students’ work rather than delivering information, giving explanations, or providing answers.  The emphasis is on the students’ reasoning and expressions, on their capacity to structure the problem and work out a solution.  It is also on the process as well as the substance of inquiry, and a case discussion often ends with questions as well as conclusions.

Among the purposes of case discussion are to:

• Foster Critical Thinking
• Encourage Student Responsibility for Learning
• Transfer Information, Concept, and Technique
• Develop Command of a Body of Material
• Blend Affective and Cognitive Learning
• Enliven the Classroom Dynamic
• Develop Collaboration Skills
• Teach Questioning and Self-Directed Learning


Case discussion requires more intense effort, form both students and instructors, than many more traditional methods of instruction.  While the demands on time, energy, and personal commitment are great, the rewards of the case method are also substantial. With repeated exposure to cases, students improve their skill in analyzing and dealing with ambiguous situations and incomplete information. 

They begin to approach problems in a focused, confident way that leads to firm, well-reasoned conclusions even in the face of uncertainty.  As well as developing knowledge and understanding, the process fosters good judgment and effective action.

The power of the case method lies in the active participation of the students.  In learning from a case, they determine the relevant facts, analyze them, and draw conclusions about the cause of the problem and what action to take.  Their conclusions often differ from both the protagonist’s thinking and the case writer’s own implicit diagnosis, although all are based on the same facts.  The most powerful and interesting cases are those that allow for several assessments of the same situation, leading to several equally plausible and compelling conclusions, each with different implications for action.

In case learning, students encounter the problem before they create the structure to solve it; the method is basically inductive and experiential.  The problems that cases present are subtle, complex, and persistent; they have no easy, definite, or correct solutions.  In confronting such problems, students face the challenge of working out their own approach to defining, analyzing, and solving them.  The experience is that of having the problem oneself and striving to find a way to resolve it, because the case method encourages students to see it from an action perspective rather than analyze it from a distance.

At the same time that it develops their skills, repeated exposure to the ambiguous and complex problems found in cases builds remarkable confidence in students.  Case learning develops tolerance for ambiguity and fosters the ability to make timely decisions and take effective action despite incomplete information, unclear problems, and uncertain consequences.  During case discussions, instructors encourage students to face these risks and move toward specific action.  Through such practice, students learn to cope with the circumstances that will challenge them in the future.

Much of the power of the learning comes from the study group and class interaction among the participants.  Learning from each other’s as well as their own experiences is one of the most valuable opportunities this interaction affords.  It also exposes students to others’ analytic and problem-solving approaches, and this exposure encourages them to recognize and reflect on their own.  The incorporation of many points of view into the case discussion fosters the fundamental strength of generating alternative responses to problems.  The mere fact of the interaction enhances such skills as listening, articulating, and participating effectively in group enterprise.

Finally, it is difficult to define, but also difficult to overestimate, the impact of the fact that case learning in more than a sterile, academic exercise.  By challenging the student to adopt an action perspective, experience the raw data of a problem, and determine his or her own means of coping with it, by engaging students in the relatively unstructured, but highly charged enterprise of case discussion, the case method involves the whole person, the emotions and the intuitions as well as the intellect.  Such qualities as persistence, patience, and persuasiveness count, along with mental agility and power, just as they do in the real lives of professionals.  Case learning educates the person who will become the professional, not just the mind.

STEP TWO: Case Study Handbook: 
How to Read, Discuss, and Write Persuasively About Cases
256 pages. Publication date: Mar 15, 2007.
A former client created this outline of the book pictured below

Chapter 1 and 2: are a relative waste of time.
Ellet spends a lot of time romanticizing the Case Study and locating it within Western Tradition.
This can all be summarized in a few sentences:
The case study is a document quite different from what most students are used to seeing in the classroom.
  • Not linear, having no clear beginning or end, containing multiple types of information, some important and some useless, the case study requires the reader to relearn the process of reading and analysis.
To effectively study and learn from a case study, one must learn how to interpret the information in a useful, time-efficient fashion.
  • To this end Ellet tries to break down the case study itself, as well as gives advice on how to prepare an analytical report.
Chapter 3 How to analyze a case
Things to remember
1) reading in order is not always beneficial
2) reading actively- taking notes, highlighting, reorganizing information- is key
3) you will never have as much time as you need, so keep moving!

The Four types of Case Situations:
1) Problem Cases
"...situation[s] in which 1)there is a significant outcome or performance, and 2) the is no explicit explanation of the outcome or performance" (21).
Situations can both be negative (a new project fails, sales increase but revenues drop, etc.) or positive (a product our market research showed was ready to come off the shelves suddenly sold out, and we don't know why).

2) Decisions
Cases that revolve around an explicit decision.
All cases will include decisions, but Decision Cases will have some big decision that becomes the fulcrum for the case.
(Do we launch a new product? Do we buy that company?)
In decision cases, there is no objective answer. It is up to you to defend your decision well and be aware of the other options.

3) Evaluations
"Express a judgment about the worth, value, or effectiveness of a performance, act, or outcome" (23). Evaluations can be about people, outcomes, decisions, etc.

4) Rules
Not discussed in detail here, rule cases involve situations where a specific set of information needs to be compared under a specific condition.
Here rules and frameworks are given and must be applied.

The process of analyzing a case is the same in all situations, but the details will change. Let's look at the overall process:
How to Analyze a Case
1) Situation
2) Questions
3) Hypothesis
4) Proof and action
5) Alternatives

So you've got your case. Here's how the process works:
1) Situation (5 minutes)
-Read the first and last portions of the case. Ask yourself, "What is the situation?"
Often times reading the first and last sections first will make it very clear what type of case it is, and may provide direction. (For example, often times in decision cases, which decisions are available are spelled out at the end. Without reading these first the student may make assumptions while analyzing the case only to realize that a different element was at play.)

Decisions and evaluations are often stated in the very beginning.
- Consider what kind of framework you may want to use for this case, and what kind of information you are given. (For example, do you have a lot of quant data? Do the two sections give any hints about specific criteria needed to evaluate or decide?)

2) Questions (15 minutes)
Start to ask yourself questions about the case to get your thoughts organized. After you have established the situation, ask yourself "what do i need to know about the situation?"
Ellet gives questions specific to each situation:

  • Who/what is the subject of the problem? (A manager, a company, a country?)
  • What is the problem?
  • Am I trying to account for a failure, a success, or something more ambiguous?
  • What is the significance of the problem to the subject?
  • Who is responsible for the problem? (often time it is the protagonist. ALWAYS BE CRITICAL OF THE PROTAGONIST. sometimes cases are written from her perspective, but don't let that stop you from evaluating her influence on the situation.)
  • What are the decision options?
  • Do any seem particularly strong or weak?
  • What might be the most important criteria for this kind of decision? What kinds of criteria are mentioned in the case?
  • Who/what is the subject of the evaluation?
  • Who is responsible for the evaluation/what is at stake here?
  • What are the important criteria for this evaluation? What kinds of criteria are mentioned in the case?
Once you have some questions laid out, scan the headings in the text and a little of each section. Try to get a feel for which sections will contain information valuable to your analysis, and which ones may just be dead-ends. Mark the case up- make notes!

3) Hypothesis (45 minutes)
Now it's time to dig in. Hit the text- those places you noted and marked up- to gather the information that will answer your questions and help you form your hypothesis.

  • Know what the problem is.
  • Think about frameworks that may be helpful (5 P' 4C's, Leadership frameworks, etc.) to locate the cause, after all, your hypothesis will be able it's cause, so think about the case in terms of effects and causes. You have the EFFECT- what is the cause? (eg- sales fell. Why?)
  • Work backwards and take notes

THINK AS QUANTITATIVELY AS POSSIBLE. If there are numbers, charts, USE THEM. The more data you can have to support your cause, the better evidenced your hypothesis will be.
If there is a protagonist, consider that they may be a cause of the problem, or at least be contributing to it.

  • Think about the criteria you have already noted. Do they lead you one direction or another? (i.e. yes/no, hire/fire, etc.)
  • Review the decision options and think about which one sounds the best to you. (Criteria- reduce costs. increase sales. regain market share. Which decision gets us there fastest?)
  • Apply the criteria that seems to have the most evidence backing it up. (Sales are a little weak but the main issue is cost. Lets look at which decision saves us the most loot long term)
    Look into the decision that works with your strongest criterion.
  • If there is a lot of Quant evidence in the case, consider which criteria is most relevant to it. (eg if you have a TON of sales figures but no cost figures, costs may not be the main criterion)
  • If you see a lot of conflicts between groups/people, ask yourself why. Consider you decision from the POV of each group.
  • Consider the position of the protag. in reference to your decision.
  • Look over the evaluation criteria you have. Which sounds the most useful?
  • What are the terms of the evaluation going to be? (strengths/weaknesses? good/bad?) Do any stand out?
  • Do you have an idea of what the bottom-line evaluation is going to be? If so, what are the reasons for it?
  • Apply the most useful criterion to the evidence. (eg- evaluating a manager. The criterion: A leader has to spur change, Overcome obstacles, and lead a group)
  • Look deeper into the most positive and negative rankings you have
  • Use as much quant information as possible
4) Proof and Action (40 min)
  • Compile your evidence (here is where, if you are presenting, you want to make graphs/charts) and create a bottom line ACTION recommendation. How will we move forward?
5) Alternatives (15 min)
  • THERE ARE ALWAYS ALTERNATIVES. Respect that, prepare for it. Consider holes, other ways to analyze, and compare them to your hypothesis and action. be ready to defend your idea and potential reshape it.

Problem Cases

Five elements are incorporated into the study
1) Problem definition. Step one- what's the problem? There are usually multiple problems occurring, so it is your job to...
3) Cause-effect analysis: Consider this in terms of cause-and-effect, and remember you HAVE the effect, so you have to work backwards.
4) Frameworks- apply one here. (Like external and internal consistence are crucial to an effective strategy")
5) Action: Create a forward-moving solution

In other words, think about the whole case as cause and effect. One you have your main effect (problem), your hypothesis becomes the main causes you feel contributed to the problem. From here, you must back up that hypothesis with evidence- both analytical and quantitative, and recommend some sort of action to take.

Decision cases have five elements
1) Options- often laid out within the beginning AND END of a case. Watch that!
2) Criteria- the priorities of the company/individual/country/
3) Analysis of the options- see which option fulfills the criteria the best. Consider both advantages and disadvantages of the option you choose but stay efficient and focused
4) Recommendation- Recommend an option- this is your hypothesis
5) Action- Develop an action plan to make your recommendation a reality!

Evaluation: Six elements:
1) Criteria: Sometimes given, sometimes not, is the framework for your analysis.
2) Terms: You have to decide how you are going to evaluation. 5 Stars? Good? Efficient? Pick the most appropriate to the case.
3) Evaluative Analysis: Consider each criteria based on the information you are given, including the positive and negative sides of each
4) Bottom-line judgment: Make an evaluation. Don't beat around the bush.
5) Qualifications: consider other forces involved (maybe the manager was not effective, but was it all his fault? If corporate shares responsibility, that goes here. If the market sucked over all, that goes here)
6) Actions- make future recommendations.

STEP THREE: Case in Point

The First 4 Steps (from Cosentino's "Case in Point" book)
  • Summarize the question
  • Verify the client’s objective
  • Ask clarifying questions about the company, industry, market, products and competition.
  • Layout your structure
The 12 Most Popular Case Scenarios
Business cases traditionally have focused on either business strategy or business operations. However, with today’s more complex cases, candidates are getting cases that cover both categories and multiple scenarios.

Strategy Scenarios
  1. Entering a new market
  2. Industry Analysis
  3. Mergers & Acquisitions
  4. Developing a new product
  5. Pricing Strategies
  6. Growth Strategies
  7. Starting a new business
  8. Competitive response
Operating Scenarios
  1. Increasing sales
  2. Reducing Costs
  3. Improving the bottom line
  4. Turnarounds
Entering a New Market – Things you need to be thinking about.

Step 1: Investigate the current market to determine whether entering the market would make good business sense.
  • Who is our competition?
  • What size market share does each competitor have?
  • How do their products/services compare to ours?
  • Are there any barriers to entry? Such as government regulations, access to distribution channels, capital requirements.
Step 2: If we decide to enter the market, what is the best way?
  • There are three main ways to enter a market.
  • Start from scratch
  • Acquire an existing business
  • Form a joint venture
Analyze the pros and cons of each. This is sometimes called cost-benefit analysis. You can use this whenever you are trying to decide whether or not to proceed with a decision.

THE FIVE C’s and 4 P’s
There are two elementary frameworks that can do the job. You’re not going to blow anyone away with these, but you won’t drown either. They will allow you to touch on all the main points and appear fairly well organized.

FIVE C’s (usually best to pick 3 that fit your situation)
  1. Company
  2. Costs
  3. Competition
  4. Consumer
  5. Channels
  1. Product
  2. Price
  3. Placement
  4. Promotion
Case Preparation - Case Commandments

These Commandments are the result of years of research. Cosentino has interviewed recruiters, consultants, partners and debriefed hundreds of Harvard students.

Listen to the Question: Listening is the most important skill a consultant has. The case isn’t about you or the consultant. it’s about the client. What are they really asking for? Pay particular attention to the last sentence – one word can change the entire case.

Take Notes: Taking notes during the case interview allows you to check back with the facts of the case. As someone once said, "The palest ink is stronger than the best memory." If you blank out, all the information is right in front of you.

Summarize the Question: After you are given the question, take a moment to summarize the highlights out loud:
  • It shows the interviewer that you listened
  • It allows you to hear the information again
  • It keeps you from answering the wrong question
  • It fills the otherwise awkward pause when you’re trying to think of something intelligent to say
Verify the Objective(s): Professional consultants always ask their clients to verify their objective(s). Even if the objectives seem obvious, there could be an additional underlying objective. When the objective seems apparent, phrase the questions differently: "One objective is to increase sales. Are there any other objectives I should know about?"

Ask Clarifying Questions
You ask questions for three main reasons:
  • To get additional information that will help you identify and label the question
  • To demonstrate to the interviewer that you are not shy about asking probing questions under difficult circumstances (something you’ll be doing on a regular basis as a consultant)
  • To turn the question into a conversation. Nothing turns an interviewer off quicker than a five-minute monologue.
Organize Your Answer: Identify and label your case, then lay out your structure. This is the hardest part of a case – and the most crucial. It drives your case and is often the major reason behind whether you get called back.

Hold that Thought for one second / think before you speak: The interviewer wants you to think out loud, but think before speak. If you make a statement that is way off-base in an interview, the interviewer will wonder if he can trust you in front of a client.

Manage Your Time: Your answer should be as linear as possible. Don’t get bogged down in the details. Answer from a macro–level and move the answer forward. Stay focused on the original question.

By the Numbers: If possible, try to work numbers into your answer. Demonstrate that you think quantitatively and that you are comfortable with numbers.

Be Coachable: Listen to the interviewer’s feedback. Is she trying to guide you back on track? Pay attention to her body language. Are you boring her or is she enthralled?

Be Creative and Brainstorm: Consulting firms like liberal arts candidates with intellectual curiosity who can "think outside the box" and offer up a new and interesting perspective.

Exude Enthusiasm and a Positive Attitude: Recruiters want people who are excited by problem solving and can carry that enthusiasm throughout the entire interview.

Bring Closure and Summarize: Create a sense of closure by summarizing the case. Review your findings, restate your suggestions, and make recommendations.

Case Questions tips

Listen to the question

  • Ask clarifying questions only if you don't understand

Base your assumptions on some sort of logic; otherwise the interviewer might challenge how you came up with your conclusion

Write down all numbers

First Three Steps

1. Summarize the case
2. Verify the objectives
3. Ask clarifying questions
 a. To get additional information
 b.  To show you can ask direct and probing questions
 c.  To turn the case into a conversation

Notes design

  • Use landscape format
  • Divide the first page into two sections


  • Case notes: write down the information you know
  • Be sure to verify the objective


  • Write the objectives across the top of this section.
  • Write the answers to questions that you asked about the case.
  • Draw or lay out your structure.
  • E (P+R-C) M
  • Sales / R&D or
  • Earnings / R&D

A good interview consists of

  • Repeating the question, verifying the objective and asking about other objectives
  • A logical and well thought out market sizing process (if the question asks for one)
  • No math mistakes
  • Not getting flustered when being cut off and asked “What else?” (This is a crucial element of the interview, since clients will be demanding and sometimes rude.)

“Let me tell you why you are wrong.” Sometimes during a case, the student will be asked to make a decision. She will be forced between A and B. If she chooses A, the interview will look her right in the eye and say, “Let me tell you why you are wrong.” If she had chosen B, the interviewer would have looked her right in the eye and said, “Let me tell you why you are wrong.” It does not matter which one she chooses, they are going to tell her why she is wrong. The interviewer does this to see how she reacts. Does she turn red, does her jaw tighten, or do her eyebrows shoot up? Clients are going to challenge her findings and ideas all the time. The interviewer wants to make sure she can handle criticism when someone challenges her.

While the interviewer is telling her why she is wrong, if she does not find his answer persuasive, then she should simply say, “That was an interesting argument, but I did not find it compelling enough. I am sticking with answer A.” That is what he wants her to do, stick with her answer if she thinks it is right. Defend her answer without getting defensive.

If in his argument he brings up something that she did not consider, and not that she thinks about it, it changes everything, she should admit that she was wrong. She should simply say, “That was a very persuasive argument, and to be honest, I did not think about the inventory issue. I think you are right; I think B is the right answer.” There is no shame in changing her answer if she was wrong. It shoes that she is still objective and open to reason. What he does not want her to do is change her answer just because he said she was wrong.

  • Brainstorming good ideas and strategies
  • Determining other considerations like competitive response and exit strategies
  • A good, short summary touching on the most critical points
  • Well-organized and easy to read notes



  • Structured framework - Did they organize their thoughts and analyze the case in a logical manner? Did they layout or physically draw a structure before they started answering the question?
  • Quant acumen - Did they try to quantify their answer? Did they make any math mistakes?
  • Data  - Did they incorporate the data provided into their answer? Did they make logical assumptions based on data provided?
  • Good use of data provided


  • Eye contact and posture - Was it consistent and positive?
  • Articulation  - Could you understand them? Did they speak in complete sentences? Did they use slang? Did they show a sense of humor?
  • Listening  - Were they listening while you were speaking or were they thinking of what they were planning on saying?
  • Asking probing questions - Did they ask insightful and probing questions?
  • Note layout - Were their notes well organized? Were they visual with their notes? Did they draw boxes, graphs, arrows, decision trees, value chains, or flow charts? Could you read their handwriting?


  • Enthusiasm  - Did it seem that they enjoyed solving cases? Did they remain upbeat throughout the interview - even when they were in trouble? Is this someone you want to work 60 hours a week with?
  • Self confidence
  • Teamwork and engagement - Did they bring you into the process?
  • Logic, original thought and intellectual curiosity  

(adapted from; accessed 3/2009)

-Updated by Vince on 14 March 2012

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