Bain Case Interview

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Case Interview

Mr. Russ Hagey, the chief talent officer of Bain, told the Wall Street Journal that his firm rewards candidates who can demonstrate logical thinking, articulate their ideas, and collaborate with colleagues.  Evidently, these three qualities are essential to applying good judgment to every business scenario.

When You Are Interviewed

If you are invited to sit for a Bain case interview, it means you have been shortlisted; you are one among  thousands of candidates who apply to the management consulting firm each year who passed the following preliminary criteria:

  • Possesses a strong and consistent academic background;
  • Demonstrates team skills;
  • Submitted an effective cover letter;
  • Involved with extracurricular activities outside academics;
  • Has creative ability; and
  • Earned awards and recognition.

What Bain Expects

During the Bain case interview, you are expected to formulate, present, and discuss your recommendations for solving real-life business challenges. The interviewer will provide PowerPoint slides containing relevant information for your analysis. After approximately one hour, a 40 minute discussion will follow. The interviewer may question your assumptions and interpretations in order to assess your logic, communication skills, and ability to handle a real client situation.

Interviewers expect you to possess excellent problem solving skills. They look for the following competencies in your answer:

  • Understand the problem and break it into component parts;
  • Ask valuable questions for clarification and/or to confirm the data; and
  • Think outside the box for innovative, practical, and actionable solutions.

How to Prepare

Even without industry experience, you can still ace a Bain case interview—how you analyze the problem is given more emphasis than what you already know. However, this doesn’t mean you can show up without serious preparation. The competition in this industry is intense; make the most of this opportunity to prove that you have what it takes to be a consultant. Below are some preparation tips:

Tip Description
Enhance your comprehension skills. Because you have limited time for reading and analysis, learn to absorb information quickly. Develop your ability to determine which details are relevant.
Improve your mental math. You will most likely use numbers to back up your recommendations. It would be wise to master basic arithmetic, percentages, fractions, and ratios because you might not be permitted to use a calculator. Familiarize yourself with the process of table or chart interpretation as well.
Read business cases. Many case problems are posted on the Internet. Even Bain has provided examples and guidelines on how to answer them methodically. Reading these materials gives you an idea on how to approach each scenario like a pro.
Apply consulting frameworks. Learn the common consulting frameworks used in the industry. Benchmarking and Balance Scorecard are two management tools Bain consultants regularly utilize. These structures effectively lead you to viable answers.
Have mock interviews. Conducting mock interviews with an alumni, a fellow consulting aspirant, a professional coach, or a professor tests your communication skills. In addition, you will receive feedback on the way your project yourself to the interviewer.

Remember that no two Bain case interviews are alike. If the case presented to you is unfamiliar despite your extensive practice, don’t panic. Focus and give it your best shot.

Learn More

Download this management consulting guide for more techniques on how to ace a Bain case interview. It explains the three types of questions that may be presented to you. Tips on how to analyze each question and project yourself confidently are also provided. It also includes an interview script that illustrates how to present your answer in a clear and comprehensive manner.


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