Preparing for an Interview
How we assess applicants
Our recruiting teams review all applicants’ resumes, transcripts, and other materials. We then invite a select group of candidates to interview with us. We use case interviews, behavioral interviews, and simulated project exercises to assess candidates. We do this in order to:
- Gain insight into how you think about business issues relevant to our work.
- Get a sense of your motivation and interest in consulting with Cartesian.
- Understand your analytical thinking, problem-solving, and communication skills.
- Get to know you personally.
- Give you the chance to learn about our firm, our people, and the type of work we do.
How to prepare for case interviews and simulated project exercises
In many of our interviews, candidates are asked to think about a specific business problem. What are we looking for in your responses?
- Logical thought and problem-structuring processes – how you approach a new business problem.
- General business knowledge and insight – putting business sense into practice.
- The ability to draw on your own experience and insight – putting common sense into practice.
- Comfort with quantitative analysis.
- Creativity and quick thinking.
- How well you express your thinking. Is it coherent? Is it logical?
There are many ways to prepare for a case interview. Here are three we find very useful and recommend highly:
- Attend case interview preparation workshops (these are offered by career development offices at most universities). In addition many websites offer example cases, responses, and critiques.
- Make a regular habit of reading a major business publication or two.
- Understand what type of work we do and the clients and industries we serve – this will help you anticipate the kinds of questions you may be asked.
Case Study Interviews
Case study interviews are key components of the consulting interview and recruiting process, as they test many of the skills you will use daily on the job. Our case studies help us evaluate candidates on several dimensions, including problem structuring, basic quantitative ability, and issue identification.
What interviewers look for
1. Ability to:
- Identify key information and prioritize ideas
- Switch mindsets and ideate from another perspective (e.g. looking at an issue from the investor and then the consumer angles)
- Conduct numerical analysis
- Retain and process new information
- Coherently and effectively communicate your thoughts
2. Feel for business strategy
3. Basic business judgement and logic
4. Comfort organizing thoughts into numbers
With these points in mind, use the practice case which includes questions, suggested answers, and guidance, to help you prepare.
Our interviewers are looking for future colleagues, so use the case interview as your opportunity to showcase your strengths, emphasizing the traits and abilities that are essential to consulting.
We strongly encourage candidates to practice in advance of their case interviews. Knowing what interviewers are looking for can help you approach case interviews with organization and purpose.
Our tips and suggested best practices
Here are some tips for performing well on your case interviews and simulated project exercises:
- Take your time. Listen to the question – repeat or paraphrase it if you need to. It is not a race. You do not get “points” for a fast finish. Think tortoise, not hare.
- Collect your thoughts. Write down preliminary ideas or hypotheses; identify intelligent questions; develop a coherent problem-solving approach.
- Follow through with your approach. Describe your thinking and move systematically through each issue.
- Ask questions. Clarify issues. Ask for additional information if you need it.
- Reach an answer. Commit yourself to a solution but show flexibility and willingness to rethink it in light of new information.