Popular case interview books reviewed

Case interviews are famously difficult. Candidates are assesed on a variety of skills including: communication, problem solving, maths, and the ability to perform and deliver under stress.

A LOT of books offer guidance on how to navigate the process. But here is the thing: time is precious when it comes to preparing for consulting interviews. You simply won't have time to read that many books.

So which ones should you go through to maximise your chances of getting a job at McKinsey, BCG or Bain? We've reviewed the top case interview books below, telling you whether we recommend them or not.

Case interview books recommendations

1. Case Interview Guide, by IGotAnOffer – Recommended

Our recommendation

This is a little bit cheeky but we are going to start by recommending our own guide. It's been used by more than 7,000 people so far and summarises everything you need to know to get started with consulting interviews. You can read and download your free copy here.

The pros and cons

When we were preparing for case interviews back in the days, we had one big frustration with all the case interview books available out there: they were ~300 pages long but it felt like they could have been summarised in 30 pages. So that's what we did. Our case interview guide does not repeat itself. It goes straight to the essential information you need to be successful. In addition, we have also turned the guide into a video series which you can watch below (5 videos, totalling ~30mins). 

 

That being said, this case interview guide should only be the first step of your consulting interview preparation. As we mention in the last part of the guide we have put together a step-by-step training programme to help you become a case interview pro. Candidates who have used this programme in the past are a happy bunch - 80% of them end up getting an offer at their target firms (e.g.: McKinsey, BCG, Bain, etc.). We know this because we give half their money back to people who don't.

Author and content

The guide was written by the team at IGotAnOffer (more about us here) as well as some of the ex-interviewers from McKinsey, BCG and Bain who work with us (more about them here).

The guide covers everything from case interview basics, their structure, the difference between McKinsey and other cases, fit and PEI questions as well as how to structure your preparation to maximise your chances of success.

2. Case in Point, by Marc Cosentino – Not recommended

Our Recommendation

This will probably be controversial, but although it's been the best-selling case interview book on Amazon for a long time, we do NOT recommend reading Case in Point. The main reason is that the whole book relies on learning and applying a series of 10+ frameworks to crack cases. As we have explained in the past, your interviewer will penalise you if you use a pre-defined case framework and you should avoid this at all costs. 

The pros and cons

Cosentino's style is fun and conversational, and he brings many anecdotes to the table from the time he has spent helping students prepare for management consulting interviews. The book is well laid out and easy to follow. It also includes sample cases and a short section on how to behave in interviews which are helpful.

However, as hinted above, interviewers will immediately spot if you are re-using a predefined framework that you have learned in Case in point and are trying to force-fit it to the case they have prepared for you. In our experience, instead of learning frameworks by heart, the best candidates invest time and energy into learning how to build custom frameworks for every case. It's actually much easier than it might initially seem!

Author and content

Marc Cosentino is the former Associate Director of Career Services at Harvard. 

Cosentino's guide is ~250 pages long. It begins with a general section on the interview, tackles different case types next, then moves on to a description of Cosentino's "system" . Finally, additional frameworks are detailed.

3. Case Interview Secrets, by Victor Cheng – Recommended

Our recommendation

Overall we would recommend reading Case Interview Secrets as it’s a good introduction to the case interview process. It won’t be enough to get you an interview or a job but it’s an interesting starting point.

The pros and cons

Cheng writes very authoritatively and personably. He manages to cover a lot of ground using a structure that’s easy to follow. Its main strength is that it gives good insights on how interviewers think, what criteria they use to asses candidates, etc. The fact that the difference between McKinsey’s interviewer-led cases and BCG / Bain’s candidate led-cases is introduced is also helpful.

That being said, there are a few shortcomings to the book. First, it feels repetitive in places and the content could have been covered in a more summarized way - this is one of the reasons we developed our case interview guide. Second, as we have already mentioned for Cosentino's book, we strongly disagree with the author's advice of always re-using the same two frameworks. Interviewers will notice and penalise you if you do this. And third, the book does not include practice cases which would have been helpful to apply the concepts laid out.

Author and content

Victor Cheng is a former management consultant at McKinsey in the US. He is also an independent consultant for mid-size US companies.

The book is split across seven sections. It begins with an overview of the interview and how candidates are assessed. This is followed by a section on maths and a section on the basic tools that are needed when solving cases. Section four details Cheng's two basic frameworks for approaching case studies. The following two sections look at case study formats, and the book concludes on how to combine all of the above skills in order to succeed.

4. 20 Days to Ace the Case, by Destin Whitehurst - Not recommended

Our Recommendation

The concepts covered in this book are interesting, but we find the 20-day "boot-camp" structure to be somewhat gimmicky. If you want to purchase the book, we would recommend reading it to learn about the concepts it covers. But we would not recommend to follow its 20-day structure to prepare for your interviews as we don't feel you will be prepared enough after following it.

The pros and cons

The book introduces concepts such as the profitability framework and internal vs. external frameworks which you should know about for your consulting interviews. The writing is crisp and clear, and divided into short engaging chapters. Throughout the book there are brief anecdotes on interview experiences which make it entertaining.  

There are two main drawbacks to the book. First, it assumes that you have already done substantial research on consulting interviews and therefore only touches on some key concepts. For instance, the behavioural part of consulting interviews is not addressed in depth. Second, 9 of the 20 days in the programme are dedicated to doing a mock interview. While doing mock cases is sound advice, in our experience, most candidates who are successful at case interviews have done 30+ cases. We therefore don't recommend following the 20-day structure to the letter.

Author and content

Destin Whitehurst is a senior consultant at Deloitte.

The book is divided across twenty chapters that should be read in twenty days, as a lead up to the actual interview. Besides offering daily exercises, the book describes various consulting firms, nine mock interviews, advice on what questions to ask the interviewer, anecdotes from past candidates, and strategic insights from the author.

5. Interview Math, by Lewis C. Lin - Recommended

Our Recommendation

As maths are an important part of case studies, we highly recommend you read this guide. But don't read it on its own: pair it with other guides that focus on case interviews per se.

The pros and cons

This is a great book for those looking to strengthen their quantitative skills before their interviews. It is clear, concise, well-structured, and authoritative. The style is less "businessy" than many of the other guides we mention here; the tone is a little more informal and friendly.  

That being said, this guide only focuses on getting you comfortable with the numbers. It does not aim to do anything else. For a wider perspective on case interviews, it's essential you look at other material too, like our case interview guide listed above. Interview Math also suffers a little from being repetitive.

Author and content

Lewis C. Lin is the former Director of Product Management at Microsoft. Beside being the CEO of coaching firm Impact Interview, he also appears on news outlets such as Business Insider and The Atlantic.

In just ~150 pages, the book does a thorough job of defining different kinds of concepts including include: market sizing, revenue estimates, profitability, breakeven, price elasticity and lifetime value. For each topic, the book also provides problems that go from simple to complicated, and are broken down in a way that makes them easy to understand.

6. Crack the Case System, by David Orhvall – Not recommended

Our Recommendation

We don't want you entering the interview with too much clutter in your mind. Interview guides should of course be thorough, but distilled. We find that Crack the Case System really overcomplicates case interviews. We therefore recommend that you pass over this one.

The pros and cons

The book does a good job of guiding the reader through every step of the process while providing a holistic approach to cases. It doesn't rely on strict frameworks either.

The main challenge we found with this book is that it tends to over complicate case interviews. One issue is the excessive use of mnemonics, through trademarked short forms like IMPACT and SPECIALT. The other issue is that the book is a companion piece to a very large amount of online material that includes test cases and a collection of videos. This is all very time-consuming and repetitive, rather than getting to the point.

Author and content

David Orhvall was a management and operational consultant at Bain & Company.

The book is ~300 pages long and categorizes 13 different case types or "roadmaps". It covers every aspect of the interview: how to think like a consultant and how to tackle quantitative problems, how to communicate effectively, how to engage in small-talk, and how to arrange notes.

Conclusion

Our overall recommendation is that you read our free case interview guide first. If after this you still feel like you need more guidance and would like to read more books then we would recommend picking up a copy of Case interview secrets and Interview maths.

What case interview book are you considering reading?

We are keen to hear your thoughts on case interview books. Do you agree with our list? Which ones are you considering reading? If you have read any, which ones would you recommend?

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