Popular case interview books reviewed

A LOT of books offer guidance on how to navigate the case interview process. But here's 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 a top consulting firm? Before we go into more detail, here is a quick overview of the best case interview books we would recommend:

  1. Case Interviews: A Comprehensive Method (By IGAO)
  2. Case Interview Secrets (By Victor Cheng)
  3. Interview Math (By Lewis C. Lin)

And 3 popular case interview books we would NOT recommend:

  1. Case in Point (by Marc Cosentino)
  2. 20 Days to Ace the Case (by Destin Whitehurst)
  3. Crack the Case System (by David Orhvall)

Case interview books recommendations

    Keep reading to find out why we have (or have not) recommended the books listed above. 

    1. [Coming Soon] Case Interviews: The Only Book You'll Need To Read, by IGotAnOffer – Recommended

    This is a little bit cheeky but we are going to start by recommending our own upcoming case interview book. Some of the existing books are helpful, but none of them summarise 100% of the information you need to crack your case interview process in a succinct way. That's what we aim to do with our upcoming book. You can join our launch list below to get a 20% discount code when we launch towards the end of 2019.


    Why this book

    When we were preparing for case interviews back in the day, we had two big frustrations with the books available. First, they were ~300 pages long, but it felt like they could have been summarised in 30 pages. And second, no single case interview book seemed to provide a complete guide to the process, something was always missing (e.g. how to create a good resume, how to answer fit questions, etc). 

    So, our plan is to create a book that's both comprehensive and succinct: the only book you'll need to read to land a job at McKinsey, BCG, Bain and other top consulting firms. The book will cover everything from resume and cover letter tips to get an interview, to the best strategies to crack cases and answer behavioural questions.

    We would love to hear your thoughts on the book as we write it and you can access the draft here. Don't hesitate to read through and add any comments or questions as you go! In addition you can sign up above to get notified and receive a discount code when we launch the final version of the book towards the end of 2019.

    The book is still in draft form at this stage. But we've got other resources which you'll find helpful for your preparation in the meantime. We recommend starting with our free case interview guide and the video series below (5 videos, totalling ~30mins).


    Finally, if after watching the videos and studying the free case interview guide you feel like you need more support, you can also check our case interview training programme.

    Authors

    The book is being written by our team at IGotAnOffer with the support and input from ex-interviewers from McKinsey, BCG, and Bain who work with us (more about them here).

    2. 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 assess candidates, etc. The information on the difference between McKinsey’s interviewer-led cases and BCG / Bain’s candidate led-cases 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 more summarised. This is one of the reasons we developed our case interview guide. Second, as we will explain further in our review of Cosentino's book below, we strongly disagree with Cheng's advice to always re-use 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.

    3. 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.

    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. Besides being the CEO of the 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 market sizing, revenue estimates, profitability, breakeven, price elasticity, and lifetime value. For each topic, the book also provides problems that go from simple to complex, which are broken down in a way that makes them easy to understand.

    4. 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 trying to force-fit their case into a predefined framework from Case in Point. 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 you might think!

    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.

    5. 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 you follow its 20-day structure to prepare for your interviews, because 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. 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.

    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 be thorough, but they should also be distilled. We find that Crack the Case System really overcomplicates case interviews. As a result, we 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 categorises 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 begin your case interview preparation by getting early access to our draft case interview book above, and that you read our free case interview guide. If after this you still want 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?