Case interviews are awkward September 04 2016

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Case interviews are awkward for many reasons: you are wearing a suit, sitting across from someone you have never met before, and discussing a business problem in an industry you are not familiar with. This is not your everyday situation!

However, the most unnatural part of case interviews is something you probably aren’t thinking about right now. The most awkward part is actually to have to solve the case out loud. This can be extremely unsettling and embarrassing the first few times you do it.

As one candidate who prepared with us and now works at McKinsey puts it:

While I did pass the first round (of case interviews), I struggled with the awkwardness of having to work out my cases out loud, and I definitely worked on this for my second round!

The first few times you do a case it is a shock to hear yourself trying to solve the problem. It does not feel natural and it is easy to lose confidence when you start hearing hesitation in your voice. As a consequence, you need to do cases out loud before your actual interviews to get comfortable hearing your voice. 

Most people think that practicing cases once or twice with a friend is enough to get rid of that awkwardness. It does help, but in our experience it takes more than that to get comfortable. 

When you do cases by yourself you should also practice out loud by both playing the role of the interviewer and the candidate. You should ask yourself the questions the interviewer would ask and answer them out loud as if you were in the real interview.

This will feel a little forced at first but in our experience candidates who are using this tip perform much better than others. The reason this technique works is that it recreates the conditions of the interview. It forces you to think and communicate in a structured way, which is exactly what is expected of you in case interviews.

So why not give it a try and avoid feeling that awkwardness during your first case interviews? You can start training with the Free Case Interview Prep materials as well as our McKinsey Case Interview Training Programme.

Any questions on practicing out loud or case interviews in general? Ask them below and we will happily answer them.

Additional resources

Candidates from the best universities around the world use our McKinsey Case Interview Training ProgrammeFree McKinsey Case Interview PrepMcKinsey PST Training ProgrammeFree McKinsey PSTBCG Potential Test Training Programme and Free BCG Potential Test. Some races are worth the extra effort - let's get started!

The IGotAnOffer team

Photo: Rodion Kutsaev / Unsplash