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Vault Guide to the Case Interviewis made possible through the

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MARK ASHER, ERIC CHUNG AND THE STAFF OF VAULT

CASEINTERVGUIDE

VAULT GUIDE TO THE

CASEINTERVIEW

2005 Vault Inc.

Copyright 2005 by Vault Inc. All rights reserved.

All information in this book is subject to change without notice. Vault makes no claims as tothe accuracy and reliability of the information contained within and disclaims all warranties.No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means,electronic or mechanical, for any purpose, without the express written permission of VaultInc.

Vault, the Vault logo, and the most trusted name in career informationTM are trademarks ofVault Inc.

For information about permission to reproduce selections from this book, contact Vault Inc.,150 W. 22nd St., 5th Floor, New York, NY 10011, (212) 366-4212.

Library of Congress CIP Data is available.

ISBN 1-58131-305-5

Printed in the United States of America

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

Vaults acknowledgments: We are extremely grateful to Vaults entire staff forall their help in the editorial, production and marketing processes. Vault alsowould like to acknowledge the support of our investors, clients, employees,family, and friends. Thank you!

INTRODUCTION 1

Why the Case . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1

Types of Case Interviews . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2

Skills Assessed in the Case Interview . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3

What Kind of Case Will I get? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6

CASE STRATEGIES 7

Your Objective . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .9

Dont Fret . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .9

Top 10 tips for answering business case questions successfully . . . . . . . . .10

Common Problems and Troubleshooting . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .14

Thinking About the Case . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .15

The Case Checklist . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .16

Specific Types of Business Cases . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .17

CASE FRAMEWORKS 23

Basic Concepts and Frameworks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .26

Basic Overview of Financial Statements . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .27

Advanced Concepts and Frameworks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .34

Net present value . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .34

Visit the Vault Consulting Career Channel at www.vault.com/consulting withinsider firm profiles, message boards, the Vault Finance Job Board and more. ixC A R E E RL I B R A R Y

Table of Contents

Vault Guide to the Case InterviewTable of Contents

The Capital Asset Pricing Model (CAPM) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .35

Porters Five Forces . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .38

PIE: The next generation of Porters Five Forces . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .40

SWOT Analysis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .42

The Seven S Framework . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .43

Product life cycle curve . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .44

Strategy tool/framework chart . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .45

The Four Ps . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .46

The Four Cs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .47

The Five Cs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .47

Value chain analysis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .49

Core competencies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .50

Benchmarking and best practices . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .50

The 2x2 matrix . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .51

The BCG matrix . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .52

M&A cases: Value drivers framework . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .53

M&A cases: Target and market assessment . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .54

M&A cases: Data gathering and analysis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .56

BEING THERE 59

What Its Like Being in a Case Interview . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .61

The Case . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .62

2005 Vault Inc.x C A R E E RL I B R A R Y

Vault Guide to the Case InterviewTable of Contents

REAL LIFE INTERVIEWS 67

Boston Consulting Group . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .69

McKinsey & Company . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .70

Monitor Group . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .71

A.T. Kearney . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .71

L.E.K. Consulting . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .72

BUSINESS CASES 73

Case Formats . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .75

Practice Questions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .76

Thinking Strategically . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .89

Using the Four Ps . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .92

Sailing the Five Cs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .94

A Written Case . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .100

The Financial Case Interview . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .102

Additional Practice Questions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .105

And Try These for More Practice . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .109

INTERACTIVE CASES 111

A Fit Interview in Disguise . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .113

How to Use the Interactive Cases . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .113

How to Run an Interactive Case Exercise . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .114

Tips for the Case . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .116

Visit the Vault Consulting Career Channel at www.vault.com/consulting withinsider firm profiles, message boards, the Vault Finance Job Board and more. xiC A R E E RL I B R A R Y

Vault Guide to the Case InterviewTable of Contents

Sample Interactive Cases . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .117

PRESENTATION CASES 137

General Tips and Tricks for All Presentation Cases . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .141

Presentation Case Type 1 Research Case . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .142

Research Case Example: Pure Meats . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .144

Presentation Case Type 2 Complete the Presentation . . . . . . . . . . . . . .164

Complete the Presentation Example: Wells Incorporated . . . . . . . . . . . . .164

Presentation Case Type 3 Teach Me Something . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .173

Difficult Situation Cases . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .175

Consulting Interviews by Phone . . . . .