I have a second round case interview coming up next week with BCG, and this will be a presentation case with a manager and a consultant. I was told I would receive a pack of information, and that I would have 90 minutes to analyze this information, and then make a 15 minutes presentation. I already did a presentation case last week at Bain, and I actually didn’t do well (I unfortunately did not pass to the third and last round), because I had spend too much time skimming the materials and analyzing the data. They told me what I had presented was fine, but I had not cracked the case (because of my timing issue). I honestly did not try out your tip to put key messages on a separate sheet, perhaps because I was taken aback by the amount of data that was given to me for the presentation case. In any case, after that presentation case at Bain I felt that I can do much better, and definitely want to do it right next week with BCG. Do you have any additional advice for me next to what is covered in Chapter IV on presentation cases?
It seems to me from your explanation that you did not have any specific issues with the first, the third and the fourth step of how to tackle presentation cases, as described in Case Interview Success (Chapter IV). It seems that your major problem was thus with step two; namely efficiently ‘skimming the materials’. It has to be said, that this is a common ‘problem area’ for people doing case interviews. The biggest difficulty is to go into ‘action mode’; i.e. going from ‘skimming materials’ to ‘doing the analysis and crack the case’. This is even harder when you receive a lot of information, and you do not have a lot of time. Because of this, I indeed do advise to use a separate sheet for ‘quick’ key messages, as exaplained in the book (this worked extremely well for my presentation cases, and many other readers said it had helped them to move forward with the presentation case). However, to clarify this trick is just a tool to move forward in your analysis. The reason it helps is because it makes you write down key information from which you can further build; whereas several applicants keep reading the different documents (and sometimes even panicking internally). For this reason, you should be more 80/20, you do not need to (and in case there are many documents often even can’t) read every single document into detail. It is therefore important to stick to key messages and key data points. Ask yourself each time after heaving quickly skimmed a document what the most important message was; and build on the key messages of each document. By doing so, the storyline will always emerge. The key thing is simply to not stick to ‘only’ reading and skimming, but actually take your pencil and aggregate those key insights. By doing this in a structured manner, you will see that you will automatically progress in cracking the presentation case.