I have a background in computer science, and worked three years in IT at Microsoft, and two years at Oracle. I recently obtained my MBA at Duke University. This experience gave me a stronger insight in business and management, which I found a very interesting addition to my computer science background. I have interviews coming up with Capgemini and Accenture, where I applied for an IT consultant position. I was told that I would have a case interview in the first round. I however thought this was moreover something applicants for McKinsey or BCG would receive. Because I will have a case interview, I started scanning interesting resources online to get up to speed with the case interview process, and moreover on how to crack case interviews. Do you have any idea what kind of business cases applicants at IT consulting firms typically get? What do you think is the best strategy for me to prepare for an IT consulting case interview? I have so far only researched which resources are available, such as your book, but I have not yet bought any. Would your book be interesting for someone applying for a position as an IT consultant? Thanks in advance!
First of all, it is definitely true that also at Accenture, Capgemini and the like, they do case interviews. As a matter in fact, more and more consulting firms are incorporating the case interview in their recruiting cycle, for the simple reason that it allows to better screen out the people that have the skills they are looking for. I therefore advise you also to look at the case interview as an opportunity to demonstrate your skills, and definitely not as a roadblock. The type of case interview you would receive at McKinsey or Bain for a management consulting position would however be quite different to a case interview you would receive at Capgemini or Accenture for an IT consulting position.
I have a good idea about the IT consulting case interview, but to best answer your question; I additionally informed myself with a couple of colleagues and friends that currently work as IT consultants at Accenture (and thus successfully passed their interviews).
Let’s first discuss the first question: “Do you have any idea what kind of business cases applicants at IT consulting firms typically receive?” To make things simple, a business case generally consists of two elements, on the one hand there is an industry context (i.e. the industry in which the case is situated), and on the other hand there is a capability requirement (for example on IT implementation, mergers & acquisition, strategy, etc). In terms of industry, generally the interviewer will have a case interview on an industry he is familiar with. In case you know the name of the interviewer upfront, you could through the Internet definitely get a good idea about what industry your business case may be. In case you do not know him upfront, it is generally quite hard to get an idea of the industry context your business case will have. Keep in mind however, that the industry context would never in a (good) case interview be a roadblock to cracking a business case. In terms of ‘capability requirement’, a firm like Accenture or Capgemini will look for a case interviewer that has a similar IT background as its interviewees. This allows of course to have the best person in place to assess each interviewee. For this reason, you should expect a business case on an IT capability requirement related to the position you are applying for at the firm (which would generally be quite close to what you have worked on before – in this case at Microsoft or Oracle).
Let’s now discuss your second question: “What do you think is the best strategy for me to prepare for an IT consulting case interview?” As for any case interview, regardless of whether it is at a strategy consulting firm, IT consulting firm, etc, you should definitely ensure you math skills are at their best. In any case interview, many applicants fail because of making some analytical mistakes they would have never made if they had prepared slightly more. For more information on this, I refer to my article on ‘expected analytical skills at case interviews’. Furthermore, I definitely recommend you to study the most important frameworks to crack business cases. Often these are (just as in my book) focused on management consulting, but all my colleagues and friends that work at Accenture had all studied key business frameworks, and recommended doing this. Furthermore, it would definitely be a very good idea to spend a day writing down all your key learnings from your time at Microsoft and Oracle. These will represent a good overview of your most important experiences there, and it is key to have these top of mind during your case interview.
Lastly, do I think “Case Interview Success” would be valuable for you to read. The majority of people who buy my book are applying for management consulting, boutique consulting, and operational consulting. I can definitely say that there are applying for IT consulting that read Case Interview Success. In my personal opinion, I believe Chapter II, III and V (~ 60% of the book), which cover: the case interview process, cracking cases and guesstimates and brainteasers, would definitely be interesting for you. The other chapters I would say are maybe less interesting when applying for an IT consulting position. If you however look at the amount of money someone puts in his education to be invited to interviews, I always find it definitely also worth the money to pay for one (or multiple) book(s) to actually pass those interviews and land the position you aspire.