Business Case Study Interview Questions

If you are going to apply to a consulting company, it's very likely that they will give you a case study interview. This consists of giving you a problem and you trying to think and organize a solution.

Microsoft Tech Case Study Interview

  • Design a kitchen for people in wheelchairs: Barrier Free Kitchen Design - good intuitive advice, must have enough space between the cabinets and island to manuever a wheelchair,
    • three basic activity centers: stove/cooktop/oven, fridge and freezer, sink/dishwasher
    • must have enough space between the cabinets and island to maneuver a wheelchair
    • must have lots of knee space! under the sink, preparation space
    • lowered countertops
    • cooktop controls should be mounted on the front
    • oven should be on the ground
    • cabinets should be on the ground, roll out cabinets
    • more storage space: lazy susan corner cabinets

Deloitte Case Interview Workshop notes

Business Case Interview

Skills needed to think through a Business Case:

  • Logical/Analytical Thought process
  • Communication
  • Creativity
  • Business insight
  • Ability to sort through extraneous information
  • Ability to come to a concise and clear recommendation
  • Organizational skills
  • Working under pressure

Types of Business Cases:

  • Market Sizing: aka ESTIMATE! i.e. "How much paint would you need to paint a fleet of navy airships?"
    • Example: "How many golf balls are made in the US per year?"
      1. What is the number of golfers in US? There are 250 million people in the US and let’s say 20% of them golf. That makes for 50 million golfers.
      2. What is the number of balls each golfer uses? Let’s say each golfer uses about 2-3 balls per round of golf.
      3. What is the number of rounds they play per year? Let’s say each golfer plays about 10 rounds per year.
      4. Therefore you have about 1,500,000,000 golf balls in the US
  • General Business: analyze common business issues i.e. "Where should we relocate?"
    • Example: "We are a customer support call center for Blah Computers. Our costs are increasing, what should we do?"
      1. Some things to think about would be profit/loss margin, N-tier architecture, people costs, server costs (i.e. powering the servers themselves and the cooling A/C systems for the servers), resource leveling
      2. People costs: how much does it cost to maintain the servers with our people? Staffing issues: are they inexperienced, do they need better training, is it taking them too long to fix things, are they not happy with their jobs?
      3. Server issues: maybe we need to upgrade our servers to newer, faster better servers to reduce the number of servers it takes to solve a problem.
      4. Architecture issues: maybe the way the calls are being directed to the wrong people (i.e. better allocation of human resources), too much traffic to one specific group
  • Brain Teasers: test your creativity i.e. "Why are manhole covers round?"


  1. Understand the problem
  2. Obtain more information – ask questions to gain clarity
  3. Analyze the case and structure your thoughts, use a framework.
    • Porter’s 5 Forces
      1. Barriers of Entry
      2. Threat of Substitution
      3. Industry Competition
      4. Buyer Power
      5. Supplier Power
    • SWOT
      1. Strenghts
      2. Weaknesses
      3. Opportunities
      4. Threats
    • Four C's
      1. Customers
      2. Costs
      3. Competitors
      4. Capabilities
    • Four P's
      1. Product
      2. Price
      3. Promotion
      4. Place
  4. Present a conclusion
  5. Recommend a solution, present your insight.


  1. Breaking the Ice (1-5mins)
  2. Instructions, overview & approach (5mins)
  3. Overview of the Case (3-5mins)
  4. Nature of the Problem (3-5mins) - take fewer, important notes
  5. Ask questions! (5-15mins)
  6. Time to structure thoughts (5-10mins) - pictures/diagrams are good!
  7. Present recommendations (10mins) - collect your ideas, use an outline
  8. Follow-up questions (3-5mins) - how did you pick your framework? your solution?

Example 1: Drugs R'US and DrugCo
Drugs R’US is a large pharmaceutical drug producing company, sized at about 5000 employees. Drugs R’US plans to buy a smaller company called DrugCo, which as roughly 300 employees and specializes in producing athletic sports drinks and other energy drinks. Drugs R’US uses an industry standard online website frontend for its customers called ePharma and for its servers it uses an industry standard Oracle database. DrugCo uses all homegrown (custom-made) programs and web applications to manage its inventory and servers. Would it be worthwhile for Drugs R’US to acquire DrugCo? (no right or wrong answer)

Things to think about:

  • What section of the market does DrugCo cover? What kind of globalization does DrugCo achieve and what markets are there to gain with acquiring DrugCo (i.e. let’s say DrugCo exports most of its products to Canada and Asia to be sold while Drugs R’US holds a large market sector of pharmaceutical drugs in the US)
  • Where is DrugCo situated, where are their locations? Would DrugCo have to move its people to Drugs R’US locations or could they stay where they are? What would the cost be associated to relocating all of their employees? Would DrugCo be willing to uproot itself if it were a core job supplier in the local townships?
  • Would it be more efficient/cheaper/better to impose the industry standards on the entire DrugCo company or would it be better to keep the two companies’ systems separate or would it be better to keep them separate but build and develop a program that would bridge the two systems (i.e save DrugCo’s information in Drugs R’US systems as well as its own)? What would the costs be associated to each of these three options?
  • What kinds of products does Drugs R’US specialize in? Would it be more profitable to develop and market their own sports drinks or to buy the patents/formulas from DrugCo or to buy the entire DrugCo company itself? Costs for each option?
  • Are there any other industry standard systems that are easy, simple, and cheap to implement on both DrugCo and Drugs R’US? Is DrugCo’s homegrown system better than Drugs R’US? Should Drugs R’US try to implement the homegrown system?

Example 2: What would you research to predict trends in gas prices?
Things to think about:

  • Current Trends: look at current and expected gas prices/price per barrel in the market
  • Consumer Trends in the market: are more people buying more gas-friendly cars? Are there more hybrid/electric/alternative fuel cars in the market
  • Global: Look at foreign policy, trade embargoes, tension with countries that are main exporters of oil (i.e. are we at WAR with OPEC nations?)
  • Government policy: are they imposing new restrictions for carbon emissions and MPG? Are they restricting/promoting oil drilling in remote locations?
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