Case interview questions can be tough because they usually catch you off guard. They are designed to see how well you think on your feet; so catching you off guard is part of the reason interviewers ask them.
It is perfectly okay to think about case interview questions before you answer. You can say “That’s an interesting question, I’ll have to think about it” and take a few seconds to prepare a thoughtful response.
When employers ask case interview questions, they are assessing your analytical skills; so think out loud. The example in the ICC Career Resource Manual is “How many gas stations are there in America?” Unless you work for the Department of Energy, there’s probably no set way of determining that number without access to the internet; so the interviewers aren’t looking for the exact number, just how you arrived at your answer. Think out loud: “well, I would guess that every large city has approximately 2,000 gas stations; and since there are approximately 100 large cities, that’s 200,000. Small cities may have 1,000, and there are probably 100 or those, so that’s 100,000. Really small cities like Davis probably have 15 and there are probably thousands of towns like that, so I’ll round that off to about 100,000 as well; so my answer 400,000 gas stations in America.” Who knows – the correct answer may be 200,000 or 2,000,000 – but I showed the interviewing team my logical thought pattern (by the way, there are less than 200,000)..
You may also get questions like “If you could meet someone from history – dead or alive – who would it be?” or “If you were a cartoon character, who would you be?” Again, take a second to think about it and prepare a response that reflects well upon you. The answer you give can be mainstream or controversial; as long as it is supported by a good reason. You can say “I would want to meet Harriet Tubman because she displayed true leadership in the midst of extreme adversity” or you could say “I would want to meet Brittany Spears because everyone goes through tough times and I really can’t believe she is as bad as the media portrays her, so I’d like to talk to her and see.” The first response shows you value leadership and the second response shows you like to get solid information before making an informed decision.
What you don’t want to do is provide an answer without supporting it. You can’t say “The cartoon character I would choose is Scooby Doo” and leave it at that. You can however say “I would be Yogi Bear because he’s smarter than the average bear.”
Here are some other case interview questions:
How many phone booths are there in Los Angeles?
How many planes are flying right now?
Client based questions:
A client from XYZ distributing calls you and displays interest in setting up an internship program. They’ve heard of excellent internship programs from their competitors and know it is a viable way of screening candidates and hiring talent. You are the internship coordinator. what advice do you give them?
An existing business wants to post its products online. What advice do you give them?
If you want more samples, do an internet search on “case interview questions,” however, the best advice we can give you is to think seriously about your answer, clarify any points you don’t understand, and explain your reasoning to the interviewers.
Try your hand at answering some of the questions above, or if you have experienced other questions, post a response.