Is it appropriate to ask interviewer for the category of a case before interview?

malidsty's picture
Rank: Chimp | 12

(Pardon my ignorance if this is a stupid question, but I'm new to the whole getting-a-job thing.)

I'm currently a senior in college and going through the interview process at several boutique consulting firms. In my experience, the firms have usually given me some general background information in advance of each case interview-- for example, one firm gave me a list of sample questions they've asked in the past, one firm told me specifically that the case would be related to sales funnel optimization, etc. I'm currently about to schedule a second round case interview with a firm that hasn't given me any hints in advance whatsoever, and this is the first time that I've been in this situation.

This firm does a pretty wide variety of work, and they offer some services that are a bit more similar to what you'd expect from PE-- they occasionally advise clients on M&A/other investment decisions. I was told during first interview that that kind of work definitely constitutes a minority of the services they typically complete. After checking out the LinkedIn of my next interviewer, however, it seems that she is the head of their M&A team.

I'm wondering if it would be appropriate for me to ask whether or not she would be able to provide a broad category of the case when I confirm a time for our upcoming interview (i.e. whether it's a market sizing question, marketing, M&A, etc.). If it is in fact M&A, that would pretty drastically affect how I prepare.

But if that would be stupid and poor etiquette, also lmk.

Comments (4)

Jan 30, 2019

Hey malidsty, I think you deserve a response...heck, everyone does. We're listening, sorry about the delay best guess at places on WSO that could help:

You're welcome.

Feb 2, 2019

Definitely poor etiquette imo. I get where you're coming from as understanding the overall category can help nail down your framework ideas/industry knowledge but if this info isn't offered to you upfront then it is not something they will only give to you and not other candidates as you'd have a big advantage. Moreover, it'll look like you're trying to game the system instead of taking a case interview to be what it is - a display of your ability to solve often unfamiliar business problems.

Best thing you can do is check out your interviewers on LinkedIn (as I see you've already done) to get an idea as to the kind of cases they would give you.

Best of luck with the job hunt and the rest of your career!

    • 1
Feb 2, 2019

Think of it this way - let's say they give you the info and you bomb the interview. That just looks even worse on your part.

Feb 5, 2019