Need some help preparing for your EY advisory case interview? We’re here to help! Ernst and Young (EY) was one of the first Big 4 firms to start requiring a case interview as part of the Advisory interview process, following in the footsteps of the famous strategy consulting firms like Bain, Mckinsey, and BCG.

Case interviews have become an increasingly popular way for firms to gauge a candidate’s problem-solving, technical, and intrapersonal capabilities. They are usually longer than your average interview, hovering around the 60-minute mark.

During a case interview, you will receive a business conflict to read, review, and analyze. After some time of brainstorming, you will discuss with your interviewer your suggestions and conclusions. The goal is not to accurately solve every issue presented nor is it to devise an entire business plan on the spot. Rather, you want to demonstrate that you understand the facts and dilemmas of your client, you are capable of developing strategic action plans, and recognize there is room for flexibility and diversity in problem-solving. Keep in mind this case will likely be the first time you lay your eyes on it, so you must be rational with yourself.

Often, you should know you are walking into a case interview- if not, well either you don’t read your emails well or your recruiter isn’t the best.  Anyways, start by reading the case once just to understand the basics – “who, what, when, where, why, & how.”  Then, of course, read it again, but this time identify the problem(s). Circle, highlight, underline, and do something to help you recognize each conflict you come across. Try not to have too many; remember you’re being timed. Five at MOST is a good start.

SWAT away the competition at your EY Advisory case interview

Next and quickly, perform a SWOT analysis. This stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. The definition of each is pretty self-explanatory, but if you want more description check out this

This will be a great way to open up your discussion later with your interviewer, but for now, use it as a way to organize your thoughts about the company.

Once you have a handle on the issues this is where your beautiful noggin comes in!

Strategize; think of ways to solve the issues.  Here are some thought-provoking questions to help you think of solutions.

Can the company consolidate its product, finances, or operations?

Is it best for the company to seek external or internal assistance?

What are they already doing well (a strength) that they can leverage in this issue?

Are costs the issue or is it a personnel issue?

What type of value does this company have and need to maintain to its consumers?

Does this company have the capacity or should they integrate/merge with another?

Will your solution drive costs up?

Ethics vs Profits-how would you balance this for the company?

When you believe you have developed convincing and practical solutions to your case, alert your interviewer. Try to choose two with two or three conflicts so that you have a detailed plan rather than several short ideas. You can use your SWOT analysis as an opening to start off strong and then dive into your solutions. Make sure your thoughts and suggestions are well-organized; perhaps in order of what is most problematic -this will really demonstrate you have great management and comprehension skills. Approach your discussion in a similar manner that you would with a potential client. Be clear in your recommendations and explain your thought process. Make sure to address possible mishaps in your proposition. It is okay to recognize that your ideas are not bulletproof.

Once you have presented your case, be prepared for questions, and further discussion with your interviewer. They may want to walk through your thought process with you or have you explain an idea further.

Breathe!!  It is over and you have probably impressed your interviewer more than you know. Confidence and patience in yourself are key in this type of interview. Whether you have the perfect answer or not is not going to determine if you get the position, but simply how well you receive information and can form an analysis. For more practice keep up with current cases and journals. You can also find other EY job tips by following the link.