How to handle the quantitative case interview

The quantitative case interview is a core part of the management consulting recruitment process. In our data-driven world, quantitative interview questions are also common for general management, engineering, and even marketing positions. These questions test a candidate’s mathematical and logical problem-solving capabilities.

What types of questions are asked in quantitative case interviews?

Here are some examples:

Market sizingEstimate the total industry-wide sales of bicycles in the US.
Revenue estimateEstimate annual sales for Starbucks retail stores in the US.
BreakevenA running shoe manufacturer sells shoes for $100 a pair. To produce each pair, the company spends $10 in material and $5 in labor. They have $1M in monthly operating costs. If they sell 30,000 pairs a month, what is their monthly profit?
Price elasticityThe price of a one-way ticket from Seattle to New York is $400. Should JetBlue raise their price to $450?
Lifetime valueWhat is the customer lifetime value of a Visa card holder over the next three years?

Why do firms ask quantitative case questions?

Quantitative interview questions reveal key strengths that you as a candidate will need to become a successful consultant. These questions pose problems that test your ability to demonstrate the following characteristics:

Solve the unexpected

Today’s business world has many new and ambiguous problems. Consultants need to be able to tackle unfamiliar challenges with incomplete information and devise a logical framework for setting a course of action.

Influence others

Work gets done by teams. To persuade team members and leaders to your point of view, as a consultant you must be able to convince others with logical, objective arguments backed by numbers.

Demonstrate mathematical dexterity

We are accustomed to doing math with calculators and designing and running complex data analysis algorithms. As a result, we don’t have as much experience doing math by hand. Often, a quick back-of-the-envelope analysis is needed to test that you are on the right path. Quantitative interviews test your ability to manipulate numbers manually.

Maintain poise under pressure

Good consultants are calm and inspire confidence. Poised individuals communicate with an approach that is balanced, not emotional. That balanced approach is based on a strategy of sound logic and hard numbers.

How do you become an expert in answering quantitative case interview questions?

Practice. Practice. Practice. Candidates need to set aside a significant amount of time to learning how to answer quantitative case questions. However, effective case preparation requires working with a skilled partner. A strategic approach to preparing for case interviews involves:
• Working through cases out loud with an expert coach
• Receiving constructive feedback on your strength and weaknesses
• Developing a plan on how to improve your case interview skills
• Building skills and confidence in the case interview process

Candidates who are serious about pursuing a career in consulting need to find an appropriate partner. You can join a club, or form one, to get practice partners. In order to ensure that you are practicing the right skills, look for guidance and support from experts with consulting experience.

Who We Are

A team of 20 current and former management consultants with extensive experience from working in worldwide offices of 11 leading management consulting firms. We know what this industry is about and what it values most in new hires. Our consultants are MBA graduates of top business schools who succeeded through the rigorous process of job search, recruiting and interviewing at multiple consulting firms. We then served as recruiters and interviewers for the firms that hired us.

Ready to start your journey to a career in management consulting? Contact us today. With our decades of experience, we can help!