Book Review for The Ultimate Case Interview Workbook

The Ultimate Case Interview Workbook: Exclusive Cases and Problems for Interviews at Top Consulting Firms is a casebook by Taylor Warfield released in 2018. It is divided into two parts: bite-size questions and plagiarized cases.

The first part, “Practice Problems,” goes through unrelated questions by type. The 17 framework questions are rather interesting although neither MECE nor rooted in data. The ten market-sizing questions lead to some barely convincing estimates, while the nine profitability questions are hardly helpful at all. Confusing insights with the next steps, the graph interpretation questions are way too basic. In turn, the 14 brainstorming questions sound very much like the framework questions. Finally, the most interesting ones are the eight business judgment questions that should be developed into complete cases, but that would call for some original thought… The section concludes with fit interview questions that seem out of place.

There are three things to know about the second part, “Practice Cases:”

  1. none of them are original (the same cases are available online for free, often with more details),
  2. only four out of 15 are advanced, and
  3. all of them are interviewer-led.

The issue with interviewer-led cases is not so much that they are almost exclusive to McKinsey, but rather that they are hardly suitable for practicing case structuring, which is the most important part of a case interview.

Unlike candidate-led cases, where the progression depends entirely on the candidate, interviewer-led cases are broken down into a series of loosely connected questions. The framework is presented in response to one of the interviewer’s questions but never actually tested against case data.

As a result, readers will learn how to build frameworks that look well but never know whether they work well. Any approach looks plausible. Only candidate-led cases teach how to craft frameworks that get all the way to the solution.

On the upside, the book was proofread, so case numbers add up. Nonetheless, the author consistently confuses percentages and percentage points, and the business logic in cases is sometimes truly off.

TAKEAWAY: The Ultimate Case Interview Workbook is a decent book to get familiar with the McKinsey-style cases. But the marginal learning value of a case from it is low, and it is clearly overpriced given that all cases can be found online for free.

Categories: Business Mental Math, Case Master, featured, Framework, Valentin Nugmanov

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