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Case interview preparation books: a review

Updated: Sep 17, 2020

Despite the fact that there’s a ton of material out there, it’s tough to come by a quality, exhaustive interview prep book. Some have great resources for frameworks, but skimp on the experience and fit questions, which are equally important. Others have a ton of case transcripts, but don’t provide a clear methodology that a first-timer can easily follow along.

We took a look at the most popular books and noted down what they offer and where they miss the mark. (Spoiler alert: we think theZeroToMBB book is the most comprehensive while being easy to understand, but read on to see what works for you.)

If you’re preparing for management consulting interviews, you’ll inevitably come across at least one of these books:

  • Case in Point by Mark Cosentino

  • Case Interview Secrets by Victor Cheng

  • The Case Interview: 20 Days to Ace the Case by Dustin Whitehurst and Erin Robinson

  • Crack the Case System by David Ohrvall

Let's first compare their overall contents:

As you can see, only ZeroToMBB covers detailed tips on the resume and cover letter. The other books cover frameworks, but oddly enough, don't delve into other types of interview questions such as experience, creativity, chart analysis, and on-the-spot synthesising. These are all crucial skills to land an MBB offer. As a final note, most of the books have an extensive case library of >30 cases, which is great (as long as you actually do them with a pen and paper, and not just passively read through the pages).

Pro tip: Just looking for cases? You can find tons of MBB-level free practice cases on business school consulting clubs websites:Cornell University, Berkeley, Columbia, Duke, London Business School.

Now let’s deep dive into individual reviews for each book.

CASE IN POINT - We don't like it anymore

I have personally recommended this book in the past, but I don’t anymore. When I first read it (back when I was preparing for my own interviews), I had no background in business and the way the book discusses frameworks really helped me get situated.

However, even in its current edition, the book skips over large parts of the interview process. It relies too much on case transcripts without explaining the methodology behind it, which would give readers a deeper knowledge that they could then apply to other cases. You definitely won't know everything there is to know about MBB interviews after reading this book. It used to be the only choice for interview prep, but not anymore.

CASE INTERVIEW SECRETS - We like some parts, but really dislike others

I found this book well-written but too 'one-size-fits-all' in its approach. On one hand, the author brings his extensive interviewer experience to the table, and it’s helpful to understand how an interviewer perceives and evaluates a candidate. On the other hand, I found the ubiquitous marketing nudges to buy items off the book’s website pretty irritating. Also, the 2-framework system that he uses is trying too hard to fit every case. Interviewers will see right through this and penalise candidates who apply it.

THE CASE INTERVIEW: 20 DAYS TO ACE THE CASE - Not a great choice for beginners

This book is good at giving you bite-size insights into the interview process, but it's really geared more toward helping you uplevel after you’ve already done 20+ consulting cases. For those who are starting from scratch, it’s going to be overwhelming rather than helpful. The bootcamp approach makes it easy to steadily work through the book, but it’s quite fast-paced and plunges right into mock interviews without giving you the full set of tools that you’ll need. However, if you’re already very familiar with cases, this might be a good book for you.

CRACK THE CASE SYSTEM - Tons of good material...but you won’t remember any of it

This book is over 300 pages long. It covers a lot of examples and tips, though it can get a bit trivial and repetitive. I found the acronym-frameworks very theoretical, with little practical use in a real interview. Also, there are a lot of them. It’s tough to recommend this book, because I think it will leave people even more stressed out about interviews than before they started reading.

FROM ZERO TO MBB - The complete guide in a digestible format

It should come as no surprise that we wrote this book because we were unsatisfied with all the others. We wanted this book to be exhaustive. It covers everything from building your application to managing your stress on the day, without leaving out any part of the interview process. There are also dedicated sections to the experience and creativity questions. Plus, it’s digestible. We break down the interview into its natural steps, and explain each step with a methodology section and examples. Once you’ve read all the steps, you’re ready to do the practice cases. The cases are listed by increasing level of difficulty, and include highly-detailed solutions.

When you’re done with the book, we still recommend that you practice more cases (see the links to free cases above), but you won’t need any more learning material. We think that's exactly how a case prep book should be!

Disclaimer: The content on this blog is the opinion of the blogger, and not intended to malign any organization, company, or individual. Any reader of this blog will hold the blogger harmless from libel and defamation on the contents or images in this blog. This blog is the personal opinion/experiences of the blogger- that is what a blog is, after all :)


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