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How to Solve a Business Case in a Job Interview

digital job hunting interview Jun 23, 2021
How to Solve a Business Case in a Hiring Process

Do you panic when invited to solve business cases in a hiring process?  Have you ever heard about business cases for job interviews? 

Business cases are frequently used in the hiring process to assess how candidates respond to whether real or fictional problems a company may have. They bring out a lot of information related to the business, that's why it's called a business case. And what is so peculiar about solving a case? It’s the problem you’ll be asked to solve. 

You can get a business case about a random company, not exactly the company you are interviewing for. You’ll be given data about logistics, projects, finance, accounting, etc. It will depend on the field that you are applying for. The recruiter or hiring manager is going to ask you some questions about the case and will analyze your capacity of understanding the problem and figuring out a solution. An important point here is that there is no right or wrong. There are at least two possible ways that you can be evaluated. 

The first way is when you have to deliver the business case by email. In this case, you get the data, questions, and a deadline (usually 24 - 48 hours) to submit back your solution for the case. You may or may not be called for another interview to present that solution. It's all about your punctuality in delivering the solution on time and how you organize your ideas. 

The second way is when you have to solve the business case in real-time either in person or online at a video meeting. In this case, you’ll have punctuality plus organization evaluated. Consider also the pressure and exposure, as you’ll have to solve a problem in a limited amount of time and present your solution afterward. There are more variables to be assessed in this scenario and I'm going to address this type of business case-solving because this is the most common and also the most difficult. 

What Is The Best Approach To a Business Case? 

Before we dive into the technical aspects, work on beating your anxiety. You can check out the first episode of Live Mondays where I addressed this topic. 

The second action is: do not drink coffee! If you are already stressed and anxious, caffeine won't help you, trust me on that. 

Then, be sure that happy memories will help you beat the anxiety by changing your physiology as well. Our brains can’t feel opposite emotions simultaneously, it’s impossible for the brain to be happy and anxious at the same time. That's why you should think of happy moments.

The last recommendation is tapping, also known as EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique). You can do it before joining a job interview session either online or in person. It's very simple and it works. 

Anxiety Relief: Doing EFT Before a Job Interview  

Take two fingers (index and middle fingers) and start tapping 9 specific points and saying a script. Let’s assume that you fear failing, my script for that would be “even though I'm afraid of failing, I deeply and completely love and accept myself”. Repeat this script out loud while tapping those 9 specific points from 5-7 times each, starting on the karate chop and following through the other points. You can repeat the process as many times as you would like. 

The tapping technique helps to relieve stress and anxiety. Watch here the replay where I teach EFT.


7 Steps to Solve a Business Case in a Hiring Process or Job Interview

1. Clear Out What The Problem Is. 

 You're going to receive a PDF or printed pages and some questions that you have to address. If you are not sure of the problem, ask. Think about the question first and then about the business case. We, humans, tend to overthink and to complicate things, but the point here is that you have to address the question; you have to address the problem and not just answer whatever you think is appropriate. Be careful with that. 

2. Set Up a Timer.

There is a time variable on the table, so my main recommendation is that you set up a timer for 5 minutes before the deadline. It’s a good reminder that when your timer is up, there still will be 5 minutes to tie out the conclusion.

3. Skim Reading. 

Overview the material by skimming it, do not read everything. We tend to read word by word, but if it’s a 10-page business case to be solved in 45 minutes, it's impossible to read every word. My recommendation is also a technique for doing exams, do a skim-reading. Identify where the data is located in the document. You know the problem already so you know which data you’re looking for. 

4. Structure and Organize.

Structure and organize every element of the problem and where you can find data in the text to compose your answer. Once you have figured out the structure of the problem and scan-read the document, you will know where to find the data you need to compose your solution. 

5. Get Specific.

Keep it simple. Otherwise, you will lose time and you won't get things done. Don’t try to sort out a lot of data or give a lot of insights. Just focus. Three is a good number of strategies or possible paths for that solution. Do not try to overdeliver, business case solving is not about that. 

6. Use a Framework.

I’ve selected 3 of the most powerful ones:

 SWOT analysis - you can read everything, then find the strengths, the weaknesses, the opportunities, and the threats of the essence of that case. After that, of course, you’ll address an action plan towards the questions that you have to solve based on your SWOT analysis. That's a winning strategy. 

5W2H - What, Where, Who, When, Why, How, How Much - You should extract those 5W variables out of the data so you can tie out the problem. Depending on your solution, you may address how you're going to implement it and how much it would cost or how much time it would take, those would be the 2H. 

Mind Maps - the good thing about Mind Maps is that they are extremely visual so they represent a very clear and professional way to show people how you think. You state the essence of the problem in the central spot, then you diverge and create ideas and different paths from that. 

 If you want to practice in advance, I recommend purchasing Harvard’s or INSEAD’s case studies. They are high-quality and probably harder than the ones you may encounter in the hiring process. 

7. Make a Clear Presentation.

Do not try to over create solutions or pretend you are a senior consultant if you are not. Be yourself, be simple and creative - this is much more relevant in your evaluation.

In conclusion, the key aspects to succeed in solving a business case are anxiety control, understanding the problem, and getting specific. Always bear in mind you will be evaluated for your behavior, technical answer, logical thinking, and presentation skills. The last advice I would give you is about giving a clear message. Remember, there is no right or wrong! Good luck 🍀

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