First of all I want to thank you for your informative videos and articles on case interviews strategies.

I have a background in information technologies and have an office visit interview with one of the top 4 consulting firms in the coming week. It is for an IT advisor position.

I have heard that the recruiters ask IT related questions generally based on merger and acquisition cases.

Could you please tell me some of common questions which could be asked in the case interview for such position?

What should be my approach to go about such IT related cases ?

Also how could I present my answers graphically in  such type of questions ?

Looking forward to hearing from your end.


My Reply:

I am not very familiar with IT-type cases, so I don’t a useful set of experiences to draw from on this.

However, I have been a CIO before and in my experience the essence of technology is 1) understanding the capabilities of what a technology can and can not do, 2) understanding what you need the technology to be able to do, and 3) making trade-off decisions (do we do option 1 or option 2).

  • Do we buy or do we build?
  • Do we go with Vendor A or Vendor B?
  • Do we do it in-house or outsource?
  • Do we do it on-shore or offshore?

So a guess would be to expect some kind of case around which decision to go with.  The easiest way to solve this kind of case is to create an issue tree based on the key factors that would determine whether one decision made more sense than another.

So if we go with a Vendor A or Vendor B type case, then what you want to decide at the start of the case are the key decision-making criteria.

So the factors might be:

1) ability to meet requirements

2) cost of project

3) time to launch

or something along those lines.

The other type of common technology issue I have seen is technical troubleshooting.  This is really just root cause analysis. The problem that is visible is often just a highly visible symptom of an underlying problem that is hard to see.

So an oversimplified example would be: you hit the “power” button on your television remote, but nothing happens, what do you do?

In the manufacturing world, a similar case might be the production line’s daily output has dropped from 1,000 units per day to 500 units. You are called in to solve this problem. What do you do?

If you think carefully about these two questions, they are actually the SAME case (though it might not seem that way at first).

The general approach, by the way, is to map out the process in steps, and measure performance at each step. When you do this, you will often find that one step is broken (not all the steps).

So in the case of the remote control, you can start at the last step and work backwards, or start at the first step and move to the last.

If you start at the first step, you would unplug the TV from the wall, plug in a lamp that you know has a working light bulb and see if the outlet has power.  If it does, you know the problem is not the power.

Next you plug in the power strip into the outlet and plug the lamp into the power strip. If the lamp works, you know the problem is not the power strip. You keep doing this, working your way up to the remote control and putting in new batteries.

Troubleshooting your TV remote control and troubleshooting a $1 million IT system is essentially the same process. I have done both, and the overall approach is the same.

Again, this is just my best guess. I would recommend asking your recruiting coordinator what kinds of cases they give in the interviews you have coming up.