If you’re interviewing for a healthcare consulting firm, expect to be given several case interviews to solve. All consulting firms use case interviews to assess candidates.
These include generalist firms such as McKinsey, BCG, and Bain. They also include healthcare consulting firms such as Health Advances, ClearView Healthcare Partners, Putnam Associates, Huron Consulting Group, IQVIA, ZS Associates, and Simon Kutcher.
Case interviews simulate what the consulting job is like by placing you in a hypothetical business situation. It is a 30 to 45-minute exercise in which you will work with the interviewer to develop a recommendation or answer to a business problem.
Case interviews are so widely used because they assess many of the qualities that candidates need to have to become successful consultants. A case interview assesses structured thinking, analytical capabilities, business acumen, communication skills, and cultural fit with the firm.
In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know to ace your healthcare consulting case interviews. We’ll cover:
- Essential healthcare industry knowledge you should know
- The 7 steps to solve any healthcare consulting case
- 8 healthcare consulting practice cases
Essential Healthcare Industry Knowledge You Should Know
The healthcare industry is a massive and complex industry. It can be broken down into the following four major sectors:
- Drugs: These are companies that create new drugs, devices, and treatment methods. Major companies include Johnson & Johnson, Roche, Pfizer, Novartis, and Merck.
- Medical Equipment: These are companies that manufacture medical products from scalpels, forceps, and gloves to high-tech equipment such as MRI machines and surgical robots. Major companies include Stryker and Medtronic.
- Managed Healthcare: These companies provide health insurance policies. Major companies include UnitedHealth, Anthem, Aetna, Humana, and Cigna.
- Healthcare Facilities: These companies operate hospitals, labs, clinics, psychiatric facilities, and nursing homes. Major companies include Lab Corp and HCA Healthcare
There are various types of stakeholders that participate in the healthcare industry. You should be familiar with each of these stakeholders and how they interact with each other:
- Patients: those that seek medical attention or care
- Providers: physicians that see and treat patients
- Payers: insurance companies that sell health coverage plans directly to patients or indirectly through employers or the government
- Pharmaceutical firms: companies that develop and market drugs and medications
- Government: systems that set healthcare policies and regulations
There has been a massive amount of innovation happening in the healthcare industry. You should be familiar with the biggest trends, such as:
- Growth of telehealth: The use of telecommunication technologies, such as video conferencing, to support remote or long-distance healthcare
- Growth in biosimilars development: Biosimilars are biological products that are developed to be similar to an already approved drug. They help consumers reduce their healthcare costs without compromising treatment standards
- Shift from inpatient to outpatient settings: Health systems are continuing to transition inpatient procedures in hospitals to outpatient settings such as retail clinics, community health centers, and even people’s homes
- Shift to value-based pricing: A shift to pricing healthcare services on the performance or results that it delivers to patients rather than charging a flat fee for services
- Digital transformation: The use of new technologies, such as artificial intelligence, natural language processing, and Internet of Things to deliver health care services in a better way
The 7 Steps to Solve Any Healthcare Consulting Case
Follow these seven steps to solve any healthcare consulting case interview.
1. Understand the case background information
The case interview will start with the interviewer explaining the case background information. Make sure that you are taking notes while the interviewer is speaking. You’ll want to focus specifically on understanding the context, the company, and the objective of the case.
The most important part of the case interview is to make sure you understand the business issue and objective of the case. Addressing the wrong business problem is the quickest way to fail a case interview.
2. Ask clarifying questions
Once the interviewer has finished giving you the case information, you’ll have an opportunity to ask questions.
While you can ask any question that you want, try to prioritize asking questions that help you better understand the situation and problem. You want to avoid asking questions that are too specific or not relevant to understanding the case situation.
Most candidates ask between one to three questions. You’ll be able to ask more questions later in the case interview if you need to.
3. Summarize the information and verify the objective
Once you have finished asking your immediate questions, summarize all of the major case information and verify that you understand the objective correctly.
In this step, many candidates make the mistake of stating every fact of the case verbatim. Instead, you should summarize the case concisely and clearly in your own words. This demonstrates that you can synthesize information effectively.
4. Develop a framework
The next step is to structure a framework to help guide you through the case.
A case interview framework is a tool that helps you structure and break down a complex problem into simpler, smaller components. Think of a framework as brainstorming different ideas and organizing them into different categories.
To develop a framework, ask yourself what are the three to four major questions that you need to answer in order to make a confident recommendation?
Many candidates make the mistake of using memorized frameworks and applying them to their case interviews. Interviewers can tell when you are using a memorized framework because not all of the elements of the framework will be relevant to the case.
Using a memorized framework reflects poorly on your capabilities because it shows that you cannot think critically for yourself. Therefore, practice creating unique and tailored frameworks for each case that you get.
To learn more on how to create outstanding frameworks, check out our comprehensive case interview framework guide.
When creating your framework, it is acceptable to ask the interviewer for a few minutes of silence to collect your thoughts. Afterwards, present your framework to the interviewer.
5. Kick off the case
Once you have finished presenting your framework, the interviewer may agree with your approach or may provide some feedback or suggestions. Afterwards, it is time to start solving the case.
How the case investigation will start depends on whether your case is a candidate-led or interviewer-led case. Most cases are candidate-led.
Candidate-led case: In this type of case, you will be expected to drive the direction of the case. You will be suggesting what areas to explore, what analyses to do, and what the next step should be. So, pick an area of your framework to start analyzing. There is no right or wrong area to pick as long as it is relevant to solving the case.
Interviewer-led case: In this type of case, the interviewer will be leading the direction of the case. They will be asking you specific questions that you will answer. After each question, they’ll direct you to the next question. For interviewer-led cases, the interviewer will typically kick off the case by asking you a question after you finish presenting your framework.
6. Answer quantitative and qualitative questions
The majority of the interview will be spent answering a mix of quantitative and qualitative questions.
Quantitative questions may have you estimate the size of a particular market, perform some calculations to determine profitability, or interpret various charts and graphs.
When solving quantitative problems, make sure that you walk the interviewer through your approach before you begin doing any math. When performing calculations, make sure to talk through your steps out loud so that it is easy for the interviewer to follow your work.
Qualitative questions may ask you to brainstorm potential ideas or ask for your judgment on an open-ended business question. When answering these questions, try to structure your answer as much as possible.
After answering each question, make sure that you take your answer and connect it back to the overall case objective. How does your answer help you solve the case? How does your answer impact your potential recommendation?
7. Deliver a recommendation
At the end of the case, the interviewer will ask you to prepare an overall recommendation. It is acceptable to ask the interviewer for a minute to look through your notes before you give your recommendation.
Based on the quantitative and qualitative questions you have answered, what recommendation do they collectively support?
Structure your recommendation in the following way:
- State your recommendation
- Provide the two to three reasons that support your recommendation
- Propose next steps that you would take if you had more time
After you deliver your recommendation, the interviewer will conclude the case interview. If the case interview was based on a real life project, the interviewer may explain what actually happened in the case.
Don’t worry if your recommendation does not match what actually happened during the project. For case interviews, you are not assessed on your answer, but on your process.
Healthcare Consulting Practice Cases
Below are eight healthcare consulting cases that you can use to practice your case interview skills.
- McKinsey pharmaceutical practice case: This is an acquisition case focused on whether a large pharmaceutical company should acquire a smaller startup
- BCG drug pricing case: This is a pricing case focused on helping a pharmaceutical company determine the optimal price for a new drug
- BCG medical device company case: This is a revenue growth case focused on helping a medical devices company that recently purchased an administrative systems software company
- ClearView pharmaceutical case: This is a market sizing case focused on helping a pharmaceutical company determine whether it can achieve its revenue target for an inhaled insulin product for the diabetes market
- ClearView biotechnology case: This is a quantitative case focused on helping a biotechnology firm assess its novel therapies for acute myeloid leukemia
- Deloitte federal health agency case: This is a non-profit case focused on helping a federal health agency manage the financial activities related to eliminating Ebola
- LEK medical consumables case: This is a market sizing case that estimates the market size for medical consumables by general practitioners in the United Kingdom
- Health Advances biotechnology case: This is a market entry case focused on helping a biotechnology company understand the market opportunity for developing a novel drug that prevents ear infections
Below, we have step-by-step videos showcasing how we would solve the McKinsey pharmaceutical case and the BCG drug pricing case. The McKinsey case is an interviewer-led case while the BCG case is a candidate-led case. We recommend watching these two videos to give yourself an idea of what both of these types of case interviews look like.
When practicing the rest of these practice cases, make sure you follow the seven steps that we outlined for solving healthcare consulting case interviews.
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