If you have looked into preparing for case interviews at all, chances are, you’ve heard of Marc Cosentino’s book, Case In Point. First published in 1999, the book has endured for decades as a classic in the consulting canon. But is it a must read? How useful is the book? Is it the only book you need for your case interview prep? We’ll answer all these questions and more in our Case In Point book review.
Case In Point Book Review:
Case In Point Overview – A Good Starting Point
We’ll jump straight right to it – we think Marc Cosentino’s Case In Point book is a great starting point for your case interview preparation. The book is broken down into the following sections:
- Introduction of consulting recruiting and case interviews
- Deep dive into case interviews
- The Ivy Case System (Case In Point’s recommended approach and frameworks to common case interview problems)
- Additional tools and frameworks
- Practice cases for multiple types of consulting, including strategy, operations, human capital, and marketing
As you can see, the book covers all the main bases you could ask for in a case interview prep book. Let’s dive into each section in more detail.
Introduction of Consulting Recruiting and Case Interviews
Case In Point provides a solid overview of the basics you need to know for consulting recruiting, including:
- Consulting recruiting structure
- Overview of consulting interviews
- Tips for international students and industry hires
If you’ve never prepared for consulting recruiting before, this section provides a great overview of what you can expect. However, the information provided acts only as a guide and doesn’t go in-depth. For instance, the book provides advice on how to gather the right information for behavioral questions but doesn’t go into detail on how to answer each question.
Section Rating: 4/5
Good overview but more depth would be helpful.
Deep Dive Into Case Interviews
Case In Point next jumps into a step by step approach in working through a case interview. Again, these tips are brief and succinct but fail to provide specific examples.
Next, however, the book discusses the fundamental of market sizing questions and provides a solid overview with examples. The book really shines in this portion and is worth reading for all aspiring consultants. The rest of the section focuses on some miscellaneous tips, including interacting with the interviewer and taking notes.
Section Rating: 4/5
Solid market sizing section but again more depth and examples would be helpful for the other parts of the section.
The Ivy Case System
The Ivy Case System is the heart of Case In Point. The section provides 12 different types of possible case questions and possible frameworks, such as entering a new market, pricing strategy, and profitability.
Marc Cosentino’s book argues the Ivy Case System can be used across the majority, if not all, case interviews. Though each of the sample frameworks is a great introduction of solving common case interview questions, memorizing them and thinking they’ll prepare you for cases would be a mistake. Any good case interviewer knows that frameworks need to be catered to the question. Consequently, the section serves better as an introduction to key business concepts that may or may not be suitable for a given type of case interview problem.
Section Rating: 3/5
The Ivy Case System isn’t a fix-all solution that Case In Point claims. We’ve found that the frameworks work best for Big 4 interviews.
Additional Tools and Frameworks
Case In Point next focuses on additional popular consulting tools and frameworks. You may have heard of some of them – the Five C’s, the Four P’s, the BCG Matrix, and Porter’s Five Forces.
This section acts as a supplement to bolster one’s knowledge about common consulting frameworks. The overview is helpful; these frameworks are helpful to understand, but the book rightfully states that they are not replacements for frameworks for case interviews. Because these tools are popular and well known, this section is a helpful introduction.
Section Rating: 4/5
Section does its job but is not necessarily useful for case interviews.
Case In Point ends with many practice cases across various types of cases, including strategy, operations, human capital, and marketing. The breadth of case types is great to see what kind of projects different consulting firms work on.
The first section of practice case interviews are presented with the candidate working through a case. This is helpful for you to see what a case interview should ideally sound like.
The next section includes case interviews with no clear cut direction on solving the case. Like many other case books, they provide data and the key insights the candidate should ultimately arrive at. Though a little more depth would be helpful, the section does its job.
Section Rating: 5/5
The breadth of types of cases and large number of cases makes this one of the strongest sections of the book.
Case In Point is the reason Marc Cosentino is considered the “godfather” of case interviews. Case in Point provides a great foundation to prepare for case interviews, however, much is lacking on behavioral interviews (50% of your consulting interview) and networking (how to get an interview in the first place). In order to truly be successful, you cannot consider the book a one-stop solution. Skim it as part of a balanced approach; ultimately, drill-based prep on specific areas of the case interview and out-loud practice are what will ultimately serve you well.