Case (Problem Solving) Interviews
What are case interviews?
Case interviews are also known as problem-solving interviews. "They demonstrate your thought process, problem-solving and reasoning skills, ability to prioritize and think creatively, and your reaction under pressure."
Some people think of problem-solving interviews as an extension of behavioral interviews. They test and measure the interviewee’s ability to handle difficult situations, much like behavioral interviews.
"They can be based on an industry, company, or organization. They can be real or fictional. They tend to deal with business situations, everyday activities, abstract thinking, and/or calculations and estimations." The idea behind this interview type is that hiring a candidate with strong problem-solving skills will be beneficial for the company.
When are problem-solving interviews used?
Case interviews are widely used for a multitude of businesses. Specifically, they are commonly used for business analyst, social media managers, operations managers, Software/web developers etc.
Examples of Problem-Solving Interview Question (that have been asked)
- Web Developer: You are presented with a demo page and asked to make it more interactive and presentable for a user. Skills used included jQuery, Toggle, copywriting, etc.
- Software Engineer: You are a parking lot attendant in a lot that has one spot open, and you want to move the cars from their original positions into a new arrangement. Create a program that will print out instructions on how to move the car most efficiently.
- Software Engineer: There are 15 red, 17 green, and 19 blue chameleons on a desert island. Whenever two chameleons of different colors collide, they both become chameleons of the third color. Can it ever be that all the chameleons on the island are the same color?
- Financial Software Developer: You have 25 horses, and you want to know which are the top 3 fastest, but you don't have a stopwatch. You can race the horses, but the track is only big enough to fit 5 horses at a time. How do you find the first, second and third fastest horses using the least amount of races possible?
- Product Analyst: Given a 5-gallon bucket and a 3-gallon bucket with no measures. Measure exactly 4 gallons.
- Technical Support Engineer: If you had 9 marbles, all the same size. One is heavier than the rest. You have a balance scale. How do you determine the heavy marble in the least number of moves?
- Supply Manager: How many days would it take you to cross the US by bike?
How to answer case interview questions
To answer problem-solving questions, it is important to pay close attention to what is being asked. Take your time to think through a solution. Don’t be afraid to ask verifying questions or to take notes. It isn’t about your answer; it’s about the process and reasoning that went in behind it. When giving your answer, be specific as you walk them through your thought process while addressing the issues.
To try some practice case interviews yourself, click here.