Strategy& is the strategy consulting arm of PwC, the global professional services firm. The company was originally part of Booz Allen Hamilton and is credited with the original development of key consulting concepts such as supply chain, supply chain management and product lifecycle.
In 2008 the strategy practice split from Booz Allen Hamilton to form Booz & Company before being acquired by PwC in late 2013. In 2014 the company rebranded as Strategy& and now employs over 3000 people in 60 countries worldwide. PwC acquired Strategy& to compliment their growing consulting practice and aim to offer their clients end-to-end consulting services from ‘strategy through to execution’.
Strategy& is the second largest recruiter from Columbia Business school in the US and the third largest recruiter from INSEAD in Europe. The case interview is the focal point of their interview process.
2) What Strategy& are looking for
As part of their rebranding, Strategy& was integrated with PwC and they have adopted a set of common values. They have five values that they look for in their candidates:
Act with integrity – PwC are historically an accounting firm and are responsible for providing financial transparency on the companies they audit. Integrity is at the heart of their work as a trusted advisor and they have expanded this across all of their services.
Make a difference – By focusing on the impact encourage their employees to prioritise the things that will make a difference to their colleagues, clients and society instead of purely commercials. They believe that this enables them to overcome challenges in the ever changing business environment.
Care – In their role as a trusted advisor Strategy& want their employees to practice care for each other and their clients. By being empathetic to the individuals they work with they are focusing on creating high performing teams that are able to get the most out of their individuals.
Work together – Consultants work in project teams and to be as efficient as possible it is critical that teams work towards outcomes together. Collaboration across the firm’s practices and industries is encouraged as a vast amount of knowledge exists amongst the 287,000 worldwide PwC employees.
Reimagine the possible – With the business world changing at a rapid pace and new technologies paving the way for new business models and ways of working. Strategy& want thinkers that can identify new ways of working or new products that will give their clients an advantage over their competitors.
3) Strategy& application process
There are four stages to the Strategy& application process:
The interview process at Strategy& begins with a resume and cover letter submission online. Their typical recruitment cycle is in the Autumn each year but they do sometimes hire off-cycle, especially at smaller network firms. They are looking for candidates that reflect their 5 traits in their applications along with strong academic records and relevant experience.
Strategy& have adopted PwC’s online assessments that involve three stages; numerical reasoning test, games based assessment and a video interview. The assessments take a combined time of over 2 hours and are spread out over a period of 4 weeks so it can take time to be invited for final interviews.
Strategy& have adopted the ‘super day’ style interviews whereby both the 1st round and 2nd round interviews will be conducted on the same day (2 in the morning, 2 in the afternoon).
Candidates that pass the online assessments are invited to first round interviews. There are two 1st round interviews conducted on the morning of the interview day. The 1st round interviews are typically conducted by junior consultants and involve 15 minutes of a fit interview followed by a case interview question. There are two interviews in the 1st round and candidates will be given feedback at the end of the morning along with a decision on whether they will be invited to the afternoon.
There are two 2nd round interviews in the afternoon of the super day. The 2nd round interviews are conducted by senior consultants (partners and directors) and follow the same format as the 2nd round interviews. Following the second round interviews, candidates will be either given feedback or a job offer.
4) Types of interview
Strategy& have a two interview formats across their network; experience / fit questions followed by a case interview question and experience / fit questions followed by a structured case interview.
Case interview (question)
The case interview’s that Strategy& use are all based on real life client examples. The interviewer’s are encouraged to use their own client engagements for their case interview questions because they know them well and will be able to provide data and context easily. This format is the most common interview format used by Strategy& because it is the closest resemblance to the work required on the job and allows the interviewer to answer the question ‘Can this person do the work of a Strategy& consultant?’
They assess candidates over a number of different attributes during a case interview:
Approach and structure
Analytical and creative thinking
Application of data
Scoring well across all these attributes will result in being progressed to the next stage or ultimately, a job offer.
For further information on how to demonstrate these skills see our full case interview guide here.
The experience questions are asked prior to beginning the case interview and Strategy& will use questions such as:
Why are you interested in Strategy&?
Why are you interested in consulting?
What experience are you most proud of?
What experience do you wish you could do over, and how would you do it differently?
What is a difficult decision you have made in the last year?
What is an example of a time when you showed initiative and leadership?
What aspects of your internship did you like less?
What do you most like to do in your free time?
What attributes would you bring to a case team?
Describe a role where you changed the direction of a team. How did you do it?
The key with these questions is to develop a structure that can be applied to all of them. By structuring your answer, you will show that even when discussing non-business related topics you apply a considered approach to your answer.
We cover an approach in our case interview coaching sessions.
Case interview (structured)
The Strategy& structured case interview is similar to the written cases provided at BCG and Bain. The candidate is given an information pack of 15-20 pages and 10 minutes to read the pack with three high level questions they want to be answered. The interviewer will leave the room in the 10 minutes reading time.
As with the case interview there is not a correct answer and the important part of your answer is the consideration of trade offs for making decisions and comparing the possible strategic decisions the business in question can take. The interviewer will test your thinking and recommendations to see how robust your conclusions are and the steps you took to get there.
5) Case interview
The consulting case interview is the cornerstone of every strategy consulting firm’s interview process due to the ability to replicate the problems and challenges of the work they do.
To score well in a Strategy& case interview, you must meet the criteria laid out above and you can do this following a structured approach to case interviews. The structure of a Strategy& case interview is as follows:
1. Situation and problem
2. Hypothesis validation
3. Framework development
4. Root cause analysis
5. Mathematical calculation (sometimes)
6. Creativity test (sometimes)
At the start of the case, the interviewer will outline the context and the problem to be explored. An example might be:
“A high street retailer wants to cut costs by 30% in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, how would you approach this?”
You would then be expected to put forward an initial hypothesis on what the answer might be and explain your intention to prove or disprove it.
From there you will be expected to develop a framework to conduct your analysis and test it with the interviewer.
If your framework is MECE and you explore it correctly then you will find the root cause of the issue for the client (in this case where costs can be reduced) and begin calculations if relevant.
The creativity test is when the interviewer asks you for an alternative to your findings or recommendation e.g. “Okay, the client says they do not want to shut stores, how else can they reduce cost?” They may ask this more than once and it tests the candidates ability to think of alternatives, even if their answer is appropriate.
Finally you will be asked to provide a recommendation whereby you need to synthesise your findings and give a clear and concise proposal.
For more information on how to approach and solve case interviews, read our full guidance here.
6) Additional tips
Case interviews are pressurised situations where your anxiety levels are heightened and you don’t have the safety net of notes or the internet to fall back on.
For in-person interviews it is common that one of the questions will have a mathematical element or be a market sizing question included. These require long maths calculations without a calculator. If you haven’t practised long addition, multiplication, division or subtraction recently then it is a good idea to do so. Being quick at maths shows your competent quantitative skills and reduces unnecessary pressure during the interview, increasing your overall performance.
We have published guidance and practice questions dedicated to case interview maths here.
As with the maths, practicing case interviews is the best way to improve your performance. Through practice you will begin to develop a robust approach that satisfies the structure and framework components of the case and you will recognise how to navigate the case successfully.
If you are applying to Strategy& then you are probably applying to other strategy consulting firms too, this practice will be relevant to all of the firms you apply to as they all use case interviews in their application process.
We have published guidance and practice questions appropriate for Strategy& cases here.
Apply structure to everything
The key requirement of a candidate in a case interview is the application of structure, specifically with a MECE approach. As mentioned above, you can even apply structure to the FIT questions and it is recommended you do so.
An example answer to the question ‘walk me through your CV’ would be to segment your experience into; 1) Experience relevant to consulting 2) Experience not relevant to consulting and then briefly cover the experience you have in each bucket. This shows you understand what consulting is and what is relevant and also a key skill of a consultant – structured thinking.
If you can demonstrate robust structured thinking in your interview, you will score highly.
If you’re upcoming interview involves technical questions then please see some of our other online resources here: