How to Handle New Unexpected Interview Types: Case Method / Fishbowl Interaction Interviews
Be prepared - you could encounter a Case Method / Fishbowl Interview. Perhaps you will get lucky and sail through your interview process never seeing anything more challenging than 1-2 interviews, a single interviewer, and a few tough questions. But, you could be in for something altogether different and unexpected, in which case, forewarned is forearmed!
Here are a few "different" types of interviews you need to be aware of:
- Case Method Interviews / Fishbowl Interaction Activities (below)
- Puzzle Interviews
- Speed Interviews
- Chronological In-Depth Structured (CIDS) Interviews
- Job Simulations / In-Box Exercises
- Videoconference Interviews
- Auditions / Group Interviews
What is a Case Method / Fishbowl Interaction Interview:
The only difference between the fishbowl and the case method is that the fishbowl is typically a group activity, and the case method interview is an individual case analysis.
The most common interview candidate to be subjected to the Case Method Interview is the MBA graduate.
In the interview, job seekers are asked to resolve a real-world business problem associated with the company. This requires the use of analytical skills, and an ability to both identify key business issues and present a structured problem-solving methodology with which to approach them.
The case interview / fishbowl interaction activity is most applicable in fields such as management consulting, enabling the applicant to showcase how job seekers would actually perform in the position by using relevant skills from business acumen to problem solving, analysis, brainstorming, strategic planning, communication, and creativity.
What this means to you:
When faced with this type of interview scenario, you will need to remain calm and recall what an employer is looking for in an employee, including that the employer:
- Likes you;
- Thinks you will fit in with staff and customers; and
- Believes you have the ability to do the job (note: this is different than saying that you “know the job,” rather, this is the ability to do the job. You must appear trainable).
Specific attributes you will want to emphasize (as applicable):Strategic Thinking Creative Analytical Energetic Team Oriented Self-Motivated Positive Appropriately Dressed Business Acumen Attentive, Interested Enthusiastic Flexible / Multi-Faceted Multi-Tasking Good / Clear Communicator Good Eye Contact Candid, Open and Honest Interested Polite and Mannerly Calm, In Control Self-Composed Tactful Embraces Technology Analytical Problem Solving
You should briefly consider the type of position for which you are applying and the specific qualifications and responsibilities for that position. Research on the company prior to the interview will be significantly beneficial toward preparing for specific challenge issues. Often, many companies that perform case interviewing provide details on their Web sites about the practice, and you should not overlook a visit to the company’s Web site.
For this interview, you should be prepared to engage in Q&A, as the interviewer will often delve further for details and challenges. You will need to compose a strategic answer that shows creativity, analytical skill, business acumen, and attempts to present a solution to the problem.
Creativity can be a significant asset, especially considering that there is often no one right answer to these complex questions.
In the article, “Online Practice Cases”, Bain & Company specifically recommends that job seekers:
- Break the problem down;
- Focus by ranking which areas to investigate;
- Demonstrate clear analytic evidence based on assumptions, math, and logic; and
- Make an actual recommendation.
Common topics in this type of interview might include:
- Business Problems & Strategy;
- Market Sizing / Estimating; and
- Logic Problems.
In a poll conducted by Career Directors International as a part of their annual Career Industry Expert Trends, 12% of surveyed human resource professionals worldwide stated that they had used or planned to use this type of interview. If you would like to learn more about this unusual type of interview, I recommend the book, How Would You Move Mount Fuji: Microsoft's Cult of the Puzzle -- How the World's Smartest Companies Select the Most Creative Thinkers by William Poundstone.
© Copyright Laura DeCarlo 2010. All rights reserved. Used with permission.
About this author: Laura DeCarlo is recognized as the career industry’s "career hero" making a difference to both job seekers and career professionals as the founder of Career Directors International. She possesses 11 top-level certifications in resume writing, career coaching, and career management; 7 first place resume and job placement awards; and has written three books on interviewing and job search including Interview Pocket RX, Interviewing: The Gold Standard, and Job Search Bloopers. Follow Laura on Twitter; username: @careerhero.