The Moderating Effects of structured versus case Interviews on Candidate Rapport-Building Impressions and Outcomes

Social and Behavioral Sciences; Industrial and Organizational Psychology

We will examine the efficacy of case interview beyond traditional interviews, through lab and field experiments. We will also support a PhD student's dissertation and undergrad RAs with the funds.

Research Interests
  • Social Cognition
  • Organization Design and Incentives
  • Behavioral Decision Making
  • Managerial Psychology

In 2016, the Darden Graduate School of Business sent38% of its graduating class into the field of management consulting.  The identification and recruitment ofstudents who will likely excel within the field of management consulting hasbeen a subject of concern for consulting firm human resources departments sincethe dawn of the industry.   Strategicconsulting firms such as Bain & Company, The Boston Consulting Group andMcKinsey & Company have long used an assessment tool called the “CaseInterview” as a mechanism to assess and predict interpersonal,leadership, analytical, logic, and problem-solving skills (O'Mahoney & Sturdy, 2016).  From a student’s perspective,preparing for and performing at a high level on these assessments is often asource of stress and anxiety.  In fact,the top two selling books on on the topic of “Consulting” are notabout how to be a good consultant. Rather, they are on the topic of how toperform well on case interviews. 


While case interviews have been a tool leveraged bymanagement consulting firms for decades, in more recent years many“non-consulting” firms have begun using case interviews as part of theemployment screening process.  Amongthese firms are 3M, Google, Chevron, Microsoft, T-Rowe Price and Proctor &Gamble. 


Despite the increased use of case interviews as anassessment tool, there has been virtually no peer reviewed research whichhas looked at the efficacy of this type of interview above and beyondtraditional employment interviews.   Thisstudy will be among the first to examine these types interviews from ascientific perspective.


As hiring the ‘right’ candidate is key to advancing corporate employers’strategic vision and competitive advantage, it is not surprising that thereexists a large body of empirical research on the structured interview spanningover more than 40 years (Levashina et al., 2014).  Much empiricalattention has examined the interpersonal dynamics that occur during therapport-building (pre-interview) stage of the structured interview (Levashina et al., 2014). This attention has contributed to substantial knowledgeand understanding of candidates’ use of Impression Management andself-presentation and the efficacy of such techniques in enhancing candidates’post-interview outcomes (e.g., obtaining employment: Barrick et al. 2009; Huffcutt, 2011). 


The knowledge gained from empirical research on thestructured interview process has not been transferred and tested with regard tothe case interview approach that is increasingly being utilized inbusiness fields, especially management consulting (O'Mahoney & Sturdy, 2016).  The case interview is said to beeffective in determining if candidates’ have the desired interpersonal,leadership, analytical, logic, and problem-solving skills necessary to advancethe strategic goals and competitive advantage of an organization (O'Mahoney & Sturdy, 2016).  While employers have utilizedcase interviews as part of their hiring processes since the 1970s (O'Mahoney & Sturdy, 2016), there is a paucity of peer-reviewed research on case interviews ingeneral, much less as a mechanism to enhance the reliability and predictivevalidity of the employment interview (O'Mahoney & Sturdy, 2016).

 Iam willing to self-fund my token, Eileen Chou

Iam willing to self-fund my token, Bobby Parmar

Iam willing to self-fund my token, Gary Ballinger

Desired outcomes

  • We aim to be among the first studies to look at the efficacy of case interviews in comparison to other forms of “traditional” interviewing
  • We plan to leverage the insights garnered from this study to help future generations of UVA students prepare for and perform at high levels during future employment interviews
  • We will be collecting a large repository of student mock interview video recordings from which future research questions could be examined and tested  
  • We are willing to self-fund this project in the event that one of our units ran out of tokens.