May 27, 2013

[Job Applications] Case Study

I would like to introduce a new category, matching my situation right now: Job Applications. I will start off with an example from a former job interview.

A new inhabitant of a little village goes to the next butcher to get some fresh calf's liver. The butcher tells him that the calf's livers are very popular because they are from his own cattle ranch of 300 cattle and he guarantees for their happy life on the alp. He only sells calf's liver once a week. Is it possible that he sells calf's liver for the whole village? Or was it a lie and he bought some more from a retailer?

My questions and assumptions were:

  1. How many inhabitants does the village have? - About 500.
  2. I assumed about 5 calf's livers are sold each week. That makes 20 a month which still sums up to 240 a year.
  3. From 300 cattle, I assumed half of them to be female, out of which maybe 100 could be pregnant.
  4. I assumed a cow to be pregnant for a year.
  5. Every pregnant cow carries only one calf.
  6. Not all of them can be butchered.

My conclusion was that there is no way, the butcher only used his own cattle, because his cattle herd isn't big enough to produce this amount of calves that would be needed to supply the whole village with calf's liver.


There are a lot of similar case scenarios. The most famous is probably the task of estimating the amount of gas stations in a given country or city. One can exchange gas stations with anything else, like with cattle in my case.


The feedback from the interviewer team was quite positive. They liked my analysis and conclusion.


I made a bunch of assumptions which might be wrong because I still haven't checked them online but I don't think, it's important... The case studies are supposed to show the line of thoughts and the problem solving skills of the applicant. Actually, I think, everybody can solve that adequately. It's not that much about facts because that's something you can look up online.


What I didn't like about the case study was the fact that the interviewer tried to hide the obvious case study. He told me, he and his wife just moved to the alp and really thought about that question and if I could help them, insisting on the severeness of their question... Come on!!

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