Case study exercises
The case study exercise is a realistic simulation of the type of business or strategic problem you are likely to encounter in your new role (if you get the job!). Typical competencies assessed in the case study are:
- Analytical Thinking
- Assimilation of Information
- Commercial Awareness
The case study presents the candidate with a series of fictional documents such as company reports, a consultant’s report, results from new product research etc. (i.e. similar to the in-tray exercise except these documents will be longer). You will then be asked to make business decisions based on the information. This can be done as an individual exercise, or more likely done in a group discussion so that assessors can also score your teamworking ability.
After analysing the documents and deciding on a way forward, you (or the team) will be required to present your proposal in the form of a brief report or presentation. With individual case studies, you will probably present your recommendations at an interview with an assessor. The exercise is assessing your approach to solving the problem as much as the solution you arrive at. In fact, case study exercises are usually designed not to have one ‘correct’ answer. As long as you logically justify your recommendations, and these stand up to interrogation from the assessor, you are likely to score marks.
Skills You Will Need
Skills you will require for the case study exercise include:
- 1. Interpreting lots of data in varying formats and from various sources.
- 2. Analytical and strategic analysis of problems
- 3. Formulating and committing to a decision.
- 4. Commercial and entrepreneurial insight into a problem.
- 5. Oral communication skills for discussing your recommendations
Employers like to use case study exercises because they can easily be bespoke to the company and offer an accurate test of how you might get on in the real job.
It has been known for employers to use real live projects for the case study exercise with sensitive information swapped for fictional examples.
The sort of questions you will have to make recommendations on, in the form of a brief report or an interview with an assessor are topics such as:
- Which of the three proposals from the consultant should be implemented, and why?
- Should the business invest in product X, and why?
- Is the joint venture a good idea, and why?
- Is the way forward online presence or increased high street outlets?
- Which market has the largest revenue potential and why?
Information from the case study exercise lends itself to be used as scene-setting for other exercises at the assessment centre. It is common to have the same fictional setting running through the assessment centre, to save time on having to describe a new scenario for each task. You will be told in each exercise if you are expected to remember the information from a previous exercise, but this is rarely the case. Usually the only information common to multiple exercises is the fictional scenario; all data to be used in each exercise will be part of that exercise.