What is a Case Study Exercise?
Case study exercises are commonly used assessment centre exercises which present candidates with realistic problems faced by professionals in the real world. Candidates are typically provided with a variety of documents outlining a specific problem or situations, requiring the candidate to formulate a plan of action addressing the issue. The situations or problems provided will resemble those encountered in the role itself, and in the industry in which the organisation operates. For example, a financial services firm could require candidates to plan out and provide recommendations towards a fictional merger or acquisition. Candidates would be provided with background data regarding the fictional companies and a variety of documents of varying importance. Often, a presentation of the candidate’s findings and recommendations would be made to the assessors, which would also count towards the candidate’s assessment centre performance rating.
Case study exercises are useful predictors of future job performance as they closely resemble the work completed on the job. As a result, assessors are likely to weight case study exercise performance heavily when rating candidates. Similarly, if a presentation exercise based on the case study is required, the quality of the case study will directly impact the presentation exercise rating. Similarly, a case study exercise may continue into a role-play exercise, in which candidates may adapt a fictional role and argue their case in a hypothetical situation. It is also possible that the case study may be conducted as part of a group small group, with assessors evaluating your ability to work in a team, alongside your individual contributions.
Case study exercises may be designed bespoke specifically for that organisation, or may be purchased off the shelf from an occupational psychology consultancy specialising in this area. Similarly, organisations may have internal staff qualified to assess case study exercises running the assessment centre, or the organisation may outsource the process to consultants working in this field. In any case, you will need to impress the assessors to ensure a high rating for your case study exercise, and any related exercises which may follow on from the case study.
When preparing for a case study exercise, it may be useful to find and analyse company reports, technical documents or financial statements which may be relevant to the role. This will help to familiarise yourself with the types of documents you are likely to encounter during the case study exercise. Practice case study exercises also provide an ideal insight into the inner workings of case study exercises, helping dispel any fear of the unknown and prevent any nasty surprises occurring during the real thing. However you decide to prepare for your case study exercises, the amount of preparation you put will be directly proportional to your case study performance in the real thing.