Assessment Centre Case Study: A Detailed Guide

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What is an Assessment Centre Case Study?

An assessment centre case study exercise simulates the type of situation you are likely to encounter in your new position.

The following competencies are typically assessed in the case study:

  • Having an Analytical Mindset.
  • Awareness of commercial opportunities.
  • Information Assimilation.
  • Innovation.
  • Organising skills.
  • A decisive personality.
  • Good Judgement Skills.


What are the Main Types of Case Studies?

In general, case studies belong to one of two main groups:

Subject-Related Case Studies

Specific and professional knowledge of subject topics is required. In cases of candidates applying to a position in which industry knowledge is essential, the content of the case study is directly relevant to that role. In these cases, candidates are required to use their existing knowledge and experience to identify key information from the brief. For instance, project managers may be asked to plan for the release of a new product, which incorporates scheduling, budgeting and resourcing.

General Case Studies

These case studies are designed for a broad audience of candidates who are tested for different positions. Answering the case study questions does not require any specific knowledge, and most questions can be answered with common sense. Any information that is required for answering the case study questions is provided by the assessor, whether by word or through additional documentation. These case studies are much more popular as they are completed by a vast number of candidates who are applying for a wide array of positions.

Companies that Use Assessment Centre Case Studies:

Which Companies Use Assessment Centre Case Studies

  1. The first type of assessment centre case study exercise is those for various positions in finance, banking, audit, marketing, IT, sales and more. These case studies are based on a file of documents you must quickly read and analyse. They may be completed as part of an assessment day or given at the employer's office as part of the interview. You can find more information about these exercises here or by scrolling below.
  2. Another type of case study exercise is those for consultancy and business management companies. These tests are usually administered without the use of endless documents. The entire scenario is described by the interviewer or is limited to a few pages. Generally, the task revolves around mathematical problems, estimation questions and strategic thinking. The candidate is expected to question the assessor for more details in order to understand the problems at hand. Learn more about these tests here.

Assessment Centre Case Study Exercises

Typically, a case study or analysis exercise introduces a series of fictional documents, such as reports and results from recent market research.

These documents may relate to hypothetical or real-life situations. You are asked to analyse the case at hand, make business decisions and/or give a brief verbal or written report of your recommendations.

You may also be given additional information to assess and respond to throughout the allocated time. In some instances, these exercises include content that is relevant to the company's affairs, giving candidates a taste of a real day-to-day task.

You may be asked to complete the case study as an individual exercise or as part of a group, which allows assessors to evaluate your ability to work as part of a team.

Some employers designate case study exercises as a discrete element of the selection process, while others may combine them with an interview.

Popular Case Study Topics

Still unsure which topic you will speak on? Below is a list of ideas you may encounter:

  • Strategic decisions in global or local contexts.
  • Expansion of departments, acquisition of new companies or products.
  • Entrance into new fields of development and product lines.
  • Exploring new markets.
  • Reconstructing organisational trees.
  • Creating advertising campaigns.


What Skills Are Measured?

A case study exercise is one of several tools used to evaluate a wide array of skills and abilities:

Aptitude Skills    Employment Skills
Analytical Commercial
Strategic Marketing principles
Creativity Time management
Problem-solving Working under pressure
  Oral communication

Tips for approaching a case study

As there is a lot of data and documents to go through in a short period of time, your time management skills are being put to the test here. The key to success is working fast and efficiently, prioritising and identifying key issues while ignoring irrelevant information.

  1. "Delve into" the case study. Reflect your thoughts on the character you were assigned to, and address the corresponding characters you have been asked to report to.
  2. The test demands time management, prioritisation and distinction between important and peripheral. 
  3. Case study exercises are usually designed to have more than one ‘correct’ answer; as long as you logically justify your recommendations and they stand up to questioning by the assessor, then your analysis can be regarded in a positive light.
  4. Don't spend too much time trying to learn the nuances of a particular industry. Focus instead on tackling common challenges faced by most businesses. But don't hesitate to clarify pertinent questions, as listening to clients is just as important as advising them.
  5. Remember, this is a real client case, so you want to establish the needs of the clients before you can give advice!
  6. Be confident but not arrogant. When presenting, one must give off the notion that one is speaking with an air of knowledge and authority. However, no one likes it when this turns into overconfidence. If this happens, one might end up not listening and missing vital cues from the questioner, and of course, clients won’t like this either.
  7. Even though you are working against the clock, take the time to analyse the situation before attempting to make notes or answer the questions.
  8. Identify the key issues, and then prioritise them by importance so that you discuss the most pertinent issues first.
  9. Practice your presentation with friends or family if you can. If you can’t, then just remember that you have come this far, and you are well equipped to complete this task in the way that is required.

Questions You Are Likely to Be Asked

There are two types of questions that can be asked by the assessors. Questions of a quantitative nature would ask to perform some numerical calculations, requiring basic mathematical operations, nothing that exceeds the use of the four basic operations, percentages and ratios. Questions of a more qualitative nature can relate to strategic decisions, future projections, and market analysis. Popular questions would be:

  • What penetration strategy do you find suitable for the Chinese market?
  • What are the changes that company Y must go through if it seeks the preservation of existing markets?
  • What are the approximate annual developmental costs of company X?

Expectations from candidates

The candidates are judged on:

  • Understanding the situation in hand
  • Thoroughness of the analysis
  • Logical presentation of ideas
  • Practicality of the proposed solutions
  • Creativity in problem-solving
  • Presentation abilities and structuring
  • Be prepared to answer off the cuff comments.

The judgment is commonly made using a competency matrix. The candidate is assessed according to each competency displayed during the test, usually on a scale of 1-5.

Prepare for Case Studies

Here we offer a unique preparation package designed specifically to help you prepare for your upcoming case study or analysis exercise.

This pack contains two complete written case study exercises that can be solved under test-like conditions.

Using the detailed solution guide, scoring form and presentation example, you are able to assess your own performance and draw valuable conclusions.

The guides included in this pack present you with all the information you need to know about the case study assessment.

They cover a variety of topics, including different types of case study tests, numerous solving methods and case study presentation tips and examples.


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