Preparing for Assessment Centre Case Studies

Case studies are a popular tool at employers' assessment centres, and other stages of the application process, across finance, banking, consultancy, audit, marketing, IT, sales, and other sectors. Read on for more detailed information about the types of case studies used for different positions and tips for how to approach them. Practise real case study exercises with explanations and strategies.

What is a case study

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

Aptitude Skills Employment Skills
analysis commercial awareness
strategy marketing principles
creativity time management
problem solving working under pressure

You may be asked to complete the case study as an individual exercise or as part of a group to allow assessors to evaluate your ability to work in a team. Some employers will set case study exercises as a discrete element of the selection process, others may combine them with an interview. In general, case studies belong to one of two main groups:

Specific and professional knowledge of subject topics is required. In cases of candidates applying to a role where 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 will be 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 to a wide array of positions.

Typically, the case study 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 analyze the case at hand and make business decisions or give a brief verbal or written report of your recommendations. You may also be drip-fed additional information to assess and respond to throughout the allocated time. In some instances, these exercises will include content that is relevant to the company's affairs, giving candidates a taste of a real day-to-day task.

Practice Assessment Centre Case Studies

Popular topics that appear in case studies

  • 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

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 preservation of existing markets?
  • What are the approximate annual developmental costs of company X?

Tips and approaches

In many respects, solving a case study is a bit like sitting an In-Tray exercise.

  1. It demands time management, prioritization and distinction between important and peripheral. 
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Even though you are working against the clock, take time to analyse the situation before attempting to make notes or answer the questions.
  5. Identify the key issues, and then prioritize them by importance so that you discuss the most pertinent issues first.

What we offer

JobTestPrep offer a unique package designed specifically to help you prepare for your upcoming case study test. The pack contains two complete written case study exercises to solve under as real testing conditions as possible. Using the detailed solution guide, a scoring form and a presentation example you are able to assess your own performance and draw valuable conclusions.

The guides included in this pack present all you need to know about the case study assessment. They cover a variety of topics, from the different types of case study tests, to numerous solving methods, through to case study presentation tips and examples.

Make sure you arrive ready to your assessment day
Start practicing early on with our case study practice pack

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