Assessment Center Case Study : A Detailed Guide

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What is a Case Study Assessment

A case study assessment is a test in which candidates are presented with a scenario related to the position or the company's wider operations, followed by several questions that are designed to measure specific abilities. Through the candidate's answers, employers gain insight into their ability to handle tasks similar to those they might be responsible for in the future, thus indicating their problem solving abilities and compatibility with the job description. 

Typically, a case study assessment introduces a series documents such as reports and data from recent market research, which may relate to hypothetical or real-life situations. You are asked to analyze the case at hand, make business decisions, and/or give a brief verbal or written report of your recommendations. 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 teamwork.

 

The Two Main Types of Case Study Assessment

An assessment center case study will typically belong to one of two main categories:

Subject-related Case Study Assessment

In this type of case study assessment, specific and professional knowledge of the subject is required. In cases of candidates applying for a position in which industry knowledge is essential, the content of the case study will be 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 Study Assessment

These case studies are designed for a broad audience of candidates who are tested for various positions. Answering the case study questions does not require any specific prior 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 orally or through additional documentation.

These case studies are much more popular as they can be completed by a large number of candidates applying for a wide array of positions.


What the Case Study Assessment Measures

The advantage of the assessment center case study is that it measures a number of elements simultaneously, giving the employer a picture which combines soft skills with cognitive abilities and even personality attributes. Through your answers, the employer can learn about your:

  • Judgement and understanding of the situation at hand
  • Thoroughness of analysis
  • Logical presentation of ideas
  • Practicality of the proposed solutions
  • Creativity and innovation in problem solving
  • Presentation abilities & communication skills
  • Ability to answer off the cuff comments
  • Commercial awareness
  • Organizational skills
  • Decisiveness

Which Types of 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, and others. These case studies are based on a large file of documents such as company reports you must quickly read and analyze. They may be completed as part of an assessment day or given at the employer's office as part of the interview. 
  2. Another type of case study assessment you can find in assessment centres is for consultancy and business management companies. The scenario is usually 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 ask the assessor for more details in order to understand the problems at hand. Learn more about these tests here.

Leading companies that Use Assessment Centre Case Studies:


Popular Assessment Center Case Study Topics

Case studies can be about virtually anything - however there are some topics or that appear more frequently than others. Below is a list of ideas you may encounter in your case study assessment:

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

Tips for Approaching Your Case Study Assessment

  1. Immerse yourself in the case study - try to imagine you really are in the scenario, and put yourself in the shoes of the decision maker and those he needs to report to. 
  2. Time management - as you will have a lot of data and documents to make sense of in a short period of time, your time management skills are being put to the test here. The key to success is learning how to identify key points and prioritize relevant information while ignoring the irrelevant, giving you the ability to work efficiently on the actual assessment day.
  3. There is more than one ‘correct’ answer - a case study assessment usually has more than one right answer, and as long as you can logically justify your recommendations and they stand up to questioning by the assessor, your analysis can be regarded in a positive light.
  4. Don't get lost in the nuances of a particular industry you are presented with in the case studies. Focus instead on tackling common challenges faced by most businesses. 
  5. Client focus - all companies want to keep their clientele happy. If there is a client in the case study, put plenty of emphasis on them and their needs.
  6. Be confident but not arrogant. When presenting, try to convey an air of knowledge and authority - without appearing overconfident or arrogant.
  7. Practice your presentation skills with friends or family to reduce the pressure at the actual assessment centre. 

Common Questions in the Assessment Center Case Study

There are two main types of questions that can be asked by the assessors in an assessment center case study.

Quantitative questions involve basic mathematical operations, using of the four basic operations, percentages and ratios. Qualitative questions will relate to strategic decisions, future projections, and market analysis. Popular questions would be:

  • What penetration strategy do you find suitable for the market in question?
  • 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?

 

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